Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 10182605

State: Alabama Year: 1826
Location: Limestone Location Type: County

Abstract: Free person of color Francis Hamlin purchased his daughter, Susan Locklear, from James Sims of Limestone County. Hamlin seeks to emancipate his daughter, who is married to Thomas Locklear, a free man of color.

PAR Number 11000017

State: Mississippi

Abstract: John Baptiste Nicaisse purchased his two-year-old daughter, Izabella, in 1806 at the Bay of St. Louis, which was then under Spanish rule. The bill of sale stipulated that Nicaisse should legally emancipate the child "before the command't at mobile." Before Nicaisse could do so, however, the area became part of the United States. He now seeks to free her through the Mississippi legislature.

PAR Number 11000022

State: Mississippi
Location: Warren Location Type: County

Abstract: Three hundred and thirty-six citizens of Warren County write on behalf of William and his wife, who were "faithful and favorite family servants" in the white Newman family. After the death of the last descendant of the family, the couple was purchased by their present owner for the purpose of emancipating them. They have lived for many years "in a manner free," the petitioners explain. Their intercourse and dealings were "entirely with white people," and they "carefully avoided commingling with or having transactions with Slaves." During three epidemics in Vicksburg, William Newman "faithfully and carefully" distributed supplies to the "suffering and afflicted." The petitioners ask the legislature to emancipate the couple. They "are deserving of it and entitled to it."

PAR Number 11081903

State: Mississippi Year: 1819
Location: Jefferson Location Type: County

Abstract: Dr. Benjamin M. Bullen asks permission to emancipate a woman named Juliette, a faithful slave who had belonged to his late friend, Colonel David Carradine. Bullen informs the court that Juliette is a "faithful" servant who nursed Carradine "during a long distressing and lingering illness." Carradine had owned Juliette until shortly before he died, when he sold her for $1 to Bullen and asked him to see to her emancipation. Juliette was twenty-four years of age and worked as a house servant. She should be freed, Bullen said, because of her "services, honesty and fidelity."

PAR Number 11082101

State: Mississippi Year: 1821
Location: Hancock Location Type: County

Abstract: About 1818, John Morin purchased his eighteen-month-old slave daughter, described as a "quartroon" girl named Adele. Morin then went to the justice of the peace in Hancock County and procured an "act of emancipation." A short time later Morin died. His mother, Louise Favre, discovered that the act was not valid. She asks the legislature for an act of emancipation to free Adele. Favre states that she has six children by her former husband, Peter Morin, and that one of them is threatening to keep Adele in bondage. The mother laments that she is growing old and wants to respect her son's wish before she dies.

PAR Number 11083306

State: Mississippi Year: 1833
Location: Jefferson Location Type: County

Abstract: Citizens of Jefferson and Claiborne counties seek to emancipate Richard Sanders, "one of the most worthy and faithful Negros in the State." Richard Sanders, who is about forty years of age, is an excellent gin wright, they state. Even while paying his former owner, the late Colonel Daniel Burnett, "full wages" he had saved enough to purchase his own freedom. The petitioners inform the court that Richard's late owner, John B. Coburn, had purchased him in order to free him.

PAR Number 11085925

State: Mississippi Year: 1859
Location: Hinds Location Type: County

Abstract: Free people of color Howard Cash and his wife ask for a special act allowing them to remain in the state. Howard was born free and his wife acquired her freedom by purchase. They have children, who are slaves, and they pray that if "it may please the Almighty to spare their lives, they will endeavour to demean themselves as good and loyal Subjects to the State."

PAR Number 11279213

State: North Carolina Year: 1792
Location: Craven Location Type: County

Abstract: John Handy, the "reputed father" of two-year-old mulatto Peggy Handy, purchased his daughter from Elizabeth Vail; he then loaned the child back to the former owner for the "purpose of maintaining and educating her and intending that she should afterwards be free." A mistake in the transfer deed, however, meant that Peggy would not remain with Vail after the term for which she had been lent but would revert to John Handy's estate. Fearing his intentions "would be thereby defeated," he issued a deed of emancipation, saying that after the loan period Peggy would "be forever free." Vail asks the legislature to free "the said Mulatto girl."

PAR Number 11279309

State: North Carolina Year: 1793

Abstract: "The Petition of James Hogg Respectfully Sheweth That at the request of a negro fellow named Ben belonging to your Petitioner He purchased a negro woman named Beck lately the property of Col James Thackston decd. & the wife of the said Ben who paid him down the price for her. Having no right to this negro woman Beck, but as Trustee for his said Negro fellow Ben who now desires she may be made free Your Petitioner thinks it his Sacred duty to make this application & Prays that the Honourable Assembly will deem it just to pass an Act for this purpose."

PAR Number 11279605

State: North Carolina Year: 1796

Abstract: William Brown, a free man of color, submits that "with care and Industry he has been able to purchase from Mr. Reading Blount a Wench by the name of Phillis with whom by the consent of Mr. Blount he had previous intermarried." Realizing that "his children will be Slaves contrary to his wish without the interposition of the General Assembly," the petitioner is "imbolden'd" to ask that a law be passed "to emancipate his said wife Phillis." Twenty-six subscribers avow that "William Brown & wife ... have always conducted themselves orderly & honestly."

PAR Number 11280205

State: North Carolina Year: 1802
Location: Craven Location Type: County

Abstract: John Carruthers Stanly, a free man of color, submits that he purchased "a negro male of the age of two years, named John, whom he considers his child"; in 1801, he purchased "a mulatto child named John, who is the result of a matrimonial connection between your Petitioner and Kitty." Stanly, of the opinion that "it is inconsistent with nature, for the parent to wish his child in a state of vassalage, either to another or himself," asks that said children be manumitted. He requests that two-year-old John be "known in future by the name of James Florence" and that the other child "hereafter to be known & distinguished by the name of John Stewart Stanly."

PAR Number 11281608

State: North Carolina Year: 1816
Location: Bertie Location Type: County

Abstract: Willis, "formerly the property of William T. Thompson," recounts that he "has belonged to the family of the Thompsons from his infancy until the year 1814." He proudly asserts that during such time "he hath performed many & important services for his respective masters, having for a great part of the time served them as Superintendant or Overseer." Willis acknowledges that the said William T. directed that, at his death, "your Petr. should be sold with a view ... that he your Petr. might purchase his own freedom." He states that the executor of Thomas's estate sold him to one William Carnal from whom he purchased his freedom and that the court was "pleased to order adjudge & decree your Petr. on complying with the provisions of an act of assembly ... should be set free." Having complied with said provisions, Willis discloses, however, that "the Court did not give your Petr. a name or stile by which he can purchase or transfer property, sue or be sued, plead or be impleaded or otherwise enjoy many of the rights and privileges of a free person of Colour." The petitioner therefore prays that an act be passed "emancipating your Petr. by the name of Willis Thompson."

PAR Number 11283302

State: North Carolina Year: 1833
Location: Cumberland Location Type: County

Abstract: Joseph Hostler, a barber in Fayetteville belonging to the estate of David Smith, reports that Smith allowed him "to purchase his own freedom" and that he has "paid to the said Smith & his Executrix ... the full sum of Five hundred Dollars, the sum required of him"; he also states that he has paid $96 "per year for about Four years and a half." The petitioner therefore "prays that he may be emancipated and admitted to the privileges of free men of Colour in this state."

PAR Number 11283305

State: North Carolina Year: 1833
Location: Martin Location Type: County

Abstract: Ned Hyman, the former slave of the late Samuel Hyman, represents that "by his faithfulness and extraordinary attention to his masters business and interest secured his esteem and favor and obtained his sincere wishes that your petitioner should be freed." Hyman recounts, however, that "the nearest your petitioner has been able to approach an end so disirable to his decd master is, to have had the title to your petitioner vested in your petitioners wife," Elizabeth Hagans, a free woman of color. The petitioner avers that he "has had the good fortune to accumulate an estate worth from five to six thousand dollars; consisting of Lands chiefly Live stock negroes and money the right & title to all which except the money is vested" in his wife Elizabeth. The father of three children, Hyman "together with his wife Elizabeth" therefore pray that an act be passed "for his benefit and relief."

PAR Number 11283804

State: North Carolina Year: 1838
Location: Wake Location Type: County

Abstract: Charles Dewey seeks to emancipate Tom Mitchell, a twenty-six-year-old enslaved carpenter. Dewey represents that said "Tom is a man of very good character, of quiet & orderly behavior & very humble & respectful in his deportment towards white people." He therefore prays that "he may be liberated & made a free man & known & called as such by the name Tom Mitchell."

PAR Number 11284801

State: North Carolina Year: 1848
Location: Franklin Location Type: County

Abstract: Amey Moore and "sundry other citizens of the county of Franklin" ask that David Moore, "a man of colour," be emancipated. They report that Amey sold the slave to Alexander McKnight for "the sum of one thousand dollars paid by the said Alexander McKinley, but which was in fact paid by the said David Moore with a view to the purchase of freedom." Having saved the life of the said Amey, the petitioners are "fully persuaded that David Moore is all respects a proper object for the favorable consideration of your honorable body.” They therefore pray "you to confer on him (one of the highest gifts you have to bestow) his freedom."

PAR Number 11285405

State: North Carolina Year: 1854
Location: Cumberland Location Type: County

Abstract: John Cook represents that "he is the owner of certain Slaves named Handy, Polly, & Louisa, formerly the property of Archibald McLauchlin." He further states that the said Handy raised "a sufficient sum to purchase himself, his wife Polly & daughter Louisa with a view to their ... emancipation." Describing the family as "sober humble upright industrious & good persons & of consistent character," the petitioner therefore prays "that an act may be passed by your Honorable body emancipating said slaves Handy & his wife Polly & daughter Louisa."

PAR Number 11285408

State: North Carolina Year: 1854
Location: Cumberland Location Type: County

Abstract: The joint owners of Dolly, age about fifty, and Caroline, age about twelve, seek to free the two slaves in accordance with the wishes of Dr. Hiram Robinson, who sold said slaves to the petitioners. They point out that the said bill of sale "expressed upon its face that your Petitioners should hold the said slaves as tenants in Common until they were lawfully emancipated or conveyed to some free state or territory -- thereby conveying the impression to the purchasers, your Petitioners, that he, the former owner, desired their future emancipation." They therefore pray, "in consideration of the uniformly good character of the said Dolly & her daughter Caroline," that an act be passed emancipating said slaves.

PAR Number 11382127

State: South Carolina Year: 1821
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: James Hamilton represents that in the winter of 1820 he "was induced at the solicitation of a faithful Slave of the name of Robert belonging to the father of your petitioner to assist him in the purchase of his Son William belonging to a Wm Hall of Charleston." Hamilton states that the said Robert intended to repay the purchase price "from the profits of his Trade as a Bricklayer." He further notes that said agreement "was then in conformity with the subsisting Law to have his Son William a Boy of fourteen years of age emancipated." The petitioner reports, however, that he "is unable to fulfil his pledge" due to "the Act passed at your last session." Hamilton therefore prays that an act be passed "declaring the said William to be emancipated and forever free."

PAR Number 11382227

State: South Carolina Year: 1822
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Appointed by the Court of Common Pleas as the guardian of "a Negroe wench named Catherine who claims her freedom," J. E. Holmes asks that the slave be emancipated. Owned by Peter Catonet, a Charleston merchant, Catherine was purchased by Dr. Plumeau with the understanding that she could purchase her freedom for three hundred dollars, a sum far below her value. A contract was entered into between the owner and slave in the presence of Catonet and his wife. Catherine fulfilled her part of the bargain, but when Dr. Plumeau died his heirs denied any knowledge of the agreement. In a court case it was shown that the doctor had been "in the habit of inducing Masters of Slaves to sell them for a less price than the Value- under pretense of emancipating them - and then defrauding the Slaves themselves." It was also proved that Catherine had been "working out and carrying in Wages - for a period sufficiently long to have pd double the sum," and she had paid the interest on her purchase price. By civil law, the petitioner explained, slaves could make contracts with permission of their masters. When the case was appealed, the judge ruled that the guardian should petition the state legislature, "as by a late law they were constituted the proper Tribunal to decide upon Cases of this nature."

PAR Number 11483304

State: Tennessee Year: 1833
Location: Greene Location Type: County

Abstract: Twenty-five residents of Greene County represent that William Hendrey gave John McFee, his son-in-law, "a Cartin Calored Gal by the name of Delfe" in 1827 and that said McFee "Sold hur to hur mother a black woman for the Sum of thre hundred Dollars"; McFee "gave hur mother a firm bil of Sail for Delfy and She was to Set hur free." The petitioners point out that said mother cannot emancipate her daughter owing "to an act of the General assembly prohibiting the amancipation of Slaves." The petitioners therefore pray "your Honourable body to pass a law authorising the County Court of Green to emancipate the sd Delfey." They further avow that Delfy "is a garl of good Charactor."

PAR Number 11483319

State: Tennessee Year: 1833
Location: Hardeman Location Type: County

Abstract: Joshua Thurman represents that "in the year of 1831 he purchased his sister Harriett a Slave from Washington Edgings who then owned her" and that "when he made the purchase it was with the express promise and understanding that he your petitioner would give the said Harriett her freedom, That M Edings refused to sell her upon any other condition." Thurman relates, however, "that before it was in his power to do so, the Honorable General assembly of this State passed a law prohibiting the emancipation of Slaves." He further avows that "the said Harriett is a discreet and industrious girl and has greatly assisted your petitioner in paying for her; for which reason as well as the ties of brotherly love," he is still "desirous to discharge this moral obligation of seting her free." The petitioner therefore "with great deference would Humbly pray your Honorable Body to pass a law to authorise your petitioner to emancipate the said Harriett."

PAR Number 11680905

State: Virginia Year: 1809
Location: Stafford Location Type: County

Abstract: About 1798 or 1799, Travers Daniel Sr. of Stafford County advanced the money to a man named William Simmons for the purchase of a young slave named George Simmons from his then owner, Enoch Mason. The express purpose of the transaction was for young George's future emancipation when he reached the legal age of twenty-one. It was agreed that George would work for Daniel to reimburse him for the price of his purchase. In 1806, William Simmons died, leaving a will specifically stating that he wished his son emancipated and bequeathing to him all that he owned. However, the will was never properly signed by the testator and was never probated. George Simmons fears that, in the absence of a properly probated will, he will be robbed of his freedom by "some person or persons pretending to be the heirs of his father." He contends that Daniel is fully satisfied that he has been reimbursed for the money advanced to William Simmons and that nobody else has a claim on him. He therefore prays that "his right to liberty may be declared by law that he may not be deprived of that right which constitutes the greatest blessing and that the wishes of his father may not be defeated." Furthermore, he asks an exemption from the law requiring freed slaves to leave the state and to be allowed to remain in "his native state."

PAR Number 11681002

State: Virginia Year: 1810
Location: Petersburg Location Type: City

Abstract: "[Y]our petitioner was born, and to this hour remains, a Slave," James Butler began. Having always conducted himself to gain the good will and esteem of whites, and having paid his master for his freedom, Butler asks for an act of emancipation. He "is now considerably advanced in years" and had long hoped to enjoy freedom in his latter days. But to leave his family within twelve months as the law requires would put him in a state "infinitely more galling" than bondage. He seeks permission to remain in Virginia. John Osborne, Butler's current owner, joins in his "prayer" to the legislature and various citizens of the county offer a certificate of good conduct.

PAR Number 11681119

State: Virginia Year: 1811
Location: Southampton Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1805, Jemima Hunt, a free woman of color, contracted with Benjamin Barrett to purchase her husband Stephen, promising to pay ten pounds each year for ten years. She has now paid the full amount and holds the title to her husband; she wishes to emancipate him. However, if she attempts to set Stephen free, she faces the prospect of being separated from him by the law that requires that all slaves freed after a certain date leave the state. She explains to the legislature that she and Stephen have a large number of children that they must support by their joint labor, and "without the assistance of her husband" the children will "suffer or become burdensome." She asks the legislature to take her case into consideration and grant Stephen permission to reside in the state after emancipation "& to enjoy all the priviledges that other free people of colour are entitled to."

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