Title: Petition of John Harry, 29 April 1862
Date: April 29, 1862
Source Text: A microfilm reproduction of the original document held at the National Archives and Records Administration, Microcopy 520, Reel 2. The original document is held in the Records of the Accounting Officers of the Department of the Treasury, 1775–1978, National Archives and Records Administration, Record Group 217.6.5. Within the National Archives' Archival Description Catalog, see ARC Identifier 4644616 / MLR Number A1 347 (http://arcweb.archives.gov).
Civil War Washington ID: cww.00001
Sold by W .H. & O. H. Morrison, Law Booksellers, 440 Pennsylvania Avenue.
FOR THE RELEASE OF CERTAIN PERSONS HELD TO SERVICE OR LABOR IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That all persons held to service or labor within the District of Columbia by reason of African descent are hereby discharged and freed of and from all claim to such service or labor; and from and after the passage of this act neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except for crime, whereof the party shall be duly convicted, shall hereafter exist in said District.
SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That all persons loyal to the United States, holding claims to service or labor against persons discharged therefrom by this act, may, within ninety days from the passage thereof, but not thereafter, present to the Commissioners hereinafter mentioned their respective statements or petitions in writing, verified by oath or affirmation, setting forth the names, ages, and personal description of such persons; the manner in which said petitioners acquired such claim, and any facts touching the value thereof, and declaring his allegiance to the Government of the United States, and that he has not borne arms against the United States during the present rebellion, nor in any way given aid or comfort thereto: Provided, That the oath of the party to the petition shall not be evidence of the fact therein stated.
SEC. 3. And be it further enacted, That the President of the United States, with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint three Commissioners, residents of the District of Columbia, any two of whom shall have power to act, who shall receive the petitions above mentioned, and who shall investigate and determine the validity and value of the claims therein presented, as aforesaid, and appraise and apportion, under the proviso hereto annexed, the value in money of the several claims by them found to be valid: Provided, however, That the entire sum so appraised and apportioned shall not exceed, in the aggregate, an amount equal to three hundred dollars for each person shown to have been so held by lawful claim: And provided further, That no claim shall be allowed for any slave or slaves brought into said District after the passage of this act, nor for any slave claimed by any person who has borne arms against the Government of the United States in the present rebellion, or in any way given aid or comfort thereto, or which originates in or by virtue of any transfer heretofore made, or which shall hereafter be made by any person who has in any manner aided or sustained the rebellion against the Government of the United States.
SEC. 4. And be it further enacted, That said Commissioners shall, within nine months from the passage of this act, make a full and final report of their proceedings, findings, and appraisement, and shall deliver the same to the Secretary of the Treasury, which report shall be deemed and taken to be conclusive in all respects, except as hereinafter provided; and the Secretary of the Treasury shall, with like exception, cause the amounts so apportioned to said claims to be paid from the Treasury of the United States to the parties found by said report to be entitled thereto as aforesaid, and the same shall be received in full and complete compensation: Provided, That in cases where petitions may be filed presenting conflicting claims or setting up liens, said Commissioners shall so specify in said report, and payment shall not be made, according to the award of said Commissioners, until a period of sixty days shall have elapsed, during which time any petitioner claiming an interest in the particular amount may file a bill in equity in the Circuit Court of the District of Columbia, making all other claimants defendants thereto, setting forth the proceedings in such case before said Commissioners, and their action therein, and praying that the party to whom payment has been awarded may be enjoined from receiving the same; and if said court shall grant such provisional order, a copy thereof may, on motion of said complainant, be served upon the Secretary of the Treasury, who shall thereupon cause the said amount of money to be paid into said court, subject to its orders and final decree, which payment shall be in full and complete compensation, as in other cases.
SEC. 5. And be it further enacted, That said Commissioners shall hold their sessions in the city of Washington, at such place and times as the President of the United States may direct, of which they shall give due and public notice. They shall have power to subpœna and compel the attendance of witnesses, and to receive testimony and enforce its production, as in civil cases before courts of justice, without the exclusion of any witness on account of color; and they may summon before them the persons making claim to service or labor, and examine them under oath; and they may also, for purposes of identification and appraisement call before them the persons so claimed. Said Commissioners shall appoint a clerk, who shall keep files and complete record of all proceedings before them, who shall have power to administer oaths and affirmations in said proceedings, and who shall issue all lawful process by them ordered. The Marshal of the District of Columbia shall personally, or by deputy, attend upon the sessions of said Commissioners, and shall execute the process issued by said clerk.
SEC. 6.And be it further enacted, That said Commissioners shall receive in compensation for their services the sum of two thousand dollars each, to be paid upon the filing of their report; that said clerk shall receive for his services the sum of two hundred dollars per month; that said marshal shall receive such fees as are allowed by law for similar services performed by him in the Circuit Court of the District of Columbia; that the Secretary of the Treasury shall cause all other reasonable expenses of said Commission to be audited and allowed, and that said compensation, fees, and expenses shall be paid from the treasury of the United States.
SEC. 7. And be it further enacted, That for the purpose of carrying this act into effect there is hereby appropriated, out of any money in the treasury not otherwise appropriated, a sum not exceeding one million of dollars.
SEC. 8. And be it further enacted, That any person or persons who shall kidnap, or in any manner transport or procure to be taken out of said District, any person or persons discharged and freed by the provisions of this act, or any free person or persons with intent to re-enslave or sell such person or persons into slavery, or shall re-enslave any of said freed persons, the person or persons so offending shall be deemed guilty of a felony, and on conviction thereof in any court of competent jurisdiction in said District, shall be imprisoned in the penitentiary not less than five nor more than twenty years.
SEC. 9. And be it further enacted, That within twenty days, or within such further time as the Commissioners herein provided for shall limit, after the passage of this act, a statement in writing or schedule shall be filed with the clerk of the Circuit Court for the District of Columbia, by the several owners or claimants to the services of persons made free or manumitted by this act, setting forth the names, ages, sex, and particular description of such persons, severally; and the said clerk shall receive and record, in a book by him to be provided and kept for that purpose, the said statements or schedules on receiving fifty cents each therefor, and no claim shall be allowed to any claimant or owner who shall neglect this requirement.
SEC. 10. And be it further enacted, That said clerk and his successors in office shall, from time to time, on demand, and on receiving twenty-five cents therefor, prepare, sign, and deliver to each person made free or manumitted by this act, a certificate under the seal of said court, setting out the name, age, and description of such person, and stating the such person was duly manumitted and set free by this act.
SEC. 11. And be it further enacted, That the sum of one hundred thousand dollars, out of any money in the treasury not otherwise appropriated, is hereby appropriated, to be expended under the direction of the President of the United States, to aid in the colonization and settlement of such free persons of African descent now residing in said District, including those to be liberated by this act, as may desire to emigrate to the Republics of Hayti or Liberia, or such other country beyond the limits of the United States as the President may determine: Provided, The expenditure for this purpose shall not exceed one hundred dollars for each emigrant.
SEC. 12. And be it further enacted, That all acts of Congress and all laws of the State of Maryland in force in said District, and all ordinances of the cities of Washington and Georgetown, inconsistent with the provisions of this act, are hereby repealed.
To the Commissioners under the act of Congress approved the 16th of April, 1862, entitled "An act for the release of certain persons held to service or labor in the District of Columbia."
George Town D.C.
by this his petition in writing, represents
and states, that he is a person loyal to the
United States, who, at the time of the passage of the said act of Congress, held
a claim to service or labor against the Twenty
seven person of African descent of the name of
Grace Butler and others whose names, ages, value and
description are here unto annexed for and during the life of said Twenty seven Slaves and that by said act of
Congress said Slaves were
was discharged and freed of and from all claim of your petitioner to
such service or labor; that at the time of said discharge said Twenty seven Slaves were
was of the age of and of the personal description following:(1)
- Grace Butler—Slave, aged about 58 years Black strong frame, complains of Rheumatism value $100.00
- Martha her daughter about 34 years of age Black, Slave good size, in good health 600.00
- Eliza Ann Butler Graces' daughter, slave aged about 20 years, black in good health 800.00
- Walter Butler, Grace's son 16 years old Slave small size, black, in good health $800.00
Grace was presented to me by Mrs. Martha Clagelt of George Town D.C., the mother of my first wife, when she, Grace was a small girl and resided in my family untill three or four years since, her three children above named were born in my house.
- Jane Coney aged about 37 years, in good health black small stature was born in my house of a Slave woman 500.00
- Lydia Meredith aged about 43 years, Mulatto Slave in good health 500.00
- Richard Meredith, about 25 years old Slave dark Mulatto about 5 feet 7 or 8 Inches high in good health 1200.00
- John Meredith aged 23 years dark Mulatto [missing]
That your petitioner acquired his claims to the aforesaid service or labor of said Slaves in manner following:(2) Grace Butler – explained in the body of this Petition
That your petitioner's claim to the service or labor of said Slaves was, at the time of said discharge therefrom, of the value of Sixteen thousand and 1 hundred dollars $16,100 in money.(3) as to Note No. 3, I have no other remark to add having made what were necessary in the body of my Petition, I will however that Lydia Meredith and her family as well as Henrietta Crusy & her children are among the most respetable and Moral of their class. I have no knowledge of any other moral, mental or bodily infirmaties or defects than I have stated.
Your petitioner hereby declares that he bears true and faithful allegiance to the Government of the United States, and that he has not borne arms against the United States in the present rebellion, nor in any way given aid or comfort thereto.
And your petitioner further states and alleges, that he has not brought said Slave into the
District of Columbia since the passage of said act of Congress; and that, at the
time of the passage thereof, said Slave were
was held to service or labor therein under and by virtue of your
petitioner's claim to such service or labor.
Your petitioner further states and alleges, that the said claim to the service or labor of said Slaves does not originate in or by virtue of any transfer heretofore made by any person who has in any manner aided or sustained the present rebellion against the Government of the United States.
And your petitioner prays the said Commissioners to investigate and determine the validity of his said claim to the service or labor of said Slaves herein above set forth; and if the same be found to be valid, that they appraise and apportion the value of said claim in money, and report the same to the Secretary of the Treasury of the United States, in conformity to the provisions of said act of Congress.
Know all men by these presents that I Harriet Williams of George Town in the District of Columbia for and in consideration of the sum of one dollar current Money to me in hand paid by John Harry of Washington County & State of Maryland at and before the sealing and delivery here of the receipt whereof I do hereby acknowledge have granted bargained, bargained & sold, and by these presents do grant bargain and sell unto the said John Harry his executors administrators and assigns one Mulatto woman named Nancy and her five children to wit John, Lydia, Henrietta, Louis & Francis as also her future off spring if she should have any. All which slaves are now in my possession (The said woman Nancy I gave to my daughter Harriet Eliza many years ago, and now wish to confirm the gift) To have and to hold the said Mulatto Woman and her children John, Lydia, Henrietta, Louis, Francis herein before bargained and sold to the said John Harry his executors administrators and assigns forever to his only proper use and benefits. And I the said Harriet Williams for My self my heirs executors and administrators, shall and will Warrant and forever defend by these presents to the said John Harry his heirs executors administrators and assigns the said described slaves against me and my heirs executors and administrators and against all and every other person or persons whatsoever claiming the same or any part thereof.
The testamony whereof I have hereinto set my hand and affixed my seal this twenty sixth day of May in the year of our Lord, Eighteen hundred and Twenty five
Harriet Williams Seal
Signed sealed & delivered in the presence of [Ed?] Williams
[Form of the Oath for the Verification of the Petition.]
Washington County, ss.
I, John Harry being duly sworn, do depose and say, that all the several matters and things which are set forth and stated in the foregoing petition, as of my own knowledge, are true in substance and in fact; and that all the several other matters and things therein set forth and stated, as from the information of others, I believe to be true in substance and in fact.
Sworn to and subscribed before me this 8d day of May A.D. 1862
Wm. R. Woodward clk .
Corrected Petition of John Harry
Corrected and Filed May 8 1862
Franklin Berger Fletcher [illegible]
Note (2.)-- Here state how the claim was acquired, when, from whom, and for what price or consideration; and, if held under any written evidence of title, make exhibit thereof, or refer to the public record where the same may be found.
Note (3.)-- Here state such facts, if any there be, touching the value of the petitioner's claim to the service or labor of the person, as may enhance the same, and also such facts, if any, touching the moral, mental, and bodily infirmities or defects of said person, as impair the value of the petitioner's claim to such service or labor, and conclude such statement with an averment that the petitioner knows of no other infirmities or defects of said person which impair the value of petitioner's claim to such service or labor, and that he believes none other to exist. If the petitioner specify no such infirmity or defect, then his statement touching the value of his claim should conclude with an averment that he has no knowledge of any such infirmity or defect.