Making History: Transcribe is made possible in part by federal funding provided through the Library Services and Technology Act program administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Osborne, John: Petition, Petersburg

image 2 of 6

Zoom in to read each word clearly.
Some images may have writing in several directions. To rotate an image, hold down shift-Alt and use your mouse to spin the image so it is readable.

This transcription is complete!

To the honorable the Speaker and Members of the House of Delegates of Virginia. The petition of John Osborne of the town of Petersburg, respectfully sheweth That he some few years ago became the purchaser from Captuen [Captain] Richard Williams of Prince George county, of a slave named James, or James Butler, for the sum of one hundred and eighty pounds, on the express and solemn trust that if the said James should from the proceeds of his own labor and exertions, pay the whole of that sum to his said late master, your petitioner was to emancipate him, if repaired so to do. That the motions of your petitioner in undertaking this trust were such as he cannot at this time but reflect upon with satisfaction; for James, tho' born a slave, possessed the honesty and integrity of a freeman; and during the whole course of his life has so conducted himself as to conciliate the affection of his owners, and the goodwill and esteem of all other people to whom he was known; as proofs of which allegation your petitioner begs to refer your honors to the certificate of Richard Bate his late owner, accompanied by that of divers other respectable citizens of the town of Petersburg and its neighborhood. That until the said James was purchased by your petitioner under the trust above mentioned, he has been the property only of members of the same family; who have been all pleased with his conduct, and each of whom has relinquished his service with regret. That he has faithfully and honorably paid the last farthing of the sum which was to entitle him to emancipation: but your petitioner finds that under the law at this time in operation, he will by a deed of manumission, inflict an injury instead of conferring a benefit on James, who must either within twelve months [reporate?] himself forever from the embraces of his wife and children and venture into some other state, or undergo the penalty of being again [seized] and sold as a slave. Your petitioner would therefore beg leave to represent that James is now waxing old 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 boon; that all who know him anxiously with him its enjoyment; and that the tranquillity of your petitioners mind is deeply affected by the circumstances in which he is placed; for altho' he would immediately emancipate James with the utmost satisfaction if when he had done so the unfortunate wretch could be permitted to pass the short remnant of his days in the bosom of his family; yet he is affected at the idea that by such emancipation James will be compelled to leave his wife and children forever,