MacPherson, Christopher: Petition, Richmond City
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Richmond 3d August 1810 Gentlemen, I was lately informed that the Common Hall passed an Ordinance the 18th June last "prohibiting every person of Color from using a Carriage in this City, except in the Capacity of Maid or Servant to some lady or Gentleman, hiring and riding therein". That moment I procured a Copy of the ordinance and to my great astonishment I found the information correct. It naturally led me to reflect on the whole tenor of my life and the services I had rendered my Native Country - and here I hope it will not be construed fulsome in me, to repeat that during the revolutionary War I was Clerk to the Commercial Agent for this State and Clerk for one of the Commissary Generals at the Siege of Little York. I afterwards enrolled for Congress - and then became assistant to Mr. Henning investigating British Claims, then for Col. Carrington as Supervisor and for the Custom House here-afterwards, at intervals for all the Superior Courts of the state in this City, and for Attornies at the Bar - as well as assistant Clerk for most of the first mercantile Houses in this City & town of Manchester and am at present following the same course. The conclusion of my reflection was this - I conceived that so far from my unremitted exertions being in the least noticed, I was to the contrary most unmeritedly injured and aggrieved - that either sick or well, I cannot myself, nor dare any part of my family use a hired carriage. With due deference Gentlemen I beg leave to suggest, whether this is in conformity with the Fundamental Laws of the Land, which protect the rights and liberties of every Citizen, or is it compatible with the genius of our constitution, which breathes clemency, generosity and justice. If any of the color have offended - let them be punished - but it were a great pity to punish the many who are innocent, for the fault of a few thoughtless, ignorant persons. As well as I recollect the true and genuine Spirit of our Religion and Laws - intimate - that it is better to spare Ninety & nine guilty persons than punish one who is innocent. I am rather inclined to think that the ordinance in question was passed through the Hall in a Hurry and were the Members to reconsider it and give it that Mature deliberation which the Nature of