Petition #11682111


Judith Hope, a slave, petitions the legislature because she believes that the bill of complaint she previously submitted and which had been granted "was lost in the branch of the Legislature." She reminds the court of the circumstances of her request. Her father, she explains, the late Caesar Hope, a free man of color and a barber 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. A number of years prior to his death, Caesar had purchased his wife and later freed her; it was his desire to "bestow the same advantages" upon his children, who had been born while his wife was still a slave and thus born in slavery. At the time of his death, they were still slaves. In order to see his wish accomplished, Caesar instructed his executor, Edmund Randolph, to purchase the children and emancipate them. However, the law of 1806 requiring "the removal from the commonwealth of all persons who should be emancipated after the 1st day of may next succeeding the date of that act under penalty of an absolute forfeiture of freedom" is forcing Judith to make a choice: give up "the blessings of liberty" or be separated "from every friend and natural connexion upon earth." Although the law has recently made provisions to exempt slaves who have "rendered distinguished public service" from the emigration requirement, Judith realizes she cannot avail herself of this exemption, for she is among those who have led "a long life of humble," yet undistinguished, "usefulness." She nevertheless prays that her mother, "who in obedience to the will and with a portion of the effects of the late Caesar Hope," has purchased her, will be permitted to manumit her, "exempt from the hard condition of perpetual exile. For to leave would be to give up "every friend and natural connexion upon earth, to sunder every habit and association which years have fostered and matured," says Judith Hope. Under such conditions freedom would become a "cruel mockery." Judith once more invokes "the clemency of those who hold her destinies in their power, humbly hoping that the circumstances distinguishing her case, particularly the fact that a portion of her little property has been vested in this favorite purpose, together with the testimonies of her character will induce a more favorable result." related document reveals that Caesar Hope's will had been written in 1806.

Result: Reasonable.

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Citation information

Repository: Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia