Manuscript legal document


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Manuscript legal document


(SLAVERY). Manuscript legal document. Memphis, Tennessee, November 23, 1848. Beige commission for deposition form, measuring 7-1/2 by 3-1/2 inches; two sheets of unlined paper, measuring 7-1/2 by 12-1/2 inches; pp.4.

Original partially manuscript State of Tennessee, Shelby County, commission for deposition form, dated 1884, with completely manuscript four-page deposition, pertaining to an unpaid debt and a dispute about the ownership about a slave boy named "Wallace," verbally offered by his owner, stage service operator J.H. Perkins, as collateral to secure debt incurred with John H. Bass, who cared for Perkins' horses.

This interesting deposition concerns the payment of a debt and the ownership of a young slave boy—deceased at the time of the deposition. The particulars of the debt are somewhat technical and involve 19th-century concerns: the boarding of men and horses involved in the operation of a highly lucrative (yet apparently not sufficiently lucrative) stagecoach route. Caught in the middle was a young slave boy named Wallace, who was given away, traded, and hired out between the men involved in and supporting the operation. Ultimately, Wallace and two of his owners died before the witness giving the deposition could be paid. This deposition is written proof of the ways in which people were once used just like paper currency.

The commission for deposition form, attached to the main deposition document, is partially completed in manuscript, and authorizes the attorney in question, James Rose, to conduct the deposition in Shelby County, Tennessee, as of November 1848. The deposition of a witness, Paris Eddings, entirely in manuscript, reads, in part: "Question 1. State where you lived in the years 1841. & 2.—with whom—how long—and all that you know in reference to the ownership of a negro boy named Wallace who forms part of the subject matter of this present suit? Answer 1. I lived at T.C. Bass part of the year 1841. Afterward… at Memphis. In 1839 or 1840 while I was driving stage for J.H. Perkins, I took the negro boy Wallace out from Memphis to Bass'—He belonged to John H. Perkins, who made his home sometimes at Holly Springs, sometimes at Memphis, and sometimes at Bass'. He had no stationary house. He was stage proprietor between Memphis & Holly Springs. I took him to Bass, which was the stage stand, by order of J.H. Perkins. After this boy had been there perhaps six months Perkins became indebted to Bass for keeping stage horses & boarding drivers some six or seven hundred dollars. Some words occurred between Bass & Perkins about the payment & Perkins verbally gave the boy to Bass as collateral security for the future payment of this debt. Perkins afterwards paid that debt. Perkins then kept the boy some little length of time at Bass'—and sold or traded him to B.T. Gordon. Gordon was a stage driver for John H. Perkins. Gordon had lived at Bass' some 3. years—I do not recollect whether he lived there or not at the time of the trade. The bill of sale annexed hereto recollect. Exhibit A. I can swear to as being the genuine hand writing of John H. Perkins, who is dead. Before Perkins died, I think it was Gordon brought this boy to Memphis and hired him as his own to Lemuel Austin—I think Perkins did about March 1844.—Gordon is also dead—Gordon exercised ownership over the boy after Perkins sold him to him Gordon, which was not long after Perkins had redeemed him from Bass—Perkins was owing Gordon to my knowledge about one thousand dollars for stage driving and money lent, and I believe he paid Gordon this boy in part satisfaction of that debt for which Gordon gave up so much of Perkins' notes. Perkins was owing me three hundred and eighty five dollars for which I sued him, but while Gordon became owner of this boy and a tract of land I, at his request, withdrew the suit and took Perkins' note with his (Gordon's) endorsement—Gordon died & Wallace died, and I lost my debt. I don't know nor have I ever heard of Mr. Bass owning said boy otherwise than as I have above stated— Cross examined— Quest. 1. State whether or not T.C. Bass was much ————- in money matters at the date of these transactions & if you know of his taking title to this boy or other property in Gorden's [sic; spelling changes] name—State who exercised ownership over the boy and had him in possession during the year 1842? Ans. Bass was —————— about this property in Gorden's name. After Gorden bought hi (Wallace), no body had possession of him or exercised ownership over him but Gorden—I think it was in 1842 that he hired him to Lemuel Austin in Memphis—Quest. 2. State how much of the time you stayed at Bass' during the years 1841 & 1842 and where Gorden lived during that time? And how frequently were you there? At Bass' during that time? Ans. I was driving stage for part o the year 1842 and Bass' was the stand where I mostly stayed. Then I came to Memphis to live—and was there occasionally perhaps once a month—I cannot say how long Gorden lived there—when he left there he —— to Memphis to keep a lively stable…" With part of original seal on page three.

Light soiling and some splitting and toning to folds. A very fragile item in very good condition.

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