The Blacks at Monticello

I was outspoken in my stance against slavery but I also owned slaves. What were my actual feelings? Skip down to read information about my relationship with Sally Hemmings

I wanted to free them all but there were several that I could not. If I had then I would have been voted out of government by those who belived in slavery. That is all there was to it. You either had a Thomas Jefferson in the government who had slaves or no Thomas Jefferson. Many of the forefathers had this in common. There is another reason though. Read on.

The greatest problem was that blacks had no laws to protect them once they were free. As property they had the protection of the laws bearing on personal property.

As a result several that I gave their freedom were murdered. This included Sally Hemmings brother who was then tortured to death.

In fact he is an excellent example of my feelings toward slavery. I had James Hemmings come to France and had him taught French cooking by some of the best chefs in France. It was very expensive schooling. Transportation from Europe was very expensive. A person usually committed to 11 years as an indentured servant to pay for their passage one way. So I had a huge investment in James. It was probably the equivalent of about a half million dollars today and after about five years he said he wanted to cook in a restaurant, so he wanted his freedom. In exchange my condition was that he simply had to train one of his relatives to cook. That he did and away he went.

I did not have a slavers attitude. Anyone who wanted their freedom could just leave and I would not send anyone after them. (This is well known.)

Then after he left it was only a few years he was murdered.

It was sadly and truthfully stated by people 200 years ago that if a person shot a black man who then fell dead on a black dog and killed that dog you might get the person convicted as accessory to the black man killing the dog but not for killing the black man. In most counties laws protected dogs of all colors and breeds but they don't protect men of any color or breed other than white.

(This is pretty close to the original saying but it's not quite the saying. Now I remember. The confusing part is caused by the fact that there were several similar sayings and without the original brain cells that separated them the memories get easily mixed together when I recall them. One of the other sayings involved the bullet going through the black man and killing the dog. It was also changed after hunting dogs from Africa were imported. Then it was truthfully and sadly said that 'a white or a black African dog has more protection than a black African man'.)

Remember that free blacks had less rights than dogs. I mean that literally. In some counties people would kill their neighbor's dog and then claim they didn't know it was the neighbors. For that reason and many others they passed laws in many counties against killing any dogs but not blacks.

People often took out their animosity on freed blacks. Blacks were not even protected from other blacks.

Those that had it worse were the former slaves of the forefathers. We were not universally loved by all Americans and many people wanted to harm us. The only way was often to hurt or kill a freed slave that had belonged to the forefather. A freed black was usually a close friend of the former owner so an enemy of the former owner would kill the ex slave to hurt their former owner indirectly. That is why we could not free them and that was my main reason for not freeing them.

Next on the list were those who would torture an ex slave to find out secrets of the owner (and the English did this often) so none of the forefathers could safely free their slaves for this reason either.

For the same reason the English were always trying to buy slaves from the forefathers to torture them for secrets. So not many belonging to the forefathers were sold except to known parties and with a codicil forbidding the slaves resale.

So this issue was not as simple as you probably thought at first glance.


I'm in the process of updating this page now.

Principally I had to appear to straddle both sides of the fence so that I did not lose the support of the voters or there would never have been a United States.

Later it was for preserving a state of normalcy at Monticello since it was the second seat (or emergency) Capital for the United States. Once you have read Fortress Monticello you will understand that the issue ran far deeper than a persons technical legal designation. If the facade had ever fallen Monticello would have been useless for this purpose and the entire capital, Washington itself, might have had to have been moved permanently farther inland for safety. Without the slaves Monticello would not have existed and it would likely have been exposed. Again, had we released the slaves then they might have been tortured by the British for this very important information.

I did not want slaves and didn't buy any that I can recall, unless they came to me asking to be bought. The slaves I had were either inherited or were owned by my wife and were part of her inheritance.

Since I wrote the Declaration of Independence there were many people that felt I was responsible for their freedom and the problems that came with it like having to think. Many people did not want to have to think. It might surprise you but most people don't like to think and that was my fault. Many whites messed up their lives on their own and they blamed me for that too.

So they would have taken out their anger on any blacks that I had given freedom to. This was actually true for the freed blacks that had belonged to any of the other forefathers as well. There were three blacks that other forefather released that were murdered. The other forefathers had it worse since they were not lawyers. People were really cautious about hurting my blacks even the few free ones. In spite of it I think four of my freed blacks were eventually murdered.

It was just plain deadly dangerous for free blacks in the US until they got rights. It's still fairly dangerous to be black.*

Those few blacks that I freed never were really free as they lived their lives in fear of misdirected retribution against their former owner, me. One was murdered after I gave him freedom. Then I had to stop freeing them. (We had a number of ways around it. There were ways to free slaves without actually freeing them directly. We did that with many of them. Scroll down to 'Life for the blacks at Monticello' to read about that .)

As slaves they were considered property and had the protection of an owner that was also a very astute lawyer who would not fail to prosecute to the full extent of the law if any whites moved so much as one hair on one of the blacks. Literally the word that got out to the whites was exactly that. Touch their hair and it would cost them $10,000 by the time I got through with them and that is about a half million in today's money.

In the majority of Sahara area if a man touched another mans head it was a challenge to a fight and to back down from this specific challenge was suicide for those blacks. However a black man who struck a white person was usually hung on the spot so they couldn't react. Any black man so touched on their head by another man, who did not rise to the challenge, was usually castigated and relegated to a lower position by the other blacks, especially from that region of Africa. That would affect their actual value as property, in dollars and cents and this lawyer would sue any white man who touched their head, not only for his lost value to me but also for the loss of the value of at least ten of his relatives since they all shared the same shame and were relegated to a lower position in their society. So nobody ever touched one of them.

The second lesser reason I did not free my blacks was to prevent me from being seen as an opponent to slavery by slave owners. I needed to make it appear that all my talk about eliminating slavery was just talk.

I could never be seen as taking a very strong stance against the issue of slavery to those members of congress who were in favor of slavery. It being a southern state Virginia citizens would never have put up with it if they thought I really was strongly against slavery. The slave owners would ask my neighbors if I was setting blacks free and they had a slavers coalition that bribed the two men in the state government that worked in the Richmond records office to find out which whites were freeing their own blacks and what they were doing with them in general. They thought I was all BS.

Northerners who wanted to find out my stance on the issue just read what I wrote.

However, if you were a slave and walked away then I never sent anyone after you and I would refuse to pay to have you returned. (This is in the history books.) In other words my slaves were free.

There was a free black lady that visited me at night when I was president.

I was at a banquet in the capital and she was serving. She said 'Mister president, sir. Would you mind sir if I called on you sometime soon sir?' I thought oh heck, another person with a minor complaint and I replied 'certainly'. As I moved along the table I heard the word 'late'. That meant it was not going to be a complaint. The next night she arrived at eight in a long gown, gloves and coat with a fur hood hiding her tan, and it was in July.

She was one of the smartest woman I ever met and certainly a better acquaintance, lover and friend than most women I had known. (I have to say honestly that I think she was one of the few women that I had gotten to know well enough to make an honest appraisal of and she might have been smarter than a friend I knew in France.).

People may have mistaken her for Sally Hemmings (who I was never involved with and I'll explain that in a bit) as they both had very similar figures. She wanted a smart child.

She was an amazing woman as well as intelligent. She would disguise herself using a white paste to look like she was a white man. That was for many reasons. Sometimes it was just to enter the taverns just for some intelligent conversation. Other times it was to pretend to be a reporter to interview Congressmen (she was an active reporter who published in newspapers far away from the capital under a man's name. It was common for newspaper editors to hire a reporter in the capital and never meet them. She also did this so she could use Government facilities like certain libraries and even some where even white women were not welcome. Usually she would try as a black woman first and only resort to this disguise if there were complaints by bigots. Certain federal depositories and libraries were then off limits to blacks and women but it was not that often enforced.

This lady had received an education in the best women's school in England and a women's University almost the equal of Oxford. The reason she got admitted was that the school had never dealt with the issue of race before. Her father who was a wealthy shipping magnate scion from a French family in Boston and also Manhattan. He enrolled her ahead of time and sent all the appropriate documents and then she shocked the s..t right out of them when she arrived for the year. (She was three eighths black. The ladies of mixed blood in England then were not called blacks but were often referred to as 'exotic ladies' or 'exotic women' in the newspapers and even the official records of the time.)

Then she got the highest grades in the classes she took. She explained to me that at the age of 5-6 her father hired a tutor that taught her how to think out the best ways to learn. She explained that different situations required her to use different methods. Children in England were just given books and told to learn the information rote.

Education was always a large interest of mine so she explained eight of the methods (at least) that she found that worked for her. Here are several that I can recall.

When the other students were told to memorize some information or a technique they would just repeat it over and over again for hours on end while she would put what she needed to memorize on slips of paper. She would read them once or twice right before she went to bed and then right when she awoke. It would get 100% memorized that way and her peers would still be reading it over and over for hours and for up to seven days.

She used two techniques for learning music. If she had to learn a passage of difficult harp music she would get the matron that checked the halls to wake her up at midnight. She would learn it perfectly if she just played it once and then went right back to sleep. She always received the best marks in her school. She did this also with the harpsichord and once the instructor said he never heard the song played better in his life.

She was as well versed as most men and that included my ambassadors. She was as well educated and had retained more of what she had learned in school than any woman that I knew of in the US.

She would often come and stand in as a server when I had racists dinner guests at the White House. It was kept a secret for part of it. Then at an opportune moment she would set down her serving tray to educate those 'ignorant bigots' as she often called these men and women who had managed to avoid conversing with any educated blacks. They had to listen to every word and couldn't avoid her as they were guests of the United States President.

Whenever an American spoke proper English they were declared to be Tory's and ostracized but when she spoke perfect and proper English of the upper class it had quite the opposite effect.

She knew the bards work inside out and not just the words of Shakespeare.

She was serving tea after dinner to two English women from Jamaica and she couldn't take it. They were women of stature and were discussing the nature of Hamlet's schizophrenia when my friend set down the tea tray and rebuked the commonly held assumption that Hamlet even was a schizophrenic. She deliberately and slowly delineated how Hamlet's moods changed abruptly from scene to scene, going from highs to lows. To absolutely everyone's delight she showed to the satisfaction of them all that Hamlet actually suffered from what was then called 'Melancholia and mania' but which is now called manic depression or Bipolar disorder. (Even today the assumption is that Hamlet was schizophrenic and the arguments are over it whereas the Bipolar connection is rarely even discussed.

We worked as a team and when it was a US politician it was an entirely different matter since I had to stay neutral. So I would never contradict these people directly however my friend had a mouth on her that would not stop. So I had a signal for her to serve anything, such as sweets, to get her out of the back. Then I'd ask her what her opinion was and when she set down her tray I'd sit back and and laugh inside as the show unfolded.

One member of the House of Representative had a bigoted stance that was based on just two beliefs. One I can't recall yet. The other was his assumption that blacks were of lesser intelligence. He was changed within an hour by talking with her and he voted against slavery from then on.

She inherited more money than the first three presidents had combined about four times over. There were many incredibly rich people who lived in early America whose wealth was not known. America was a lot like Switzerland is today. It was a haven from all taxes (and that included income tax). Her father had maneuvered his wealth like Joseph Kennedy had through the 1929 stock market crash three times over and her family's wealth put their friends and fellow fur traders, the Astors, to shame.

The shops that were all in a row and the blacks at Monticello.

There was a row of shops at Monticello. These were probably on the mountain top. They were private enterprises which were totally owned and operated by the blacks. They kept all the money they made and I don't think there were any taxes either because I hated taxes too ( I had a firm policy of never perpetrating on another what I didn't want perpetrated on me. I think you probably learned a version of that in Bible school.). I charged for the feed for the animals they raised. I charged a rental for the land they had the shops on but they could work one and a half days a month to pay for the rent. I don't think I charged them anything else. I paid a lot more to them for goats milk, cheese, vegetables they grew and chickens, etc.

They got off work 3 hours before sunset on Friday so they could travel to a friend's home safely and they could always borrow a horse or the women would take a buggy if they needed to go farther.

The one time I took any money from the blacks was when two of the men wanted to make knives and I had to go across the river to buy good steel blanks in a buggy and set up an account for them so they could pick up more. That was only a loan which they paid back in good time. They started making knives but they really found that spears of all things sold the best.

They looked almost exactly like this one I found a picture of at the dot com mentioned.

These were broad pointed blades on a about a 4 foot wood shaft.

The guns at the time only shot one bullet and there were a couple types of animals that didn't like getting shot at so they sometimes would charge right at the person and at least try to kill them. Sometime they succeeded. Mostly these were large male boars and few bears also got upset about being shot at by hunters.

These hunters loved the African spears which were optimized to kill wild boars in a rage. They were hardened steel and their blade width (about 3" wide) always killed a pretty large animal within a couple of seconds. The boar hunters would have the spear over their shoulder on a strap with the point above their head. If a boar charged them after they shot their bullet they would drop the gun, reach up and back past their ear, grab the spear, then bringing it down and forward stabing the charging beast. Now that took only 3 seconds and with another second you could hold it in front of you with both hands and brace yourself. The animal would run into the spear and kill himself.

They made excellent what later became known as bowie knives and the balance was incredible. They were the best in Virginia for throwing.


Sally Hemmings-

I never have any relationship with any of the black women at Monticello. I would never have disgraced myself by force of will or by the so called right of due ownership on a person. In my mind it bespeaks of rape.

So I certainly never had any romantic relationship with Sally Hemmings who was also my daughters best friend and my wife's favorite. However, there were many relatives of mine in the area and I think there was even a black man later killed in a fight with a relative of mine over Sally's affections.

Then there was the issue of Sally being my departed wife's half sister. It is well known that I made a promise of never marrying again after my wife died out of respect and love for her. If I had such respect that forswore marrying again then I certainly would not have betray that love and respect by sleeping with her half sister. That is a horrible thought for me to think of even today.

Doesn't anyone believe in ethics these days. What do think gained us our freedom from the British? It was at it basic truth our ethics that gain our freedom. And this is the freedom that you so enjoy and often misuse as well as misunderstand and was begotten by an ethical stance that Americans today often lack. I see those people on documentaries, the greedy and sleazy ones who would rape everyone they could get away with swearing that Thomas Jefferson must have slept with Sally Hemmings simply because their devious perversness would have driven them to it if they had been in my position. When those people say Thomas Jefferson must have slept with Sally Hemmings they are saying a lot more about themselves than they are about me. The nasty little perverts.

I'd tell you if there had been any involvement as it seems to be a big issue that I would to see resolved. It was her greatness that made the whites so upset that they slandered her name all the way to Washington and even to England.

Sally Hemmings did have the best money maker and it made my daughters jealous. Down at the main road she set up a kind of a lemonade stand, or mint julep stand depending on what was in season. You could have your lemonade straight up and the women could get it with actual lemonade and rum instead of whisky while the children just got lemonade straight.

You might take the preacher on a buggy ride in the country and stop at Sally Hemming's refreshment stand. There you would order mint juleps all around and the men would end up with whisky straight or diluted, the women would get a rum drink while the children and preacher would get straight juice. You learned the code the first time you came and it was a simple combination of right and left eye winks you made while ordering. Those winks told Sally what to add or leave out of each drink. You could get pretty tipsy and the preacher would never be the wiser.

This was the only place within about 50 miles that a woman could get a drink at in a healthy environment

Sally had 12 mixed drinks once, I remember. There was a cherry cordial available in all seasons. There was an almond drink, or maybe it was hazelnut drink. You could get any of the drinks with a nut liquor added. There was a drink made with rum, milk and a touch of cinnamon. It was quite popular. There were four total that used milk or cream. The blacks had learned to make a lot of different kinds of alcohol. They had about ten times the resources available than whites who were pretty stuck on whisky. She made corn, potato (vodka) and about four other types of alcohol.

There was one drink called the 'puritan' and the amount of alcohol in that one speaks for itself. She had everything going except those little umbrella's.

Her name was known for over a hundred miles around. In summers there was a line for the 8 tables. The tavern owners were very jealous, envious and so angry that they started and maintained all the rumors about us being lovers. Which was untrue. Here is what happened. The Federalist's would go looking for dirt on me so they would of course go to the nearby taverns and get told the rumors as fact. They would to two or three taverns and hear the same rumor every time and logically that would be enough to convince them that the rumors were true.

She was the wealthiest self made woman in the state of Virginia if I recall correctly. This was during the time that Monticello was a money making enterprise. She made more money than I did. For two years (and they were about three years apart) her net worth was actually more than my net worth.

There are probably 100's of pounds of pottery shards and trinkets that fell out of the pockets of half drunks still there just waiting there in the dirt for an archeologist. In case someone wants to get their knees muddy there is a very hot tip.

Another black lady had a shop in Charlottesville where she sold hats that others made in Monticello. From mid January until planting there was nothing to do in Monticello so everyone sat around and looked at each other for about three months or made hats.

Life for the blacks at Monticello

After the work was done for the day the field hands were free until the next mornings work. The house workers often had a split shift but they all had at least four hours free daily (not counting sleep time). Sally Hemmings went somewhere often in the late afternoons after 3 PM but it wasn't my business.

How did we handle it when a black asked for their freedom?

One method was the following. What I would do is make an exchange with a friend. When blacks were traded often money would be added to offset the difference in value. So I exchanged my black and some money for a black from a friend or relative. Then after a few months the friend or relative would free the black person and no one would associate the freeing of that black with Thomas Jefferson.

Then I would sell the black man I took in trade back to my friend or relative for the money which I had in essence loaned him for two months. It was almost legal. (I think there was a very small sales tax that the other man didn't pay which would have exposed this maneuver if it had been paid). Usually it was one of my wife's blacks and that made it even safer for the soon to be freed man.

There were 20-50 blacks that we gave freedom to by using variations on this method and several others. We had to change the details of the actual process numerous times so that others didn't catch on to us. My memory of the actual details of each one of the release processes has gotten more than a bit confused after 200 years.

Because of this policy I think only two men ran away. One of these men was one that we only took temporarily in trade while one of our blacks was going through the process. He was never told his role to keep him legally clear of involvement in the minor tax fraud.

As an additional safety precaution my younger daughter was given the Monticello black man as a 'gift' the year before so her name appeared on the sale/trade agreement. That distanced the sale completely away from me. So it was my daughter's deal. She was also technically the owner of the man we took in trade.

Slavery was considered a mans institution except with widows and spinsters so mostly men owned the blacks and almost never did a daughter. Also it was in the autumn so there was little work to do so the man only did odd jobs and the rest of the time just sat around wondering why my daughter owned him

One day she gave him an order, and only stated: 'I want you to gather collard greens to boil for dinner and also any mushrooms that you come across to boil with them. However he heard her say this: 'Gather collard greens and mushroom to boil with you'. He misunderstood her grammar, grabbed one of our top horses and ended up in Maine. He rode almost 400 miles north and almost ran out of roads before a nice free black couple could explain to him that Thomas Jefferson, the ex-Governor of Virginia, never ate people for dinner.

When he ran I had to file a loss statement and several other documents and I recall it had to be within a few days and in Richmond the capital. It took me a day and a half and I wondered all the way there and while I was there and all the way back what I was doing that might have caused him to run away. I felt guilt laden until he sent a message by way of the lady who wrote me a letter in which she included the reason he had run away and also that he wanted to return.

I sent boat fare and stage fare from the port to Monticello was included in the promotional deal as I recall. (It was a great deal as it was a promotion for a new route running up and down the coast using very fast cutters. It was almost free in fact but never mind, I am certain the promotional special is no longer available.)

He had to leave the horse behind though. I could not figure out why I was getting so many requests for the exact time he ran away. Normally you just have to send one set of papers and he gets escorted back. However, since he was volunteering on his own to come back I could not figure out why there were so many requests.

The truth was that it turned out to be a world record time for the horse race on the same roads that they held in the spring.

They had long distance horse races and he had beaten the record of a race that went north and had done so by a half a day. Also he had gone over 40 miles in the wrong direction and had to back track yet he had done it in a little over three days. He ran next to the horse for an hour and then rode for two and then repeated the pattern for 400 miles. He even took a break to let my stallion mate with a lonely mare. He knew all the grasses and which ones would nourish the most and which grasses could be digested easier. By the time his race was over the horse was twice as healthy as when he started.

The stallion he took was the main backup for our breeding stallion in case he had a tragic accident trying to jump a fence that was too high and not quite make it. However we never needed the stallion he took and so to me the horse was just another horse.

The horse was sold at an auction up north and we made a good profit.

He said he came from a tribe of messengers. They ran messages from the kings on the coast inland so they were born runners like many of the Kenyan's and that is the area he came from. He told us that he learned to say one thing in 15 different African languages. 'If you kill me then my king will come with 500 warriors and kill everyone.'

Then as time went by the Kings got horses and so his tribe of messengers took care of them as well as rode them. That is why he knew so much about the horse and how to run with them to get as far from that blood thirsty Jefferson daughter in as short as possible amount of time.

The neighbors had been suspicious of these deals we made where we always came up short a black person but when this guy took off it proved once and for all that we were being taken unfair advantage of by even our own relatives.

The man we sent back was then put in charge of all of our co-conspirators horses.

My daughters and especially this one were dyed in the wool abolitionist's so I wondered if maybe what she says that she told the man was actually the truth. My suspicious nature tends to believe that maybe she actually told the man who ran exactly what he claims he heard. She was as good a logician and tactics as George Washington (although not nearly as good a liar) but I wouldn't have put it past her to pull something like that on dear old dad.

One method we used meant the person had to lose about 40 pounds over a few months time. We would bring in white doctors to diagnose them and they would take something that would make them vomit, it worked best if it was on the doctors. As they lost weight over a few months they would rub chalk mixed with lemon into their skin. It made their skin granulate as well as create a distinctive pallor that was identified directly as only one disease. Maybe TB. After losing most all the flesh from their bones the doctors would agree the best thing was to send them off to a relative or friend to die. Of course even the most conservative slave owner set a slave free right before he died so I could set him free without making the slave owners suspicious and then a friend would take him to another state and he was free. Etc.

Many children died of childhood illnesses and the Jefferson's blacks seemed to have real problem's with that. About 90% appeared to have died this way.

There was a time there that officially there was only one black child named Matthew but I had to be careful since if I yelled out the name 'Matthew' three would come running up and the parents would hold a few other Matthews back. (I think it was Matthew and I think another name we often used was John.)

With about 100 black ladies to take care of infants, when the neighbors sent their own blacks to spy on ours they would be seen walking up the hill to visit. One of the blacks would yell out 'Mary's coming up the hill' and there would be a mad shuffle as about 20 babies got swapped around until they were all with women that Mary didn't know.

Then someone might look out the door at the visitor only 25 feet away and say 'No, that's not Mary, that Lucy' and the 20 babies would almost fly through the air to women that Lucy didn't know. In several of these mad dashes a young woman had to tell the visitor that she had triplets when she ended up with three babies in her arms. These children were later said to be nephews and nieces of free black relatives (often that had died) which my blacks were taking care of or had adopted so the children were free from birth.


One of the older black women at Monticello told me what she remembered about Africa. It was that everything she owned was the property of the chief and she could never leave so she said she was in effect a slave but the word that meant slave as well as slavery were not even a part of their language. She also had to do whatever the chief said like build huts, grind his grain, which they had to gather for him as well as for themselves.

It was the custom in her nomadic tribe to sell daughters to other tribes for wives. They were not a war like tribe and since men could have multiple wives girls were in short supply. If she was sold as a wife to another tribe the chief would arrange it and take some of the proceeds. Her mother or father would not even be asked which is what happened with her sister and neither was she asked to approve of the husband. One girl was asked and when she said no about marrying the son of another chief her chief stopped asking the girls and just sold them.

She feared with a fervor of being sold as a wife to one tribe that chewed a drug that made them angry. These men had killed so many of their wives and each others wives so they had to buy new wives a lot. (Maybe that is the drug Khat or even coffee which grow wild there too.)

Her tribe was from south of Sudan but since they were nomadic one time they went north to the Sudan which was depopulated but they didn't know why.

She had a pet goat when she was a girl and first one of the chief's wives wanted a third child and so she got the chief to decree that the goat was to donate blood for his wife to drink so she would get pregnant. He told the girl that a cup every week would not harm her goat.

He had the shaman purify the goat since the girl had made it impure and that made her feel bad that she was not pure. Then after the wife took blood all the other 12 wives didn't like it so they wanted to get pregnant too. They bleed the goat until it had to lay down and then they bled it until it died in her arms. So she didn't like the chief.

Then the Moslem teachers came and taught them fairness and reprimanded the chief and so she liked the Moslems, only for that reason. Then two years later the Moslem slavers came and they said prayers as they chained up the villagers and took them off. They found out through experience why that area of the Sudan was depopulated.

And that she told me is how she ended up in the American colonies in the 1750's.


*Of all the horrors done to freed blacks the most irreprehensible was this. Thieves would often torture a freed black to find where the valuables were stored in their former masters home, such as the silverware. Then they would have a small black boy run into the house to the silverware or other valuables, grab them and run back out to a waiting buggy for their escape. (A light buggy drawn by horses was always faster than the same horses with men on their backs.) This happened not too far over the river in West Virginia. They only got about five pounds of silver. The villains then just killed the two blacks so they would not talk. It sickened me when I heard it. When they caught the two men, one escaped and the other man they could only only prosecute for the theft since there was no law against killing free blacks.

Another situation involving murdered free blacks happened in Maryland. I think it involved a bank fraud.

 

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