Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 10382602

State: Delaware Year: 1826
Location: New Castle Location Type: County

Abstract: The Wilmington Society of Friends, at their monthly meeting, urge the legislature to immediately abolish slavery. Arguing that slavery is evil, unjust, and oppressive, the petitioners put forth that "we believe it to be a truth, that in oppression, cruel suffering, and degradation, negro Slavery remains without a parallel in the known world."

PAR Number 10383101

State: Delaware Year: 1831
Location: Sussex Location Type: County

Abstract: Free man of color William Toast, alias William Collins, was convicted in the Court of Quarter Sessions of Sussex County in 1828 for stealing $5.50 and sentenced to a term of seven years in slavery. Purchased by Benjamin Potter Jr., Toast absconded to Philadelphia. Toast later returned, was again convicted of theft, and was sentenced to "be publickly w hipped with twenty one lashes on his bare back well laid on" and "that he be disposed of as a Servant to the highest and best bidder or bidders for the term of seven years." Potter seeks compensation for court costs and restitution.

PAR Number 10383501

State: Delaware Year: 1835
Location: Sussex Location Type: County

Abstract: Elijah Gordy states that he purchased Isaac Tyre, "an Excellent Black Smith," for $331 in 1832. He cites that the said Tyre had been convicted of kidnapping and had been sentenced "to be publickly whipped with sixty lashes on his bare back well laid on" after which he was then to be committed to three years solitary confinement in the public jail of Sussex County; "at the expiration of the time of his imprisonment he [was to] be disposed of as a Servant for the term of seven years." Gordy notes that the governor "remitted the imprisonment of three years." The petitioner charges the "said Isaac Tyre, made his escape from the Public Jail of this County of Sussex, within a few days after your petitioner purchased him and he has not been heard of since." Contending that "the weakness and insecurity of the Public Jail gave afforded the said Isaac the opportunity to escape,” Gordy prays "the passing a Law for his relief."

PAR Number 11281801

State: North Carolina Year: 1818
Location: Bertie Location Type: County

Abstract: Seventy-four residents of Bertie County report that "one or more districts in our county has been without a constable for a considerable time and that it is owing to the lowness of the present fees." They therefore pray "that your honourable bodies will pass a special law to increase the fees of constables within the county of Bertie." One of the fee increases listed is: "For whiping a negro by order of Court or by a justice of the Peace -- 0.25."

PAR Number 11281904

State: North Carolina Year: 1819
Location: Johnson Location Type: County

Abstract: Fourteen men ask the governor to grant leniency to John McLeod, a resident of Johnson County who "engaged in a transaction which was supposed to eventuate in the death of a negro man." McLeod's supporters recount that the accused "first gave the fellow a flogging (by the master's permission) with a view of extorting from him a confession of the place of concealment of one of the Said McLeod's negroes, whom he was confidently informed the Said Deceased had harboured." They further explain that "Mr. Sumner, the owner, chastised said deceased (for conduct entirely unconnected with the object of McLeod's whipping) and then committed the offender to prison, where he died in the space of an hour or so." The petitioners insist that McLeod "has sustained from his infancy, a fair unblemished character" and that he could not have anticipated "that the severity of the punishment would be so great as to fix irrevocably the fate of the negroe." They therefore pray that "your Excellency will be pleased ... to stay any further proceedings against him, and permit him to resume that Station in Society which he believes he has not justly forfeited." A witness to the whipping attests that Isom's head was tied "in a fence" and he was "lying over a Barrell" when McLeod whipped him; that he was whipped "with a leather strop chiefly on his buttocks”; that Sumner whipped "the said negro Isom with a cow Skin ... the number of strips given by McLeod & Sumner did not exceed One hundred." The witness then relates that Isom was dragged "on his rump" to the jail. The witness thinks "the said negro was not whipped unmercifully."

PAR Number 11282710

State: North Carolina Year: 1827
Location: Guilford Location Type: County

Abstract: The petition "of the Female Benevolent Associations of JamesTown, Springfield, and Kennet" calls the legislature's attention to the evil of slavery "which was brought upon us by our forefathers, and is growing with a rapidity which must put at hazard everything that is near and dear to us." The women particularly object to the practices which "degrade the Female Slaves, and render them unacquainted with the honours due to Chastity, both in speech and behaviour." The petitioners pose that "is it not degrading to humanity to see the back of the matron exposed to public view, (although a Slave) and severely lacerated by the whip for trivial offences?”; they find it "still more shocking to see the mother and her infant offspring separated by a Sale." The petitioners therefore "earnestly entreat" the legislature "to meliorate the condition of this unhappy people as much as possible; by prohibiting the separation of the mothers from their tender infants; and restricting Masters in the administration of corporal punishments from the shameful practice of stripping the black matron's back -- it is a sight too shocking to behold in any Country, and much more in this civilized land of boasted Liberty."

PAR Number 11282902

State: North Carolina Year: 1829
Location: Gates Location Type: County

Abstract: Clement Hill was indicted and convicted in 1828 for "an assault and battery on the body of one Jesse Reed, a man of Color." Fined $200, Hill prays that this sum be refunded to him on the grounds that Reed insulted and abused Hill's sister, "heaping upon her various epithets of abuse indignity & profanity too opprobious to be mentioned to your honorable body." The petitioner attests that "Reed is a mulatto of notoriously bad character & known to be so by all the people in the vicinity of his place of residence" and that "Reed is much in the habit of using insolence to white people cursing & abusing them, without cause or first provocation." Hill also submits that Reed “now stands indicted for Petit Larceny in Gates County Court.”

PAR Number 11285105

State: North Carolina Year: 1851
Location: Lincoln Location Type: County

Abstract: James Graham urges the General Assembly to enact legislation "to induce, if not compell, the free Negroes in North Carolina to emigrate to the Abolition and Free Soil States. It appears to me that Negrophobia, which is now raging and rousing up a large number of people in the non-Slaveholding states cannot be cured more effectually than by giving them some strong black medicine out of their own black Bottle." Graham proposes making landlords who rent land to free persons of color liable for all of their tenants' "taxes, contracts, damages, Penalties, fines and costs, and other legal liabilities which colored persons may contract or incur while living thereon: that is, I would make the actual possession of the free Negro, a lien, on the land on which he lived; and let that lien continue until his public and private liabilities were paid." Graham urges such action because "there is a numerous class of the worst sort of Abolitionist dwelling in our midst in the Southern States who clandestinely trade with Slaves and receive stolen goods in payment for ardent spirits and other articles, thereby corrupting and destroying the value of Servants." He proposes that white men convicted of trafficking with slaves be whipped as well as fined.

PAR Number 11285804

State: North Carolina Year: 1858
Location: Mecklenburg Location Type: County

Abstract: Seventy-three Mecklenburg County residents disclose that "they are greatly annoyed at our Churches in the Country with Dogs." Reporting that "a great many persons will bring their dogs with them to the House of worship,” the petitioners "think the House of God no place for dogs." They therefore "pray your honors to pass some act of law that we may be cleared of the annoyance." They suggest that "every white male or female" be fined five dollars for every offense and "colored free persons & slaves" receive "thirty nine lashes on their bare backs."

PAR Number 11380007

State: South Carolina Year: 1800

Abstract: Leroy Beuford seeks compensation for a slave named John who was convicted and executed for poisoning. Beuford believes that "he has Not Justice Done Him." Related documents contain the testimony of several slaves that detail John's acts of conjuring and suspected poisoning.

PAR Number 11381306

State: South Carolina Year: 1813
Location: Beaufort Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: William Johnson, of St. Helena Parish, attests that "a Negroe Fellow by the name of Abram belonging to your petitioner was by virtue of a Warrant" charged with "stealing Certain articles” from a shop on 27 July 1813. He argues that "upon testimony merely presumptive" the said Abram "was sentenced to receive 70 lashes, to remain one hour in the Stocks, 40 of which were inflicted on the 27th." Johnson recounts that Abram died "on the 28th during the infliction of the remaining 30 lashes." The petitioner "prays that compensation may be allowed for the death" of said slave as if "it was occasioned by the Execution of a Sentence under the Laws of the State."

PAR Number 11381607

State: South Carolina Year: 1816
Location: Orange Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Fifty-seven citizens of Orange Parish "consider themselves much aggriev'd on account of the deficiency that to us appears in the present System of Law in respect of Negro Slaves." They argue that the present statutes "only goes to punish for theft by Whipping branding or Cropping, and allows nothing by way of restitution, by which many poor Families become Sufferers in the Loss of Cattle, hogs, Sheep, Bacon Clothing &c." They therefore pray that their case be taken into consideration and that a law be passed "compelling Owners of Slaves to Make Compensation for anything Stolen by their Slaves."

PAR Number 11381610

State: South Carolina Year: 1816
Location: Orange Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Fifty-seven citizens of Orange Parish "consider themselves much aggriev'd on account of the Deficiency that to us appears in the present System of Law, in respect of Negro Slaves." They argue that the present statutes "only goes to punish for theft, by whipping Branding or cropping, and allows nothing by way of restitution, by which many poor Families become Sufferers in the Loss of Cattle, Hogs, Sheep, Bacon Clothing &c." They therefore pray that their case be taken into consideration and that a law be passed "compelling owners of Slaves to make compensation for any thing Stolen by their Slaves."

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 11383402

State: South Carolina Year: 1834
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Charleston resident Edward Carew seeks leniency for his slave Isaac, sentenced to twelve months solitary confinement and three hundred lashes for striking his slave wife in the head with a hoe handle and causing her death. The petitioner believes Isaac will not survive and contends the punishment does not fit the offense. He asserts that "the Case is not distinguishable from many others of conflicts between people of this description -- no such violence was used by the Prisoner as should have excited an apprehension of fatal consequence" and that "the death of Kettura may be regarded in some measure as accidental." Carew further concludes that "the evidence only shews a common instance of a quarrel between a negro and his wife which are of frequent occurrence and not deemed to merit more than moderate correction."

PAR Number 11385006

State: South Carolina Year: 1850
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Thomas Bennett seeks a pardon for his slave Peter Blacklock. He represents that an altercation broke out between Peter and another slave named York; the said Peter "inflicted on York a blow that fractured his skull and caused his death in a few hours." Bennett further recounts that Peter was convicted of manslaughter and was sentenced to receive "one Hundred and twenty five Lashes and then to be removed to the Jail of the district" and to "remain imprisoned for two years, the first year of which he should receive monthly Twenty Lashes." He discloses, however, that the said slave is "considerably advanced in years" and that he "became intemperate from the use of ardent spirits -- this habit followed by Epileptic fits." Describing Peter as "a wretched remnant of Humanity -- Prostrate mentally and physically by disease," Bennett fears that his slave "will not probably survive to the termination of his confinement without the interposition of Executive clemency.” The petitioner therefore prays "that Your Excellency would extend to this unfortunate man the Executive prerogative of pardon."

PAR Number 11385105

State: South Carolina Year: 1851
Location: Marion Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Horatio McClenaghan requests compensation for two slaves, Daniel and Sutton, convicted of grand larceny and sentenced to "receive today (May 21 1851) one hundred lashes on the bare back; and to be well inflicted; and that after receiving their punishment be conveyed to the Common Jail of this District, therein to be confined for the space of four months from the date hereof; and moreover to receive during their Confinement, on the first monday in Said four months, the further punishment of fifty lashes each." The petitioner reports that said slaves remained in jail until September when they died from a sickness "produced by the imprisonment and punishment inflicted." Noting that Daniel and Sutton had "lived long enough to receive the punishment of the whipping 300 lashes each but died before the expiration of the Term of the imprisonment," McClenaghan prays that he be granted "such compensation, as under the Circumstances, you may Consider that Justice will approve."

PAR Number 11482911

State: Tennessee Year: 1829
Location: Williamson Location Type: County

Abstract: Martha Smith Green seeks a divorce and the "right of all the Property She may hereafter acquire by honest Industry or donation of friends." Green charges that her husband Thomas abused and beat her and that he accused "your Petitioner of being Intimate and guilty with his Negro man Jim, to the great mortifycation of your Petitioners feelings." She further confesses that her said husband severely beat her "in such a Manner that she carried the markes of his violence on her body for twenty weeks." Green further represents that her husband admitted "that he was Carnally guilty with [a] negro girl." The petitioner therefore prays that an act be passed for her benefit, divorcing her from the said Thomas and securing her right to property she may acquire hereafter.

PAR Number 11484104

State: Tennessee Year: 1841

Abstract: Henry Brent and Walter Jones, residents of the District of Columbia, petition the Tennessee legislature to direct Tennessee representatives in Congress to support a redrafting of the District's charter to give greater attention to the activities of people of color. They report that the "existing charter" addressed having power to institute "an effective police over disorderly and dangerous persons of various descriptions, comprehending slaves by name" and in particular restraining and prohibiting "the nightly and other disorderly meetings of slaves, free negroes and mulattoes" and "to punish the slaves by whipping and imprisonment, the free negroes and mulattoes by pecuniary fines." They argue, however, that the framer of the new charter deliberately omitted the mention of slaves which would amount "to a disclaimer or renunciation by Congress of any such condition as slavery, of any such property as slaves" and it would "have been equivalent to an admission of the ... ultra doctrines of the most ultra abolitionists."

PAR Number 11484502

State: Tennessee Year: 1845
Location: Anderson Location Type: County

Abstract: Mary Hookins asks for a divorce from her husband William. Hookins confides that said William "was always scolding and faultfinding and frequently disturbed your petitioner's hours of repose and sleep by his certain lectures -- abusing her for merest trifles and not seeming to be satisfied, he soon resorted to whipping her." She further admits that when she "would tell him to quit mistreating her so, he said by the common law a man had a right to whip his wife, and that so long as he was a freeman he would have the right of one, and that he would whip her every day of her life if he wanted to." Mary reveals that her husband has abandoned her "and her babies to this fate and the last rumor She heard of him he had taken up with a mulatto woman and was the father of two children by her." She therefore prays that "now if your Honorable body ... will only set aside, and undue this unfortunate act of your petitioner's youthful folly, and indiscretion; she hopes she will be able to do better in a second marriage than she did in her first; for she knows she could do worse that she did when she [and] Billy Hookins became man and wife."

PAR Number 11484701

State: Tennessee Year: 1847
Location: Bedford Location Type: County

Abstract: Thirteen "members of the Grand Jury, for the County of Bedford & state of Tennessee," request the passage "of some law for the more effectually preventing negroes from selling, meats, chickens, fruits &c upon public days, at public places." They declare that they "have seen & felt the evil effects of the system now prevailing upon that subject," as "the only way most of the things thus sold are obtained is by stealing -- and your petitioners amongst others suffer from their petty thefts." They therefore propose a law "authorising any person, when they see negroes thus trading, to have them taken up before a magistrate & publicly whipt, unless the negro can produce a written permit from his or her master or mistress, authorizing them thus to trade."

PAR Number 11485104

State: Tennessee Year: 1851
Location: Sullivan Location Type: County

Abstract: Twelve magistrates and constables ask for greater compensation for duties they perform. They represent that "the expenses of living are much heavier than formerly; and to this must be added the cost of office rent." They therefore pray that “should your Honorable body concur, they trust that the annexed tariff of charges may receive the sanction of the Legislature; and that the officers above named may be insured a liberal compensation for the duties which the law requires at their hands.” The largest proposed increase for constables includes an increase from thirty-three cents to one dollar for "Whipping Slave by order of Court or Justice."

PAR Number 11485105

State: Tennessee Year: 1851
Location: Shelby Location Type: County

Abstract: Forty-six magistrates and constables ask for greater compensation for duties they perform. They represent that "the expenses of living are much heavier than formerly; and to this must be added the cost of office rent." They therefore pray that “should your Honorable body concur, they trust that the annexed tariff of charges may receive the sanction of the Legislature; and that the officers above named may be insured a liberal compensation for the duties which the law requires at their hands.” The largest proposed increase for constables includes an increase from thirty-three cents to one dollar for "Whipping Slave by order of Court or Justice."

PAR Number 11485106

State: Tennessee Year: 1851
Location: Hardeman Location Type: County

Abstract: Eighty-three magistrates and constables ask for greater compensation for duties they perform. They represent that "the expenses of living are much heavier than formerly; and to this must be added the cost of office rent." They therefore pray that “should your Honorable body concur, they trust that the annexed tariff of charges may receive the sanction of the Legislature; and that the officers above named may be insured a liberal compensation for the duties which the law requires at their hands.” The largest proposed increase for constables includes an increase from thirty-three cents to one dollar for "Whipping Slave by order of Court or Justice."

PAR Number 11485107

State: Tennessee Year: 1851
Location: Hamilton Location Type: County

Abstract: Fourteen magistrates and constables ask for greater compensation for duties they perform. They represent that "the expenses of living are much heavier than formerly; and to this must be added the cost of office rent." They therefore pray that “should your Honorable body concur, they trust that the annexed tariff of charges may receive the sanction of the Legislature; and that the officers above named may be insured a liberal compensation for the duties which the law requires at their hands.” The largest proposed increase for constables includes an increase from thirty-three cents to one dollar for "Whipping Slave by order of Court or Justice."

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