Virginia Memory, Library of Virginia
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PETITION FROM JUDITH HOPE

Introduction:

On what grounds did Judith Hope ask for her freedom?

Lesson Images

Judith Hope Petition - Page 1

Judith Hope (fl. 1818), Petition to the Virginia House of Delegates, ca. 1819, Manuscript. Records of the General Assembly, Legislative Petitions, City of Richmond, Record Group 78, Box 278, Folder 18, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia. (Transcription)

Judith Hope Petition - Page 2

Judith Hope (fl. 1818), Petition to the Virginia House of Delegates, ca. 1819, Manuscript. Records of the General Assembly, Legislative Petitions, City of Richmond, Record Group 78, Box 278, Folder 18, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia. (Transcription)

Judith Hope Petition - Page 3

Judith Hope (fl. 1818), Petition to the Virginia House of Delegates, ca. 1819, Manuscript. Records of the General Assembly, Legislative Petitions, City of Richmond, Record Group 78, Box 278, Folder 18, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia. (Transcription)

Judith Hope Petition - Page 4

Judith Hope (fl. 1818), Petition to the Virginia House of Delegates, ca. 1819, Manuscript. Records of the General Assembly, Legislative Petitions, City of Richmond, Record Group 78, Box 278, Folder 18, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia. (Transcription)

Standards Of Learning

CE.7, USI.1, USI.8, USI.9, VS.7, VUS.1, VUS.6

Historical Information:

This image is the text of one of Judith Hope's petitions to both Houses of the Virginia legislature. Judith Hope was the daughter of Caesar Hope, an emancipated black man who worked as a barber in Williamsburg and Richmond. Her mother, Tenar Hope, was originally a slave, but her freedom was purchased by her husband Caesar Hope. Unfortunately, at this time, if a slave was emancipated in Virginia, but stayed twelve additional months after the date of emancipation, his or her freedom was then forfeited. In this petition, received by the legislature on December 23, 1819, Judith Hope implores that body that while she is “not insensible to the blessings of liberty,” nevertheless she does not wish for “a separation from every friend and natural connexion upon earth.” Judith Hope petitioned the legislature five times between 1819 and 1821 either for emancipation alone or for emancipation and permission to remain in Virginia. Her requests appear to have been denied, and when her mother died in 1828, she passed her freedom along to Judith Hope in her will.

Hope managed to remain in Virginia after her emancipation and sometime afterward married a shoemaker named Benjamin Wythe Judah. They lived in Richmond where they owned property. Judith Hope Judah died on December 15, 1873, in Richmond.

Lesson Activities

Vocabulary Words:

• Emancipation—freeing someone from the control of another.

• Forfeit—something to which the right is lost, as for commission of a crime or misdeed, neglect of duty, or violation of a contract.

• Petition—(noun) – a formally drawn request, often bearing the names of a number of those making the request, that is addressed to a person or group of persons in authority or power, soliciting some favor, right, mercy, or other benefit. (verb) – to address a formal petition to (a sovereign, a legislative body, etc.).

• Distinction—marked superiority; note; eminence.

• Manumit—to release from slavery or servitude.

• Will—a legal declaration of a person's wishes as to the disposition of his or her property or estate after death, usually written and signed by the testator and attested by witnesses.

Lesson Ideas:

• CREATIVE EXPRESSION: Have students take a moment and imagine that they are Judith Hope and have been given freedom, thanks to the mother's will, but still have not been granted permission to remain in the state of Virginia. Do they choose to stay and forfeit their freedom or move to another state and remain free? Have students write a three-page diary entry outlining their decision-making process and justifying the reasons for their choices.

• ART AND CREATIVE EXPRESSION: Have students draw a family tree for the Hopes. Students should use their imagination and create both ancestors and progeny going back and ahead several generations. Have students write mini-biographies on each ancestor, including birth dates, death dates, and places lived.

• ART: Have students gather information about African American rights in the North and in the South prior to, during, and after the Civil War. Students should present the information on a posterboard, diorama, advertisement, comic book, storyboard, or brochure.

• TIMELINE: Have students create a timeline outlining the history of the rights and oppressions of African Americans.

• ORAL EXPRESSION: What is the rationale behind having a slave forfeit his or her freedom if he or she remains in the state for a year? Why do you think such a law was enacted? Have students take a side and debate the issue as if they are before the Virginia legislature attempting to get the law passed or blocked.

Research and Discussion Questions:

• The United States of America was built on freedom. Have students research and discuss why do they think it took so long for African Americans to be accorded the rights that most other Americans took for granted?

Suggested Materials

Schwarz, Phillip J. Slave Laws in Virginia. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1996.

Wolf, Eva Sheppard. Race and Liberty in the New Nation: Emancipation in Virginia from the Revolution to Nat Turner's Rebellion

Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press,  2006.

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