Title: Petition of Smith Minor, 22 May 1862
Date: May 22, 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.00386
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, Smith Minor
of Washington, District of
Columbia by this his
petition in writing, represents and states, that [no handwritten text supplied here] 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
person of African descent of the name of Moses Bennet; Julia Branson;
William Branson; Mary Ann
Branson; Horace Branson; James
Branson and Frank Branson for and
during the lives of
said Seven before named Persons and that by said
act of Congress said Seven before named 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 Moses Bennet was of the age of Forty
nine Years or thereabouts; Julia Branson of Fifty
two—William Branson of Twenty five
was of the age of
Branson of Nineteen
Years;—Horace Branson of Seventeen Years;
James Branson of Thirteen Years, and
Frank Branson of Eleven Years, or
thereabouts— and of the personal description following:(1)
Moses Bennet is Five Feet, Eight or
Nine Inches in height̬of a dark copper color—stout and well
made—Julia Branson is about Five Feet, Two
Inches in height—of a black color—William
Branson is about Six Feet in height and very erect &
straight and of a black color;—Mary Ann Branson
is about Five Feet Seven Inches—tall and fine looking—of a
copper color—Horace Branson is about Five Feet,
Ten Inches in height;—James Branson is about Four
Feet Ten Inches in height;—Horace and
James are both black in color and Frank
Branson is about Four Feet Three Inches in height and also of
a dark color.
That your petitioner acquired his claim to the aforesaid service or labor of said Seven before named Persons in manner following:(2) Moses Bennet was given to his wife by her Father, the late Simon Somers, of Alexandria County, Virginia when Moses was Four years of age & he has been in Petitioners possession ever since; He bought Julia Branson on or about 1814 & has been in his possession ever since—The said William, Mary Ann, Horace James and Frank were the children of said Julia Branson, and were born while she owed him such service or labor
That your petitioner's claim to the service or labor of said Seven before named Persons was, at the time of said discharge therefrom, of the value of Five thousand Nine hundred dollars in money.(3)Moses Bennet he values at $700—is a good farm hand, Waggoner & Marketer—Julia Branson he values at $400 in money—She is a fine Servant, Cook, Washer and Ironer—William Branson he values at $1200 in money—He stands number one as a good Wagoner, Farmhand and marketer—Mary Ann Branson he values at $1000 in money—She is a fair cook and good Washer and Ironer—Horace Branson he values at $1200 in money—Is a pretty good Wagoner and fair Farmhand—He Earned $1.25 per day during the winter on an average, as also did William—James he values at $800 in money—is a fine sprightly boy & has earned for some months $5 or 6 per month & Frank he values at $600 in money—is sprightly & all are healthy
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 Seven before named Persons into the District of Columbia since the passage of said act of Congress; and that, at the time of the passage thereof, said Seven before named 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 Seven before named 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 Seven before named 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.
Note—Your Petitioner knows of no other infirmities or defects of said Persons which impair the value of his claim to such service or labor & that he believes none other to exist—They are all moral, well behaved & honest—Your Petitioner refers to Charles H. Upton & Revd Oliver Cox, residents of this City to substantiate his statements as also to Philip C. Minor of this City.
County of Washington To wit
Personally appeared before me a Justice of the Peace for Washington County D.C. Edward Ball a citizen of Alexandria County Virginia, known to me to be a credible person and first being duly sworn according to law doth on his oath make the following declaration That he did vote at the same polls in Alexandria County Virginia at which Smith Minor voted. That at the election in May 1861 at which the ordinance of Secession was submitted, he gave his vote against said ordinance under apprehensions for his personal safety. Threats of confiscation of property, of ejection from the State &c, were made by citizens & soldiers. He felt, as he has before expressed it, that he was about to sign his own death warrant, nor did those apprehensions subside untill the county was on the day after the election occupied by the United States troops. He farther states that he believes that many others partook of more or less fear according as they were peculiarly situated & exposed to the dangers threatened.
Subscribed & Sworn to before me the 4 day of November 1862
County of Washington to Wit
Personally appeared before me one of the Justices of the Peace in and for the county & District aforesaid, Smith Minor now a resident of the City of Washington but late of Alex. Co. Virginia known to me to be a credible person who being duly sworn according to law makes oath that at the election in Virginia in the month of May 1861 he gave his vote for the ordinance of secession so-called under the following circumstances. That he was in favor of the Union of the States as they were and at all times contended that no change ought to be made, and was and still is in favor thereof. But that without fully comprehending the then actual condition of the case and the effect & bearing of the vote, he was induced suddenly on the day of the Election and while at the polls in said Alexandria Co by representations from persons & friends in whom he had been in the habit of puting trust, to believe that said ordinance had been passed by the Convention at Richmond and that it was the duty of the people to affirm its acts & the impression of having obtained that the state was out of the Union by the act of the Convention, it was made to appear to him that said vote was to determain the friends & enemies of the State & not the friends & enemies of secession that all who voted against the ordinance were to be run out of the State & made to to forfeit their propperty, & be outcast from home together with such other threats as induced fears of personal safety.
He further states that some of his neighbors had already abandoned their homes because of threats of violence & although an owner of Servants he himself had been denounced as an abolitionist because of his advocacy of the Union & was promised a severer punishment as he supposed on that account. Troops of the state of Virginia were on patrol throughout the County of Alexandria & although United States troops were in & about Washington he knew not what protection they might afford, & having become old & infirm, with a large & dependent family, he desired peace & quiet he reluctantly yielded his convictions for the time being. As evidence of his loyal & Union Sympathies he voted for the Union candidate for the conventions, he regrets its acts & has never ceased to regret having been imposed upon as he was—. At most he feels his vote was not truly his own, as it was given under constraint by reasons of the apprehentions & representations referred to, nor was said vote the free & or voluntary expression of his opinions and desires, and that he alwas has been & still is a true Union man & that he volentarily left his home while in possession of the enemy bringing his servants with him to within the Union lines for protection & safety.
Subscribed and Sworn Before me this 16th day of October 1862
Thomas C. Donn
Justice of the Peace for Washington County District of Columbia
County of Washington To Wit
Personally appeared before me a Justice of the Peace for Washington County D.C. George O M [Wunder?] Citizen of Alexandria County Va Known to me to be a credible witness and first being duly sworn according to law, doth on his oath make the following decliration. That he did vote at the same Polls in Alexandria County Virginia, when the ordinance of Secession was submitted, at which Smith Minor voted. That he voted against said ordinance under apprehensions for his personal safety arrising from threats made against himself and others & that they should be hung by next day at 10 Oclock, these threats made both by citizens & soldiers; also that they would eject, withing three days thereafter, all sympathisers with the Union, from the State. That there was posted at the polls a squad of Reble Cavelry who by threats endeavoured to intimidate & influence the voters. That they were patrolling the county in every direction. Many, from his own knowledge were prevented from freely and voluntarily declaring their desires & opinions on the ordinance of Secession at the election and also that what threat could not accomplish misrepresentations of the true state & condition of affairs were resorted to so as to delude the timid & credulous—He also states that one or two days before the election Smith Minor declared to him his intention to vote against the ordinance of Secession & he farther states that he believes that it was from undue influences brought to bear, causing fears of personal safety &c that cause him (Smith Minor) to vote as he did—This belief is formed from frequent intercorse with Smith Minor upon the subject before the election.
Geo. OM Wunder
Sworn and subscribed to before me this 7th day of November AD 1862
Justice of the Peace
District of Columbia To Wit
Personally appeared before me a Justice of the Peace for the County of Washington D.C Harvey Bailey, a citizen of Alexandria Co. Virginia Known to me to be a credible person, after being duly sworn according to law, did make the following declaration, that he voted at the same polls in Alexandria County that Smith Minor voted when the ordinance of Secession was submited. That he voted against said ordinance but under apprehention of personal safety arrising from threats made against him & others of hanging, banishment from the state and others made at the polls by cavelry of the rebels posted there to intimidate voters in a free expression of their opinions & desires—many citizens also partook of the same conduct in threating their nighbors who sympathized with the Union cause. He believes many were thus intimidated in giving a free expression of their feelings & opinions & voted under constraint.
Subscribed and Sworn Before me this 29th day of November 1862
Thomas C Donn
Justice of the Peace for Washington County District of Columbia
[Form of the Oath for the Verification of the Petition.]
Washington County, ss.
I, Smith Minor 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 22d day of May A. D. 1862.
Wm R. Woodward clk.
Attorney for Petitioner
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.