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1841 Manuscript Report to Court Regarding Slaves – NEW LISTING
Warren County, Mississippi
1841 Manuscript Report to Court Regarding Slaves – NEW LISTING<br>Warren County, Mississippi Quantity in Basket: None
Code: BA-SL-074
Price: $245.00
Shipping Weight: 1.00 pounds
1 available for immediate delivery

Since many of the plantations in the South were operated as large business ventures, their longevity within families was guaranteed by the transfer of the property (including slaves) through wills and bequests. On occasion, before the transfers could be concluded, the property would be operated through a court appointed administrator. These individuals would be required to report to the court, describing any actions that they had taken (the selling of crops that would have rotted in the fields) or requesting certain actions that could be postponed until the meeting of the court. The presently offered document is one of those manuscript reports. It is headlined “Warren Probate Court Janry Term 1841” and is formally addressed “To the Honourable B. Springer” in his capacity as “Judge of the Probate Court of Warren County Miss now in session”. The first paragraph states (in part) that “The undersigned admr (administrator) of J. J. Hite decd (deceased) begs leave to represent to your Honour that in obedience … he disposed of the crop of cotton as it stood in the field upon the plantation … together with the use of the negroes to aid and assist in saving it to Mr. William Laughlin for the sum of $1,000 (one thousand dollars) …”. The document also states that “He would further report to the court that he has let out the plantation and negroes for the present year to Mr. William Laughlin for the sum of $3307 … including the support of several indigent and inferior negroes together with several small infant children … This admr would further report that this contract has been made with Mr. Laughlin with the proviso, That in the event of any of the negroes being sold (which is anticipated) during the year then he only obligates himself to pay for the services of said slaves in proportion to the time he has had them …”. The next paragraph, undoubtedly the most interesting and evocative of the entire piece, reads (in full) “This admr would here seize the opportunity of suggesting to the court that there is a negro fellow belonging to said estate whose name is Simon and that he is of the most turbulent and wicked disposition committing frequent acts of rebellion against the overseer and diverse other crimes and misdemeanors thereby rendering himself a terror and nuisance to the neighbourhood in which he lives; therefore in consideration of the premises he prays the court for an order to sell him for cash and appropriate the proceeds thereof towards the payment of a debt for which he is already encumbered and which sale would only be made by the entire consent of the parties holding said lien upon him .. such is the refractory and ungovernable temper of this negro since the death of his master J. J. Hite that the overseer and the neighbours generally are afraid that they will be reduced to the necessity of taking his life in protection of their own”. A short closing paragraph completes the text of this interesting document. It is signed at the conclusion by “Jas Bland” in his capacity as “admr” of the estate of “J. J. Hite decd” and is dated “Janry 27th 1841”. A notation on the otherwise blank verso reads “Jas. Bland admr / J. J. Hite decd / Report to Janry Term / 1841 / Warren Probate Court / January Term 1841” in six lines. This notation was added to facilitate the identification of the contents when the document was folded for storage. The manuscript portion occupies 1˝ pages (front and back), while a second unaccomplished page protects the final paragraphs and the closing signature. The document measures approximately 7.90 x 9.90 inches and is accomplished in period ink on beige or tan tinted paper. The notations mentioning the sale of the cotton and the rental of the plantation and slaves are interesting and informative, but the paragraph relating to the slave is quite intriguing and though provoking. His description as having a “… turbulent and wicked disposition …” and committing “… frequent acts of rebellion … since the death of his master ...”, forces one to question whether the slave was just testing the boundaries with his new owners, or was he always a problem, even when his master was alive. It is equally interesting that the administrator suggested that the “… overseer and the neighbors …” may be “… reduced to the necessity of taking his life …”. How the estate was finally settled is unknown to the cataloguer, though research in the county records may yield the answer.

The presently offered document exhibits signs of period use and subsequent long-term storage. Several significant folds are present, the most prominent of which appear horizontally across the piece. Other folds are noted, though these are scattered and don not seriously affect the structural integrity of the paper. Minor holes and some separations are present, however, along the horizontal folds and at the junction of the two pages, especially at the edges. As noted, minor paper loss is present at the junctions of the folds and the edges, but the remainder of the folds appears intact. Overall toning is present across the entire surface, imparting a dark beige or tan tint to the paper, with darker brown toning noted along the edges and on the back of the folds. The contrast is adequate considering the age, with all of the manuscript portions being fully legible. Minor ink show through is noted for accuracy, with only the notations on the last page beginning to bleed through. This is a nice example of a rarely encountered document, especially interesting due to the unflattering description of the disaffected slave.

For clarity and interest, only the paragraph describing the slave is presented in the above illustration.

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