Bolak, Lewis: Petition, Richmond City
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Shocked by the proposition and being much attached to his master and family who had treated him most humanely, your Petitioner resolved to pursue such a course of conduct as was calculated to prevent the effusion of blood, to bring the ringleader to trail and punishment and thereby save the lives not only of the whites but the misguided persons of his own colour who might be pursuaded to join the nefarious conspiracy and subject themselves to retributive justice and the vengenace of offended Law. He therefore immediately communicated the intelligence which he had received to the Civil Authorities of New Orleans who adopted such plans as caused the apprehension of the ringleaders of the insurrection when assembled [illegible] in counsel on the very eve of the execution of their Plot and they were condemned and executed. In February 1813 the Legislature of Louisiana being pleased to consider the conduct of your Petitioner & some others as useful and meritorious passed an Act to purchase and emancipate them and the Treasurer of the State having paid to his Master Mister Waters Clark the sum of $800, he was regularly manumited by an instrument under the hand of Wm CC Claiborne Governor & the Seal of the State. Immediately after being emancipated, feeling himself unsafe, your Petitioner entered himself into the service of the United States then at War with Great Britain and joined the squadron of Commodore John Shaw, with whome he continued till April 1814. Your Petitioner will further represent that being born and raised in the vicinity of the City of Richmond, all his attachments, all that can render life desirable to him are only to be
be found by him in the State of Virginia. In Louisiana he could not remain with safety as he had every reason to believe that he might be the victim of disappointed Treason. He has sometimes contemplated going to Hayti [Haiti] and again to Messurado [Liberia], but is convinced that from his deportment in New Orleans he would be an object of persecution
in any Society governed by persons of colour and in any part of the United States (having no family) he would be perfectly isolated and could have none of those attachments, which contribute to the happiness of man so that the Liberty which has been granted him so far from being the greatest boon which could have been bestowed, has as yet only caused him to be an unhappy wanderer. Some short time past he was about to Petition the Hustings Court of the City of Richmond for permission to remain in this State but was informed that though the Members of that honourable body wished to grant the indulgence that they had not the power in consequence of the operation of the Law prohibiting the migration of free persons of colour to this State. He therefore humbly prays the Legislature to pass an act authorizing and permitting him to remain and reside within this Commonwealth And your Petitioner will ever pray &c &c [etc. etc.].
Lewis Bowlak Dec. 6th 1824