April 16 1812: Jefferson and Slavery

On April 16, 1812, Thomas Jefferson writes to Reuben Perry advising of the capture of the runaway slave Jame Hubbard.  Hubbard was an African American slave that had been owned by Jefferson but who had twice tried to gain his freedom by running away. Hubbard had worked in Jefferson's nail factory plantation.  Hubbard first ran away in September 0f 1805 with some money and forged papers. He was soon found and returned to Jefferson. In late 1810, during the Christmas holidays, Hubbard again ran away [1]. Jefferson looked for Hubbard but after awhile decided to sell him to Reuben Perry for $200. 

In 1812, Jefferson learned that Hubbard was in Lexington and hired Isham Chisolm as slave catcher. Chisolm set off for Lexington but was not able to catch Hubbard, who had left the area five days earlier.  Jefferson was not deterred and offered Chisolm a premium  of $25 to again go after Hubbard. This time Chisolm was successful and caught Hubbard bringing him back in irons.  Jefferson then had Hubbard severely flogged in front of his "old companions" as an example. On April 16, Jefferson wrote to Perry to pick up Hubbard and recommended that Hubbard be sold as he "will never again serve any man as a slave. The moment he is out of jail and his irons off he will be off himself." Jefferson's letter can be found here[2] and my transcription is reproduced below: 
Having received information in March that Jame Hubbard had been living in Lexington upwards of a twelve months, I engaged a man (Isham Chisolm) to go after him. He got there five days after Hubbard had run off from there, having committed a theft, he returned of course without him. I engaged him to start second time, offering a premium of 25 D. [Dollars] in addition to yours, besides expenses. He got upon his tract, and pursued him into Pendleton county, where he took him and brought him here in irons. I had him severely flogged in the presence of his old companions, and committed to jail here he now awaits your arrival. The course he has been in, and all circumstances convinces me he will never again serve any man as slave. The moment he is out of jail and his irons off he will be off himself. It will therefore unquestionably be best therefore to sell him. I have paid for his recovery 70 D. [Dollars] all I ask for it that he may be sent out of the state. Chisolm expects the 50 D. form you. He says he will buy him, if you will take a reasonable price and oblige himself to sell him out of the state. I suppose he would agree to clear you of the purchase and the premium perhaps you had better go  halves with him. I was just setting out to Bedford, but shall now wait till I ['ve] or hear from you, provided that be by Saturday [_ ] night the 25th. On that day I must start for Polar forest where I shall be glad to see you, if you do not come here, and to settle what shall be done in the mean time. I will ascertain what Chislom will agree to. Accept my best wishes, Thomas Jefferson.

pages 81-83
2. Cite as Letter, 1812 April 16, of Thomas Jefferson to Reuben Perry, Tucker-Coleman Collection, Jefferson Papers, Special Collections Research Center, Swem Library, College of William and Mary.

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