Title: Petition of Martin Buell, 9 May 1862

Date: May 9, 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.00121

TEI/XML: cww.00121.xml



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, Martin Buell, of Washington, 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 two persons of African descent of the names of Martha Ann Jackson and Caroline Jackson, for and during the life of said persons and that by said act of Congress said persons 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 Martha Ann Jackson was of the age of about forty seven years, and of the personal description following:(1) About five feet in height, of yellow complexion, and somewhat fleshy.

Caroline Jackson is the daughter of Martha Ann, of darker complexion than her mother, about the same height, and with an aquiline nose.

That your petitioner acquired his claim to the aforesaid service or labor of said Martha Ann Jackson in manner following:(2) By virtue of a judgment rendered against me for her value, by the Circuit Court of Prince George's County, Maryland, at the suit of Henry A. Pumphrey. (For particulars, see paper by Hon. Thomas F. Bowie, herewith, marked A.) The amount paid for the slave was $756.33.

That your petitioner's claim to the service or labor of said Martha Ann Jackson was, at the time of said discharge therefrom, of the value of five hundred dollars in money.(3) Both persons mentioned in this petition have always been healthy. The mother is a good house servant, of obliging disposition, honest, and industrious; and neither, so far as I know or believe, have any mental or other infirmity which would decrease the value of their service or labor. Caroline Jackson I value at eight hundred dollars.

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 persons into the District of Columbia since the passage of said act of Congress; and that, at the time of the passage thereof, said persons 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 his said claim to the service or labor of said persons 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 persons, 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.

(Signed by)
Martin Buell.

Henry A. Pumphrey of Montgomery County instituted an action of trover in the Circuit Court for Prince Georges County Maryland against Martin Buell to recover the value of a negro woman a slave for life of said Pumphrey named Ann and after several years of litigation both in the Circuit Court and in the Court of Appeals Pumphrey finally succeeded in recovering Judgement for the full value of said slave.

The said Judgement has been fully paid and satisfied by Mr Buell, and my opinion is now asked, as to whom the said slave Ann now belongs. The question is free of all doubt or difficulty whatever.

The Courts of New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland, and I have no doubt of the English Common law on the subject, that a recovery in trover, after satisfaction of the Judgement, transfers the title in the property in dispute, to the defendant. It is equivalent to a legal bargain and sale. The defendant having paid the Judgement while is supposed to be for the full value, is entitled to the property itself, as owner.

It has been held by some of the Courts of law that a recovery in trover, whether the Judgement is paid or not, works a transfer of title, but it is not necessary to moot this point of law as in the present case, the defendant has in fact paid the Judgement.

I have no doubt therefore that negro Ann is now the slave of Martin Buell.   and can be recovered by him in any proceeding of law which he may institute applicable to such a case. He may bring replevin or trover, or if she be in a free state, he may demand her under the Fugitive Slave Act if she has absconded from his service.

Thomas F. Bowie
April 12th, 1853
see on this subject, Osterhout vs Roberts 8th Cowen 43.
March vs Pier 4th Rawle 285.
Hepburn vs Sewell 5th Harr & John 211.

Mr. Buell
Dear Sir.

Your letter was received and I thank you for the promptness with which you settled the Judgement of Mr. Pumphrey. I will direct all the suits to be [ruled?] satisfied.

Above you will find my opinion as to the question of law submitted.

Very Respectfully yours

Thos F Bowie
T. F. Bowie to
April 12, 1853.
Opinion as to ownership of Ann.

[Form of the Oath for the Verification of the Petition.]

I, Martin Buell, 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.

(Signed by)
Martin Buell.

Sworn to and subscribed before me this 9th day of May A. D. 1862.

(Signed by)
Wm. R. Woodward. Clk​ of Commissioners
Martin Buell
Filed May 9, 1862

 Note (1.)-- Here describe the person, so as to identify him or her; and if there be more than one slave, describe each one separately.

 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.

Transcription and encoding: Kenneth J. Winkle, Janel Cayer, and Kathryn Kruger.