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Howard, Charles, small broadside
To J. Schley, Clerk, Frederick County Court, asking for help in removing free 'persons of Colour' to Africa, April 26 1832


Transcribed from a photo image of the original document, the following document is that which compelled Henry Schley to document “any persons manumitted” for the purpose of polling people of African descent as to whether or not they would like to be shipped to Liberia. In the mid 1700s the population of Maryland was almost half African and around 1790 municipalities began to seek the reduction of these people by deportation and bans on bringing them in. Oddly enough, this 1831 effort to rid Maryland of blacks brought to light and preserved the fact that at least one white man, David Holliday, had been held a slave, was so-called, and was freed six years later in 1837.

_______________________________________________________________________

Sir,

Having been appointed Managers for the removal of a certain class of persons of Colour from the state, in pursuance of the provisions of the late Act of the General Assembly, we find it necessary to ask for your aid and co-operation, in carrying into effect the intentions of the Legislature.

By the law above referred to, it is made the duty of the Clerks of the Courts, and the registers of Wills in several Counties, to send to us, extracts of deeds or Wills (recorded or admitted to probate since the passage of the Act) by which any persons are manumitted. [1] It is then required of us to provide for the removal of all such persons, to Africa or to such place they may prefer and we may approve of. It is, however, obviously impossible for us to ascertain their views and wishes, [2] or to take the necessary measures to assist them in removing, without the aid of the gentlemen in every part of the State who may be willing to promote the success of an object of such great importance to the community. [3] Without such aid it will be difficult for us to know, even what part of the different Counties the persons manumitted are residing; and thus the law might become totally inoperative, as regards those very Counties which it was expected would derive the most benefit from it. In hope, therefore, that you may be willing to assist in the great undertaking in which the State has embarked, we have taken the liberty to send you the annexed questions which we would wish to have put to persons hereafter manumitted; and to solicit you to transmit to us their answers thereto, with the Extracts from the Deeds.

You would oblige us by giving us, when you can do so, the address of those persons who may execute Deeds of Manumission, that, if necessary, we may communicate with them. We will likewise be glad at all times to receive from you information as to the views of the freed Coloured population in any part of the State, on the subject of Emigration, which it may be in your power to communicate. [4]

Very respectfully your able servant,

Charles Howard

[illegible]

Questions to be proposed to persons Manumitted:

I.—What is your employment?

II.—Where do you reside?

III.—What family have you? Are they free or slaves; and if the latter, to whom?

IV.—Are you willing to remove to the Colony of Liberia in Africa? If not, to what place, out of the State would you prefer to remove?

V.—How many of your family would remove with you?

Notes

1. There is also a less pressing interest in the manumission of whites. In light of the fact that a large body of documents accusing free and bound negroes of violent crimes against whites during this period, and the fact that freed white men of the lowest class would likewise be regarded as undesirables, it may have been the case that David Holliday was asked to leave the state and “Go west young man.”

2. The views and wishes of negroes in this period in Maryland were respected as indicated by law suits they had been filing against cruel masters since the 1790s. The entire process seemed to be a scheme to nonviolently remove the most violent segments of a clearly divided State.

3. The assembly was obviously of the opinion that the number of blacks living in Maryland was a serious threat to “community” stability. The modern Maryland experience emphatically indicates that this is the case.

4. Mixed-race “coloured” folk were tapped as leadership cadres for the formation of the new state of Liberia.

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