Explore hundreds of cases and documents from the Circuit Court for the District of Columbia, the Maryland state courts, and the U.S. Supreme Court. Currently the project contains all petition for freedom cases originating in the D.C. Circuit Court between 1800-1862.

Petitions for Freedom

Enslaved individuals made a variety of claims in order to support their freedom petitions. Browse the Petition for Freedom cases by the claims for freedom made by the parties involved. Many cases contain more than one claim to freedom.

Explore Cases and Documents

We have annotated selected case files with explanatory summaries to situate the case in law and history. Case Files include all documents related to a petition case even if the case went to another court on appeal. Case Documents include all documents in all cases and can be browsed by document type, court term, or location.

Case Files



Case Documents

Document Type