Jackson, Harry: Petition, Norfolk City
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proceeded under the care of his father to learn the art, and to practice the duties of a Pilot; with the design & intention, to apply for a Branch, as soon as he should have been Twenty one years old. On the 23d day of January 1802 however when your Petitioner was not quite 20 years of age, and when he had been serving as an apprentice for nearly five years, an act was passed by this Honorable House. Entitled an act to amend & reduce into one, the several acts concerning Pilots & regulating their fees. By which statute it was enacted among other things, That no negro or mulatto should thereafter obtain a Branch as a Pilot. With a [Proviso?] however, that the Prohibition should not extend to, or affect any such person then having a Branch. This Honorable House will at once perceive that there was no reservation provided by this Law, for the Rights of those who were at that time serving as apprentices to the business, and who had reason to calculate upon obtaining a Branch within a very short time. This Law therefore, which, cut off all the rights of People of colour to obtain a Branch in future, fill with peculiar weight & severity upon your Petitioner. The law of 1792 had wisely provided, that every applicant for a Branch as a Pilot should Exhibit satisfactory Proof to the Examiners of his having served as an apprentice, to same Branch Pilot within the state for five years at least. The Profession of a Pilot is one of Great Trust & importance to the Public, requiring great skill, long practice & experience. When therefore your Petitioner was induced under the promise of the Existing Laws to become an apprentice to the
the business, and to quality himself as the Law required, to Enjoy the rights of a Pilot. He humbly submits to your honorable Body, whether it is right, that he should have been thus suddenly & unexpectedly precluded from those rights. He is well assured that it was not the design of the Legislature of that day to abridge or curtail the Existing rights of any Individual, acquired under the former Law, and that if his case had been then made known to the House it would have been Embraced within the Proviso, before recited protecting the rights of those, who had been induced by the priveledges of the Law of 1792, to devote themselves to this Profession & who had then obtained a Branch Your Petitioner therefore humbly prays That this Honorable assembly will now extend to him the benifit of such & proviso, as ought to have been granted to him in the first Instance. His character & skill as a Pilot is well supported by the annexed certificate of a number of the most respectable merchants & gentlemen of Norfolk. He therefore prays, that a special Law may be passed, to permit him to be examined by the examiners appointed by Law and upon his complying with all the requirements thereof He may be permitted to obtain a Regular Branch as a Pilot of the Chesapeak [Chesapeake] Bay & its waters in such degree or class as the Examiners may think him properly entitled to. And your Petitioner as in duty bound, will ever pray &c [etc.]. Henry Jackson Jr