Title: Petition of John C. Rives, 17 May 1862

Date: May 17, 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.00297

TEI/XML: cww.00297.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, Jones C. Rives of Washington DC x 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 Louisa Jones & Charles Sumner Jones for and during the life of said Louisa & Charles and that by said act of Congress said Louisa & Charles 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 Louisa & Charles were of the age of herein after mentioned and of the personal description following:(1)

  • Louisa is a dark mullato​, about four feet eight inches high—and thirty five years of age—
  • Charles Sumner Jones her son is a bright mulatto about six years old of the ordinary height for one of his age

x I live and carry on my business in Washington D. C. but consider myself a Citizen of Maryland, my country residence being about 80 yards beyond the District line.

That your petitioner acquired his claim to the aforesaid service or labor of said Louisa Jones in manner following:(2) he purchased her about nineteen years and a half ago from William S. Colquhoun of this City for whom he paid three hundred dollars—

Charles her son has been born since said purchase— your petitioner is under the impression that he took a bill of sale at the time but cannot lay his hands on it now.

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 five hundred dollars in money.(3) to wit:

  • Louisa—$300.
  • Charles 200
  • Louisa is an excellent servant & your petitioner had intended to set her free
  • Charles is remarkably sprightly and intelligent and intended to set him free when he arrived at the age of twenty one—both are healthy & free from all mental and bodily infirmity.

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 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)
John C. Rives
To the Commissioners under the Act of Congress of the 16th April, 1862

I own a negro man named James Jackson, whom I purchased in the year 1848. He was then 22 years old as his owner said; if so, he is now thirty six years old. He is very able-bodied, and remarkably healthy. I do not recollect of his being sick a single day since I owned him. I have permitted him to hire himself out for the last six or seven years. For the last three or four years he was hired to Mr. McCormick of this District with my consent. I now learn he left Mr. McCormick last winter and hired himself without my consent to a man who resides in Maryland, about thirty yards from the District line, but works most of the time, if not   the whole of it in the District of Columbia.

I am unable to decide on my own mind whether the late law of Congress embraces him or not. If you shall think it does, I desire he shall be free; If it does not, I do not wish the United States to pay for him.

I will take three hundred dollars for him

I am, very respectfully,
John C. Rives

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

I, John C. Rives 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)
John C. Rives

Sworn to and subscribed before me this 17th day of May A. D. 1862.

(Signed by)
H. Naylor J. Peace
John C. Rives
Jonah Goodrich
Harriet C. Goodrich

 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: Janel Cayer, Nima Najafi Kianfar, and Kenneth M. Price.