Lot 7 of 455:
1843 Legal battle over a Virginia slave and her children  

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Lot closed - Sold For (Includes Buyers Premium):$120
$200 - $300

Legal battle over a Virginia slave mother and her children - Document Signed

John M. Perkins.

Lynchburg, Virginia


Oct. 17, 1843


Autograph Document Signed. 1pg., docketed on verso by Richard Perkins Jr.

A chilling example of legal battles in the antebellum South over ownership of enslaved African-Americans

After Mary Gells married Constantine Perkins in 1837, the couple lived in Arkansas for a year until the husband "in a fit of intoxication from the use of ardent spirits", committed murder and then fled from the state to "the Cherokee Nation", where he remained in hiding. Before his crime, he had purchased from John Perkins, apparently a relative, a half interest in the slave Maria and her two children. When Perkins later attempted to sell the slaves, Mary took possessions of the Blacks as their "rightful mistress". Perkins then offered to give up his claim for $400. Mary agreed, but Perkins then reneged, denying he had made the offer and further claiming that her fugitive husband had cancelled their sales contract. Mary brought suit, claiming that this was a "fraud" which Perkins and her missing husband had together concocted. She asked that her "rights of property" - ownership of Maria and her children - should be restored.  The outcome of the case is unknown.  

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