Title: Petition of William Hickey, 23 May 1862

Date: May 23, 1862

Source Text: A microfilm reproduction of the original document held at the National Archives and Records Administration, Microcopy 520, Reel 4. 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.00408

TEI/XML: cww.00408.xml


The Statement and petition of William Hickey a loyal citizen of the United States residing within the District of Columbia.

Presented this twenty third day of May, eighteen hundred and sixty two, to The Honorable Samuel F. Vinton, Daniel R. Goodloe, and Horatio King, Commissioners appointed in pursuance of the "Act for the release of certain persons held to service or labor in the District of Columbia," approved the sixteenth of April, eighteen hundred and sixty two.

Respectfully represents:
That he has been the bone fide owner up to the moment of their discharge by the aforesaid act, and held to service and labor within the District of Columbia, the following named colored persons, all of African descent and slaves for life, to wit: John Massy, Rachael Fletcher and her offspring, named Henry Gantt, Augustus Fletcher, Andrew Fletcher, John Fletcher and Charlotte Fletcher; Sarah Dover and her offspring, named Dick Massy, alias Lee and Bettie Dover; and Mary Butler and her offspring named Jim Butler, Bob Butler, Nelly Butler, Mary Butler, Jr. and Maria Butler.

That to John Massy, Rachael Flecher and Sarah Dover, he acquired a right by his marriage to his wife, to whom those colored persons then belonged, they having been acquired by her, as part of her patrimony from her father's estate, and the offspring of the said Rachel and Sara, have been born to them since they have been under the ownership and in the possession and service of your petitioner.


That Mary Butler was purchased by your petitioner to prevent her from being sold away from her husband Jim Butler, who then belonged to your petitioner, but who died some years since. Her offspring by the said Jim Butler, have all been born since the said purchase.

This explains, as required by the second section of the before mentioned act, the manner in which your petitioner acquired the right and claim to the said colored persons of African descent and to their service and labor.

The following statement will show the names, sexes, ages and personal description of the said colored persons of African descent, and the facts touching and showing the value of those persons and of their services and labor, respectively, of which the petitioner has been deprived by the operation of the aforesaid act of Congress; to wit:

  • 1. John Massy, male, aged thirty seven year, black color, 5 feet 8 inches high. Healthy, Stout & Strong. An excellent farm and garden hand, hostler and driver, trusty and faithful, being the Head working man on the farm. The just compensation claimed for him is the sum of $1,500.
  • 2. Rachael Fletcher, female, aged 45 years, black color 5 feet 4 7/16 inches high. She is stout and strong—is a good cook, washer, Ironer and an excellent Dairy maid—is very willing, well disposed and faithful and her just value is . . . . . . . . $700.
  • </ul> <ul>
  • 3. Henry Gantt, male, aged 23 years, black color, & marked by the small pox—5 feet 11 1/8 inches, high. He is healthy, Stout and a good strong farm and garden hand—can handle to advantage the plough, axe, pick, spade and Shovel, scythe, and grain cradle. He is willing and well disposed and his just value is $1,500.
  • 4. Augustus Fletcher, male, aged 18 years, black color. 5 feet, 9 1/2 inches high. He is healthy, Stout, Strong and active, a good farm and garden hand–understands the care of horses and cattle, and is a driver. He is willing and Steady and his just value is . . . . . . . . . . . $1,500
  • 5. Andrew Fletcher, male aged 8 years black color—4 feet 3 inches high. He is a fine healthy, robust boy, very anxious, & willing . . . . to do boys work and his value in justice is . . . . . . . $500.
  • 6. John Fletcher, male, aged 6 years, black color—4 feet high. He is also a healthy robust and active boy and is useful for his age. His just value is . . . . . . . $300.
  • 7. Charlotte Fletcher, female aged 9 months. She is of black color and a healthy and lively infant, and only valued at . . . . . . . . . . $50.
  • </ul> <ul>
  • 8. Sarah Dover, female, aged 39 years, second shade of black color, 5 feet 2 8/10 inches high. She is a healthy, stout, strong and a complete house servant and Dairy maid and well qualified as a cook, washer and ironer, Dining room and parlor servant, chambermaid,—a good seamstress and house servant generally. She has also gathered the produce of the Dairy and market garden and has sold it in market and made correct and satisfactory returns.—Her loss would be difficult to replace and her just value claimed is . . . . . . . . . $1,200.
  • 9. Dick Massy, alias Lee, male, aged 21 years, third shade in black color, 5 feet 9 inches high. He stutters in speaking. Is stout, strong and healthy—a good farm and garden hand. He is an excellent coachman and driver generally, and is a complete manager of horses and cattle & his just value claimed is $1,500.
  • 10. Bettie Dover, female, aged, 11 years, second shade of black color, 4 feet 6 1/2 inches high and robust in health. She is a very willing, active and useful girl about the house—can sew, wait upon table and in the house generally, and her just value claimed is . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $500.
  • 11. Mary Butler, female, aged 49 years, second shade of black color, 5 feet /4 inch high. She is in good health and is </item></ul> <ul><item> a very fine, well instructed and complete house servant maid, in every respect—for parlor, dining room, chamber and kitchen, being also an excellent cook, washer and ironer and her just value claimed is . . . . . . $800.
  • 12. James Butler, male, aged 24 years, black color, 5 feet 5 inches high. He is strong healthy and steady and an excellent farm and garden hand. He is a good driver and understands the care and management of horses and cattle, and his just value claimed is . . . . . . . . . . . . . $1,500
  • 13. Bob Butler, male, aged 15 years, second shade of black color, 5 feet 1/10 inch high. He is a smart boy, very useful about the house, farm and garden. He understands the case of horses and cattle and drives carts, wagons and other vehicles. He is healthy and active & and his just value claimed is . . . $700.
  • 14. Nelly Butler female, aged 22 years, black color, 5 feet 1/2 inch high. She is in good health & Strong and is a faithful housemaid, and nurse for children, being kind and amiable in disposition—can wash, iron &c, and her just value claimed is . . . . . . . $800.
  • 15. Mary Butler, Junr. female, aged 20 years, black color, 5 feet, 1 3/8 inches high. She is a servant of particular merit and usefulness and very healthy and robust and is </item></ul> <ul><item> capable of doing any kind of house work. She is a kind nurse to children and an obliging, faithful and excellent servant and her just value claimed is . . . . . . .$1,200.
  • 16. . . . Maria Butler, female, aged 17 years, black color, 5 feet 1/4 inch high. This girl is an excellent seamstress, chambermaid, parlor and dining room servant and house maid generally. She is healthy, active and intelligent—her just value claimed is $800.

This statement and schedule embracing the names, sexes, ages and personal description of the said colored persons, will be found also to embrace the personal condition and qualifications of each of those persons, these items being necessary to complete their personal description, and having a direct relation to their value, or that of their service and labor, as required to be stated by the second section of the aforementioned act.

It is also but just, in this connection, to state the fact, that much time and trouble have been taken in instructing these servants, from their infancy, in their respective duties as stated, which has rendered them very valuable in the several avocations above mentioned; and that, the sudden operation of this law, depriving the claimant of the services of the servants, has made a radical change in the mode of working and managing his farm and in the domestic arrangements   and has subjected your petitioner to new and expensive modes of having the work done, that has heretofore been performed by these servants; and their value to the petitioner can be best appreciated and calculated, when there is taken into view, the amount of wages and other expenses that he will have to pay, to replace all the labor, service and advantages derived from these servants, of which he has been so suddenly deprived by the instantaneous operation of the aforesaid act.

It may also be proper for the claimant to state, that the aggregate of the whole of the foregoing valuation, is less by five thousand dollars, than was offered by a gentleman from Texas for those servants, on account of their character, condition, and qualifications, a short time before the breaking out of the present rebellion, which was declined because it would separate married people, and remove the others forever from their relations and friends, and also, because they supplied and subserved all the requirements, and could not be replaced in the homestead, on the farm and in the garden so satisfactorily by other persons.

Your petitioner therefore respectfully prays the allowance of the valuation placed by him on those colored persons, respectively, in the foregoing schedule, knowing the same to be less than he could have obtained for them, before the rebellion broke out, and probably much less than he would have been able to obtain for them, when the rebellion shall have been overcome, had not this act been passed by Congress, and he therefore   believes that the adoption of this valuation would be within the term "just compensation" which the constitution provides for the private citizen, in such cases, and which he is happy to believe may be accorded to him, under the liberal appropriation by Congress, on the basis of a slave population in this District, of upwards of three thousand persons, the average being evidently extended to that number, which would appear to fully authorize the allowance of a "just compensation" according to the Constitution, for a much less number of colored persons, provided the whole sum allowed for all slaves in the District of Columbia shall not exceed the sum of money appropriated.

As regards the loyalty of your petitioner, he has the honor to state, that when invested with the command of a Brigade of the Militia of the District of Columbia, he took the oath to support the Constitution, and to perform the duties of a Brigadier General; that on the 26th day of August, 1861, he took the oath of allegiances as chief clerk in the Senate of the United States, as required by the act of the 6th day of August, 1861, a copy of which oath is hereto annexed, and which he now reiterates, and that he not only "has not borne arms against the United States during the present rebellion, nor in any way given aid and comfort thereto," but that he assisted in raising volunteers to defend the government in Washington, when it was daily threatened by attack, and, being the Senior Brigadier, he verbally and in writing, offered his services to the Commanding General, and through him to the War Department, as being willing and ready to perform his duty   to his country in defence of its government and national authorities.

All of which is now verified by the oath of your petitioner and is most respectfully submitted

W. Hickey Washington county, District of Columbia, May 21st 1862.

On this twenty first day of May, eighteen hundred and sixty two, personally appeared before me the subscriber a Justice of the peace in and for the county aforesaid, William Hickey, well known to me, who has, in my presence subscribed his name to the foregoing statement and schedule, and made oath in due form of law, that the same and all the items contained therein are correct and true to the best of his knowledge and belief; that he duly presented to and filed with the Clerk of the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Columbia the Statement and schedule required by the ninth section of the act of Congress of the 16th of April, 1862 referred to in the preceding statement; that it was filed with the said Clerk on the26th day of April, 1862, and contained the names, ages, sexes and particular descriptions of each of the colored persons whose names &c are contained in the preceding statement and schedule, and the said William Hickey now reiterates the oath of allegiance under the act of Congress of the sixth of   August, eighteen hundred and sixty one, which he took on the 26th day of August, 1861, before Thomas C. Donn, a justice of the Peace for Washington county, District of Columbia.

S. J. Bowen J.P. seal

"I, William Hickey, do solemnly swear that I will support, protect and defend the Constitution and government of the United States against all enemies, whether domestic or foreign, and that I will bear true faith, allegiance, and loyalty to the same, any ordinance, resolution, or law of any state convention or legislature to the contrary notwithstanding; and further, that I do this with a full determination, pledge, and purpose, without any mental reservation, or evasion whatever; and further, that I will well and faithfully perform all the duties which may be required of me by law. So help me God."

W. Hickey

On this twenty first day of May, eighteen hundred and sixty-two, personally appeared before me the subscriber, a Justice of the peace in and for the county of Washington and District of Columbia, William Hickey, the claimant and petitioner who has made and subscribed the foregoing statement and schedule and took and subscribed the above oath of allegiance before me according to law.—

S. J. Bowen J. P. seal
William Hickey
Filed May 23, 1862
Mr Benson M. Polier
Clarke Mills
Allen Dodge
Mrs. Fenwich
Transcription and encoding: Susan C. Lawrence, Janel Cayer, Elizabeth Lorang, Robert Voss, and Brittany Jones.