Joseph Watson to Philip Hickey, April 20, 1827

Privacy Level: Open (White)
Date: 20 Apr 1827 [unknown]
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United Statesmap
Surname/tag: Watson
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April 20, 1827 letter from Joseph Watson to Colonel Philip Hickey informing him of the situation of the kidnapped African American children and offering evidence that one of Hickey's slaves, James Dailley, may be one of the kidnapped children. Watson gives names and descriptions of the kidnapped children as well as of Patrick Pickett, who is accused of having sold the kidnapped children as slaves.

This letter was prompted by the information included in

Colonel Philip Hickey replied in

Joseph Watson Correspondence, Mss. 1872, Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections, LSU Libraries, Baton Rouge, La.

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Mayor’s office, Philad. @ April 20, 1827.


Although I have not the honor of a personal acquaintance, the character of Colonel Hickey is known to be as one of the highly respectable planters of Louisiana. I therefore under a sense of official obligation and without further apology thus frankly address you in relation to a matter that has deeply excited my feelings. I have good reason for believing that you have been grossly imposed upon by an imposter and notorious scoundrel known to the police under the different names of Patrick Pickett, Patrick Picket, P. Pickitt, [or] P. Pickard, believed to be a tailor by trade. I have now before me a number of depositions and copies of four Indentures of Apprenticeship, three of them legally executed by the Managers of our Alms-House and one of them by Alderman Badger of this city, proving that on the 18th August 1823, John Williams, a black boy, aged 7 years, 10 mo’s, 24 days, was bound to Patrick Pickett, Tailor to serve 13 years, 1 mo., 6 days, (living [at] 55 Passyunk road). That on the 14th July 1823 Benjamin Grey, a black boy — 15 yrs 0 mo’s., 8 days old was bound to Patrick Picket for 5 years 11 mo’s, 22 days. — That on the 26th day of April 1824, James Dailey, a black boy, aged 14 years, 7 mo’s, & 18 days was bound to P. Pickard No 118 Brown St. for 6 years, 4 mo’s, 12 days — that on the 15th day of August 1823 John Dunbar, a black boy, or very dark mulatto (now about 15 or 16 years old) was bound to serve P. Pickett, 9 years from the 9th day of June 1823. — That same time in the summer of 1823, a mulatto girl that stuttered or stammered was hired and lived with the

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said Pickett, at W. 55 Passyunk road between Plumb and Germain Streets. (She must now be 18 or 19 years of age, named Jane Victoire or Victory.) Picket left this place September 1823, for a farm which he said he owned in the interior of Pennsylvania, and the above described children have not been seen since by their friends or relatives.

The description of Picket is that he was a civil sociable man, light complexion, sandy or light hair, little or no color in his face — 35 to 40 years old — about 5 foot 9 or 10 inches high, (His wife was a spare tall woman older than Pickett) thin, sociable talking man — a little round shouldered. — From the above data, it would seem that he must have returned to this city after his first departure in 1823, and again left us having James Dailley and probably other children in his possession. My information is that Col. Hickey 6 miles below Baton Rouge has James Dailley and another boy now in his possession — whom he purchased as a slave of this same said scoundrel Picket, and that several other kidnapped children from the same source have been purchased by some of the neighboring Planters. — that the girl Jane Victoire is now at the plantation of Mr. Parson[?] three miles above the red church on the Mississippi on the right hand side (but whether ascending or descending I know not.) I have thus, sir, without reserve stated the substance of my information and am perfectly aware that this infamous and cruel act of kidnapping will produce the same feeling of indignation with you that it has excited here. There is not a shadow of doubt that the colored children whose

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names I have enumerated and several others whose names are unknown to me at present have been stolen away from this city and neighborhood by Picket, they being free born and have been sold as slaves on the Mississippi below Natchez by him. I have therefore most respectfully to request of you that if he is within the jurisdiction of your state that you will cause him to be arrested as a fugitive from the justice of this state and I will take measures to have him brought here for trial. Or, if you hear of his being within the State of Mississippi to inform Duncan S. Walker, Esq. of Natchez and he will take measures to procure his arrest there. — I will speedily forward to you a copy of the evidence in my possession in relation to these persons. I am aware that it is not strictly legal in its character but it is intended to be addressed to the equitable and humane feelings of the holders of these unfortunately persons, and is that kind of proof which has heretofore operated a discharge from servitude in similar cases. While I greatly regret that Col. Hickey, or other gentlemen should be losers by the nefarious frauds practiced upon them, I feel it however my duty on the part of these injured children and their afflicted parents and relatives after proofs shall be laid before them to press upon the gentlemen who may innocently have them in possession, the propriety of permitting them to return speedily to their friends and home in this city.

I solicit of Col. Hickey a speedy answer to this

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communication with an expression of his views, wishes ,and intentions together with any information he may have acquired touching this matter — particularly as to the residence of any of the children sold by Picket.
With great respect, I am your obed. serv.
(Signed) Joseph Watson,

To Colonel Hickey

Baton Rouge

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