May 07, 2020 - Sale 2534

Sale 2534 - Lot 34

Price Realized: $ 938
Show Hammer Price?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 600 - $ 900
(SLAVERY AND ABOLITION.) Wilson, Barbara. Virginia manumission document for "my white girl slave." Document Signed as "Barbary Wilson," 13 1/4 x 8 inches, with 4 witnesses, and docketing with signed note by Bath County clerk on verso; folds, minimal wear. Bath County, VA, 5 January 1822

Additional Details

"Being upon principle opposed to holding any person in slavery, and for other good causes . . . by these presents liberate, emancipate and quit claim to and discharge from my service my white girl slave named Jane aged about nine years."
Barbara Wilson appears in the 1820 census for Bath County as the only free white person in a household with 11 slaves. As detailed in a later court ruling, she made the decision to manumit all of her slaves in 1822, but was soon declared incompetent and her affairs handed over to administrators who attempted to void the manumissions. The re-enslaved people then filed suit alleging "that they were in fact white persons, and therefore could never have been lawfully held in slavery." In response, the administrators insisted that the slaves were mulatto rather than white, and that "Barbara Johnson having been tomahawked by Indians in her youth, her mind had always afterward been extremely imbecile." The court actually ruled in favor of the enslaved people, granting them their freedom as Barbara Wilson had wished. See "Cases Decided in the Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia," 1838, pages 19-22.