Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 11485504

State: Tennessee Year: 1855
Location: Stewart Location Type: County

Abstract: Sixty-five-year-old Lizy joins her six grown children in requesting that the family be permitted to remain in Tennessee. They point out that they were formerly "the slaves of the late William Crouse," citing that "for many years prior to his death his mind was anxiously engaged upon the subject of emancipating your petitioners." They reveal, however, that they "fell into the hands of false and pretended friends," who kept them in bondage until they instituted a suit for their freedom in the chancery court in 1852; the court ruled in their favor and granted them freedom "upon the condition that they be sent out of the Country to the western coast of Affrica, as is provided by the act of the General Assembly of Tennessee passed 24 February 1854 during the pendency of their bill." Acknowledging the advanced age and infirmity of some of the family members, the petitioners pray that they be granted "the privilege of remaining citizens of Stewart County."

PAR Number 11485508

State: Tennessee Year: 1855
Location: Stewart Location Type: County

Abstract: Sixty-five-year-old Lizy joins her six grown children in requesting that the family be permitted to remain in Tennessee. They point out that they were formerly "the slaves of the late William Crouse," citing that "for many years prior to his death his mind was anxiously engaged upon the subject of emancipating your petitioners." The petitioners reveal, however, that they "fell into the hands of false and pretended friends," who kept them in bondage until they instituted a suit for their freedom in the chancery court in 1852; the court ruled in their favor and granted them freedom "upon the condition that they be sent out of the Country to the western coast of Affrica, as is provided by the act of the General Assembly of Tennessee passed 24 February 1854 during the pendency of their bill." Acknowledging the advanced age and infirmity of some of the family members, the petitioners pray that they be granted "the privilege of remaining citizens of Stewart County."

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 11584017

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

Abstract: Twenty-six residents of Washington County ask that seventy-three-year-old Jordan Artis, a free man of color, be permitted to remain in the Republic. The petitioners affirm that "he was born free and has universally maintained a good character through life."

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 11681021

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

Abstract: On 18 June 1810, the Richmond City Council passed an ordinance that "no negro or mulatto" shall be permitted to use any "Gig chair or other carriage" in the city "except in the Capacity of maid or Servant to some Lady or Gentleman, hiring and riding therein." Christopher MacPherson, a mulatto free person of color who served as clerk during the American Revolution, asks for an exemption from the ordinance. He explains that, as an accountant and bookkeeper, he travels to various parts of the city; moreover, he and his wife are "both advanced in life and occasionally subject to disease -- it has happened and may again happen, that the occasional use of a carriage when they are unable to walk, may be necessary not only for their comfort but their health." The petitioner “submits without a murmur to those Laws of the Commonwealth, which impose disabilities imposed on that class of people to which he belongs and he is not disposed to deny, that there may be persons with respect to whom, the ordinance aforesaid might properly apply, but he humbly conceives that the said ordinance is unjust as it respects himself and family and that it deprives him of rights to which he is intitled under the laws and Constitution of this Commonwealth." He therefore prays that his case be taken into consideration and that “your Honorable Body will be pleased to enact such regulations as will prevent those rights from being infringed.”

PAR Number 11681203

State: Virginia Year: 1812
Location: Nansemond Location Type: County

Abstract: Hill Ballard, "emancipated by the will of Willis Ballard Deceased," asks to remain in Virginia. Ballard represents that he "has a wife, together with many young children in this county." Having "at all times demeaned himself well," the petitioner admits that "it would add greatly to his happiness to have around him those objects the most endearing and affectionate while now old and infirm." Ballard therefore prays "your Honorable Body to Pass a law allowing him in future to reside in this State."

PAR Number 11681311

State: Virginia Year: 1813
Location: Surry Location Type: County

Abstract: In December 1812, Jenny Parker's owner, Josiah Wilson, died, bequeathing Jenny her freedom. One of her children had long since been emancipated, Jenny explains, and owns real estate, personal property, and two of her other children. Now "advanced in years," Jenny Parker asks for permission to remain in Virginia, with her children and friends.

PAR Number 11681408

State: Virginia Year: 1814
Location: Richmond Location Type: City

Abstract: Philip Hembro Gallego, a free person of color, asks to remain in Virginia to provide "the fostering care and attention ... and the comfort and affection" to his parents, who are "now growing old." He states that Joseph Gallego freed his parents, Hembro and Dilsey Gallego, many years ago and that they purchased and emancipated him in hopes that he might "inherit, possess and enjoy at their death all the property which they now hold or may hereafter acquire." Noting that he is a mechanic, Gallego prays that a law be passed "authorising your Petitioner to remain in the state of Virginia."

PAR Number 11682810

State: Virginia Year: 1828
Location: Montgomery Location Type: County

Abstract: Phillis and Hannah and Hannah's four children "pray, that leave may be granted them to reside permanently within the limits of this commonwealth." They state that the late James Scott emancipated them upon "the death of his widow" and devised "to them the land of which he died possessed." Hannah points out that her mother Phillis is "almost on the brink of the grave" and "the fatigues and difficulties of a removal ... may prove fatal to her." She further discloses that "she has a husband in the neighborhood in which she lives, who is a slave, the property of John T. Cowan, and the father of her children." Hannah therefore requests that, "in the event of the refusal of the foregoing petition," she may be permitted to remain in the state long enough "to complete the payment" of $620, the sum agreed upon by the said John Cowan for the purchase of her husband.

PAR Number 11683118

State: Virginia Year: 1831
Location: Loudon Location Type: County

Abstract: Amy Grason, a free woman of color emancipated "about five or six years ago," represents that "she was the property of Presley Cordell ... for upwards of twenty years" until he freed her on account of “her good conduct and meritorious services." Grason, who "is now an old woman," laments that "she is now reduced to the sad [ultimatum] of either leaving the place of her nativity forever, or being again reduced to the unpleasant condition of slavery." The petitioner therefore prays that "a Special Law for her relief" be passed, "giving her leave to continue to spend the few remaining days of life that may be meted out to her ... in this State."

PAR Number 11683307

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

Abstract: Emancipated by his late owner Catharine Dunlap, Nathan and fifty-five white citizens of the county seek permission for Nathan to remain in Rockingham County where his wife and four children, the slaves of George Sites, reside. The petitioners explain that Nathan does not have the means of purchasing his family and cannot accumulate the necessary funds to do it in a "short time;" yet he has "all those tender sympathies & ties which bind man to the place of his birth, the wife of his bosom and the offspring of their mutual love & affection."

PAR Number 11683402

State: Virginia Year: 1834
Location: Lunenburg Location Type: County

Abstract: Twenty-three county residents ask that Lucy Boaman, a recently emancipated slave, be permitted to remain in Virginia. She is about fifty years old, a woman of "excellent character," and at her age, relocation would cause great hardship.

PAR Number 11683407

State: Virginia Year: 1834
Location: Loudon Location Type: County

Abstract: Titus Brown is a free man of color who seeks to remain in Virginia. He "is now quite old," he says, about sixty years, and has a wife a few years younger. The couple has no children. A related document signed by fifteen county residents in support of Titus Brown's petition describes him as possessing "an excellent character for industry, honesty, sobriety & usefulness as a labourer." They add that "they would consider his removal a loss to that village & its neighborhood."

PAR Number 11683408

State: Virginia Year: 1834
Location: Rockbridge Location Type: County

Abstract: One hundred Rockbridge County residents support Scipio Lucas in his effort to remain in Virginia. They explain that, while they support the general provisions of the law requiring proof of "extraordinary merit" for emancipated slaves wishing to remain in the state, they hope an exception will be granted in Scipio Lucas's case. Lucas is about fifty years old, an able mechanic, and married; the couple has never had any children. He has purchased his wife, Peggy, out of slavery and freed her. His former owner, Reverend John D. Ewing, as well as many others, could "scarcely speak too highly of [his] integrity and Moral Character."

PAR Number 11683412

State: Virginia Year: 1834
Location: Rockingham Location Type: County

Abstract: Sixty-three residents of Rockingham County inform the court that Nathan Dunlap, who was recently emancipated by his owner, Catharine Dunlap, has always exhibited "a most excellent character, as an honest, harmless, quiet, industrious man." Dunlap is approximately fifty years old and has a wife and five slave children. The petitioners ask that he be permitted to remain in the state.

PAR Number 11683505

State: Virginia Year: 1835
Location: Lunenburg Location Type: County

Abstract: Emancipated by the will of her late owner John Winn, Lucy, who is between fifty-five and sixty and infirm, wants to remain in the state. Sixty-seven county residents petition the legislature in her behalf, citing her "fidelity & general good conduct" and the fact that Winn made arrangements for her support.

PAR Number 11683508

State: Virginia Year: 1835
Location: Fauquier Location Type: County

Abstract: Samuel Johnson, a free man of color who informs the legislature that he is becoming "old and feeble," asks that his daughter, Lucy Malvin, be permitted to remain in Virginia. He explains that Lucy's husband, Spencer Malvin, a "thriving intelligent mechanic," deserted his wife and her little children when it was discovered that he was circulating anti-slavery literature. According to Samuel Johnson, Malvin sought to "array The Blacks against the whites with a view to the supremacy of the former." Samuel Johnson implores the legislature to take into consideration "a life of incessant toil" to procure for himself "a small cottage and Garden where he had hoped to close his eyes in peace attended by his child his only child." He adds that "his attachment to the Town the county and their people is strong and inalienable. He could not at his advanced age and with his feelings to another soil and another people and yet without his daughter and alone how could he be here." Several related petition reveal that Samuel Johnson (also called Johnston), a man of mixed race, had as early as 1812 purchased his wife and children, including his daughter Lucy mentioned in this petition. In addition, one the related petitions reveals that in 1837 Lucy Malvin was still a slave owned, together with her three children, by her father.

PAR Number 11683515

State: Virginia Year: 1835
Location: Albemarle Location Type: County

Abstract: Enabled by his owner to "accumulate a sufficient sum of money to purchase his freedom," Stephen asks to remain with his slave wife and children in Virginia. He is an old man and wishes to spend "the short remainder of his days in the land of his birth." His petition is supported by white citizens.

PAR Number 11683603

State: Virginia Year: 1836
Location: Frederick Location Type: County

Abstract: Forty-seven "sundry inhabitants of the County of Frederick" attest that Jonas Baker, a seventy-year-old free person of color, is a "sober, honest, upright and industrious man." They further note that Baker, "who was emancipated about ten years ago," has "rendered himself useful in the neighbourhood in which he lives as a rough carpenter." The petitioners point out that Baker has a wife "who is a Slave, and who he must separate from, unless he is permitted to remain in the County." They therefore "earnestly request that your honourable body will pass a law allowing the said Jonas Baker to reside in this commonwealth, in the place of his nativity, and where his wife resides." The petitioners "are persuaded that no injury will result to the public by granting him the privilege that we now solicit for him."

PAR Number 11683609

State: Virginia Year: 1836
Location: Culpeper Location Type: County

Abstract: Twenty-five residents of Culpeper County ask that sixty-year-old Robin be permitted to remain in Virginia. They recount that the late Benjamin Ferguson emancipated said Robin, who was "compelled to leave the state." They further report that Robin went to Ohio where "he remained some time, but not being reconciled to live without his wife," he "has lately returned to Virginia and is anxious to remain." The petitioners avow that the free man of color "would prefer returning to slavery to losing the society of his wife." They therefore pray "your honorable body the passage of a law permitting him to live out the balance of his days here where he was born and where he hopes to die." The petitioners aver that Robin is "one of the best disposed and most orderly men of his colour in the country and at the same time he is useful as a handy man with tools in various ways."

PAR Number 11683616

State: Virginia Year: 1836
Location: Norfolk Location Type: County

Abstract: Born a slave in 1776, Rachel Collins was promised her freedom, but when her owner died "Embarrassed in his Pecuniary Circumstances," she was sold to Capt. Robert Steed "with a view and wish that she might be permitted to purchase her own Freedom." Collins confirms that she "repaid Capt Steed the purchase money he had given her" and that "she was Liberated by the said Capt Steed as per his Deed of Emancipation." The petitioner reports that, during the War of 1812, she cooked for militia troops defending Norfolk and found accommodations for many soldiers. Averring that she "has always paid her Taxes regularly and has uniformly Borne a good & Reputable Character," Collins "expected to End her few remaining days" in Virginia "amongst her Friends & associates." She now, however, laments that "she has been ordered to leave the state of Virginia." The petitioner therefore prays "that your Honorable Body would pass a Law to authorise her to Spend the ... Remainder of her Days in the Commonwealth among those who have known her in her days of usefulness and that she may not be driven away in her Helplessness to Beg her Bread amongst strangers."

PAR Number 11683629

State: Virginia Year: 1836
Location: Norfolk Location Type: County

Abstract: Ackey White, a sixty-year-old free man of color, represents that Martha Jordan Parks permitted him "to hire himself out and appropriate to his own uses the earnings of his own industry ... over and above the amount he agreed to pay her"; in this manner, "he was enabled in a few years to purchase himself" in 1824. White confesses, however, that "he was not aware that he violated any law of the land by remaining in his native place," where he "has acquired the confidence and respect of the mercantile community and of all others who have employed him" as a drayman. The petitioner "therefore most respectfully and earnestly entreats the General Assembly of Virginia to allow him to spend the brief remnant of his days in the land which gave him birth and amongst a people whose confidence he has already secured by his good conduct."

PAR Number 11683710

State: Virginia Year: 1837
Location: Fairfax Location Type: County

Abstract: Dennis Comer, who asserts that is able to produce "abundant proof of extraordinary good conduct through life," informs the court that he was freed on the 1st of May 1806 and now seeks to be granted permission to remain in Virginia. He explains that he is over sixty year of age and wishes to spend the rest of his life "where he was born." A related document reveals that Dennis, who had been uncommonly faithful to his former owner, Edward Washington, was "a first rate smith" who had been "a few years ago allowed to purchase himself at less than his value, in consequence of his fidelity, good character and conduct." After being set free, Dennis has been able to acquire "a farm of two hundred acres of land" where he resided with his family. No mention is made as to whether his wife and children were free or slaves.

PAR Number 11683717

State: Virginia Year: 1837
Location: Richmond Location Type: City

Abstract: John Elson, a free man of color, purchased his wife and two children. He is now nearing the end of his life and, desirous to free his daughter Clemenza, he asks that she be permitted to remain with him in Virginia after freedom. She would prove "a harmless and inoffensive, if not a valuable citizen of the Commonwealth." It is not clear whether at the time of the petition Elson had already freed his daughter or if Clemenza was still a slave as the language of the petition implies. A note accompanying the filing of the petition describes Clemenza as a "free woman of color."

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