Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

Tag: expulsion

They have always been a nuisance, and now become a great danger.

North Carolina. To the Senate & House of Commons, Your memorialists, citizens of Currituck County, respectfully petition your honorable bodies to take immediate steps to relieve the people of this State of the free negro population, which has always been a nuisance, and now become an element of great danger. Scattered over the State, having at all times free communication with the slaves, the free negroes furnish a ready and safe medium for the diffusion of incendiary doctrines which we have abundant reason to believe have, especially of late, been instilled into the minds of the slaves, and they thereby rendered insubordinate and ripe for any wicked enterprise to which they may be instigated by Northern Emissaries. The minds of our people have for several years past been directed to this source of danger, but recent events have produced a deep and settled conviction of the necessity of guarding against it, either by expelling the free negroes, or reducing them all to the condition of slavery. Your memorialists are [page torn] with us qualms as to the right of the Legislature either to expel them from the State, or to reduce them to a condition of slavery. Disfranchised in this State by the convention of 1835, the Supreme Court of the United States, the highest judicial tribunal in our country, by a late decision has decided that they are not citizens under the Constitution; and it must be admitted that here, the only rights to which they are entitled are strictly & solely legal, and therefore subject to revision or change by act of the Gen’l Assembly. Whatever diversity of opinion, however, may be Entertained in reference to this question, it strikes your Petitioners that there is one view of the subject that cannot fail to impress the mind of Every good citizen; all must admit that the present is a time of great danger; such in fact as never before Endangered the peace & safety of the Southern States, and threatened the institution of slavery; it is unnecessary to enter into any statement of facts to prove the truth of this declaration, what is the first duty of the people of North Carolina? Surely, to provide all necessary means to ward off the threatened danger – your Memorialists, firmly believing the removal of the free Negroes from the State, or their reduction to the same condition of the slave population, one of the necessary means, hold that the plain right of self defense would justify such action on their part through their Legislature, and that such legislation at this time would meet the approving voice of the whole body of the Southern people & challenge the approbation of all others throughout the country who properly appreciate our position & respect our rights. But your Memorialists do not design submitting any argument upon the subject to your honorable bodies, either as to the right or the expediency of the policy they recommend; nor do they propose to advise any particular plan for the accomplishment of the object in view, being content to leave the matter to your own good judgement, guided as they believe it will be by sound patriotism and a just sense of your representative duties. They cannot refrain, however, from suggesting that according to their own judgements the wisest and most judicious policy would be to provide for the removal of all such as might choose to go to the Northern States within a certain fixed time, and to authorise the several county courts to sell as slaves all such as remained after the Expiration of the time named in the act and believing that sound policy requires that all proper means should be resorted to to strengthen the institution of slavery by increasing the number of slave holding citizens and otherwise, your Memorialists would recommend, in case the above policy be adopted, that the right of purchase should be confined to these citizens of the state who are not already owners of slaves; that no one person should be allowed to become the purchaser of more than one, except in the case of mothers and small children, that all negroes so purchased shall be exempt from execution for debt, and not transferable by sale and purchase for a term of years. Trusting that your honorable bodies will give this subject that serious attention which its importance entitles it to, your petitioners will ever pray &c

General Assembly Session Records, November 1860-February 1861, Petitions Box 8, North Carolina State Archives.

Soft-hearted? Soft-headed.

To the General Assembly of North Carolina

It is desirable that you should adopt a course of policy, and pass a system of laws to induce, if not compel, the free negroes in North Carolina to emigrate to the Abolition and Free Soil states.  It appears to me that Negrophobia, which is now raging and rousing up a large number of people in the non-Slaveholding states cannot be cured more effectually than by giving them some strong black medicine out of their own black Bottle: and therefore, the members of the Legislature ought in my Judgment to enact all the constitutional laws in their power to effect the object I have indicated.  I do not intend to offer reasons and arguments in favor of such Laws.  Every man who has a southern head on his shoulders and a southern heart in his bosom must see the propriety and the necessity of such legislation.

I propose that you pass a law making the ownership of land on which free negroes reside liable to pay all the taxes, contracts, damages, Penalties, fines and costs, and other legal liabilities which colored persons may contract or incur while living thereon. That it, I would make the actual possession of the free negro, a lein, on the land on which he lived, and let that lein continue until his public and private liabilities were paid and satisfied.

There is a numerous class of the worst sort of Abolitionists dwelling in our midst in the southern states who clandestinely trade with slaves and receive stolen good in payment for ardent spirits and other articles, thereby corrupting and destroying the value of servants.  Many of these malefactors are insolvent persons and some of them are agents of men of property, who select such deputies to do their dirty work, hoping that prudent laws cannot reach and punish them.  I propose that the offense just stated shall be punished, not only with fine and imprisonment, but, by one of more whippings on the bare back at the whipping post.  I am aware some persons have an aversion, through a sort of sickly sympathy, to inflict corporal punishment for the commission of any offences, hoping to gain for themselves the character of being very soft hearted, but I think all such might with much more propriety be considered very soft headed.  When offences proceed from the conception of the human heart, let no honest man sympathise with the offender.  But when the frailty of [illegible] nature is to be punished for deeds done without deliberation, then, kind and generous feelings may be justly excercised.  Society can only be carried on and preserved through the influence of example.  Those persons who live by corrupting and hiring negroes to steal for their benefit, deserve and ought to receive the most severe and exemplary punishments.

All our laws on the subject of Slavery, and the officious intermedling with it, which is the sin of the age, require revision, amendment and improvement.

I make another suggestion; I would make the land on which white Tenants live, liable to pay all fines, penalties and costs that they may be liable to pay while living on these landlords land; Then, the honest taxpayers and good citizens of the state & county would not so often be taxed, unjustly, to pay costs after the conviction of insolvent malefactors and old sinners.

Respectfully presented by James Graham.

Petition of James Graham, Lincoln County, dated 29 December 1850.  Petitions, North Carolina General Assembly, North Carolina State Archives.