The Act does not define a "free person of color."
Republic of Texas )
County of Jefferson )
To the Honorable the Senate and House of Representatives of the Republic of Texas in Congress assembled
The petition of the Board of Land Commissioners, and the undersigned Citizens of said County of Jefferson respectfully represent to your "Honorable Body" that Wm. Ashworth, Abner Ashworth, Aaron Ashworth, Elisha Thomas, Elija Thomas, Heirs of Moses Ashworth, Henry Bird, John Bird and Aaron Nelson, good and worthy members of the community in this County labor by reason of being people of color under great and embarrassing circumstances. For that notwithstanding the said individuals have uniformly discharged the duty of good and patriotic citizens of both during the contest with Mexico for our independence (as the records of the War Office will show) and since that time as industrious and orderly citizens. Yet a doubt exists that the Constitution and Law of the Republic prevents their attaining the ownership in law of the homesteads and headrights for the sake of which they emigrated originally to the State of "Coahuila and Texas" and in the continuation of which hope they sustained to the best of their pecuniary and personal abilities the cause of our independence. Your memorialists represent to your "Honorable Body" that they view with strong feelings of sympathy the situation of these worthy families and pray your "Honorable Body" that if they may not be received as citizens under the Constitution. That the Declaration of the Genl (?) Constitution in favour of those who should aid in establishing the liberties of the Republic may be remembered in their particular case either by means of a right of patent emanating from the Government to them and their heirs considered as aliens or by lease for a long term of years of the headrights that would have accrued to them had there been no taint of blood in their veins. And your memorialists further represent to your Honorable Body the Justice and propriety of the enactment of a law which shall operate to permit the creation of claims on the land which they possess by virtue supposed (?) Headright claims as well as of those lands owned by them in virtue of their respective military bounty – certified with those views and placing undoubted confidence in the wisdom, justice and magnanimity of your "Honorable Body".
[Signed by approximately 75 citizens and land commissioners]
To the Hon. the Senate and House of Representatives of the Republic of Texas in Congress assembled.
We the undersigned citizens of Jefferson County Republic of Texas would respectfully represent to your Hon. body that Joshua Ashworth, Aaron Ashworth, David Ashworth, & William Ashworth [four brothers] are free men of color and citizens of said County for two years and having been acquainted with the said Ashworths for many years previous know them to be peaceable and respectable citizens.
Your petitioners believing that an act passed by your Hon. Body at your last session relative to free persons of color will operate oppressively upon the said Ashworths pray your Hon. body to pass a act for their relief exempting them from the operation of said Law and granting them the privilege of living in the Republic.
Jefferson County, Sept. 19th 1840. [Signed by 59 citizens]
To the Hon. the Senate and house of Representatives of the Republic of Texas in Congress assembled.
We the undersigned citizens of Jefferson County Republic of Texas would respectfully represent to your Hon. body that William Ashworth and Abner Ashworth free persons of color living in this County have for a great length of time been citizens of Texas to wit. for the space of 6 years that the said Ashworths contributed generously to the advancement of the Revolution that glorious struggle which resulted in bursting the fetters of Tyranny and which has elevate Texas to a stand (?) in the scale of nations.
Your peititoners would further represent that an act relating to free persons of color passed at the last session of your Hon. body will in the opinion of your petitioners operate oppressively and grievously upon the said Ashworths by forcing them from the Country whose battles they have fought and whose independence the assisted in achieving.
Your petitioners therefore pray your Hon. body to take into consideration the situation of the said Ashworths and to pass an act for their relief, exempting them and their respective familiies from the operation of the aforesaid act and inasmuch as they have ever been peaceable respectable and useful citizens, granting them the privilege of living in this Republic. Sept. AD. 1840.
[signed by 72 citizens]
For the Relief of certain Free persons of Color.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Republic of Texas, in Congress assembled, That William Ashworth, Abner Ashworth, David Ashworth, Aaron Ashworth, Elisha Thomas, and all free persons of color, together with their families, who were residing in Texas on the day of the declaration of independence, are, and shall be exempt from the operation and provisions of an act of Congress, entitled "An Act concerning Free Persons of Color," approved fifth of February, A. D. one thousand eight hundred and forty; and that the above named persons, with their families, are hereby granted permission to remain in this republic; anything in the laws of the country to the contrary notwithstanding
DAVID S. KAUFMAN
Speaker of the House of Representatives
DAVID G. BURNET
President of the Senate
Approved December 12th, 1840.
MIRABEAU B. LAMAR
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