Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 10384308

State: Delaware Year: 1843

Abstract: Forty-nine petitioners believe "the public good requires that all free negroes & free mulattoes should be prohibited the use of fire arms within the State, wherefore they pray that so much of the act of the General Assembly of said State passed at Dover February 10th 1832 as allows Justices of the Peace upon certain conditions therein mentioned to issue licenses or permits to free negroes and mulattoes to have and use fire arms may be repealed."

PAR Number 10384313

State: Delaware Year: 1843
Location: New Castle Location Type: County

Abstract: Sixty-five citizens of New Castle County seek the repeal of a law "granting permission to negroes and mullatoes to carry fire arms." They contend that said law "has been much abused in our county and has led to serious consequences even to the shooting of a respectable and worthy citizen by a negro." They therefore pray that said law "may be repealed or so modified as to prohibit all negroes or mullattoes from carrying or using fire arms under any circumstances whatever, and to impose a fine upon any storekeeper or other person who may sell, give, or lend to any negro or mulatto any such arms or ammunition for the same."

PAR Number 10384505

State: Delaware Year: 1845

Abstract: Sixty-three residents of Smyrna represent that they "have for long time been under serious annoyance from frequent large and noisey assemblages of Negroes & others in the Streets of the said town and by evil and dangerous practices of Boys and others in firing guns crackers Squibbs &c and the throwing of fire Balls about the streets especially about Holliday times." They therefore pray that a law be passed "to prevent in future the evils they now complain of."

PAR Number 10384901

State: Delaware Year: 1849

Abstract: Twenty-nine free black inhabitants of Delaware seek to repeal the law requiring them to produce passes or freedom papers when traveling from one area to another. They affirm that they are civil citizens who have "no intent to hurt or Injure any of the human family but wish well to all yet we are liable to be arrested when Traveling on our lawful buisness to be put in prison pervided we do not exhibit a certificate or Pass signed by a white man which appears to be sufficient thogh his charecter be mutch blacker then our Skins." They also oppose other laws "equilly oppressive to us as freeman" that forbid them "to own or have a gunn in our possession Without a permit from a Justice of The peace" and prohibit them from assembling "togather for Religious worship in our own churches and remain There beyound the Hours of ten oclock at night with out having the presence of three white men amongst us." They therefore "pray you will take into consideration and expung these laws from your books so as to give us right to Travel as men and not as bruts."

PAR Number 11282801

State: North Carolina Year: 1828
Location: Craven Location Type: County

Abstract: Fifteen members of a Craven County grand jury join twenty other county residents in representing that a "great inconvenience and injury arise to them and others from the constant and growing practice of persons of colour hunting with dogs and guns." The petitioners argue that said free blacks, "under the pretext of seeking game," commit numerous "depredations upon the farms, by killing stock of every description." They therefore ask that the existing laws prohibiting slaves from hunting be amended to include "all persons of colour," not just slaves.

PAR Number 11283503

State: North Carolina Year: 1835
Location: Craven Location Type: County

Abstract: Thirty-nine residents of Craven County contend that "there are many free negroes and mulattoes living in said county, who are of evil and bad habits, leading dissolute and immoral lives, and who, upon any insurrectionary movement, might be expected to join it with heart and hand." They charge that the free blacks "claim license to roam about and acquire guns and ammunition." Considering this population's "vagrant habits and roaming living as a nuisance requiring correction," the citizens therefore pray that a law be passed "requiring every free negro and free person of color to obtain a license from the county court before he could have or use a gun or ammunition." They urge a "remedy to the evil," especially "in times like these, when many of the citizens of the Northern states are disseminating among our slaves the firebrands of insurrection and blood."

PAR Number 11284005

State: North Carolina Year: 1840
Location: Halifax Location Type: County

Abstract: Fifty residents of Halifax County "do petition to the Hon Legislators of No Carolina to prohibit Free Negroes and molatoes from carrying or useing fire armes under any circumstances what ever."

PAR Number 11285103

State: North Carolina Year: 1851
Location: Beaufort Location Type: County

Abstract: Thirty-nine Beaufort County residents "respectfully request of you the passage of a law prohibiting free persons of colour from owning or carrying fire arms." They believe that it should take more than "proving a good character" in order to receive a license; they argue that a man may "prove his character to be good altho he was the meanest vilian in the whole country." They cite "their owning guns also gives them the opportunity which they make use of to kill a good many of our cattle hogs and sheep And to corrupt the morals of our slave population by loaning them guns and hunting with them on the Sabbath." The petitioners "would also suggest that their owning guns has the tendency to encourage their natural slothfull and idle habits."

PAR Number 11285608

State: North Carolina Year: 1856
Location: Robeson Location Type: County

Abstract: Eleven Robeson County citizens seek laws to control free people of color. The petitioners ask that free people of color be prohibited from owning more than one dog per family; prohibited from possessing firearms unless a freeholder and then only on their own property; prohibited from filing suit in either county or superior courts; and prohibited from declaring insolvency. They further declare that if free people of color are unable to pay debts or do not pay their lawful poll tax, they should "in all cases be sold by the [sheriff] before the door of the Court House for the same."

PAR Number 11286105

State: North Carolina Year: 1861
Location: Hertford Location Type: County

Abstract: Fifteen Justices of the County Court of Hertford seek modification of an act which prohibits free persons of color from keeping shotguns. The petitioners request the restoration of the former law which gave county courts the right to determine gun licenses on the basis of "character and good conduct." The Justices "are of opinion that a just discrimination among applicants and the grant of such favor to deserving persons is itself a strong incentive to persons of this class to maintain a good character and deport themselves properly."

PAR Number 11380003

State: South Carolina Year: 1800
Location: Colleton Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Major Brown, the widow of Joseph Chandler Brown, laments that her husband "was killed on the spot" by the gunfire of "a gang of runaway negroes, the property of divers persons not living in that neighbourhood; and who infested that part of the country, then very thinly inhabited by white inhabitants." Brown reveals that she, "together with four small children, the oldest not thirteen years of age, are reduced to the utmost distress as the labor of the deceased was their only support." The petitioner, "confiding in the legallity of her claim, as sanctioned by the eighth paragraph of the Act for the better ordering & Governing Negroes, but yet more in the justice and humanity of this Honourable House," prays for relief.

PAR Number 11380015

State: South Carolina Year: 1800
Location: Colleton Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Major Brown, the widow of Joseph Chandler Brown, laments that her husband "was killed on the spot" by the gunfire of "a gang of runaway negroes, the property of divers persons, not living in that neighbourhood; and who infested that part of the country, then very thinly inhabited by white inhabitants." Brown reveals that she, "together with four small children, the oldest not thirteen years of age, are now reduced to the utmost distress as the labor of the deceased was their only support." The petitioner, "confiding in the legallity of her claim, as sanctioned by the eighth paragraph of the Act for the better ordering & Governing Negroes, but yet more in the justice & humanity of this Honorable House," prays for relief.

PAR Number 11382014

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

Abstract: Twenty-nine citizens of Kershaw District "represent as an evil the premission of Slaves, and free persons of colour, at Military reviews and muster grounds." They contend that "the true policy of the State is to prevent them from being present at such places, and on such occasions, as would enable them to witness and become acquainted, with the use of arms." The also argue that "martial music, and the warlike movement of troops are calculated to fire their bosoms with feelings, which, at an evil hour, may burst forth with distructive fury, and distroy the peace and lives of our fellow citizens." The petitioners "also present as an evil the practice ... of premitting slaves, and free persons of colour, to serve as musicians in military corps, and at military reviews." They therefore submit their concerns β€œto your honorable body, trusting that you will take them into serious consideration, and dispose of them for the best interests of the State.”

PAR Number 11386501

State: South Carolina Year: 1865
Location: Colleton Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Thirteen citizens of Colleton District represent "that the law respecting negroes and free persons of Colour carrying and using firearms is not punishable except by forfeiture of said arms.” They believe "said punishment too light, and think the law ought to be framed as to make them liable to indictment and punishment on proof that such persons have firearms in their possession whether said arms can be seized or not."

PAR Number 11583602

State: Texas Year: 1836
Location: Nacogdoches Location Type: County

Abstract: Eleven citizens "pray Your honorable Body to take into Consideration the Subject of Negroes Carrying Arms." They are of the opinion that blacks "should be prohibited from so doing, by all the rigours of the Law."

PAR Number 11584015

State: Texas Year: 1840
Location: Montgomery Location Type: County

Abstract: Free man of color Robert Thompson asks to remain in the Republic. He arrived in Texas in 1831 and, though he did not fight in 1836, he "furnished a valuable mare and rifle gun for the use of the Army of Texas." Thirty citizens consider Robert Thompson to be "a man of prudence and industry," and they are not aware of anything that "has been alleged against him to render him unworthy to remain in the Republic."

PAR Number 11683310

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

Abstract: Free black Joseph Ruff notes that he is "one of that unfortunate class in Virginia, who neither possesses the common privileges of a free man, nor has the protection and security of a slave." Citing a recent law barring free blacks from owning fire arms, Ruff seeks permission to keep a gun for hunting and protection. His father fought in the American Revolution, and, Ruff contends, he should be allowed to possess firearms as his father did before him. He is a land owner, and a "peaceable industrious citizen of the County of Bedford."

PAR Number 20983306

State: Maryland Year: 1833
Location: Prince George's Location Type: County

Abstract: Thomas Burke, a free person of color, states that he is "sober, & industrious, and that a principal means of support to himself and family is derived from his killing wild fowl." He asks the court "to grant him the privilege of keeping a gun."

PAR Number 21284102

State: North Carolina Year: 1841
Location: Wayne Location Type: County

Abstract: A free black who calls himself Free Willis asks to keep a shot gun and ammunition at his house. "No charge has Ever been against Me for any injury done thereby," Willis explains. Indeed, when reports circulated concerning a slave revolt, he turned the gun over to a white man, Henry Sasser, who kept it until the threat had passed.

PAR Number 21284120

State: North Carolina Year: 1841
Location: Wayne Location Type: County

Abstract: Free black Hilary Coor asks for a license to use a gun for one year agreeable to the recent act of the General Assembly.

PAR Number 21284203

State: North Carolina Year: 1842
Location: Randolph Location Type: County

Abstract: The Waldens, a free black family and property owners, request "a Licence authorising them to have Keep and use fire arms so long as they be of good moral character."

PAR Number 21284811

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

Abstract: John Lane informs the court that a fifty-eight-year-old slave named Edward, "an old family servant" whom he inherited from Stephen Hanes, deserves "the boon of freedom." Having known Edward for thirty years, Lane describes him as faithful and trustworthy.

PAR Number 21285432

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

Abstract: A group of white citizens recommend that Stephen Evans, a free man of color, be granted "the privilege of Hunting With A Gun For the perpose of Killing Game" for twelve months. They "know Nothing Against his Charactor."