More Emancipation Petitions Posted

25 more emancipation petitions are now available at Civil War Washington. Included in this group of documents is the petition of Susan M. Burche, whose claim indicates that she acquired two female slaves (Virlinda Silvy and Anna Patterson) from the slave traders Sheckels and Company.

This group also includes the petition of Horace Sprigg, which claims compensation for one slave named Martha Ann Sprigg. According to the final report of the commissioners, Sprigg’s claim was denied by the emancipation commission. The commissioners stated, merely, “Claim not allowed,” and no other explanation is provided in the report. Nearly two years later, Sprigg’s claim was brought before the Senate, and compensation was once again requested. A report published in the June 23, 1864 issue of the New York Times offers details regarding the denial of Sprigg’s claim. According to the report, Horace Spriggs was “a colored citizen of Washington” and was the slave of John Parker prior to April 1862. Sprigg claims to have purchased his daughter, Martha Ann Sprigg, from Parker for about $200. The emancipation commissioners, as stated in the Congressional proceedings, “refused to allow the claim, on the ground that a slave could not acquire slave property, according to their then existing laws.” Though Sprigg further petitioned to Congress for the compensation of his daughter, it is not clear from these sources if he was ever awarded for his claim.

~Janel Cayer

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