Title: Petition of Benjamin P. Smith, 14 May 1862
Date: May 14, 1862
Source Text: A microfilm reproduction of the original document held at the National Archives and Records Administration, Microcopy 520, Reel 3. 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.00213
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, Benjamin P. Smith 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 seven persons of African descent of the names of Mary Ann Coleman, Margaret Woodward, Harriet Guy, Lila, Martha Betty and John Henry for and during the life of said persons and that by said act of Congress said persons were discharged and freed of and from all claim of your petitioner to such service or labor; that at the time of said discharge said Mary Ann Coleman was of the age of twenty seven years and of the personal description following:(1)
- Mulatto woman about five feet two inches in height
- Margaret Woodward was twenty five years of age a very bright colored woman about five feet two inches in height
- Harriet Guy black woman about five feet three inches in height thirty four years of age
- Lila mulatto girl about five feet in height 15 years old
- Martha black girl about four feet in height ten years old
- Betty black girl about three feet six inches in height seven years old
- John Henry mulatto boy two years and six months of age about two feet ten inches in height
That your petitioner acquired his claim to the aforesaid service or labor of said persons in manner following:(2) Harriet was a present from Mrs Geo. Price to petitioner's wife. Lila Martha Betty and John Henry are said Harriet's children born while she was owned by petitioner
That your petitioner's claim to the service or labor of said persons was, at the time of said discharge therefrom, of the value of thirty seven hundred dollars in money.(3)
- Harriet is an honest and industrious servant a good cook, ironer and washer, strong and healthy valued at eight hundred dollars.
- Lila is an honest and industrious girl strong and healthy, a good dining room servant valued at six hundred dollars.
- Martha is a strong and healthy girl raised as house servant valued at four hundred and fifty dollars
- Betty and John Henry are strong and healthy children valued respectively at three hundred and two hundred and fifty dollars.
- The last named four are Harriet's children.
- Mary Ann Coleman is an honest and industrious servant, a first rate cook, ironer and washer, a healthy woman valued at eight hundred dollars.
- Margaret Woodward is an honest and industrious servant a good cook, ironer and washer strong and healthy.
- Margaret was sold some years back for five hundred dollars but was only in part paid for.
- These persons are free from any infirmity either bodily mental or moral
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.
Benjn P Smith
[Form of the Oath for the Verification of the Petition.]
Washington County, ss.
I, Benjamin P. Smith 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.
Benjn P Smith
Sworn to and subscribed before me this 13th day of May A. D. 1862.
H. Naylor J. Peace
Petition of Benjn P. Smith
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.