Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 11382808

State: South Carolina Year: 1828
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Joseph Johnson, Intendant of the Charleston City Council, raises many concerns to the members of the House of Representatives, one such concern being "the number of Schools publickly kept for the instruction of persons of Colour in reading and writing." Johnson is of the opinion that instruction is "injurious to the Community." He purports that "to be able to read and to write is certainly not necessary to the performance of those duties which are usually required of our Slaves and on the contrary is incompatible with the public safety." Johnson further argues that "the knowledge of the art of writing will enable persons of this class to carry on illicit traffic, to communicate privately among themselves and to evade those regulations that are intended to prevent confederations among them," whereby it will be "impossible to distinguish between the free and the slave of our coloured population." He therefore knows "of no remedy so effectual and at the same time so little liable to objection as the absolute prohibition of all Schools for the instruction of Coloured persons." In addition, Johnson asks that the practice of owners and others in hiring slaves and free persons of color in their stores and shops be halted. In addition to denying employment to the white population, this situation introduces "the Coloured population and especially slaves into situations which are inconsistent with their Condition." The petitioner suggests "that the system of slavery is so interwoven with the constitution of our Society that even if our interests permitted it would be impossible to eradicate it." He believes, therefore, that "it becomes highly important that the regulations necessary for maintaining this state of things in peace and security should be permanently established and regularly maintained."

PAR Number 11382809

State: South Carolina Year: 1828
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Joseph Johnson, Intendant of the Charleston City Council, raises many concerns to the members of the Senate, one such concern being "the number of Schools publickly kept for the instruction of persons of Colour in reading and writing." Johnson is of the opinion that instruction is "injurious to the Community." He purports that "to be able to read and to write is certainly not necessary to the performance of those duties which are usually required of our Slaves, and on the contrary is incompatible with the public safety." Johnson further argues that "the knowledge of the art of writing will enable persons of this class to carry on illicit traffic, to communicate privately among themselves and to evade those regulations that are intended to prevent confederations among them," whereby it will be "impossible to distinguish between the free and the slave of our coloured population." He therefore knows "of no remedy so effectual and at the same time so little liable to objection as the absolute prohibition of all shools for the instruction of coloured persons." In addition, Johnson asks that the practice of owners and others in hiring slaves and free persons of color in their stores and shops be halted. In addition to denying employment to the white population, this situation introduces "the coloured population and especially slaves, into situations which are inconsistent with their condition." The petitioner suggests "that the system of Slavery is so interwoven with the constitution of our Society that even if our interests permitted it would be impossible to eradicate it." He believes, therefore, that "it becomes highly important that the regulations necessary for maintaining this State of things in peace and security should be permanently established and regularly maintained."

PAR Number 11384005

State: South Carolina Year: 1840
Location: Union Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: One hundred sixty-eight residents of Union District seek the passage of a law to prohibit whites from bequeathing property, in trust, to slaves. They represent that the courts recognize "that a slave cannot own property of any kind -- But that a man having the right to give his property to whomever he pleases under some slight Statutory restrictions may will his property to any free white man in trust ... for the Beneficial use of a Slave." They argue that "the slave may not become independant of his owner, and that he may have no artificial help to aid him quit his masters Service." They further insist that when you "Give the slave money or property which is its Equivalent ... you place it in his power at once to place himself beyond the reach of Servitude." Asserting that "money is power and none need live in Servitude who can command it," they pray that a law be passed "declaring & providing that no Slave within the Limits of South Carolina shall be permitted to take either directly or indirectly any Beneficial interest under any will made by any of the people of South Carolina."

PAR Number 11384006

State: South Carolina Year: 1840
Location: Union Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Forty-eight residents of Union District seek the passage of a law to prohibit whites from bequeathing property, in trust, to slaves. They represent that the courts recognize "that a slave cannot own property of any kind, but that a man having the Right to Give his property to whomever he pleases under some slight Statutory Restrictions may will his property to any free white man in trust ... for the Beneficial use of a slave." They argue that "the slave may not become Independant of his owner and that he may have no artificial help to aid him Quit his masters service." They further insist that when you "Give the slave money or property which is its equivalent ... you place it in his power at once to place himself beyond the reach of servitude." Asserting that "money is power and none need [live] in servitude who can command it," they pray that a law be passed "declaring and providing that no slave within the Limits of South Carolina shall be permitted to take either Directly or Indirectly any beneficial Interest Under any will made by any of the people of South Carolina."

PAR Number 11385907

State: South Carolina Year: 1859
Location: Horry Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Twenty-eight residents of Horry District "renew their memorial which was laid before your Honorable bodies at the last Session of the Legislature relative to Free persons of colour." They declare that "they still feel that it is a class of population unproductive to the general prosperity of the State" and that "it is a class well calculated to corrupt the Slave." The petitioners further espouse that "it is a class typical of what the whole coloured race would be without the superior controling influence of white superiority; a thriftless race receding from its present enlightenment and happiness to savage barbarism." They therefore pray that a law be passed "giving to the free Coloured population of the State the Choice either of emigrating to a Colder and more Congenial climate within Six months from the passage of such Law or to be Sold into Slavery under restrictions that would ensure them a good master, such restrictions to give them first the benefit of choosing the Master."

PAR Number 11683302

State: Virginia Year: 1833
Location: Fauquier Location Type: County

Abstract: Twenty Fauquier County residents urge the legislature to appropriate an annual sum to aid in colonizing Virginia free blacks in Africa. The petitioners perceive the "evils" of slavery as being "progressive and that every successive year adds to the difficulty of surmounting them." At the same time, they hold firm their regard as "inviolable the rights of property in slaves."

PAR Number 11684903

State: Virginia Year: 1849
Location: Rockingham Location Type: County

Abstract: One hundred nine residents from Rockingham and adjacent counties ask that the period of time allowed to emancipated slaves before they are required to emigrate be reduced from twelve months to one month. Free blacks have it in their "power to annoy us to an extent almost beyond expression," the petitioners complain; they become acquainted with the roads "leading in various directions through our mountainous country," and then "purloin off our slave and reach a free state before we even believe the slave has ran away." Often prompted by abolitionists, free people of color also try to free their slave wives, slave children, and slave relatives. "The laws of Virginia recognise in us the right to hold slaves as our private property," the petitioners argue, "& we contend that no body of men has the right to divest us of our property."

PAR Number 21383517

State: South Carolina Year: 1835
Location: Charleston Location Type: District

Abstract: John Sargent sues the Executive Committee of the American Anti-Slavery Society "as well for and in the Rights and behalf of the said State and the good people thereof as for himself in his own Right." Sargent informs the court that various people, particularly the ten members of the Society's executive committee, are spreading anti-slavery materials throughout the United States, particularly in South Carolina. He argues that these publications are for the "notorious purpose of Causing, procuring & producing an Insurrection and Open Rebellion within the said United States & particularly in the said state of South Carolina of the Black & other coloured slaves thereof." Sargent presents various anti-slavery arguments and legal claims, as well as his rebuttals. Among other arguments, he asserts that slavery "is not inconsistent with the Christian Religion but Universally recognized by all the Apostles thereof as founded Upon the Grand Principle of Equity and Justice, & the right of Property held from time immemorial and thus become prescriptive." He concludes by asking the court to confiscate any of the defendants' property within the state to compensate the state and citizens of South Carolina for any losses caused by the society's publications. He also wants to prevent citizens from corresponding or communicating with the defendants.