James Rhodes v. Moses Bell. Petition for Writ of Error


To the Honorable Roger B. Taney Chief Justice of the United States.

The petition of James Rhodes of Washington City in the District of Columbia, respectfully sheweth that at March term 1842 of the Circuit Court of the District of Columbia in & for Washington County a certain Moses Bell (coloured) by judgment of said Court recovered his freedom against your petition who then held & still holds said Moses Bell as his lawful slave, as will more fully appear by the record of the proceedings in said cause herewith exhibited as part of this petition. Your petitioner sheweth that he is aggrieved by said judgment & he prays that an order may be passed by your honor directing a writ of error to be issued by the Clerk of said Court for the County of Washington according to the act of Congress entitled "An act to limit the right of appeal from the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Columbia" approved 2nd April 1816 otherwise your petitioner will lose the benefit of all appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States, as the matter in [illegible]   is less in value than one thousand dollars though exceeding in value the sum of one hundred dollars exclusive of costs, & he refers to the subjoined assignment of errors as part of this petition & your petitioner as in duty will ever pray.

James Rhodes by Brent & Brent his attornies

Assignment of errors in the judgment referred to in the aforegoing petition

1st There is error because the removal of Moses Bell from Alexandria County to Washington County in the District of Columbia as stated in the special verdict, did not entitle him to his freedom under any law in force in said District

2nd Moses Bell being over 45 years of age at the time of such removal was incapable by the laws in force in said Washington County of receiving his freedom by or through any act of acts of his master or owner

3rd That said removal of Moses Bell is not an importation according to the true intent & meaning of the laws in force   in Washington County aforesaid

4th That such removal even if it would have been illegal previous to the year 1812 was legalised & allowed by acts of Congress of the 24 June 1812 (see 8 Peters §. 49)

Note, on 3rd error, see case of Bank of Alexandria vs Dyer, decided by Supreme Court within last 4 years & on 4th error see 8 Peters §. 49, which cases shew how unsettled the law is on these points & how desirable a decision is for citizens of the District, whose daily transactions may be within the operation of these principles   Ordered that the writ of error be issued according to the prayers of the within petition.

R. B. Taney Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of U. States
Decr. 13, 1842

To William Brent Clerk of the Circuit Court for Washington County in the District of Columbia

Rhodes vs Bell
Petition for Writ of Error