Petition #21184302


Mary Charlotte, a woman of color, petitions on behalf of herself and her four children, Antoine, Augusta, Victorine and Euphrasia. She asserts that she is "entitled to freedom by being born of a Negresse named Rose, who herself was born at Montreal in Canada." She further avers that John Stork, an "Indian Trader," took Rose to Prairie du Chien in the Northwest Territory about 1791; two years later upon Stork's death, a trader named Andrew [Andre] Todd brought Rose to St. Louis and sold her to a priest named Didier. The petitioner submits that Didier later sold Rose to Auguste Chouteau, who has since died, and that Therese Chouteau, widow and executrix of Auguste Chouteau, held Rose and Rose's four children until her death a few months ago. Gabriel S. Chouteau, administrator of Therese Chouteau's estate, now claims them as slaves. Mary Charlotte asks to sue as a poor person for her and her children's freedom. She also asks the court to pass an order that she "have reasonable liberty to attend her Counsel and the Court and that she shall not be subjected to any severity on account of her application for freedom, nor be removed out of the jurisdiction of the Court." When the jury found for the defendant, Mary Charlotte's attorneys filed a motion for a new trial. The court overruled the motion, so Mary Charlotte appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court. In 1848, the Supreme Court reversed the verdict and remanded the case for further proceedings. [A set of documents covering the proceedings in the second phase of the case (1853--1855) is attached to this petition. The circuit court transcript includes copies of this original 1843 petition, the judge's order, the subpoena for Gabriel Chouteau, sheriff's returns, and Chouteau's plea. The rest of the transcript documents the circuit court proceedings through the 1855 judgment of nonsuit. Mary Charlotte appealed the judgment, and the case went to the Missouri Supreme Court for the second time.]

Result: Petition granted; plea of trespass filed, denied; motion to set aside verdict and grant new trial overruled, appealed, reversed and remanded.

19 people are documented within petition 21184302

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Citation information

Repository: Missouri State Archives, Jefferson City, Missouri