Title: Petition of Rufus H. Speake, 5 May 1862
Date: May 5, 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.00034
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."
Your Petitioner, Rufus H. Speake of the City of Washington 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 a negro woman who is a person of African descent of the name of Harriet, now calling herself Harriet Johnson for and during the life of said slave Harriet and that by said act of Congress said Harriet 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 slave Harriet was of the age of 30 years & 3 months and of the personal description following:(1) of chesnut color, about 5 feet five inches high, rather full eyes tolerating thick lips, of strong constitution, and remarkably healthy, having never had any sickness, except the diseases incident to childhood, such as scarlet fever, measles and Hooping Cough; her front teeth are much decayed which is very perceptible when she laughs.
That your petitioner acquired his claim to the aforesaid service or labor of said negro woman Harriet in manner following:(2) Her mother was given to my first wife in February 1830, by my wife's mother Mrs. Ann Vinson, of Montgomery County, Maryland, and the said Harriet was born my slave in that County on the 15th day of November, 1831 and when I removed to Washington City in [1849?] I brought her with me, and I have always held her as my slave since. She was known as my slave in Maryland by Joseph B. Newtin, now of the Metropolitan Police, and (I believe) by George Stabler, now of this City. William N. W. Weaver, a brother in law has known her as my slave since 1857.
That your petitioner's claim to the service or labor of said Negro woman Harriet was, at the time of said discharge therefrom, of the value of fifteen hundred dollars in money.(3) I say $1500 from the fact that I refused to take that amount for her; the offer having been made in good faith by Mr Samuel C Clive, of this City. She was worth more than that amount to me, if for no other reasons than that she was very honest, sober trustworthy nurse and house woman and a good cook. She suffered under no mental defect or bodily infirmities except the toothache! I have had every opportunity to know positively, as she was my cook and general house servant since July 1853.
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 said Slave woman Harriet into the District of Columbia since the passage of said act of Congress; and that, at the time of the passage thereof, said Slave Harriet 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 his said claim to the service or labor of said Slave Harriet 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 slave woman Harriet 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.
Rufus H. Speake
[Form of the Oath for the Verification of the Petition.]
Washington County, ss.
I, Rufus H. Speake, M.D. 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.
Rufus H. Speake, M.D.
Sworn to and subscribed before me this 5th day of May A. D. 1862.
Jno H. Johnson J.P. seal
Rufus H. Speake
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.