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Butler, James: Petition, Petersburg

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To the honorable the Speaker and Members of the house of Delegates of Virginia. The petition of James, otherwise called James Butler, humbly sheweth. That your petitioner was born, and to this hour remains a slave: but that it has been his good fortune, in his humble station, so to conduct himself as to conciliate the respect of his owners, and the good will and esteem of all other white persons to whom he was known, as proof of which allegation he begs to refer your honors to the certificate of Richard Bate his late owner, and to the accompanying certificate of divers others respectable inhabitants of the town and neighborhood of Petersburg. That it is a circumstance of pleasing exultation to your petitioner to reflect, that all his owners, (members, except the present, of the same family) have been pleased with his conduct and exertions; and that each has relinquished his services with respect. That your petitioner was purchased by his present master, John Osborne, for the Sum of One hundred and eighty pounds, (which your petitioner has himself paid) under the express trust, after the money should be paid, of emancipating your petitioner if he should require it; and in the mean time of using his exertions to obtain in your petitioners favor, an act of Assembly, exempting your petitioner from the penalty of expatiating himself within twelve months after such emancipation, or of being seized, and again sold into slavery. Your petitioner therefore begs leave to represent to your honors, that he is now considerably advanced in years; that he has long been flattered with the hope of enjoying freedom in his latter days: that he has endeavored to merit the [bacon?]; that all who know him anxiously wish