Louisa Lewis seeks permission to sue as a poor person to establish "the right of herself, and of her minor son George to freedom." Louisa claims that seventeen years ago her mother Lizzie, alias Elizabeth Dickson, a free person of color, purchased Louisa "for the purpose, and on the condition that she should be free." Louisa argues that, inasmuch as it is illegal for free persons of color to own slaves in Missouri, the "purchase of petitioner by her mother operated as a deed of manumission." Fourteen-year-old George was born three years after "the emancipation of your petitioner" and has lived as a free person his entire life. Henry W. Hart, the administrator of Elizabeth Dickson's estate, now holds Louisa and George as slaves. Louisa asks the court to recognize her status as a free woman. Depositions in the court record reveal that George, whose color is "nearly white," attended "common school with white children." Before her mother's death, Louisa spent time in Chicago with her husband, a former slave manumitted by St. Louis mayor, John How. A deposition from Martha Brown intimates that Louisa passed for white while in Chicago.
Result: Petition granted; supplemental petition filed; granted; appealed; affirmed.
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Repository: Missouri State Archives, Jefferson City, Missouri