Location: Edgecombe County NC

The Case of the State Vs. Will

One of the most remarkable cases ever tried in the North Carolina courts was the case of The State vs. Will. It was the most important case on the subject of slavery and fixed a slave’s right to defend himself against the cruel and unjust punishment of a master. It was decided at the December term, 1834, of the Supreme Court (State vs. Will, 1 Devereux and Battle, 121-172). The facts of the case are as follows: Will was the slave of Mr. James S. Battle, of Edgecombe County, and was placed under the direction of an overseer named Richard Baxter, a man whose temper differed materially from that of his pious namesake. On January 22, 1834, Will and another slave had a dispute over a hoe which Will claimed the right of using exclusively, since he had helved it in his own time. The foreman, who was also a slave, directed another Negro to use the hoe, whereupon Will, after some angry words, broke the helve of the hoe and went off to work at a cotton screw about one-fourth of a mile away. The foreman reported the matter to Baxter, who at once went to his own house. While there his wife was heard to say: “I would not, my dear,” to which he replied very positively: “I will.” He then took his gun, mounted his horse,...

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Slave Narrative of Alice Baugh

Interviewer: Mary A. Hicks Person Interviewed: Alice Baugh Date of Interview: May 18, 1937 Location: North Carolina Age: 64 Plantation Times An Interview on May 18, 1937 with Baugh, 64, who remembers hearing her mother tell of slavery days. My mammy Ferbie, an’ her brother Darson belonged ter Mr. David Hinnant in Edgecombe County till young Marster Charlie got married. Den dey wuz drawed an’ sent wid him down hyar ter Wendell. De ole Hinnant home am still standin’ dar ter dis day. Marster Charlie an’ Missus Mary wuz good ter de hundred slaves what belonged ter’ em. Dey gib ’em good houses, good feed, good clothes an’ plenty uv fun. Dey had dere co’n shuckin’s, dere barn dances, prayer meetin’s an’ sich like all de year, an’ from Christmas till de second day o’ January dey had a holiday wid roast oxes, pigs, turkey an’ all de rest o’ de fixin’s. From Saturday till Monday de slaves wuz off an’ dey had dere Sunday clothes, which wuz nice. De marster always gib ’em a paper so’s de patterollers won’t git ’em. Dey went up de riber to other plantations ter dances an’ all dem things, an’ dey wuz awful fond uv singin’ songs. Dat’s whut dey done atter dey comes ter dere cabins at de end o’ de day. De grown folkses sings an’ somebody pickin’ de banjo....

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