To the General Assembly of the State of North Carolina
The Petition of Lewis Tombereau most humbly sheweth
That your Petitioner is a native of France and a shoemaker by trade and that being from his youth attached to a government founded on Just and liberal principles such as guarantees the enjoyment of rational liberty, and an equal participation in the administration of its laws to every citizen however humble. He emigrated to the United States, and settled himself therein, near Williamston in Martin County in this state, where without a care beyond his lap stone, he worked at his trade with such assiduity and industry as to have been considered eminently useful in his line in that neighbourhood, so that he was enabled to make both ends meet with comfort, which he still hopes to do and thereby to his last, eat the bread of independence.
That to lighten the cares, and sweeten the toils of life, and make his share of its burthens sit easy, He intermarried with a young woman of the neighbourhood, named Nancy Jolly of whom he became enamoured of, to whom he was determined to stick as close as wax; and to exert the powers given to him by God, and nature, to satisfy her desire, supply her wants, administer to her necessities, and provide for her support in a manner befitting his humble, but independent sphere in life.
That with the most pungent and heart felt sorrow, your Petitioner feels himself compelled to state, that his sunshine gleam of felicity was evanescent; and he too soon with heart rending horror found, that in his indulging in the best passion incident to humanity, he linked his fortunes with, and intrusted his happiness to, one of the most frail, lewd, and depraved, daughters of Eve, for without either cause or provocation she shortly after her said marriage withdrew herself from your Petitioner, and from the discharge of her conjugal duties, and forsook both his board and bed, to cohabit with a certain mulatto Barber named Roland Colanche then living in Williamston by whom she had a coloured child, and became, and continues to be, a public and notorious prostitute in the most unlimited sense of that word. She indulging in an unreserved, and promiscuous intercourse with men of every colour, age, class and description she meets, sufficiently dissolute, licentious, and sensual, to gratify their passions, and her lust, and desire of variety.
That your Petitioners hopes of happiness being thus early blasted, in a way, and by persons whose abject stations in life, precludes his obtaining any redress for the injuries this done him, without making him obnoxious to that portion of ridicule, that most inconsistently follows matters of this nature, because the butt of such ridicule, is more an object for the balm of pity, than for the gall of unfeeling mirth, to avoid which, he moved from thence, and is now seated in Raleigh in Wake County, where his demeanour has been such, he feels himself authorized to say, as to gain for him the good will of his neighbours notwithstanding his poverty.
That from his imperfect knowledge of the English language, he being a foreigner, and the consequent difficulty of making himself understood, as well as from a reluctance to make public, what without any fault of his own might by mean and illiberal minds be thought disgraceful to him, he has hitherto brooded over his wrongs in agonising silence, and his poverty precluding the possibility of his engaging a lawyer to file a petition for a divorce in a court of law, or if he has found a lawyer kind enough to befriend him therein, he was, and is, unable to give the security for the accruing costs which is require by act of assembly: which costs he would be compelled to pay, tho successful in the suit, as neither the unhappy woman complained against, not her paramour, have any visible means of paying them: and as your Petitioner is able to substantiate the facts herein set forth, as well as by several members of your Body, as by other respectable witnesses; and being advised, that the acting upon it, so as to release him from the unhallowed bonds he in an evil hour entered into, is a matter wholly within the discretion of your Body.
He earnestly prays that you will take his case into consideration that he is a foreigner, and poor, and the woman complained against, an open and notorious prostitute, and that you will either divorce him from the said woman, or make such order as to your collective wisdom shall seem commensurate with the affording him adequate relief in the premises and He will ever gratefully pray &c. /s/ L Tombereau
Raleigh Wake County November 19th A.D. 1824 }
General Assembly Session Records, November 1824, North Carolina State Archives.