Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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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 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 11382006

State: South Carolina Year: 1820
Location: Williamsburgh Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: David Rodgers seeks compensation for "the untimely death" of his slave Pompey during the summer of 1819. Rodgers recounts that "a pretty large gang, to the number of seven Negroes had associated and imbodied themselves together, committing depredations of various kinds, on the property of the Inhabitants." He further reports that the militia was called out and "it was eventually thought to be, by the Colonel of the Regiment, indispensably necessary, that the People should turn out with Fire Arms and quell the Negroes in their nefarious acts"; as a result, Pompey "was shot dead." Rodgers states that Pompey at the time of his death was between forty and forty-five years old; was worth between nine hundred and one thousand dollars; and was "a good Boat hand, a very prime field hand; a good sawyer, And was quite handy in the use of Mechanical Tools." He also notes that Pompey "had sustained previous to being killed, uniformly, a good character, with the exception of running away once or twice." Rodgers therefore prays that he receive "remuneration for the loss which he has sustained."

PAR Number 11382007

State: South Carolina Year: 1820
Location: Williamsburgh Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: David Rodgers seeks compensation for "the untimely death" of his slave Pompey during the summer of 1819. Rodgers recounts that "a pretty large gang, to the number of seven Negroes, had associated, and imbodied themselves together, committing depredations of various kinds, on the property of the Inhabitants." He further reports that the militia was called out and "it was eventually thought to be, by the Colonel of the Regiment, indispensably necessary, that the People should turn out with Fire Arms, and quell the Negroes in their nefarious acts"; as a result, Pompey "was shot dead." Rodgers states that Pompey at the time of his death was between forty and forty-five years old; was worth between nine hundred and one thousand dollars; and was "a good Boat hand, a very prime field hand; a good Sawyer, And was quite handy in the use of Mechanical Tools." He also notes that Pompey "had sustained previous to being killed, uniformly, a good character, with the exception of running away once or twice." Rodgers therefore prays that he receive "remuneration for the loss which he has sustained."

PAR Number 11382016

State: South Carolina Year: 1820
Location: Sumter Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Seventy-nine citizens of the "most thickly inhabited part" of Sumter District, demand a law requiring that all boats on the Santee River be "Commanded and governed by Some respectable white person in whom Confidence can be placed." Presently, they declare, many boats are "navigated or commanded by negroe patroons," who trade with the slaves and carry off cattle, hogs, and "other articles of considerable value" from the plantations.

PAR Number 11382114

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

Abstract: Mary MacKee is desirous of manumitting "a Man Servant named Tom who has served her faithfully for many Years, and is a Sailor by Trade and who is able to get his livelihood in an honest Way without expence to any one, and is of good character." Having no children, the petitioner therefore prays that she be permitted "to emancipate or set him free at some future period whenever she may think it most expedient."

PAR Number 11382202

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

Abstract: The petitioners, as "assignees of Messr Robinson and Carter," are the owners "of a negro Slave named Billy," who “was apprehended in July last for being concerned in the recent attempt at Insurrection in the City of Charleston." Davenport and Crocker assert that Billy "was tried by the Court of Magistrates & Freeholders ... [and] was Sentenced to death"; the governor, however, "has respited the said Slave and commuted his punishment to Transportation beyond the limits of the United States." Noting that Billy "is now in confinement awaiting the departure of some vessel in which he will be sent away," the petitioners pray that "a reasonable compensation may be awarded to them for the loss which they have thus sustained." The petitioners state that Billy "was worth at the time of his apprehension the sum of Seven hundred dollars."

PAR Number 11382203

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

Abstract: James Evans confides "that it has been his misfortune to have one of his negro men named George Sentenced ... to Transportation" beyond the state for his role in the insurrection in the Charleston; the sentence states: "That the Prisoner George remain in the Work-House of Charleston untill his master under the direction of the City Council of Charleston shall send him out of the limits of the United States into which he is not to return Under penalty of death." Evans admits that "he is at a loss to know how to proceed." He therefore submits his request that "your Honorable Body ... will return [George] to me or take him for the use of the State at the price he has been appraised at," which is $800. Evans concludes that thirty-five-year-old George "is a good Stone cutter and marble Polisher ... and has always been an honest ... Negro."

PAR Number 11382206

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

Abstract: C. G. Morris "is the proprietor of a negro slave named Dublin," who “was apprehended in July last for being concerned in the recent attempt at Insurrection in the City of Charleston." Morris asserts that Dublin "was tried by the Court of Magistrates & Freeholders ... [and] was Sentenced to death"; the governor, however, "has respited the said Slave & Commuted his punishment to transportation beyond the limits of the United States." Noting that Dublin "is now in confinement awaiting the departure of some vessel in which he will be Sent away," the petitioner prays that "a reasonable compensation may be awarded for the loss which [he] has sustained." Morris states that Dublin "was worth at the time of his apprehension the sum of Seven hundred Dollars."

PAR Number 11382219

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

Abstract: William Kunhard relates that he is the owner of a “healthy strong and robust” slave named Seymour who "was apprehended in July last for being concerned in the recent attempt at Insurrection in the City of Charleston." He further states that said Seymour was tried, found guilty, and sentenced to death but that the governor "committed his punishment to Transportation beyond the limits of the United States;" Seymour is "now in confinement awaiting the departure of some vessel in which he will be sent away." Kunhard reveals that said Seymour "was only three months the property of your Petitioner," that he purchased him for $450, and that he "will be compelled to incur a further expense in his Transportation." The petitioner therefore prays "that the circumstances of his case may be taken into consideration of your Honorable Body and that a reasonable compensation may be accorded to him for the loss which he has sustained."

PAR Number 11382224

State: South Carolina Year: 1822

Abstract: Three hundred thirty-four officers and members of the "South Carolina Association" seek to limit an evil of the greatest magnitude, i.e., "the constant intercourse, which is maintained between the blacks of the North and South." They exclaim that "to permit a free intercourse to exist, under such circumstances, between our slaves and their free persons of colour, would be, to invite new attempts at insurrection." The petitioners also decry the presence in South Carolina of "coloured persons" from Europe and the Caribbean, in particular. The memorialists opine that they "cannot conceive a measure, which can give greater security to the State in general, than to prevent ANY FREE COLOURED PERSON FROM ANY PART OF THE WORLD ever entering again into the limits of the State of South-Carolina, by LAND OR BY WATER." Hopeful "that the dangers which menace our prosperity as a Slave-holding State, will be met by a corresponding energy in the laws," the petitioners propose the establishment of "one CONSOLIDATED NEGRO ACT or code, for the government of this class of people," which would incorporate all the "hundreds of acts and parts of acts passed in the course of a century" and which "will give security to the master, without taking away from the protection of the slave ... whilst [enabling] every planter and citizen, at one glance to see his rights and his duties, and thus be a public convenience."

PAR Number 11382603

State: South Carolina Year: 1826
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: One hundred fifty-nine petitioners, members of the Charleston Chamber of Commerce and other citizens, seek to repeal an 1823 and 1825 act regarding persons of color who arrive in port as cooks or stewards on vessels from Europe, the West Indies, Mexico, South America, states north of the Potomac River, and the District of Columbia. The petitioners assert that said laws "have proved extremely detrimental to the commerce of Charleston and of the state at large" in "a variety of way"; for example, preventing "masters of vessels from employing colored persons or slaves in the line of business in which they would be most useful and profitable" and thus compelling "them to employ whites at a very heavy expense and consequent loss" is one of “the grievances to which the mercantile community is subjected” by the operation of said laws. They therefore "earnestly solicit your serious attention to the following points, ... whether so much of these Laws may not be repealed without injury to the public safety, as Compels vessels arriving in our ports having on board colored persons as cooks and Steward to load and unload" them and "whether so much of these laws may not be repealed, without injury as prohibits the employment of Slaves as mariners, Cooks and Stewards in our trade with slave holding colonies in the West Indies."

PAR Number 11382606

State: South Carolina Year: 1826
Location: Beaufort Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: John Norton reports that, in December 1822, the legislature appropriated $15,000 for the opening of Walls Cut," a canal that would accommodate first-class steamboats and coastal vessels entering the river systems in Beaufort District. With his proposal accepted by the state, Norton used “twenty-two negroes” to begin the job. He reports that the work continued until "a violent gale of wind from the N.E. driving in a tide that arose to a height almost unparaleled" washed away much of what had been accomplished. Facing losses, he admits that he "was compelled to exercise economy in every shape, & determined to hire none but black labourers"; however, "on this calculation he was greatly disappointed their owners were almost universally opposed, to their engaging in so dangerous an employ." Stating that he nonetheless completed the work after several years, the petitioner now seeks payment for his efforts. He represents that he and his family have been "immersed at Walls Cut" for two-and-a-half years, suffering "loss & deprivation of almost every comfort in life." He details that he has exhausted his resources, he is in debt, and his laborers have not been paid. The petitioner therefore prays that "your Honble Body will not suffer him to be a loser after all his exertions to discharge his duty under such appalling circumstances, when the public receives such additional benefit and that you award to him for his losses & the extra work performed that which in yr wisdom & judgement you may deem to be his just merit."

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 11384205

State: South Carolina Year: 1842
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: John Strohecker and other South Carolina slave owners seek compensation for "the loss of Seventy or Eighty negro slaves on Board the Schooner Enterprize." He reports that said vessel, "through the stress of weather, was compelled to make a harbour on the Island of Bermuda, from a voyage from the District of Columbia in the United States, to the port of Charleston South Carolina, sometime in the year 1835." He further relates that "the vessel had but barely anchored in the harbour before she was boarded by the constituted authorities of the place, and the slaves, were forcibly seized, detained or set at liberty from their owners, in opposition to the determined efforts of the master and crew of the vessel." Strohecker argues that many of the owners are "Widows and orphans, who feel the loss very severely." Noting that said property had been insured by the Marine and Fire Insurance Company of Charleston, the petitioners "urge upon your honorable body, the justice and equity of your remunerating them for their severe losses."

PAR Number 11384505

State: South Carolina Year: 1845
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Three South Carolina merchant shippers seek the repeal of the 1841 law "entitled 'an act to prevent the citizens of New York from carrying Slaves or persons held to service out of this State and to prevent the escape of persons charged with the commission of any crime.'" Expounding on the principles of free trade, they "are and always have been under the conviction, that the act in question is in violation of the constitution of the United States." Describing the law as extreme and oppressive, they cite that it requires that inspectors come aboard ships and that ship owners pay inspectors a ten-dollar boarding fee; the cost to them alone is about nineteen hundred dollars. In addition, the petitioners assert that said law requires ship owners who have a slave or person charged with a crime on board to pay a fine of five hundred dollars, no matter "how innocent and ignorant the Captain Owners, and all concerned may be."

PAR Number 11384806

State: South Carolina Year: 1848

Abstract: G. S. Norris, president of the Baltimore and Southern Packet Company, seeks exemption from a South Carolina law prohibiting the introduction of people of color into South Carolina from north of the Potomac River. Norris represents that in establishing "a steam ship line between Baltimore and Charleston it may be necessary to employ negroes in the capacity of Stewards Cooks Firemen Engineers Pilots and Mariners." He further points out that "the laws of your state prohibit the introduction of negroes from north of the Potomac into its territories." The petitioner therefore prays "your honorable body to pass a law granting to them permission to employ, use, bring into the state and again remove such negroes as they may from time to time find necessary and convenient to employ in the management of said ships."

PAR Number 11385301

State: South Carolina Year: 1853
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Twenty individual and company stockholders of a steamship line seek exemption from a law entitled "an Act to prevent the Citizens of New York from carrying Slaves &c &c." The petitioners state that the company is subjected to a tax of ten dollars per departure "because a small proportion of said Steam Ships is owned in New York"; for their four ships, each with a capacity of 5,250 tons, this amounts "in all to the large and enormous amount of One Thousand Dollars per annum." Regarding said tax "as exceedingly onerous," the stockholders declare that "they are Citizens of South Carolina, owners of Slave Property, interested in all Laws tending to the Security of slave property," but they assert the effect of said law is "one not contemplated as they believe by the framers of the Act." They therefore pray "that the facts and Statements herein set forth may be duly investigated and such relief granted them as your Honble body may see fit to order."

PAR Number 11385404

State: South Carolina Year: 1854
Location: Colleton Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Five members of a committee of the Agricultural Society of St. Paul's Parish seek the modification of a law regarding hiring slaves and harboring runaways. They list three separate instances in which owners discovered that their runaway slaves had been hired in Charleston by free people of color. The owners filed suits against the employers, but the courts refused to grant redress because it could not be proved the employers knew the slaves were runaways. The petitioners believe that these acts are "antagonistic to the Agricultural Interests of the State and if so continued, will impair all confidence in a Title to this property so valuable, at least for Taxable purposes." They also report that masters of vessels along the Pon Pon River are also in the habit of hiring "our slaves without our knowledge and against our wishes, at night to load their vessels, thus imposing upon them a laborious task at the time, which ought to be directed to rest, and also encouraging habits of Intemperance and disorganization." The petitioners therefore pray "your Honble Bodies to afford them that protection which their Interests require and the policy of the State demands."

PAR Number 11385910

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

Abstract: Eight white master stevedores object to a bill before the legislature proposed by the "Committee on Collored Population" that would grant licenses and badges to slaves to act as stevedores. They submit that such a law would not only deprive whites of work, but it would also put southern slaves in direct contact with "any emisary the North may think propper to send amongst us." In addition, allowing slaves to act as stevedores would contravene laws prohibiting the assemblage of slaves since "on board ships they Can Collect from 40 to 60 at any time without any White Person among them." Noting that they have invested upwards of forty thousand dollars in the business on which they have to pay taxes, the petitioners ask the legislature to "place us on equality with Our fellow Citizens the Mechanics, and not to Class us with Slaves."

PAR Number 11677703

State: Virginia Year: 1777
Location: Bedford Location Type: County

Abstract: Edmond Ruffin Jr.'s slave Dick was apprehended attempting to board one of Lord Dunmore's ships. The Committee of Safety decided to send Dick, who displayed an "insolent and seditious Disposition," to the West Indies or to the lead mines as an example to other disloyal blacks. Dick, however, died before the example could be set, and the owner seeks compensation.

PAR Number 11677803

State: Virginia Year: 1778

Abstract: Thomas Paramour states that "while Lord Dunmore with his Fleet lay in Chesapeake Bay, a Negro Man, by the name of Aaron -- the property of your petitioner was apprehended making his escape to the Enemy." Paramour reports that the Committee of Safety ordered Aaron "to the Lead Mines, where he has continued ever Since." Having "not received any pay for the Service of the Slave," the petitioner prays that Aaron be "suffered to return" and that he be given "such allowance for his past Services as shall be thought just & reasonable."

PAR Number 11681417

State: Virginia Year: 1814
Location: Matthews Location Type: County

Abstract: Fifty "Inhabitants of the County of Mathews" ask that the fifth and sixth sections of "an Act passed on the 10th day January 1814 entitled an Act to perpetuate evidence of the desertion of Slaves to the Enemy and for other purposes" be repealed. The petitioners assert that said sections empower "Colonels, Commandants, Majors and Captains of the Militia, of this Commonwealth" to "remove and Secure as far as in their power practicable out of the reach of any Slave or Slaves, any boat or Vessails, which from their information and in their Opinion may be usefull to any Slave, or Slaves, in deserting to the Enemy." They complain that by said law "they have been deprived of their Canoes, which were a mean of the greater part of their support."

PAR Number 11681420

State: Virginia Year: 1814
Location: Matthews Location Type: County

Abstract: Two hundred thirty-four "Inhabitants of the County of Mathews" ask that the fifth and sixth sections of "an Act passed on the 10th day January 1814 entitled an Act to perpetuate evidence of the desertion of Slaves to the Enemy and for other purposes" be repealed. The petitioners assert that said sections empower "Colonels, Commandants, Majors and Captains of the Militia, of this Commonwealth" to "remove and Secure as far as in their power practicable out of the reach of any Slave or Slaves, any boat or Vessails, which from their information and in their Opinion may be usefull to any Slave, or Slaves, in deserting to the Enemy." They complain that by said law "they have been deprived of their Canoes, which were a mean of the greater part of their support."

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