Wax Seal. These three documents are joined at the top by a small circle of sealing wax. Each leaf measures 7.75” x 12.5”. A Howard County Circuit Court stamp is embossed at the bottom of one leaf. Old tape repair to two storage fold splits..
The first document is a sworn oath, dated May 23, 1822, by George W. Hardin that “He was lawfully possessed of the negroes . . . and that the same were unlawfully taken by Urial Bailey . . . from his properties and with out his consent within one year last past and that he is now lawfuly entitled to the possession of the said negroes.”
The second, also dated May 23, 1822 is an order from the court to the Sheriff of Howard County informing him that “George W. Hardin hath come into the Circuit Court held in the town of Franklin and found sufficient sureties as well as his clamour to prosecute for a certain woman called Dolly about the age of twenty eight years also one negro boy of about the age of nine years named Nathan, also one negro girl called Eliza about the age of three years . . . which a certain Uriel Bailey . . . hath taken and unjustly detains. . .. You are there hereby commanded that the said goods . . . be delivered to the said George W. Hardin and that . . . Uriel Bailey appear before the said Circuit Court to be held at the town of Franklin.”
The third document, written on the reverse of the oath is dated “In the Circuit Court of the Term of September 1822.” By then, the slaves had been returned as the document reads in part, in part: “George W. Hardin by his Attorney complains of Urial Bailey that he took [the slaves named earlier which were] of great value To wit of the value of fifteen hundred Dollars . . . where fore the said plaintiff saith that he . . . hath sustained [additional] damages to the value of five hundred dollars. . ..”
Docketing on an otherwise blank leaf appears to indicate that the judge found in favor of Hardin and that he was awarded additional “Replevin Damages” [of] $500.00”.. Good to Very Good. Item #009904
Uriel Bailey’s motives for the thefts are not recorded, but as Reilly notes in “Slave Stealing in the Early Domestic Trade as Revealed by a Loyal Manservant,” Louisiana History: The Journal of the Louisiana Historical Association (Winter 2004),
“Slave stealing plagued domestic slaveholders as far back as the colonial period when those who would unlawfull deprive a property owner of human chattel were detested as ‘Negro jockeys.’ Whether operating in the northern or southern colonies, a ‘man-stealer’ lurking about either as a piratical thief or as a high-minded abolitionist was guilty of one of the worst crimes against the sanctity of property. . .. By the 1830s, man stealing reached epidemic levels in parts of the upper South.”
Despite the prevalence of slave stealing, records of trials are scarce. At the time of listing, nothing similar is for sale in the trade, and there are no records of similar documents being auctioned at the Rare Book Hub. OCLC show ten institutions hold similar documents.