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  • "They expected to be free"
Some enslaved Virginians believed that the election and inauguration of Abraham Lincoln as president of the United States might make them free.
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"They expected to be free"

Alexandria Gazette, January 7, 1861

News reports during the winter of 1860–1861 indicate that some enslaved Virginians believed that the election and inauguration of Abraham Lincoln as president of the United States might make them free. This news item, printed in an Alexandria newspaper, reported that ten enslaved people in Chesterfield County were punished by a local judge because "they had said amongst themselves, that they expected to be free about the 4th of March, in consequence of Lincoln's election, (that at least was the substance of it.)" The county's court records do not preserve an account of the proceedings.

Alexandria Gazette, January 7, 1861
The negroes who were before Justice Hancock, of Chesterfield, on Wednesday were, after a thorough investigation, discharged. It appears that the whole affair amounted to this:— That they had said amongst themselves, that they expected to be free about the 4th of March, in consequence of Lincoln's election, (that at least was the substance of it.) They had not, however, concocted any plot, or decided upon any action, or named any time for doing anything.— They had, however, used some very violent language about white people. Ten negroes were punished and five were discharged.