Many slave owners, instead of freeing their slaves, chose to attempt to sell them illegally out of New England to be slaves for life in the South. Individuals like Isaac Hillard of Redding attempted to sue their neighbors for illegally selling black children--who otherwise would be freed at 25 according to law--and adults into New York and Virginia. Hillard encountered overwhelming local opposition by fellow white citizens to his suits, but he persisted and eventually won his cases in courts outside Fairfield County. Click on the image to read the first page of Hillard's 1797 public statement.
Image: Isaac Hillard, To the Public, 1797 (detail). Courtesy The Connecticut Historical Society Museum, Hartford, Connecticut.
Ebenezer Mallery of Newtown also sued traffickers for the equally heinous act of transport and sale of free blacks out of Connecticut. Like Hillard, he sought to have the cases tried outside of Fairfield County because local popular sentiment at the time made it difficult for him to secure a just conviction. Shown here is the first of four pages of his lawsuit. Click on the page numbers to view the rest of the document; pages five and six record the legislature's response to his petition.
Image: Lawsuit of Ebenezer Mallery, 1797. Courtesy The Connecticut State Library, State Archives, Hartford, Connecticut.
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