Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 11383003

State: South Carolina Year: 1830
Location: Horry Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: William Bryan, executor of the estate of the late Thomas Livingston, represents that the said testator "did in his last will leave to be Freed a molato Boy named Harris." The will further directed that Harris, upon arriving at the age of twenty-one, was "to be paid out of his Estate two Hundred Dollars to asist him in seting up in business." Bryan therefore prays that an act of emancipation be passed "to enable him to comply with the will of the said Thomas Livingston."

PAR Number 11383008

State: South Carolina Year: 1830
Location: Sumter Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Twenty-nine residents of Sumter District ask that proceeds from the estate of the late James Slatter, who was a free person of color, be used for the erection of an academy at Bishopville. They explain that Slatter’s next of kin "being Slaves, his small estate escheated to the State" and that the proceeds of his estate will net about $300. Noting that "the population of their neighborhood is a very thick one, and containing a great many of the youth of both sexes," the petitioners assert that "the erection of an Academy at Bishopville or in the Vicinity thereof would prove of great benefit to their Community and tend to facilitate the means of education to their youth." They therefore pray that "the Escheator of Sumter District may be allowed by law ... enacted, to expend the nett proceeds of the escheated estate of said James Slatter" to the establishment of an academy, which "shall always be considered as open to the children of the residents of the neighborhood and under such restrictions as your Honorable Body may if you deem necessary provide."

PAR Number 11383009

State: South Carolina Year: 1830
Location: Sumter Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Thirty-two residents of Sumter District ask that proceeds from the estate of the late James Slatter, who was a free person of color, be used for the erection of an academy at Bishopville. They explain that Slatter’s next of kin "being slaves, his small estate escheated to the State" and that the proceeds of his estate will net about $300. Noting that "the population of their neighborhood is a very thick one, and containing a great many of the youth of both sexes," the petitioners assert that "the erection of an Academy at Bishopville or in the vicinity thereof would prove of great benefit to their community and tend to facilitate the means of Education to their youth." They therefore pray that "the Escheator of Sumter District may be allowed by a law ... enacted, to expend the nett proceeds of the escheated estate of Said James Slatter" to the establishment of an academy, which "shall always be considered as open to the children of the residents of the neighborhood, and under such restrictions as your Honorable Body may if you deem necessary provide."

PAR Number 11383901

State: South Carolina Year: 1839
Location: Lancaster Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Elisha Blackmon, executor of the estate of the late Samuel McCorkle, seeks to emancipate an enslaved family consisting of Lydia and her six children. Blackmon rpresents that the said McCorkle directed that said slaves be freed. The petitioner therefore prays "that the Legislators of this State will grant the request of the Testator." McCorkle's will also directed that Lydia and her family be transported "to the nearest nonholding slave state in the United States, or the Free colony in Africa if they choose to go there to live" if his executors "should fail to procure the emancipation of them in this state."

PAR Number 11384005

State: South Carolina Year: 1840
Location: Union Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: One hundred sixty-eight residents of Union District seek the passage of a law to prohibit whites from bequeathing property, in trust, to slaves. They represent that the courts recognize "that a slave cannot own property of any kind -- But that a man having the right to give his property to whomever he pleases under some slight Statutory restrictions may will his property to any free white man in trust ... for the Beneficial use of a Slave." They argue that "the slave may not become independant of his owner, and that he may have no artificial help to aid him quit his masters Service." They further insist that when you "Give the slave money or property which is its Equivalent ... you place it in his power at once to place himself beyond the reach of Servitude." Asserting that "money is power and none need live in Servitude who can command it," they pray that a law be passed "declaring & providing that no Slave within the Limits of South Carolina shall be permitted to take either directly or indirectly any Beneficial interest under any will made by any of the people of South Carolina."

PAR Number 11384006

State: South Carolina Year: 1840
Location: Union Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Forty-eight residents of Union District seek the passage of a law to prohibit whites from bequeathing property, in trust, to slaves. They represent that the courts recognize "that a slave cannot own property of any kind, but that a man having the Right to Give his property to whomever he pleases under some slight Statutory Restrictions may will his property to any free white man in trust ... for the Beneficial use of a slave." They argue that "the slave may not become Independant of his owner and that he may have no artificial help to aid him Quit his masters service." They further insist that when you "Give the slave money or property which is its equivalent ... you place it in his power at once to place himself beyond the reach of servitude." Asserting that "money is power and none need [live] in servitude who can command it," they pray that a law be passed "declaring and providing that no slave within the Limits of South Carolina shall be permitted to take either Directly or Indirectly any beneficial Interest Under any will made by any of the people of South Carolina."

PAR Number 11384403

State: South Carolina Year: 1844
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Muriah [Myra] Reid represents that Sarah Reid [Sarah Ferris], a free woman of color, died in 1834 possessed of a house and lot that she devised in her will "to be in the service of my husband Ben Reid during his natural life and at his death the same shall be given to Sarah Ann Reid" and, upon her death, to "the benefit of her children forever." Noting that the said Ben is a slave held by James Ferguson, Reid relates that she "is informed that doubts are entertained whether Ben Reid the slave can take an estate in land to inure to his master's use or in any other way so as to become a sufficient particular estate to support the remainder over to your petitioner." She therefore asks that "an act of the Legislature may be passed remitting to your Petitioner by the name of Myra Reid and her children Sarah Ann Reid and her heirs, the escheat if there should be any according to Law and vesting in her and her child and her heirs the Estate of Inheritance in fee simple according to the obvious intent and meaning of the will of the Testatrix."

PAR Number 11384502

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

Abstract: Elisha Blackmon, executor of the estate of the late Samuel McCorkle, seeks to emancipate an enslaved family consisting of Lydia and her six children. Blackmon represents that the said McCorkle directed that said slaves be freed. The petitioner therefore prays "that the Legislators of this State will grant the request of the Testator." McCorkle's will also directed that Lydia and her family be transported "to the nearest nonholding slave state in the United States, or the Free colony in Africa if they choose to go there to live" if his executors "should fail to procure the emancipation of them in this state."

PAR Number 11384704

State: South Carolina Year: 1847
Location: Chester Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: James Gill represents that his father, Col. George Gill of Chester District, stipulated in his will that "a slave named Andy in his possession at his death should be under the care of his son C. S. Gill and to have as much land as he could cultivate, and no work imposed on him"; when the said George died in 1844, the bequest was instituted. He further reports that shortly thereafter the said C. S. Gill died, and, in accordance with the will, Andy was permitted to purchase himself. The petitioner now prays "your Honorable Body, to take into consideration the case of the Said Slave, who has been a faithful Servant, & is now quite old (being 51 years of age) and permit him to remain in the State of South Carolina and be free."

PAR Number 11384705

State: South Carolina Year: 1847
Location: Chester Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: James Gill represents that his father, Col. George Gill of Chester District, stipulated in his will that "a slave named Andy in his possession at his death should be under the care of his son C S Gill, and to have as much land as he could cultivate, and no work imposed on him"; when the said George died in 1844, the bequest was instituted. He further reports that shortly thereafter the said C. S. Gill died, and, in accordance with the will, Andy was permitted to purchase himself. The petitioner now prays "your Honorable Body, to take into consideration the case of the Said Slave, who has been a faithful Servant, & is now quite old (being 51 years of age) and permit him to remain in the State of South Carolina and be free."

PAR Number 11480302

State: Tennessee Year: 1803
Location: Washington Location Type: County

Abstract: William Nodding represents that he holds eleven slaves that "he has willed to his Different Children to be free at the age of Thirty five years." He further notes that "by the Laws now in force any person willing to manumit his negroe [must] give bond and Security to keep them from being chargeable to the County which your Petitioner conceives as a Grievance." Averring that he has "conscientious Scruples as to the propriety of their being longer detained in Bondage," Nodding therefore prays "your Honorable body will take his case into consideration, and pass a Law authorizing him ... either by Will or otherwise to manumit any Negro Slave not exceeding thirty five years of age and place it in his power to vest them with any property he may think proper for their support."

PAR Number 11482113

State: Tennessee Year: 1821
Location: Davidson Location Type: County

Abstract: David Johnson, executor of the late David Beaty, reports that his testator devised to the slaves in his possession "their entire freedom and the settlement of them" on "lands in the Indiana Territory." He further represents that Anne Hope, the sister of said Beaty, "filed an Injunction Bill against your petitioner in the Supreme court of Errors and Appeals ... whereby your petitioner was injoined from taking the said negroes beyond the limits of the state of Tennessee and emancipating them, or emancipating them in the state of Tennessee." Johnson reveals that a ruling was rendered whereby "your petitioner should be allowed the term of twelve months from the date of the decree, to procure the emancipation of said slaves by any legal means whatever." The petitioner begs "leave to suggest, that he has been advised that the provisions made by law relative to the emancipation of slaves in general, are inadequate to the carrying into effect said last will and testament; as they require a petition for the emancipation of slaves, to be exhibited to the court, setting forth meritorious services &C, and that that is the only ground upon which the court can legally exercise their power in such cases." Johnson therefore prays that an act be passed “declaring the said slaves and their increase, free.”

PAR Number 11483205

State: Tennessee Year: 1832
Location: Sullivan Location Type: County

Abstract: Thomas Rockhold requests permission to emancipate a slave family and legislative approval for them to remain in the state. He reports that he agreed in 1828 to manumit Emley after her husband, free man of color named Edward Cook, paid him $250 as her purchase price. Noting that Emley now has two children, Rockhold seeks permission to present an emancipation petition to the county court to "cause the said Emley and said two Children Thomas & William to be emancipated"; he also asks that he not be "Bound for them to leave the state" and he avows that they are "honest and industrious and respectable." Rockhold further represents that "he is the owner of severel slaves that he is desirous should have ther freedom and that his will has been long since that his slaves should be free at his Decease."

PAR Number 11483301

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

Abstract: George Crouch and Jacob Ellis, executors of the will of the late John Gates, represent that it was their testator's "request & desire that two of his servants or slaves, towit, Chaine & Moses should be emancipated." They avow that the said slaves are "hale and harty negroes and will [be] able to support themselves." They further report that "so anxious was their master to provide for their welfare, that he not only devised their emancipation, but gave them a decent property." The petitioners therefore pray "your honorable body to pass a special act of Assembly such as will mete the case."

PAR Number 11483310

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

Abstract: Seven neighbors and relatives of Abigail and Phebe Morrell oppose their petition "praying your honorable body to pass a Law authorising them to emancipate certain negroes named in their petition." They point out that the said Morrells "are far advanced in Life perhaps seventy years of age" and that they were "no Doubt persuaded to Liberate them by the negroes themselves contrary to their own will." They further charge that said slaves first designed "to get their Liberty and then pursuade the old women to will them the premises on which they now Live and all the personal property of the Estate at their [Decease] which would be prejudicial to your petitioners." They therefore pray "your honorable body to ... Reject the petition of the sd Abigail & Phebe Morrell."

PAR Number 11483318

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

Abstract: Forty-one-year-old Samuel represents that "his late master William Hawkins by his last will and testament ... willed and bequeathed that your petitioner, at his (testators) decease, should be emancipated and set free"; Hawkins also "devised to your petitioner fifteen acres of land ... in order to enable petitioner to live in quiet and peace near his family." Samuel states, however, that he "is distressed to find that he cannot be liberated without not only leaving his land, his family, but the state." Having always "supported a good character for probity and morality," the petitioner prays "your Hon. body to pass a law for his benefit, exempting him from the operation of the act of 1831."

PAR Number 11485303

State: Tennessee Year: 1853
Location: Talladega Location Type: County

Abstract: Henry McKenzie represents that he purchased a town lot in Nashville in 1849 from Delilah Sumner, a free woman of color. He states that said lot "was devised from the estate of William B. Downs decd, who died in the town of Nashville in March 1846 intestate;" Downs, a free man of color, "left no children or issue" and "his nearest relatives were slaves, & of course incapable of inheriting." McKenzie reports that Sumner claimed to be entitled to said lot since she was Downs's "nearest of kin capable of inheriting" and that she traded said lot for her husband whom he held as a slave for life. Fearing said property will escheat to the state, the petitioner "asks your Hon. body to pass a law, relinquishing on the part of the state all claim to the property above mentioned."

PAR Number 11485701

State: Tennessee Year: 1857
Location: Williamson Location Type: County

Abstract: David Sayers, executor of the will of the late Ben McCutcheon, represents that his testator died in 1851 possessed of a thirty-one-acre tract of land and sundry "chattel property." Sayers further states that McCutcheon, a free person of color, "directed his just debts to be paid & then that his aged mother, be supported during her natural life by his estate"; he "then gave the Surplus left to his eleven children." He points out that "the Testators children, at his death were, & now are slaves & without any existing right to emancipation." Being "advised that said tract of land, under the laws of the state was escheated & is without the control of your Honorable body," Sayers prays that a special law be passed "authorising the sale of said land & the distribution of the proceeds under the Will of said Testator."

PAR Number 11584006

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

Abstract: Fanny McFarland, a free woman of color, recounts that William McFarland brought her "to this country" as a slave in 1827 and that he emancipated her in 1835 "in consideration of her long and faithfull services to him and his family." She further states that, "at the time of the mexican invasion," she was living in San Felipe De Austin "from which place she was driven by said invasion loosing all that she possessed in the world." Having moved to Houston in 1837 and acquired "a little property," she "would beg leave to urge upon your Honors the hardships of being obliged in her old age to leave her children to sacrifice her hard earned property to be obliged to part from friends of years standing to be obliged to leave her only home and be turned loose upon the wide world." McFarland states that "she has four children held as slaves in this Republic so that all her hopes and prospects in this life lie here." She seeks permission "to spend the few reminding days of her life as a resident and Citizen of this republic."

PAR Number 11585602

State: Texas Year: 1856
Location: Galveston Location Type: County

Abstract: Twenty-nine Galveston County residents respectfully pray "for the passage of a law allowing Betsy, a free negro woman to remain in this State." They state that "Betsy is over 65 years of age, is quiet, orderly and respectful, and has ample means for her support during her life having been set free and provided for by the last will of her late David Webster deceased."

PAR Number 11678002

State: Virginia Year: 1780

Abstract: Anne Bennet, a minor, asks that the petition for freedom of Will, a slave held by the late Ann Colvin, be rejected. She states that her grandmother made a codicil to her last will and testament whereby she ordained "the said Will, to be free, and not Subject to Slavery in Consideration of the long and faithful Service done to her, by him." Bennet believes "that the Codicil to her grandmothers will was made on account of the fear which she Entertained of receiving some Personal Injury from him, rather than on account of any gratitude for his past Services." The petitioner therefore prays "that this honourable house will reject a petition of the Said will for his freedom now lying before it" so as not "to bestow Liberty on an undeserving man and deprive her of the only Slave to whom She is Entitled."

PAR Number 11678301

State: Virginia Year: 1783

Abstract: Ann Rose, the "bosom friend" of the late Walter Robertson, and Margaret Rose, her daughter by the said Walter, represent that they "were Slaves to the late Walter Robertson." They further report that "they petitioned the Court of Halifax, which said Court are of Opinion, that your Petitioners ought to be free, under a late Act of Assembly, as the said Court conceive it to be the desire of the said Walter, as declared by his said Will" and the said Court "did order that your Petitioners should become free persons." The petitioners admit, however, that "Doubts have arisen, with respect to the Legallity of the order of the said Court." They therefore pray "that your honourable House, will Enact a Law that shall secure to us our Freedom."

PAR Number 11680201

State: Virginia Year: 1802
Location: Richmond Location Type: City

Abstract: Free black Sally Brown asks that she be allowed to inherit her deceased brother's estate. Both she and her brother, Billy Brown, had been emancipated by Dr. Robert Brown, a Richmond physician, but when her brother died the great portion of the estate given him by his master was "vested by right of escheat in the commonwealth."

PAR Number 11680802

State: Virginia Year: 1808
Location: Berkeley Location Type: County

Abstract: James Stephenson seeks permission to bring back a slave from Kentucky to Virginia. He explains to the legislature that, in March 1806, his brother Benjamin temporarily moved his family from Berkeley County to Brooke County to settle some business in preparation for a permanent move to the state of Kentucky where he planned to set roots. As Benjamin's wife was at that time in "delicate health," James's wife sent along a "favorite Negro Girl slave named Sarah" to care for her. The plan was for Benjamin to send Sarah back to Berkeley County before leaving Virginia. However, this did not happen; when Benjamin removed his family to Kentucky in the fall 1806, he took Sarah with him "supposing that he could by a particular arrangement return the said slave from thence more conveniently." Benjamin did this without consulting with James and without "adverting to the operation of the Act entitled 'and Act to amend the several laws concerning Slaves passed on the 25th January 1806.'" James Stephenson prays that the legislature will make "such provision in his case, as will enable him to bring back the said slave."

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."

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