Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

Tag: rights

They have hunted with dog and gun and have never done any injury.

We the undersigned having understood that Benjamin Morgan and his Son George Morgan who lives in our Neighbourhood have lately had their Guns taken away By Patrols agreeably to an Act of the General Assembly we also certify that we have known the said Benjamin and George Morgan for about Fifteen years during which time they have lived directly in our Neighbourhood and hunted with Dog and Gun and we never have heard neither have we any reason to believe the said Morgans have done any Injury to any person for and by reason of their having been priviledged to hunt.  We therefore pray the Worshipful County Court of Craven now siting to grant the said Benjamin Morgan and his son George Morgan the priviledge to keep their Fire arms and also the Said Court to restore their Guns to them again.  Nov 8th 1841.  /s/ Wm Simmons, John Harris, John Fearrand, Obed Palmer, Burton Carson, James M. Beasley

Records of Slaves and Free Persons of Color, Craven County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

He had no right to come back.

The Wadesboro’ Argus tells of a free negro who lived in Wadesboro’, and removed to Ohio; but soon found he could not live as well there as in North Carolina, and came back.

If this negro staid out of the State 90 days he had no right to come back, according to law.  We hope there has been no neglect of the law in this matter, on the part of the proper officers. No free negro is allowed by law to come into this State.  Any person who brings one in as an emigrant, either by land or water, is liable to a fine of $500.

We notice this case in order to arouse the attention of the officers of the law.  – North Carolinian.

Carolina Watchman, Salisbury, 10 Oct 1850.

Register of (NC-born) Negroes & Mulattoes: Vigo County, Indiana.

Jethro Bass registered 2 July 1853.  Age 70. Mulatto. Born Granville County NC. Resided Lost Creek township.

Jethro Bass and Polly Mitchell married in Granville County NC on 3 Apr 1809.  In 1830, Jethro Bass headed a household of 13 free people of color in Vigo County, Indiana.  In the 1850 census of Harrison township, Vigo County, Indiana: Jathro Bass, 70, wife Polly, 60, Emily, 17, and Alfred Bass, 6.

Lucy Brooks registered 9 July 1853.  Age 35. Mulatto. Born Northampton County NC. Resided Harrison township.

John Brooks registered 9 July 1853. Age 45. Mulatto. Born Halifax County NC. Resided Harrison township.

In the 1850 census of Harrison, Vigo County, Indiana: John Brooks, 42, Lucinda, 32, Kinchen, 12, Benjamin, 10, Amanda, 8, William, 6, and Augustes, 7 months.  John and Lucinda were born in NC; the children, in Indiana.

George Evans registered 2 July 1853. Age 49. Mulatto. Born Randolph County NC. Resided Lost Creek township.

Solomon Jackson. Registered 16 June 1853. Age 45. Negro. Born Richmond County NC. Resided Terre Haute.

John Mathews. Registered 18 June 1853. Age 36. Mulatto. Born NC. Resided Terre Haute.

In the 185o census of Harrison, Vigo County: John Mathews, 35, wife Lucretia, 23, and Lucy D., 1, plus Amy Halaran, 21, born in Ireland, and George Beard, 26, born in Kentucky. 

George Mitchell. Registered 17 June 1853. Age 25. Negro. Born Rawlegh Way [Wake] County NC. Resided Terre Haute.

Jeremiah Mitchell. Registered 25 June 1853. Age 61. Negro.  Born Rawlegh Way [Wake] County NC. Resided Terre Haute.

Samuel Mitchel. Registered 25 June 1853. Age 50. Mulatto. Born Orange County NC. Resided Lost Creek township.

William Morgan. Registered 8 Aug 1853. Age 28. Mulatto. Born Louisburg NC. Resided Otter Creek township.

Henry A. Newsom. Registered 6 Aug 1853. Age 35. Negro. Born Greene County NC. Resided Harrison township.

In 1851, when the Indiana General Assembly enacted its second state constitution, it included a provision, Article XIII, prohibiting any Negro or mulatto from entering or settling in the state. To enforce this provision, county clerks were ordered to register Negroes and mulattos already living in Indiana. This post abstracts Vigo County registrants reported born in North Carolina. 

Vigo County Register of Negroes and Mulattoes, Indiana 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.

There are many worthy of confidence.

The State v. Ephraim Lane, 30 NC 256 (1848).

Ephraim Lane, a free man of color, was indicted for keeping and carrying a pistol without a license.  Lane resided in Perquimans County, but at the time of the indictment was working for a white man named Barker “getting shingles” in Pasquotank County.  Lane carried the pistol at Barker’s behest.

Per the Supreme Court, “[d]egraded as are these individuals, as a class, by their social position, it is certain, that among them are many, worthy of all confidence, and into whose hands these weapons can be safely trusted, either for their own portection, or for the protection of the property of others confided to them.” Lane did carry a weapon, but it was not unlawfully carried.

It is the misfortune of their children.

Frances Howard v. Sarah Howard, 51 NC 235 (1858).

In about 1818, Miles Howard, then a slave, “without other ceremony, took for his wife, by consent of his master” a slave named Matilda, who belonged to a Mr. Burt.  Miles was immediately thereafter emancipated, bought Matilda, and had a daughter named Frances.  Miles freed Matilda, and they had seven more children, Robert, Eliza, Miles, Charles, Lucy, Ann and Thomas, before Matilda died.  A few years later, Miles married a free woman of color “with due ceremony” and had four children, Sarah, John, Nancy and Andrew. In 1836, Frances was emancipated by an Act of the State Legislature.  After Miles’ death, his children by Matilda claimed their share of Miles’ estate, but his children by the free woman of color claimed to be Miles’ sole heirs.  Halifax County Superior Court found for the defendants, and plaintiffs appealed.  After an exegesis on slave marriage, the state Supreme Court held that, because thet did not marry legally once freed, neither Frances nor the rest of Matilda’s children were legitimate.  “It is the misfortune of their children that they neglected or refused [to marry lawfully], for no court can avert the consequences.” Judgment for Sarah and her full siblings.

The 1850 census of Halifax County shows Miles Howard (51), who was a barber, wife Caroline (25) and children Frances (25), Charles (17), Lucy (11), Thos. (8), Sarah (4), John (2) and Nancy (5 mos.)  Son Miles Jr. (23), also a barber, lived nearby.