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Dunlop, James: Petition, Petersburg

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To the General Assembly of Virginia: The petition of James Dunlop of Petersburg, respectfully sheweth, That he is exceedingly anxious to emancipate a long tried and faithful servant, named John Brown; but under our existing laws, the inevitable consequence would be immediate banishment from his wife and children, who are slaves; that without questioning the wisdom which has decided, that a single act of extraordinary merit, outweighs the humble claims, of a whole life of uniformly good conduct, in the lot where Providence has cast it; your petitioner respectfully hopes that some exceptions will be allowed by all, to the universality of the principle; that if there be any, it is believed to exist in favour of the application, with which your honourable body is now reluctantly troubled; that for many years, the aforesaid slave has served your petitioner in the most kind, upright and exemplary manner; during a part of the time, when the infirmities of your petitioner rendered such services at once doubly valuable, and more than twice as difficult to be commanded; and during the whole period, with a steady attention, an uniform fidelity, and an active devotion, which deserve more, than mere commendation. Your petitioner feels that these services, this well spent life, this character without stain, create claims upon him, which no single act, however extraordinary its merit, could possibly give. It is under the impulse of this feeling, (an impulse which never deceives and can never be wrong) it is under the belief that true policy can never be at war, with the demands of justice, or the dictates of conscience, that your petitioner