New Emancipation Petitions Published

We’ve recently added nearly 40 emancipation petitions to Civil War Washington, bringing the number of petitions published on the site to more than 570. We will continue adding petitions regularly in coming weeks, and in April we will begin publishing petitions filed in response to the July 1862 act that was supplemental to the original DC Emancipation Act of April 1862. The newly published petitions includes that of Achsah Dorsey. Dorsey claims compensation for Georgiana Bacon, a slave “born in [Dorsey’s] service” whose mother, identified only as Maria, had been manumitted sometime after Bacon’s birth. Bacon, on the other hand, was hired out to Reverend B. Peyton Brown in April 1862. Photographed by Mathew Brady during the war period, Brown served as pastor of the Foundry Methodist Church from 1866-1868 and again in 1876-1877.

photograph of B. Peyton Brown

Mathew Brady’s photograph of B. Peyton Brown, ca. 1860 – ca. 1865. National Archives and Records Administration.

Brady’s photograph of B. Peyton Brown (ca. 1860-1865) is held at the National Archives and Records Administration in the sub-series “Mathew Brady Photographs of Civil War-Era Personalities and Scenes, compiled 1921 – 1940, documenting the period 1860 – 1865” (see ARC Identifier 524418 | Local Identifier 111-B). This series is part of Record Group 111: Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer, 1860-1865.

~Janel Cayer

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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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