Charles v. Henry Nicholson. Petition for Freedom


To the Honorable the United States Circuit Court for the District of Columbia sitting in the County of Alexandria

The Petition of Negro Charles now confined in the Prison of Alexandria County.

Your Petitioner humbly begs leave to represent that about the spring of the Year 1801 he was Imported into the County of Alexandria aforesaid from the State of Maryland, and confined in Prison for the space of about twenty one days, when he was sold to a person from one of the Southern States, and carried to the State of South Carolina, from whence he escaped and went to the State of Maryland, where he was arrested and again Imported to the County aforesaid, and after remaining in Prison for about three months, and was then sold out for his Prison Fees, and Henry Nicholson of Alexandria aforesaid purchased him for about twenty five Dollars: and the first purchaser having appeared and claimed him as his property, the said Nicholson purchased his right for the sum of about three hundred Dollars, and your Petition hath ever since been held in the Town of Alexandria aforesaid. Upon this Ground alone your Petitioner humbly conceives he has a just claim to sue for his freedom as he has been Imported from the State of Maryland into the said County of Alexandria   and kept therein more than twelve Months at different times, and no entry has been made of him, as directed by the Act of the Virginia Legislature, to prevent the Importation of Slaves, which is now in force in the said District. Your Petitioner further begs leave to represent, that should he fail to establish his Right to Freedom, upon the first Ground which he hath stated, there is another still more certain Ground which is that one or about the 26th day of August 1801, Henry Nicholson of his own free Will and accord emancipated your Petitioner, and executed a Deed of Emancipation in presence of Henry Moore and Matthew Sexsmith, as appears by Affidavits hereto annexed, and by an Indenture Between the said Charles your Petitioner and the said Henry Nicholson, in which it is expressly stated "that the said Charles should "was a free Man having been this day liberated "by the said Henry Nicholson". Your Petitioner further represents that, notwithstanding he was so liberated by the said Nicholson, he sold him as a slave for life to two men from North Carolina, and but for the Interference of Abram Faw Esquire, he would have been carried   from the Town aforesaid. And is apprehensive that the said Henry Nicholson will dispose of him as a slave to any person he can unless prevented by order of this Court Your Petitioner therefore humbly prays that he may be permitted to sue in forma pauperis for his freedom; that Counsel may be assigned him, and that the said Henry Nicholson may be compelled to give Security as the Law directs, that he shall not be removed from said County till the determination of said Suit.

And as in duty bound he will ever pray &c

Charles by his Attorney.


[illegible] one term for me
Hy Moore