Hope, Judith: Petition, Richmond City
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remaining in the land of her nativity among those by whom she is known, and to whom she is attached: And that she may do so she has ventured to supplicate the indulgence, the mercy of the General Assembly. She is aware that by a general provision in the Act of the Legislature of the year 1816, slaves who have been emancipated, may under particular circumstances obtain permission to reside in this state, but the construction of that law which some persons and some tribunals have adopted; a construction which the language of that act will probably authorise [authorize], is such as to narrow the indulgence believed to have been [illegible] by the Legislature very far within their real intention; indeed is such, as almost entirely to defeat it. The language of the Law is, that any slave emancipated for "extraordinary merit" may apply to the court of the county or corporation for leave to remain: --"that upon proof to them of the extraordinary merit of the applicant, they may grant permission; and again; that the extraordinary merit for which he or she was emancipated, as well as his or her general good conduct shall at the time of granting such permission, be entered upon the record. " -- Upon these several provisions of the Law of 1816, particularly upon the last; many persons insist, that permission to remain in the state can never be granted, except upon the performance of some signal act, and that too of a public and general character, a good fortune which falls to the lot of very few whatever may be their condition in society; so that the longest life of humble utility and quiet good conduct, if it should excite in those who have been the objects of it, a wish to recompense it, is to be rewarded with banishment from all that can bind a sentient and rational creature to life. To avoid the effects of a construction of the statue like that above given
your Petitioner has prepared her application to your honorable body rather than to the County or Corporation Courts within whose jurisdiction she was born and has always resided. For altho [although] she is not so fortunate as to plead as a title to favor the performance of any striking act of public benefit, she hopes she can exhibit and has herewith exhibited the most satisfactory proofs of a character and deportment to which none can justly object, and which those best acquainted with them have always approved. She therefore humbly prays that she may in virtue of a deed of emancipation from her mother and by the indulgence of the honorable the Legislature be permitted to live and enjoy the blessings of freedom within the Commonwealth of Virginia.