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Nathan: Petition, Lewis County

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The honorable speaker and members of the house of delegates of the general assembly of Virginia. Your petitioner, Nathan, a free man of colour humbly represents That he was born in Harrison County (now Lewis) about the year 1808. That his humane master a certain Edward Brown by his last will and testament, emancipated the mother of Your petitioner in consideration of faithful services. That the said Brown departed this life about the said year 1808, That his said Will also provided that your petitioner then just born should be free when he attained the age of 21 years which age he has attained and is said in vulgar acceptation to be free. He is free indeed from involuntary slavery only, and that on the following condition. That he shall within a specified time go into voluntary exile, leave the scenes of childhood the people of his acquaintance. Those whom he delighted to call master and mistress. Leave the only relatives which he has on earth Viz. an elder brother and sister the property of a certain John Baily of Lewis County; Can your petitioner be properly called free, when to the disfranchised and degraded conditions in which mere colour of skin and circumstances of birth and ancestry have placed him, are super added the penalties of an exi[s]ting statute. Your petitioner thus circumstanced has come to the determination (if permitted to do so) to add his conjoint