Templeman, Samuel: Petition, Westmoreland County
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on this night, the said negro man was found in a cabin where his wife was: that, on hearing the voices & enquiries of the prollers [patrollers], he was alarmed, and attempted to escape, by flight that he was commanded to stop, but continued to run when a gun was fired at him, and he died of the wound which he received. Your petitioner further represents, that he has applied & counsel learned in the law, to know whether he can obtain satisfaction for the said loss by application to the judicial courts of this commonwealth; & that he has been advised by them, that his only redress therefor must be expected from the determination of your honourable body. Now, your petitioner conceives, that, as the patrollers acted in conformity to orders which were dictated by a regard to the welfare of the state; if any particular loss accrued under these orders to individuals, this loss ought to be reimbursed by the public. He has always thought that the burdens of a civil society ought not to be borne by particular persons, & that if any individual member of a state should be deprived of his property for the benefit of the commonwealth, the collective body of the citizens should make him a compensation for the loss. This seems to have been the opinion of a former legislature of Virginia; when they enacted that 'the value of a slave condemned to die, who shall suffer accordingly, shall be paid by the public to the owner's and your petitioner cannot imagine any cause why the reason of the law will not apply to the case above submitted to your consideration, as well as to that which is mentioned in the clause just cited. Hard, indeed, it would be, if the creditors of William Hutt deceased should suffer by a loss which has been unavoidably sustained for the advantage of the community. Impressed with these sentiments, & confiding in the justness of his claim, your petitioner prays, that your honourable body will direct that the value of the said negro be recompensed to him from the public treasury; especially since he is driven to this request by the impossibility which exists of obtaining a compensation, by applying to the judicial counts of, this state; as has been before observed. And your petitioner will ever pray, &c [etc.]. Samuel Templeman