Our Diverse Heritage: Marion’s Black History Part 3

Celebrating Black History Month in Marion County

Read Part 1  here and Part 2 here

Part 3: The Court Decision and Meade’s Political Influence

Virginia’s code prior to 1865 was a set of rules based on the concept that slaves were property, not persons. It protected not only the property but also the property owner. The status of the offspring followed that of the mother so that the child of a free father and a slave mother was a slave. Slaves had few legal rights.

Harrison County Court House circa 1868

Court records state that after evidence and arguments were heard, the jury retired to their chambers to consider their verdict. The records note that after deliberation, the jury stated “we the jury find for the Defendant. Therefore it is considered by the Court that the Plaintiff take nothing by his declaration and that the Defendant go thereof without delay and that he recover against the Plaintiff his costs by him about his defense.”

1868 Court Records

How did this case come about for a Black man to take on a person of privilege and power? One of Meade’s key supporters was Francis Pierpont, who no doubt encouraged him to file the suit.

Request a copy of our Civil War or Marion County History Guide here.

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