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Shaping Public Opinion - Opponents of Slavery


Shaping Public Opinion

Women's Organizations 



Service to Country

Votes for Women


Where are the Women:
Examples from the LVA Collections



Related Resources

Temperance | Slavery: Two Points of View | Opponents of Slavery
Slave or Free? | Writing Virginia’s History

The August 1831 rebellion of Nat Turner and other slaves in Southampton County terrified white Virginians. In this petition to the General Assembly, women from Augusta County used language that flattered the men of Virginia in an attempt to persuade the legislature to end slavery and resettle freed slaves outside the state. The women cleverly pointed out that they had a right to petition the General Assembly and that their domestic experience equipped them with a unique point of view on the subject of slavery. Anticipating cries that eliminating slavery would condemn women to hardships, the Augusta County women proclaimed that, for them, work “held no terror.”

Petition from “females of the County of Augusta” to the General Assembly. N.d., presented 19 January 1832. Manuscript. RG 78, Virginia General Assembly, Legislative Petitions, Augusta County, State Government Records Collection. The Library of Virginia

In her petition presented to the General Assembly in 1856, Sarah Ann, of Culpeper County, related that her father, Cyrus Ficklin, a free Negro, had died intestate. Three different administrators had managed his estate, with the implication that the latest administrator was embezzling. Cyrus had married a slave and later purchased her; there were two children, Abbe and Sarah Ann. Cyrus’s estate had an outstanding debt, and Sarah Ann and her children were about to be sold by the court in payment of debts. Sarah Ann petitioned the House for the state to relinquish interest in her and allow her to remain the state.

In 1858 the Assembly passed a law in effect deeding Sarah Ann and her infant children to the Colonization Society on the condition that the society remove Sarah Ann and her children from the state.

Petition of Sarah Ann. 29 January 1856. Manuscript. RG78, Legislative Petitions, Culpeper County. The Library of Virginia