Petition #11681901


In May 1806, free black barber Caesar Hope, who cut hair in Williamsburg when it was the seat of government, and later in Richmond when it became the capital, wrote a will providing for the purchase and emancipation of his slave children, one of whom is the petitioner, Judith Hope, and the other a boy since deceased. Following Caesar Hope's death, Judith was purchased by her mother who executed a deed of emancipation in accordance with her husband's will. However, in 1807, shortly after Caesar Hope had made his will, a law was passed requiring freed slaves leave the state after acquiring freedom; more recently, in 1816, the law has been relaxed, but it still restricts to slaves emancipated for "extraordinary merit" the privilege of remaining in the state. Judith realizes that she cannot make such a claim, and "the longest life of utility and quiet good conduct," such as hers, can only be "rewarded with banishment for all that can bind a sentient and rational creature to life." She cannot resign herself to such a fate and to severing "every connection and every habit and partiality of her life." As dear as freedom is she could not accept it "above all price." She prays that "by the indulgence of the honorable the Legislature" to be "permitted to live and enjoy the blessings of freedom within the Commonwealth of Virginia." A related document reveals that the name of Judith's mother was Tener Hope.

Result: Rejected.

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Citation information

Repository: Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia