Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 11000016

State: Mississippi
Location: Jefferson Location Type: County

Abstract: A free man of color named Malachi Hagins states that he is descended from several generations of free ancestors. His grandmother was a white woman, and his father died in the American Revolution fighting on behalf of the "Revolted Colonies." Hagins notes that he moved to Mississippi twenty-two years ago, married a white woman, fathered nine children, and acquired land, cattle, and nine slaves. He is now subject to being driven from his country and having his property confiscated and his life put in jeopardy "for want of the guardian protection of the Laws of the Land." He asks for an act to give him "security & protection, such rights and liberties" as the legislature might deem "humane, politick and right."

PAR Number 11085913

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

Abstract: Warren County whites ask that a sixty-year-old free black man who fought as a soldier in the War of 1812 be permitted to remain in the state.

PAR Number 11085927

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

Abstract: Eighty-one citizens of Jasper and Clarke counties write on behalf of Dick Dale, a free man of color who was the body servant of General Samuel Dale in the "Indians Wars." Dale performed meritorious service attending to his wounded master. Dale is now in his early sixties and in ill health; he has a family, all members of which are slaves. The residents ask the legislature to pass a bill exempting him "from the penalties of the Act requiring free persons to leave the state & that he be authorized to remain in this state as a free man of Color."

PAR Number 11186701

State: Missouri Year: 1867
Location: Pike Location Type: County

Abstract: In an eloquent plea to the "Honorable Senate and House of Representatives," eighty two freedmen of Pike County ask that the state remove all legal restrictions "on account of race or color." They do not seek "social equality," they inform the legislative body, but rather the obligations of citizenship. Recalling their plight under slavery, where they stood in a "Kind of medium between that of men and that of brutes so far as any personal rights or privileges were concerned," they remind the legislative body that "where the State demands obligations and duties at the hand of all her citizens without distinction, the correlative rights and privileges of all those citizens should be conceded without distinction." "The injustice and incongruity of requiring of all citizens the Equal payment of taxes for the support of the Government," they argue, while "a large class of those citizens are debarred from all participation or voice in the Government" cannot be "defended as an abstract proposition." "We will not insult the intelligence of your Honorable Body," they add, "by offering proofs of our loyalty as a class. The history of the 200000 soldiers of African descent during the last four years is too fresh in the memory of all the people of the State to require more than reference to it." And if "we are not so well prepared intellectually and by Education as a class for the exercise of the Elective franchise, and other duties of citizens, as others," they conclude, "let the deadly nightmare of legal prohibition that so long oppressed our race, be our apology."

PAR Number 11278704

State: North Carolina Year: 1787

Abstract: Samuel Ashe, executor of the last will and testament of Major General John Ashe, seeks relief for Ashe's heirs, who are charged ₤6,385 "depreciated Money" for an unpaid debt. He states that General Ashe during the Revolution had been forced to flee the British troops invading Wilmington; shortly before leaving, he "buried with the privity of a Negroe only, in airtight caches, all his papers." Ashe recounts, however, that the General unfortunately died a short time later and that the papers, when dug up, were "discovered to be totally defaced or destroy." Charging that said papers would have proved that the claims being made against his estate were false, the petitioner prays for relief.

PAR Number 11278901

State: North Carolina Year: 1789

Abstract: Robert Rayford represents that he "had a Mullato Servant called Parker Rogers in the service of the United States who acted as a Piper as will appear by the muster Rolls." Rayford admits that he has since sold "his absolute property" but he "conceived himself entitled" to the pay that Rogers was allowed. The petitioner therefore prays "that he be allowed to draw the pay aforementioned, having run the risque of loosing the said servant and the labour of said servant having been applied to the public benefit."

PAR Number 11278906

State: North Carolina Year: 1789
Location: Orange Location Type: County

Abstract: Nicholas Long notes that he, "as agent for upwards of twenty officers of the late Continental line," purchased confiscated slaves by using certificates and signing a bond; the commissioner who sold the slaves was not willing to receive the full purchase price in certificates and "insisted that your memorialist should give his bond for one third of the price of said negroes." Long now admits that said bond "hath since been put in suit against him." He argues that he "has now on hand and constantly hath had certificates of the aforesaid officers to the full amount of the demand against him, and concieves that they ought to be received in discharge of the said bond, and that the suit thereon should be ordered to be dismissed." Long "humbly submits whether the mistakes or inattention of the commissioner ought to work so great an injury to him and to those officers for whom he acted as special agent."

PAR Number 11279002

State: North Carolina Year: 1790
Location: Gates Location Type: County

Abstract: William Lewis and Samuel Harrell ask that a law be passed validating the title to a tract of land acquired by a group of people descended from American Indians and blacks. They state that in 1724 the Chowan Indians received 11,360 acres of land from "the true and absolute Lords proprietors of North Carolina" lying in Chowan County, now Gates County. Noting that "the whole of the Said Chowan Indian Men is dead," they point out that that left "a parcel of Indian Women, which has mixed with Negroes, and now there is Several freemen and Women of Mixed blood as aforesaid which have descended from the Sd. Indians, who consider themselves "intitled to the Small Remnants of the aforesaid Tract of Land that was not sold nor conveyed by the aforesaid Indians in their Lifetime." Lewis and Harrell state that the said freemen “have for a valuable Consideration Conveyed the Said Remnants of Land to your Petitioners,” whereby they pray that a law may be passed “authorizing the said free men of mixed blood as aforesaid to sell and make titles” to the said land and that said titles “shall be good and valid in Law.” Supporters of Lewis and Harrell aver that “the freemen aluded to in the petition Did in the late Contest with Great Brittain behave themselves as good and faithful soldiers in behalf of this and the United States.”

PAR Number 11279102

State: North Carolina Year: 1791
Location: Franklin Location Type: County

Abstract: Presly Nelms states that "he furnished the Southern Continental army Commanded by General [Horatio] Gates with a New Waggon a four Horse Team complete, and a Negroe driver of his own property." Nelms recounts that "said waggon Team and driver were lost at the defeat of General Gates near Camden in South Carolina." Having received only "Twenty Six Thousand pounds depreciated Currency" for his loss of property, the petitioner seeks "a more Equitable allowance." He therefore prays that "your Honorable body will admit his Case to a fair Investigation and Grant such redress as to you Shall Seem Meet."

PAR Number 11279104

State: North Carolina Year: 1791
Location: Edgecombe Location Type: County

Abstract: Barbara Hill, the widow of slaveholder James Hill, bought a 246-acre tract in 1785 from the state with certificates issued to veterans of the American Revolution; the land had been purchased by her husband from William McClennan but was included in property owned by McClennan that was confiscated and sold at auction after McClennan fled to Europe during the Revolution. After repurchasing the land with the certificates, Barbara Hill states, she was sued by the other heirs of James Hill, who successfully recovered the land "by due course of law." The widow asks that the "Certificates" she used to buy the land and now deposited in the Public Treasury be returned to her with interest or that "equitable retribution be made to your petitioner."

PAR Number 11279108

State: North Carolina Year: 1791
Location: Rowan Location Type: County

Abstract: John Loop represents that, "During the late Contest between the united States and Great Brittan,” he suffered the loss of grain, fodder, hay, fencing, and his barn at the hands of William Spurgens and was taken prisoner by said Spurgens. He further states that he received a slave named Simon in 1785 from Spurgens as compensation for his losses. Loop now asserts that Charles Bruce, the Commissioner of Confiscated Property "for the district of Sallisbury" has "Brought Sute against him for sd boy in behalf of the State." He therefore prays that "your Honourabel Body" will "pass a Resolve in favour of your Memorialist."

PAR Number 11279109

State: North Carolina Year: 1791
Location: Brunswick Location Type: County

Abstract: Grace Davis and her eldest son Richard represent that John Davis in 1784 "by certain Instruments of writing did manumit them." They further relate that Grace has "continued to enjoy all the rights of a free Woman" and that Richard "has ever enjoyed the Priviledge of a Freeman," even serving "as an artilleryman in the cause of liberty." Grace, having "borne a number of children all of whom have & do continue to enjoy their freedom," is advised that her manumission "is not perfect more especially as to her Children without an act of Assembly." The petitioners therefore "humbly pray your honorable body to take such measures as in your great wisdom shall think necessary."

PAR Number 11279812

State: North Carolina Year: 1798
Location: Pasquotank Location Type: County

Abstract: Lemuel Overnton, "of mix'd Blood but free Born," acknowledges that he "did faithfully Serve in the Last American Warr with Great Britain." He further reveals that, "by Consent," he was able to marry a slave woman named Rose and "had my Eldest Son John by her." Overton states that he was able to purchase said Rose and John and that he has a second son named Burdock. The petitioner prays that his case be taken into consideration and that his wife and two sons be emancipated and called "after his own name Overnton."

PAR Number 11281605

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

Abstract: Frederick James, "now advancing fast in the decline of Life," confesses that "he had the misfortune to be born of Parents tho' free of African descent" and he now "with humility and deference asks of your Honorable Body the full privileges of a Free man." James reveals that during the Revolutionary War he braved "the Dangers of Battle and as a prisoner of war passed unmoved thro the horrors of a tedious imprisonment." He further reports that "his age and infirmities have caused him for some years to seek a subsistence for himself and family by providing refreshments for those who attend the public meetings of the County." James relates, however, that his customers "sometimes do, after partaking of such refreshments as his House affords them instead of making to him a moderate compensation therefor, spurn at and abuse him." Acknowledging that "he has no redress," the petitioner prays that a more just policy be adopted.

PAR Number 11282201

State: North Carolina Year: 1822
Location: Hertford Location Type: County

Abstract: Fifty-two "coloured persons citizens of this State" would "beg leave to state that some of them whose names are assigned to this petition bore an honorable part in the seven years war which established the Liberties of their Common Country." They further represent that "during that eventful period they were taught to believe that all men are by nature free & equal, and that the enjoyance of life, liberty and property ought to be secured alike to every citizen without exception & without distinction." They therefore are dismayed by "the passage of a Law at the last Session of the Legislature by which their lives & liberties are virtually placed at the mercy of Slaves." The petitioners contend that their rights, as free people of color, are "held by so slight a tenure as the favour of slaves and the will & caprice of their vindictive masters" and that slaves "are bound to a blind obedience, and Know no law, but the will of their masters." They therefore humbly pray "that the Act of the last Session of the Legislature making slaves competent witnesses against them in criminal case may be repealed."

PAR Number 11282401

State: North Carolina Year: 1824
Location: Halifax Location Type: County

Abstract: James McCrory contends that "he is Justly entitled to pay for Three years service" rendered during the American Revolution. He admits that he presented his account to officials, who told him "the account was Just" but could not be paid "in consequence of the [scarcity] of money in the Treasury." McCrory states that said officials "proposed giving me a Negro with one Hand burned off for my account" to which he replied "I would [rather] have nothing as have him and I then left there not knowing that there was any way that I could get my pay." The petitioner therefore prays "his case may be taken into consideration by your honourable Body and you cause your Humble Petitioner to be Payed his Just right."

PAR Number 11285101

State: North Carolina Year: 1851

Abstract: Fourteen free people of color ask the General Assembly to petition Congress for land in the "western Territory" for the establishment of a colony for free blacks. Considering "themselves Americans-- knowing no other clime nor soil" makes it difficult for them to seek a separation, but "your petitioners are well aware of the importance of this petition." They point out that many of them "are the off springs of those who yielded their all in the Revolutionary struggle but the blessings of which from political policy are withheld from them." They therefore are compelled "in the spirit of peace to ask for a separation in the name and meaning of a Colony."

PAR Number 11286201

State: North Carolina Year: 1862
Location: Catawba Location Type: County

Abstract: Thirty-four residents of Catawba and Burke counties "wish to Lay before your consideration the general Situation of this Section of North Carolina." They report that "the conscripts under thirty five having been taken from here, and there is but few Slaves in this Section of country there are but few men left for the support of the country." They further declare that "the country is already full of widows and orphans the wives and children of Volunteers and conscripts." The petitioners therefore pray "your honorable body do not have any more men taken out of this State; if there are many more taken Starvation and famine will prevail throut the country."

PAR Number 11286401

State: North Carolina Year: 1864
Location: Union Location Type: County

Abstract: Forty-nine Union County citizens seek relief for the families of soldiers. The petitioners state that "where the labouring class consists chiefly of white men, and where those white men are mainly in the Army as is the case with this County, leaves but few to make support for the thousands of Women and Children and old men that are left behind." They further report that Union County, which has a slave population of about two thousand, provides as many soldiers as the neighboring counties of Anson and Mecklenburg, each of which has three times as many slaves. The petitioners therefore pray for such relief and assistance "as you may have the power to do, either to assume our debt in part or the whole, to allow us a greater portion of the appropriation from the State than has been allowed us, or such other help" that will enable them to provide for the "families of our brave and patriot Soldiers."

PAR Number 11378308

State: South Carolina Year: 1783

Abstract: Joshua Lockwood represents that he delivered "a Cargo of Goods to the amount of about Six Thousand Pounds Sterling; which got up Safe to Pon Pon without fee or reward" during the American Revolution in 1782. During his return trip "one of his negroes fell overboard and was unfortunately drown'd, which Slave cannot be replaced for a Hundred Pounds Sterling; which loss your petitioner prays the Honorable House may take into consideration, and allow him what they think mete for his loss."

PAR Number 11378402

State: South Carolina Year: 1784

Abstract: Elizabeth Clitherall asks that her husband be permitted to return to South Carolina. She explains that, "after the Surrender of Charleston to the British," her husband, Dr. John Clitherall, accepted "a Commission in the militia of Berkely County" in order "that it might enable him to grant Indulgences to his Neighbours"; however, he "immediately resigned the Commission without having done any duty whatever." She reports that he later accepted "the Office of Commissioner of Claims and whilst he held it acquitted himself with great Justice & Integrity" and "was very forward in promoting the Restitution of the Property of many now here." The petitioner asserts that "Since his Unfortunate Exile" he has earnestly endeavored "to render every service in his power to the Citizens of this State by effecting the Restitution of their negroes in East Florida." She therefore prays that "your Honble House will permit the Return of her Husband to his Country and a numerous Family."

PAR Number 11378501

State: South Carolina Year: 1785

Abstract: Joshua Lockwood represents that "in 1782 when Powder Ball and Medicine cou’d not be procur'd from other Quarters he did supply your Army from the British Garrison at the risque of life and fortune." Lockwood notes that he also sent his son and "five hands" to deliver "Goods for the Army to the amount of upwards of six Thousand pounds Sterling" and that during that expedition "a negroe fellow of your Petitioners fell overbor'd and was drowned, which slave your Petitioner cannot replace for one Hundred Guineas." Lockwood therefore prays "this Honorable House to take his loss into consideration and grant him such relief as they think meet."

PAR Number 11378503

State: South Carolina Year: 1785
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Joseph Warnock seeks compensation for two slaves who were tried, convicted and executed for having poisoned his family. Warnock relates that, "after the Establishment of Peace," he "had hope to have rested from the toil of war, by returning from camp to his family & to have shared in domestic happiness with a wife & Six Children." He laments, however, "that in the midst of these pleasing prospects your petitioner & his whole family were most wantonly & Cruelly poisoned" by two of his slaves, whereby two of his children died. Warnock, "highly distressed," prays "Such relief as in your wisdom your honorable house shall think meet."

PAR Number 11378505

State: South Carolina Year: 1785
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Joseph Warnock seeks compensation for two slaves who were tried, convicted and executed for having poisoned his family. Warnock relates that, "after the Establishment of Peace," he "had hope to have rested from the toil of war, by returning from camp to his family & to have shared in domestic happiness with a wife & Six Children." He laments, however, "that in the midst of these pleasing prospects your petitioner & his whole family were most wantonly & Cruelly poisoned" by two of his slaves, whereby two of his children died. Warnock, "highly distressed," prays "Such relief as in your wisdom your honorable house shall think meet."

PAR Number 11379107

State: South Carolina Year: 1791

Abstract: Simon Tufts, "formerly an officer in the Service of the State," recounts that he purchased in 1786 an "infirm old negro wench formerly the Property of one Malcolm Brown" from the commissioners of confiscated estates, for which he signed a note for £450 sterling plus interest. Tufts asserts that he made said purchase with the assurance that he would be given a position in "Public Employment with a moderate salary." Although appointed supervisor of public buildings on Sullivans Island at a salary of fifty pounds sterling a year, Tufts reveals that he was discharged "from his Trust" shortly thereafter. The petitioner laments that Brown's estate "has been lately restored to him" and that he "holds your Petitioners Bond which with the Increase of Interest amounts at this day to the enormous Sum of Six hundred and ten Pounds sterling." Unable to pay his note, Tufts seeks relief on the grounds that the "Property at no time [was] worth a twentieth Part thereof."

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