I am Tom Freeland, a lawyer in Oxford, Mississippi. The picture in the header is my law office. I'm on Twitter as NMissC

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A Mississippi Slave Emancipation Story from 1821 that Caught My Attention

This is from the public and private acts section of Turner’s Mississippi Code of 1823.

Of Lucinda Jcfferson.

By An act to emancipate Lucinda Jefferson, passed November 24, 1821, the said girl Lucinda Jefferson is emancipated, set free from slavery and is invested with all the rights, privileges and immunities of any other free white female in this state:– It having been represented to the general assembly, that John Hopkins, Esq. of the county of Jefferson, did some years ago, purchase the said girl as a slave, whom be then believed and still believes to be the offspring of free white parents, who had by fraud, been made to pass as a slave: And the said John Hopkins having represented to the general assembly, that it is his wish that the said girl be restored to her natural and civil rights.

There is something going on here that is not being fully told. He “purchase[d] the said girl, whom he then believed … to be the offspring of free white parents” and that Lucinda “had by fraud, been made to pass as a slave….”  What, exactly, happened here?  There’s at least a (Faulkner) short story hiding in this legislation.  Below is an image from the 1823 code.


Perhaps I should offer a prize to anyone who could guess how I happened to trip over this statute.

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