Location: New Orleans, Orleans, Louisiana, United States
Sarah Nicholson Petition for Freedom, retrieved by Antoinette Harrell
The day this was filed, the following were issued:
- Judge's Order to Henry L. Thompson, August 20, 1827
- Judge's Order to the sheriff of New Orleans Parish, August 20, 1827
and a few days later, there was a followup to the petition:
The case was settled in:
- Mr. Dempsey Kemp
- St. Helena
- Collinsworth’s Office
- Petition filed Aug. 20th, 1827
To the Honorable James Pitot Parish, Judge of the Parish and City of New Orleans.
The petition of Sarah Nicholson, a black freewoman respectfully represents
That she was born in the town of Wilmington, State of Delaware of free parents, that she is twenty four years of age, or thereabout, as well as she can remember. That in the month of August 1826 she was kidnapped in the City of Philadelphia (which is about thirty miles from Wilmington, the place of her birth), that she was stolen away from Pine Street Wharf and taken on board an Hermaphrodite Brig from which she was put on board an Oyster boat--that the Oyster boat went down the Delaware river to an island, where a storm arose in which the boat sprung a leak; that she, in company with nine other coloured persons were in the Oyster boat. That as many as fifty coloured persons were in the brig, that the brig came down to the island and Petitioner was put in irons, being ironed at the right foot, and had a rope fastened around her neck to the neck of another of the company in the manner that oxen are bound. That the Brig stood off and on until midnight, when the whole number of kidnapped persons were taken ashore and compelled to be silent. That after being removed to and from several other places on her way to the State of Louisiana, she was brought to the parish of Saint Helena, by land, that five others were there sold as slaves. That petitioner was brought to New Orleans by a man named Stevenson, of St. Helena Parish to Captain Thompson, corner of Canal and Camp Streets. That she has been frequently offered for sale by said Thompson - that by his order she was sold at public auction in New Orleans, on Saturday August 18, 1827 by George N. Boyd; that she is now held in duress by said Thompson.
Your petitioner therefore prays for leave to sue for her freedom in forma pauperis--that the sheriff be ordered to hold her in his custody until the further order of the Court that said Thompson after trial of this suit be condemned to pay such damages for the value of the time of your petitioner and for having cruelly whipped her himself, and having her whipped at the police prison for saying she was free, as she has sustained together with costs of suit, that her freedom be decreed and your petitioner prays for general relief, all which is
The State of Louisiana
Parish and City of New Orleans
- This day, Sarah Nicholson the petitioner made oath to the truth of the facts set forth in the above petition. Sworn and subscribed to before me August 20 1827.
- Signed A. Dubourg
- Associate judge of the City Court
- Signed Sarah Nicholson [an “x” represents Sarah’s signature]
- ↑ We can assume this was the "Little John" because Sarah Nicholson later testified against Thomas Collins, who was a deckhand on the Little John.