Race and Slavery Petitions Project

Search Results

Your subject search returned 24 total results.

PAR Number 10378601

State: Delaware Year: 1786
Location: Sussex Location Type: County

Abstract: Twenty-one petitioners ask the legislature to more rigorously regulate the movements of people of color. They argue that "under the name and Character of Free Negroes many idle and evil-disposed Slaves througout this County stroll thro the same, some with, and some without passes or Certificates." There are also many black "Stragglers and Vagabonds From the Neighbouring Counties" who "come and go in similar Circumstances and under the same character, whereby their legal owners are for a long time deprived of their Service." They further assert that "numbers of Negroes who have been manumitted in other States and Countyes have come into ours, many of whom are likely to become Chargeable." They seek a law prohibiting "the Negroes aforesaid, from travelling Especially from one County into the other without a Written or printed pass or Certificate." The pass, "with the County Seal affixed thereto," should include the bearer's name and place of abode.

PAR Number 10378602

State: Delaware Year: 1786
Location: Sussex Location Type: County

Abstract: Thirty-nine petitioners ask the legislature to more rigorously regulate the movements of people of color. They argue that "under the name and Character of Free Negroes, many idle and evil-disposed Slaves througout this County, stroll thro' the same, some with, and some without passes or certificates." There are also many black "Stragglers and Vagabonds, from the neighbouring Counties" who "come and go, in similar Circumstances and under the same character, whereby their legal Owners are for a long time deprived of their Service." They further assert that "numbers of Negroes who have been manumitted in other States and Counties, have come into ours, many of whom are likely to become chargeable." They seek a law prohibiting "the negroes aforesaid, from travelling, especially from one County in to the other, without a written or printed pass or Certificate." The pass, "with the County's Seal affixed thereto," should include the bearer's name and place of abode.

PAR Number 10384901

State: Delaware Year: 1849

Abstract: Twenty-nine free black inhabitants of Delaware seek to repeal the law requiring them to produce passes or freedom papers when traveling from one area to another. They affirm that they are civil citizens who have "no intent to hurt or Injure any of the human family but wish well to all yet we are liable to be arrested when Traveling on our lawful buisness to be put in prison pervided we do not exhibit a certificate or Pass signed by a white man which appears to be sufficient thogh his charecter be mutch blacker then our Skins." They also oppose other laws "equilly oppressive to us as freeman" that forbid them "to own or have a gunn in our possession Without a permit from a Justice of The peace" and prohibit them from assembling "togather for Religious worship in our own churches and remain There beyound the Hours of ten oclock at night with out having the presence of three white men amongst us." They therefore "pray you will take into consideration and expung these laws from your books so as to give us right to Travel as men and not as bruts."

PAR Number 11080901

State: Mississippi Year: 1809
Location: Adams Location Type: County

Abstract: Michael Bruner, jailer of Adams County, complains about the cost of maintaining prisoners. The state law concerning runaway slaves, for example, required that absentee slaves be reported as lost by their masters or overseers. When absconders were taken up but not so reported, the master was not responsible for paying jail fees. Consequently, some slave owners knowingly left their slaves in jail for months at the county's expense. He asks for relief.

PAR Number 11282101

State: North Carolina Year: 1821
Location: Orange Location Type: County

Abstract: One hundred seventy-five Orange County residents represent that Elisha Cate "was Charged with giving" a "Slave Belonging to a Mrs Ramsey" a "forged Pass and was Convicted and Punished." The petitioners affirm that said "Punishment which he Suffered has Rendered him Incompetent to give Evidence." Noting that he "is the father of a large family of Children," they "pray your Honourable Body will pass an act to Restore the Elisha Cate to Credit."

PAR Number 11283107

State: North Carolina Year: 1831
Location: Craven Location Type: County

Abstract: Fifty-six citizens of Craven County, who "reside upon Neuse river and the adjacent creeks above the town of New Bern," complain about "the large gangs of slaves, who come up from the Town of New Bern ... in boats, with papers from their owners ... to sell, buy, traffick, and fish" in their neighborhoods. The residents argue that by said practice they "are much injured and interrupted both in their vocations, and in the management of their farms and negroes." In addition, they assert that the self-hired blacks "corrupt the slaves of your Petitioners, induce them to run away, and when runaway employ them, in dragging skimming nets for the purpose of catching fish, and pilfering the farms of your Petitioners." They therefore ask that the acts of Assembly be nullified "with regard to Slaves hiring their own time, and likewise the subject of trading with Slaves, and also the indiscriminate permission given to them to fish at large upon the waters of this state."

PAR Number 11383107

State: South Carolina Year: 1831
Location: Edgefield Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Officers of the Society of Vigilance and other residents of Edgefield District request "a revision of the patroll laws." They "think that a ticket given to a slave ought to state where he is going as well as how long to be absent and that a pass and repass ... ought not to be lawful." They "are satisfyed that negroes having tickets to pass and repass such a length of time without stating where they are going are in the habits of visiting grog shops and other places where they would not be willing to be seen by their owners." They point out, however, that the slave by "having a pass & repass cannot be lawfully whipped by the patroll." The petitioners submit “to your better judgement to say whether any alteration shall or shall not be made in the above named law.”

PAR Number 11385402

State: South Carolina Year: 1854
Location: Orangeburgh Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Twenty-two residents of Orangeburg District represent that "there is greatly needed, a specified, Ticket, which every slave shall have in his possession, when traveling from place to place." Declaring that they "find the Law very lame on that particular" and "the present mode of tickets ... are a Nuisance to the community," the petitioners pray “that there be a law passed, that every slave shall have ... a Ticket specifying the places where they are to go." They also pray "that all slaves caught by the patrol (after the act passes) with a ticket not specifying the places he is to visit that the patrol Law be administered to him."

PAR Number 11385404

State: South Carolina Year: 1854
Location: Colleton Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Five members of a committee of the Agricultural Society of St. Paul's Parish seek the modification of a law regarding hiring slaves and harboring runaways. They list three separate instances in which owners discovered that their runaway slaves had been hired in Charleston by free people of color. The owners filed suits against the employers, but the courts refused to grant redress because it could not be proved the employers knew the slaves were runaways. The petitioners believe that these acts are "antagonistic to the Agricultural Interests of the State and if so continued, will impair all confidence in a Title to this property so valuable, at least for Taxable purposes." They also report that masters of vessels along the Pon Pon River are also in the habit of hiring "our slaves without our knowledge and against our wishes, at night to load their vessels, thus imposing upon them a laborious task at the time, which ought to be directed to rest, and also encouraging habits of Intemperance and disorganization." The petitioners therefore pray "your Honble Bodies to afford them that protection which their Interests require and the policy of the State demands."

PAR Number 11681304

State: Virginia Year: 1813
Location: Cumberland Location Type: County

Abstract: Nancy and her daughter Sophia are entitled to their freedom by the will of their late owner, Henry Holloway. However, Nancy informs the court, she and Sophia are "precluded from availing themselves (should they remain in the state) of the benefits intended to be confered on them by" their late owner because of "the provisions of the act entitled 'an act to amend the several Laws Concerning Slaves' passed on the Twenty fifth day of January 1806," which requires freed slaves to leave the state of forfeit their freedom. To venture to an unknown land, Nancy explains, "in the midst of Strangers, cut off from the society & aid of relations & friends," would be unbearable. She asks the legislature to give her permission "to remain within the limits of Virginia and to enjoy the immunities & priviledges to which they are entitled, under the Will of" their late master.

PAR Number 11685207

State: Virginia Year: 1852
Location: Buckingham Location Type: County

Abstract: “At a meeting of the citizens of the county of Buckingham, held at the Court House on Saturday, the 14th of March, to propose some suitable means for the suppression of incendiarism,” five resolutions were unanimously adopted: 1) slaveholders should "adopt among themselves the most efficient means of keeping good order" on their property, including the use of patrols, nightly inspections of slave quarters, and the inauguration of a more diligent pass system; 2) people who trade with slaves without their owners' permission should be socially ostracized; 3) the assembly should amend the license laws for liquor retailers to require an oath that the retailer will not sell liquor to a slave with the slave holder's permission; 4) slaves suspected of committing felonies should be transported out of the state regardless of whether they are convicted of the crime; 5) county courts should permanently appoint patrols for slave control.

PAR Number 20783010

State: Kentucky Year: 1830
Location: Woodford Location Type: County

Abstract: Francis Moore sold his sister Judah a slave named Betty under the condition that if Judah died childless the slave would revert to him. Judah married Jeremiah Morton, now deceased, who in his will specified that Betty was to belong to his wife until her death, at which time Betty was to be freed. Judah has now died childless and Jeremiah's executor Thomas Bullock has tried to acquire certificates of freedom for Betty and her infant child. Although Bullock's request was denied because of Moore's claim to the slaves, Moore now fears Bullock is going to remove them to Ohio or Indiana. He asks the court for an injunction ordering the sheriff to take possession of the slaves and hire them out until this matter can be fairly tried. The petition reveals that Betty's husband is a "freeman."

PAR Number 20881811

State: Louisiana Year: 1818
Location: Orleans Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Benjamin Morgan sues Francis Bourgeois for the loss of a runaway slave and injuries to another slave. Morgan writes that he assigned his "confidential" slave, Walker, to go in search of a runaway slave named Isham. Supplied with the appropriate passports, Walker arrived at a plantation where he encountered Bourgeois, the overseer. Believing that Isham was in the slave quarters, Walker began to inquire among the slaves. When Bourgeois approached him, Walker showed him his passport and explained the situation, asking to take Isham back to the petitioner's plantation. Instead, Bourgeois ordered Walker "seized, stripped and flogged" and, after examination of his back, ordered additional lashes. Walker returned to his master in this condition and now "continues under the hands of the physician." Meanwhile, Isham escaped from the plantation where he was harbored and remains a fugitive. Morgan holds Bourgeois liable for Isham’s escape, as well as for the detrimental effect the whipping has had on the entire slave community. According to Morgan, such action demoralizes the slaves by “destroying the distinction between good and bad slaves." Morgan prays for $1,000 in damages.

PAR Number 20881988

State: Louisiana Year: 1819
Location: Feliciana Location Type: Parish

Abstract: François Allain, a free man of color, claims that he was the "true and sole owner" of a thirty-year-old male slave, a "griffe" named Regis, who was "illegally & wrongfully" killed the previous year by Colonel Robert Young. Allain therefore prays that Young be made to pay him $2,000 in compensation for the loss.

PAR Number 20884242

State: Louisiana Year: 1842
Location: Lafourche Interior Location Type: Parish

Abstract: John Gardiner sues Benjamin Cross, a slave owner, for assault and battery. Gardiner accuses Benjamin Cross and his two minor sons, Richard and Benjamin, of committing "a grievous, dangerous, disgraceful, and insulting attack and assault and battery upon" him. Gardiner informs the court that Cross attacked him after accusing him of "having written papers without authority for his negroes, & with the intention of causing them to run away." The first occasion was about 1 March 1842 when Cross and his sons attacked Gardiner at the Cross plantation with a bowie knife and a double-barreled gun. They tied his "hands, feet, & body" with a rope, then "struck him several times in the face, and on the body," and with "the lashe of a negro whip." Gardiner also complains of a second attack. While he was in the custody of the sheriff, Cross attacked him in a billiard room, striking him with a "blackjack-vine" ten or twelve times. Gardiner asserts that both his reputation and his body have been harmed by these assaults; therefore, he prays for $1,000 in damages for slander upon his reputation and $4,000 for physical damages.

PAR Number 20884862

State: Louisiana Year: 1848
Location: Orleans Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Adelaïde Dantilly, widow of Jean M. Vinot, seeks compensation from a free woman of color named Celeste Bertrand, for concealing her runaway slave absent for seven months. Adelaïde Dantilly Vinot represents that her slave, named Martha or Mathilda, left her service in October 1847, without her consent, and was not found until May 1848. Adelaïde claims that Celeste did receive and harbor Martha at her place of residence in the city and is therefore liable for damages. Adelaïde prays that Celeste be condemned to pay $408 for lost services, $35 for the cost of advertising a runaway slave, and $50 for the reward offered for the slave’s apprehension.

PAR Number 20884863

State: Louisiana Year: 1848
Location: West Baton Rouge Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Zephirin Blanchard seeks compensation for a gunshot injury inflicted on his slave, named Charles, by one James F. Dixon, overseer of Col. Nolan Stewart’s plantation. Blanchard represents that, in April 1847, Charles was “peaceably and quietly passing” in front of Stewart’s plantation, when he was shot in the knee by Dixon. According to Blanchard, Charles had given Dixon “no Cause” for such action. He contends that Dixon, having asked Charles to produce a pass, got his rifle, mounted his horse, and pursued and shot him in the knee. The ball entered the knee and caused “irreparable damage.” The care of a physician and a nurse were required to tend to the wound. Charles still walks with difficulty and is no “advantage” to Blanchard. Blanchard therefore prays for an order condemning Dixon to compensate him in the amount of $800 for time lost and medical expenses.

PAR Number 20884942

State: Louisiana Year: 1849
Location: Orleans Location Type: Parish

Abstract: John Buddy represents that Captain Witsinger and the owners of the steamboat A. W. Vanlier are indebted to him in the sum of $1,000, as compensation for the death of his slave, Ned. Buddy complains that Ned was hired by the mate of the steamboat without his “permission or authority.” Ned was then carried out of the parish of Orleans, when he was "taken sick" and died. Buddy claims that Ned was worth $1,000. He also claims to have suffered $300 in damages, in the form of medical care for Ned, legal fees in pursuing this case, and loss of his slave’s services. Buddy therefore prays that the court will condemn Captain Witsinger and the owners of the steamboat A. W. Vanlier to pay him $1,300. He also claims to be entitled to a privilege on the steamboat and asks for a writ of sequestration.

PAR Number 20885414

State: Louisiana Year: 1854
Location: Pointe Coupee Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Tom or Thomas, a slave, presents to the court that his current master, René Porche, purchased him at the estate sale of the late Augustin LeBlanc, contractually obligating himself to give him freedom upon full reimbursement of the $200 value of the purchase price. Tom claims that he has fulfilled his end of the bargain but that René Porche has refused to live up to his and is claiming him as "his slave for life." Tom therefore prays the court to condemn Porche to "liberate & emancipate him" and to pay for all the necessary proceedings required to that effect [Original in English and French].

PAR Number 20885654

State: Louisiana Year: 1856
Location: Orleans Location Type: Parish

Abstract: George Purves seeks a writ of habeas corpus to release his slave named Jim from the custody of John M. Bell, Sheriff of the Parish of Orleans. Purves represents that Jim has been imprisoned “under the protest of a judgment and judicial order of commitment” issued in “the Case of the State of Louisiana vs the Slave Jim No. 517.” Jim was accused of giving passes to slaves and sentenced to a fine of $50 or a one-month confinement in jail. According to Purves, the sentence is illegal because “there is no law or statute of the State of Louisiana making” the act of giving passes “as criminal or punishable in a slave.” Purves therefore prays for a writ of habeas corpus and asks that his slave be set at liberty and delivered to him.

PAR Number 20978601

State: Maryland Year: 1786
Location: Frederick Location Type: County

Abstract: Patrick McNemara states that although he has been in jail for the past ten weeks "on Suspision of being a Run Away," he is, in fact, a free man who has been "in the American Service in Captain Migills Company, Comanded by Col. Bakerfield in the Virginia Service." He explains that his colonel cannot vouch for him because Bakerfield was killed at the Battle of Camden, but "there is Severale that knows that I have or was not a Servant." McNamara asserts that he was unacquainted with the necessity of carrying a pass to indicate his free status and he asks to be released from jail.

PAR Number 20985618

State: Maryland Year: 1856
Location: Washington Location Type: County

Abstract: Twenty-three-year-old Alfred Dunmore, a free mulatto, "intends leaving the said state for a short time and a visit to some of his brothers and relatives in the vicinity of Pittsburg." He asks the court "to grant him a permit" that will allow him to travel outside the state and "to return again." The court order that granted his petition described Alfred in detail as being "near five feet eight inches high, dark mulatto color, pock marked in his face with a redish spot on the left side of his left eye."

PAR Number 21084108

State: Mississippi Year: 1841
Location: Warren Location Type: County

Abstract: Rebecca Crouch states that she has been a free woman since 1838 when her former owner James B. Rowley obtained emancipation papers for her and her two-year-old daughter Adeline from the mayor of Mobile. Crouch and her daughter Adeline then moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, where they lived with Polly Strange, another free woman of color, from July 1838 to June 1840. In the summer of 1840, the petitioner undertook a visit to Vicksburg. Her return was delayed until mid-April 1841, when she and her infant son, Roderick Random, booked passage back to Cincinnati on the steamship "Lexington." It was while on board the ship that she and her son were detained by order of attachment against her former owner Rowley. Crouch prays for liberty from unlawful imprisonment, attachment, and creditors' claims.

PAR Number 21679710

State: Virginia Year: 1797
Location: Dinwiddie Location Type: County

Abstract: The children of the late Charles Harrison assert that they are entitled to a share of their father's substantial estate, which consisted of "ten valuable Slaves, stock ... a considerable quantity of valuable Household and Kitchen furniture, outstanding debts to a great amount" as well as land holdings in Kentucky and Virginia. The petitioners charge that the administrator "hath taken the estate real as well as personal of the said decedant into his hands and possession ... and after paying the debts ... of the decedant, has applied the surplus which is considerably over five thousand Dollars current money of the United States to his own uses & purposes exclusively." They ask that the court decree the administrator to "come immediately to a full and fair Settlement of his account of administration of the said Estate and pay to your orators and oratrixes respectively what shall appear to be due to them in cash & deliver to them also respectively their respective proportion of the slaves & other tangible property."