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- “No home defendant”: Liberian Emigrants from Prince Edward County


Birdseye view, Cape Mount [Wah Kohno], Liberia. Courtesy of http://sylomun.blogspot.com/

Often, researchers will utilize several collections or sources housed at the Library in order to get to the truth of a matter, or to gain a better understanding of the complexities of an issue. The Prince Edward County chancery cause Executors of John Watson vs. Dosha, etc., 1862-001, tells part of the convoluted story of 66 enslaved people emancipated by the will of John Watson, who died in 1856, and the efforts of his executors to distribute the funds remaining from his estate to them.

Some of the gaps in the story are filled in by a second chancery cause, Dosha, etc., vs. Executors of John Watson, 1873-001, as well as documents in the Dupuy Family Papers, 1810-1866, which are also housed at the Library. In his book Family Bonds: Free Blacks and Re-enslavement law in Antebellum Virginia, author Ted Maris-Wolf devoted almost an entire chapter to the story of the Watson emigrants, drawing heavily from LVA’s collection.

According to the bills in both chancery causes, Watson’s executors, Joseph Dupuy and Robert Smith, had been instructed to send Watson’s emancipated slaves to Liberia through the American Colonization Society. The original bill included the names, ages, and relationships of 66 emancipated people who boarded the Mary Caroline Stevens, a ship owned by the American Colonization Society, in Norfolk on 12 November 1857, … read more »

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