Disfranchisement? Mere error in judgment.

by Lisa Y. Henderson

Jared Peavey v. William A. Robbins et al., 48 NC 339 (1856).

Election inspectors refused to receive a vote from Jared Peavey.  At trial in Brunswick Superior Court, Peavey called a witness who testified that Peavey’s mother and grandmother were white women, that his father was a dark colored man with straight hair, and his grandfather was a red-faced mulatto with dark straight hair.  The judge charged the jury that, if Peavey’s grandfather “was half and half, that is, half white and half black,” then Peavey was “within the fourth degree,” i.e. within four generations of a black ancestor, and could not prevail.  Moreover, election inspectors are, under the law, the exclusive judges of voter qualifications and, no corruption being charged here, were not responsible for mere error in judgment.

Jerod Peavy, 20, and wife Elizabeth, 18, appear in the 1850 census of Brunswick County.  Both are described as mulatto.