Philip Hickey to Joseph Watson, June 14, 1827

Privacy Level: Open (White)
Date: 14 Jun 1827 [unknown]
Location: East Baton Rouge, Louisiana, United Statesmap
Surnames/tags: Hickey Watson
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June 14, 1827 letter from Colonel Philip Hickey to Joseph Watson regarding his personal doubts of the kidnapping, the distrust of southern planters for northerners, and his distaste for emancipation efforts. Hickey states that he did acquire a boy named James Daily from Emilia Pickard, wife of Patrick Pickard, but that his description does not match that provided by Watson.

This letter is in reply to

Joseph Watson replied in

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

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East Baton Rouge, Lou. @ 14th June 1827.


Peculiar circumstances of absence and business have hitherto withdrawn my attention from your communication of the 20th April. — I was much surprised and concerned to learn that I had possibly been most unconsciously and ignorantly instrumental in depriving a negro human being of his dearest and most sacred rights and [am] sincerely sympathetic with your indignation against the infamous kidnapper who it is stated has so audaciously & so cruelly tore them from their liberty and their friends to induce them to distant bondage. — I did sir some time in the year 1825 purchase from “Emilia Pickard Wife of Patrick Pickard of Brook County Virginia” a yellow boy named Jim that since [has] been called on the Plantation by the name of James Dailey — this boy does not — exactly answer the description given in your letter of James Daily — he neither corresponds in color or age. The first suggestion I ever heard of this boy’s probably being free was contained in your letter — upon satisfactory proof being adduced that this boy is entitled to his freedom no obstacle shall be offered by me to his restoration to liberty — the other boy bought by me from Emelia Pickard wife of Patrick Pickard does not answer

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in name or description to those described in your letter. --

Were I convinced that all the individuals who have communicated information to you on this subject were as enlightened upright and disinterested as I dum[?] you to be, I would require no further proof then that contained in your letter of the freeness of Daily — for from the circumstances stated in your letter I am inclined to believe he is the boy alluded to. — But sir where it is recollected that James Daily has never alluded to his freedom since I purchased him, taken in connexion with a fact which I have lately heard — to wit that some persons who lately stopped near my Plantation in a Steam Boat had promised him to obtain his freedom and no doubt made an arrangement with him to that effect — When it is considered too that these individuals on board the Steam Boat may have [??] of that description of free negros who have infested our state and invighted[?] away our slaves — when I say all these circumstances are considered can I be uproached with insensibility in supposing that all the facts which have been stated to you may possibly be

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a tissue[?] of falsehoods — the fabrications of perjured deponents; these doubts and suggested possibilities may seem to emanate from one too sensible to the pecuniary loss he will sustain by the abstraction of these negros but I beg you to be assured that the[y] are caused by no such motives — for if the negros be intitled to their freedom I will most cheerfully encarge[?] them. — But sir it is not surprising that the Planters of the south should distrust the motives & acts of their northern & eastern brethren in relation to negros. The experience of a number of years has convinced them that the non slave holding states which are contiguous to the slave states abound with swarms of self styled philanthropists — who activated either by motives of ostentation or interest or the love of mischief or operated upon by a fanatical zeal think themselves justified in the use of every possible means by which they can rob a southern master of a slave for the purpose of emancipating slaves. These sworn foes of the slave holders consider strategies fraud — violence — & perjury — as so many virtues
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when resorted to, to cheat a slave holder out of his property and how many good but weak men do they find that are deceived by and countenance their illegal undignified and disgraceful proceedings — Under these circumstances I not only owe it to myself, but to my southern brethren to require satisfactory proof of the freedom of any negro on my Plantation before I can consent to inlarge[?] him, as regards James Daily — if he is free. The facts will admit of easy and satisfactory proof. I do not mean proof in a court of justice. I mean proof of identity afforded by the depositions of witnesses of known probity who depose to facts of their own knowledge and who tell a consistent tale.
I am
With great respect
your obed. serv.
Philip Hickey

Joseph Watson Esqr

Mayor of


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