Butler, James: Petition, Petersburg
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.
and he begs your honorable body to reflect; that tho' the casualty of birth has rendered him a Slave, yet morality, the contract with his master and that master's present wishes, concur to emancipate him, in conformity with a promise made when unrestricted emancipation was lawful. He hopes too that you will reflect that tho' not white, he can feel the sting of disappointment in exquisitely as a white person. and that you will not compel him to adopt the harsh alternative of either remaining a slave until death shall relieve him, or of b[e]coming free on the terms of wandering away forever from his native land, his friends and his children. Your petitioner is now upwards of forty years of age, his right to freedom Will be transmissible to no human being; and in a few years the grave will close over his person, his wishes and his memory. Thus will your honors have the satisfaction of performing an act most meritorious in relation to those it will affect without encountering any of the mischiefs against which it was the policy of the act of assembly above mentioned to guard the Community. Be merciful therefore, and may God reward you for your Mercy! Your petitioner prays the legislature to pass a law, conferring upon him those rights of a free person, which were until lately, the effect of a deed of emancipation, from the master to his Slave, and as in duty bound will pray &c. James His X mark Butler