Thursday, August 30, 2007

Forged Slave Passes & Certificates of Freedom

Extract of a letter from Petersburg, Virginia, dated August 19, 1785.

Some days ago it was discovered that a person unknown in this town was selling out Certificates of Freedom and Passes to the Slaves, and forging such people's names as were most likely to answer the purpose. By the activity and vigilance of some gentlemen in town, this dangerous villain was apprehended last night, about ten o'clock, in company with some slaves, and just as he had finished a pass for one of them. He was carried before a Magistrate, who committed him to prison for further trial. He at first called himself Joe Thompson, but says his name is Thompson Davis. When he was first apprehended, he entreated one of the gentlemen to shot him with the pistol he had in his hand, and discovered such a behaviour as thoroughly indicated that he suspected some other charge against him, besides the forgeries he had committed and upon tracing his conduct during the time he has been in this place, he is render still more suspicious, wherefore the following description is given of him. He is a native of Ireland, about 5 feet 4 inches high, stout made, sloops a little, short dark brown hair, a deep scar on the right side of his forehead, just below his hair, the right eye is a little remarkable, having the appearance of a film on it, appears to be about 38 years of age, says he is a baker by trade, and that he came last from Richmond, where he had been some time soliciting his pay as a dragoon in Col. Baylor's regiment.

Source: The Pennsylvania Packet, and Daily Advertiser, Wednesday, September 7, 1785.

No comments: