Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 11379101

State: South Carolina Year: 1791
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Atlantic slave trader John Holman, who "has resided for upwards of twenty five years on the Coast of Africa where he was engaged in commercial transactions the exports of which chiefly entered in South Carolina," seeks to bring a cargo of seventy slaves into South Carolina. Holman recounts that "he formed a scheme of removing to South Carolina with seventy slaves which he had long possessed in Africa" and therefore went to South Carolina in 1787 to purchase land on which he could settle his slaves. He further declares that "he went in conjunction with his friend the Honorable Henry Laurens to the Custom House and informed the Collector Mr George Abbot Hall of his intentions to come with his slaves to settle in South Carolina" and he was informed that "he might freely bring his slaves with him." In February 1788, Holman sailed for Africa; in June 1790, he embarked across the Atlantic for Charleston. Upon his arrival he was informed that he would be fined one hundred pounds for each slave brought into the state under a law passed in November 1788 "which prohibits the importation of all Negroes" and which took effect "in his absence" and by which "he was liable to be reduced to beggary." Holman laments that he was "obliged to seek a temporary residence in Georgia where for several months he has been subject to the inconveniences of wanting a home, friends, money and credit, all of which he could have commanded in South Carolina." He therefore prays that "his peculiar and very hard case" will be taken into consideration and he will be permitted "to come with his slaves and settle in Carolina."

PAR Number 11379102

State: South Carolina Year: 1791
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Atlantic slave trader John Holman, who "has resided for upwards of twenty five years on the Coast of Africa where he was engaged in commercial transactions the exports of which chiefly entered in South Carolina," seeks to bring a cargo of seventy slaves into South Carolina. Holman recounts that "he formed a scheme of removing to South Carolina with seventy slaves which he had long possessed in Africa" and therefore went to South Carolina in 1787 to purchase land on which he could settle his slaves. He further declares that "he went in conjunction with his friend the Honorable Henry Laurens to the Custom House and informed the Collector Mr George Abbot Hall of his intentions to come with his slaves to settle in South Carolina" and he was informed that "he might freely bring his slaves with him." In February 1788, Holman sailed for Africa; in June 1790, he embarked across the Atlantic for Charleston. Upon his arrival he was informed that he would be fined one hundred pounds for each slave brought into the state under a law passed in November 1788 "which prohibits the importation of all Negroes" and which took effect "in his absence" and by which "he was liable to be reduced to beggary." Holman laments that he was "obliged to seek a temporary residence in Georgia where for several months he has been subject to the inconveniences of wanting a home, friends, money and credit, all of which he could have commanded in South Carolina." He therefore prays that "his peculiar and very hard case" will be taken into consideration and he will be permitted "to come with his slaves and settle in Carolina."

PAR Number 11379206

State: South Carolina Year: 1792
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Christopher Fitzsimons and William Stephens, the "Owners of the Brigantine William," represent that, "in prospect of the prohibition against importing Negroes into this State ceasing on" 1 January 1793, they "fitted out" their vessel "at a very great and heavy Expence" and loaded it with tobacco and rum "in order to proceed to the Windward Coast of Africa for a Cargo of Slaves." They further assert that they "will be materially injured if the Bill now before your Honorable House for further prohibiting the Importation of Negroes should pass into a Law, without any Exceptions." Noting that they "had every reason to suppose they would be permitted to bring them [African slaves] into this State after the first day of January next," the petitioners pray "that, if any Law should pass for further prohibiting the Importation of Slaves into this State, an Exception may be made as to the said Cargo of the said Brigantine William on her present voyage." Fitzsimons submits that his half of the slave cargo is "for his own use and Employment and not for Sale."

PAR Number 11379207

State: South Carolina Year: 1792
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Christopher Fitzsimons and William Stephens, the "Owners of the Brigantine William," represent that, "in prospect of the prohibition against importing Negroes into this State ceasing on" 1 January 1793, they "fitted out" their vessel "at a very great and heavy expence" and loaded it with tobacco and rum "in order to proceed to the Windward Coast of Africa for a Cargo of Slaves." They further assert that they "will be materially Injured if the Bill now before your Honorable House for further prohibiting the Importation of Negroes should pass into a Law, without any Exceptions." Noting that they "had every reason to suppose they would be permitted to bring them [African slaves] into this State after the 1st day of January next," the petitioners pray "that, if any Law should pass for further prohibiting the Importation of Slaves into this State, an Exception may be made as to the said Cargo of the said Brigantine William on her present voyage." Fitzsimons submits that his half of the slave cargo is "for his own Use and Employment and not for Sale."

PAR Number 11379208

State: South Carolina Year: 1792
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Daniel O'Hara and John Connolly, the "Owners of the Brigantine Kate," represent that, "in prospect of the prohibition against the importation of Negroes ceasing on" 1 January 1793, they "fitted out" their vessel "at a very considerable Expence" and loaded it "with the produce & Manufactures of this State" that "is already on board, and Shipments agreed for with other persons." They further assert that they "will be much injured & sustain a considerable Loss, (particularly your Petitioner Danl. OHara, who has twenty six Negroes, already purchased, in Africa) if the said Vessel is prevented from compleating her intended Voyage by a further Prohibition of the Importation of Negroes." The petitioners pray "that if any Bill should pass for further prohibiting the Importation of Negroes into this State, an Exception may be especially made as to the Said Brigatine Kate, & that she may be permitted to compleat her Cargo & return to the Port of Charleston with a Cargo of Slaves."

PAR Number 11379209

State: South Carolina Year: 1792
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Daniel O'Hara and John Connolly, the "Owners of the Brigantine Kate," represent that, "in prospect of the prohibition against the importation of Negroes ceasing on" 1 January 1793, they "fitted out" their vessel "at a very considerable Expence" and loaded it "with the produce and manufactures of this State" that "is already on board, and Shipments agreed for with other persons." They further assert that they "will be much injured and sustain a considerable Loss, (particularly your Petitioner Daniel OHara, who has twenty six negroes, already purchased, in Africa) if the said Vessel is prevented from compleating her intended Voyage by a further Prohibition of the Importation of Negroes." The petitioners pray "that if any Bill should pass for further prohibiting the Importation of Negroes into this State, an Exception may be especially made as to the Said Brigatine Kate, & that she may be permitted to Compleat her Cargo and return to the Port of Charleston with a Cargo of Slaves."

PAR Number 11379212

State: South Carolina Year: 1792
Location: Fairfield Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Fifty-three citizens of Fairfield District seek to prohibit the importation of "any negroes into this State from beyond the seas or elsewhere." They represent that they painfully "anticipate the consequences of that unbounded and unlimited toleration now existing for the importation of negroes from the Coast of Africa into this State." In their view, such trade is "degrading to our national character, opposed to the genuine principles of our Government and repugnant to the feelings of humanity and which if permitted to continue longer must eventually ... be fraught with evils which may threaten our Country with ruin and destruction." They therefore pray that "such Laws as permit the importation of negroes from the Coast of Africa may be repealed."

PAR Number 11379501

State: South Carolina Year: 1795

Abstract: In January 1795, delegates from several societies promoting the abolition of slavery convened in Philadelphia. Arguing that "nothing can be effectual while the number of Slaves may be daily increased by importation, and while the minds of our Citizens are debased, and their hearts hardened, by contemplating these people only through the medium of avarice or prejudice (a necessary consequence of the traffic in Man)," the delegates seek a "total prohibition of all traffic in Slaves, between your State and every other Nation or State, either by importation or exportation."

PAR Number 11379704

State: South Carolina Year: 1797
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Ninety-eight inhabitants of Charleston express concern about the "dangerous designs and machinations of certain french West India negroes." They propose several modifications to the laws prohibiting the importation of slaves and to the system of patrols. They are in favor of "the Captains or Mates of all Vessels coming from the West Indies, to report on Oath to some proper officer to be appointed, whether any negroes or other people of color, are imported in said Vessels, and also to make the said Vessels liable to be searched." In addition, they "recommend that all free french negroes and all free french people of Color who have come into this State since 1st January 1790 be required to depart therefrom within a limited time never to return." The petitioners also believe that "the establishing and stationing in the City a permanent and well regulated Guard consisting of fifty Infantry and twenty four Horsemen would be of great public utility."

PAR Number 11379706

State: South Carolina Year: 1797
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Ninety-seven inhabitants of Charleston express concern about the "dangerous designs and machinations of certain french West India negroes." They propose several modifications to the laws prohibiting the importation of slaves and to the system of patrols. They are in favor of "the Captains or Mates of all Vessells coming from the West Indies, to report on Oath to some proper Officer to be appointed, whether any negroes or other people of color, are imported in said Vessels, & also to make the said Vessels liable to be searched." In addition, they "recommend that all free french Negroes & all free french people of Color who have come into this State since 1st January 1790 be required to depart therefrom, within a limited time, never to return." The petitioners also believe that "the establishing and stationing in the City a permanent and well regulated Guard consisting of 50 Infantry and Twenty four horsemen, would be of great public utility."

PAR Number 11380014

State: South Carolina Year: 1800

Abstract: Richard Pearis, a native of Virginia and former resident of South Carolina, seeks to return from the Bahamas to settle "himself and family in this state of which his wife is a native." He states that he is aware of the South Carolina law that prohibits "the importation of slaves" into the state "without special leave for that purpose granted." Desiring "to bring into this State ... Sixty negro Slaves who are and have been his own property for many years past," the petitioner prays that "he may be permitted when he himself becomes settled with his family in the State to bring with him the slaves above mentioned." Pearis assures the legislature that he will "give satisfactory security that the property in said Slaves is and has been indisputable in himself for many years and that he will bring no more slaves with him into the said State than are bona fide his own property."

PAR Number 11380101

State: South Carolina Year: 1801

Abstract: The President and other members of "The Company for the inland navigation from Santee to Cooper River" seek permission to import African slaves to work on the inland navigation project, which "is for the Interest of every Commercial and agricultural Country like this State." Having completed one phase of the operation, they argue that they must now build several roads and a ferry canal in the Santee Swamp. The petitioners acknowledge that said company is already one hundred thousand pounds in debt; in addition, they note the "wages of workmen and other labourers [are] very much enhanced." They therefore "presume to submit as an eligible mode the propriety of the Legislature granting them the licence of importing a competent number of Negro Slaves from Africa."

PAR Number 11380103

State: South Carolina Year: 1801
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: John Potter reports that Jamaican merchant and ship owner William Boyle McCullock arrived in Charleston on 17 July 1801 on board his brig Perseverance and "having on board as part of the Crew of the said Brig three Negro men Slaves named Dublin, Belfast, and Cork.” Potter further reveals that, when the brig anchored in Charleston harbor, Captain Peter Grantham "incautiously and by mistake" reported the three enslaved crew members as "Merchandize along with the Cargo," whereby the commandant of Fort Johnson reported the matter to city authorities, an arrest warrant was issued, and the three sailors were sent to the work house. The petitioner avows that McCullock “brought the said Negroes to Charleston with the intention of using them as Saylors and again carrying them off the Country.” As McCullock's attorney in fact, John Potter prays that it be ordered “that the said negroes of William Boyle McCullock be delivered up to him or to your petitioner for his use.”

PAR Number 11380111

State: South Carolina Year: 1801

Abstract: The President and other members of "The Company for the inland navigation from Santee to Cooper River" seek permission to import African slaves to work on the inland navigation project, which "is for the Interest of every Commercial and agricultural Country like this State." Having completed one phase of the operation, they argue that they must now build several roads and a ferry canal in the Santee Swamp. The petitioners acknowledge that said company is already one hundred thousand pounds in debt; in addition, they note the "wages of workmen and other labourers [are] very much enhanced." They therefore "presume to submit as an eligible mode the propriety of the Legislature granting them the licence of importing a competent number of Negro Slaves from Africa."

PAR Number 11380205

State: South Carolina Year: 1802
Location: Abbeville Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Forty-six "Inhabitants and Freeholders of the District of Abbeville" seek the repeal to "the restrictions laid by the State Legislature, at the Session Before the last, for the preventing Negroe slaves from being brought into this State." They argue that said act, and “the Act Supplementary to it,” is "a direct Bar to the Increase of Wealth and population of the Upper and Middle Districts." In addition, they assert that "persons from the Middle and Northern States," who planned on resettling in South Carolina, "have by the Opperation of that Law ... been Stoped on our Frontier, and Forced Either to Settle, with their property" in North Carolina or Georgia. The petitioners complain that the law has thus deprived the state "in a great measure of the Means of Increasing her population, and of the Wealth and Industry of a Number of honest and respectable Settlers." They purport that "if the Law Continues in force, [it] Will for years prevent that Increase of Wealth, which the Natural Goodness of our Soil, the Healthiness of Our Climate, and the Freedom of her Government Inspire us with hopes of Obtaining." They therefore pray "that you will either Absolutely repeal the act ... or that you will so modify the Same, as to remove the grievances so Justly Complained of."

PAR Number 11380208

State: South Carolina Year: 1802
Location: Abbeville Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: One hundred and four "inhabitants & freeholders of Abbeville District" seek the repeal to "the Restrictions laid by the State Legislature at the Session before the last for preventing ... negroes into this State." They argue that said act, and “the Act Supplementary to it,” is "a direct Bar to the Increase of wealth and population of the upper and Middle Districts." In addition, they assert that "persons from the Back parts of the Middle and Northern States," who planned on resettling in South Carolina, "have by the Opperation of that Law ... been Stoped on our fruntiers & Either Setted with their property" in North Carolina or Georgia. The petitioners complain that the law has thus deprived the state "of the means of increasing population & of the wealth & Industry of a number of Honest Respectable Setlers." They purport that "if the Law Continues [it] will for years prevent that Increase of wealth and population which the natural goodness of our Soil and the Healthiness of our Climate and the freedom of our government Give hopes these Districts would Obtain." They therefore pray "that you will Either Absolutely Repeal the Act of 1800 & the Act Supplementary to it passed last Session or that you will so modify the same as to Remove the Grievences of which we so now Justly Complain."

PAR Number 11380702

State: South Carolina Year: 1807
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: One hundred and eighty "Merchants and Planters" inform the legislature that they have "transmitted a Memorial to Congress respecting their late Act prohibiting the importation of Negroes after the first day of January one thousand Eight hundred and eight." The petitioners therefore pray that "your Honorable House will be pleased to take the same into consideration." The Memorial referenced raises concern for those slave traders who may arrive back in Charleston after 1 January 1808 and thereby be subject to heavy penalties.

PAR Number 11380708

State: South Carolina Year: 1807
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: "Merchants and Planters of Charleston" petition the President and members of the Senate of the United States to revise, amend, or modify the Act of Congress entitled "an act to prohibit the importation of Slaves into any part or place within the jurisdiction of the United States after the 1st January 1808." Fearful that "their said Vessels and Cargoes might arrive subsequent to the 1st day of January," the memorialists beg relief from their "distressful and unfortunate predicament," and they pray that they not be "Subject ... to the penalties of the act aforesaid."

PAR Number 11683107

State: Virginia Year: 1831
Location: Richmond Location Type: City

Abstract: The Colonization Society of Virginia asks for support to carry out its plan to remove free people of color to Liberia. The Society argues that the large numbers of such a class of people undermine the discipline of the slaves and they purport that "to this influence, it is not a novel or improbable conjecture to ascribe the awful scenes in Southampton a few months ago." Of the opinion that free blacks in Virginia are "idle, thieving, and wretched," the petitioners assert that that they become "the active, thriving and happy Colonist of Liberia." They therefore "earnestly pray the aid of the General Assembly" for "the removal of this great and annually increasing evil."

PAR Number 11683519

State: Virginia Year: 1835
Location: Prince William Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1834, deputy sheriff Basil Brawner sold William Hyden, who had been jailed as a runaway slave, to one Robert Lipscomb acting as the agent of an unnamed slave trader. When the unnamed trader finally came to town to take a look at Hdyden, he refused to pay. Brawner then asked Colonel James Fewell, a slave trader on his way to Fredericksburg and Richmond, to sell Hyden. Fewell offered Hyden for sale in both locations but to no avail, all interested buyers refusing "to purchase him at any price, on account of his colour all alledging that he was too white." Hyden was returned to Brawner, who later tried to sell him on a court day in Brentsville, but again the several traders present refused "to make any offer for him, alledging that his colour was too light and that he could by reason thereof too easily escape from slavery and pass himself for a free man." As it happened, Hyden did escape, and Brawner now seeks compensation for the "expense that arose from aprehension, confinement, advertising &c." Robert Lipscomb is unable to pay the $452 he bid for Hyden, Brawner argues, and former sheriff Michael Cleary "now stands charged on the books of the Auditor of Public accounts with a large sum of Money which your petitioner will be compelled to pay unless your Honorable body will release him from it, although he has not received nor has he any hope of receiving one cent of the same." Several related documents offer the opinions of individuals who express their conviction that, from what they had learned of Hyden's background and from what they saw and heard of him, he was a native of New York, born of a white woman, and an educated man.

PAR Number 11683811

State: Virginia Year: 1838
Location: Northumberland Location Type: County

Abstract: Thirty-seven residents of Northumberland County believe "that a large majority of the good people of this Commonwealth favorably regard the great Colonization Scheme, and that when this disposition is definitely expressed the Legislature will promptly extend to the cause that assistance which the people are anxious, through them, to bestow." They further "cordially bear testimony to the oft-repeated fact, that free persons of colour among us, are the most degraded, as well as the most wretched class of our population and we believe that nothing short of colonizing them in Africa, could be done to ameliorate effectually their condition." The petitioners point out that "it is the design of the Virginia Colonization Society, if the requisite funds can be obtained, to establish in Africa a new colony, called, 'New Virginia', to consist of settlers from our own State"; they admit, however, that "to carry out this design seems impossible without legislative aid." They therefore pray "the continuance of the Act of 1833-34 -- that is, an appropriation, free from all restrictions which would render it unavailable, of $18,000 annually for five years, from the 3rd of March next ensuing."

PAR Number 20485503

State: District of Columbia Year: 1855
Location: Washington Location Type: County

Abstract: Edward Lockett, Henry Johnson, and James Berret state that British authorities in Nassau, New Providence Island liberated the slaves aboard the brig Creole, insured by the Merchants Insurance Company. The insurance company reimbursed the slave owners. The petitioners charge that John Pemberton, Liquidator of the Merchants Insurance Company, enlisted their help in prosecuting a claim against the British government for compensation for the slaves. The petitioners inform the court that Pemberton signed a contract promising them one half of any form of indemnity received. They aver that they paid all the expenses for prosecuting the claim, hired special counsel and submitted claims to a commission appointed to settle such disputes between the United States and Britain. Pemberton, however, fraudulently submitted the final claim and prevented the petitioners from transmitting necessary evidence to the commission. As a result, the commission then awarded Pemberton $28,460. The petitioners argue that "without the exertions used by them or those employed by them said award would never have been made to said John Pemberton." The petitioners believe that Pemberton has already received half of the award and fear that unless he is enjoined by the court, he will receive the other half and refuse to pay the petitioners. They seek a subpoena and injunction preventing Pemberton from receiving the remainder of the reward.

PAR Number 20583002

State: Florida Year: 1830
Location: Leon Location Type: County

Abstract: Winthrop S. Baker asks that the court "remit the penalties which he has incurred" with regards to his vessel, the sloop Nun. He states that his ship was seized for violating laws forbidding the importation of slaves into the United States. Baker claims that "he never had on board any vessel, under his command any negro or mulatto slave to be transported from one place to another." He states that the slaves, for whom he lacked documentation, were three native-born slaves who were the property of Mrs. Thomas J. Green of Tennessee. He states that his ship was seized for about nine weeks. He seeks compensation for the lost time. In support of the petition, President Andrew Jackson wrote "that the said violation was wholly unintentional."

PAR Number 20782301

State: Kentucky Year: 1823
Location: Jefferson Location Type: County

Abstract: Mary Ann Grayson claims she is a free woman of color, born in Virginia to Neicy Grayson, "who at the birth of your orax was a free woman of Color." Mary Ann was brought by her mother to Louisville and indentured to a certain Baylor Banks until she reached age eighteen. She was subsequently sold several times until she came into the possession of David Ruth. Mary Ann asserts that her time expired one year ago. However, Ruth still "claims and insists on the service of your oratrix" even though "many can testify as to her perfect right to freedom." In addition, she fears he intends to sell her to slave traders who will take her to Louisiana or Red River. Mary Ann has a young child, William Henry, and she is afraid that he also will be taken away and deprived of his freedom. She asks the court to restrain Ruth from selling her and "that her freedom be forever established."

PAR Number 20784113

State: Kentucky Year: 1841
Location: Jefferson Location Type: County

Abstract: Wesley Brown, a man of color, asserts that his former master, Stephen Donaldson of Maryland, stipulated in his will that Brown be manumitted when he became twenty-one years of age. But before he reached that age, he was sold by the executor of Donaldson's estate to Thomas J. Godwin, who brought him to Kentucky. Godwin in turn sold him to Francis Bremaker "as a slave for life" and Bremaker has now sold him to T. L. Huff, a slave trader. Brown asks the court to restrain Huff from removing him and to grant him freedom according to Maryland law that prohibits exporting term slaves. [The amended bills establish a more detailed chain of ownership, raise different grounds for freedom, and dispute statements made in the original bill.]

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