“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Heathsville in Northumberland County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

Freedom for Slaves of Robert Carter III

Freedom for Slaves of Robert Carter III Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, November 5, 2016
1. Freedom for Slaves of Robert Carter III Marker
Inscription.  On 5 Sept. 1791, Robert Carter III (1728-1804), one of the wealthiest men in the United States, filed a deed of manumission at the Northumberland County Courthouse. This document eventually freed more than 500 enslaved African Americans owned by Carter in several Virginia counties. “To retain them in Slavery,” Carter wrote, “is contrary to the true principles of Religion & Justice.” The deed, structured to withstand resistance by Carterís heirs and neighbors, liberated slaves gradually in small groups. Because children were freed when they reached adulthood, the manumission took decades to complete. Many of the freed people became tenants on Carterís land.
Erected 2016 by Department of Historic Resources. (Marker Number O-73.)
Location. 37° 55.056′ N, 76° 28.343′ W. Marker is in Heathsville, Virginia, in Northumberland County. Marker is at the intersection of Northumberland Highway (U.S. 360) and Judicial Place, on the right when traveling east on Northumberland Highway. It is at the Northumberland Courthouse. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Heathsville VA 22473, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Riceís Hotel, Hughlettís Tavern (a few steps from this marker); Northumberland County Confederate Monument
Freedom for Slaves of Robert Carter III Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, November 5, 2016
2. Freedom for Slaves of Robert Carter III Marker
(within shouting distance of this marker); Northumberland Courthouse Square (within shouting distance of this marker); St. Stephenís Parish (approx. 0.2 miles away); John Heath (approx. half a mile away); Northumberland House and Mantua (approx. 1.4 miles away); British Raids on the Coan River (approx. 2.1 miles away); Coan Baptist Church (approx. 2.1 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Heathsville.
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker.
Also see . . .
1. Wikipedia Entry for Robert Carter III. “Carter scandalized neighbors further by joining Morattico Baptist Church, a mixed congregation of white and black, free and slave. Carter knew he risked persecution, for Eleazar Clay, another wealthy man, had his life threatened after conversion, and during the three weeks preceding his own baptism Carter attended two different services that were attacked by armed mobs which included Revolutionary War veterans.” (Submitted on November 6, 2016.) 

2. The Abolitionist That Time Forgot. NPR story about Robert Carter III and his biographer Andrew Levy. “Carter was neither a romantic or idealist; in fact, his decision to emancipate his slaves was as much an economic
“Robert Carter III of Nomini Hall” image. Click for full size.
Oil by Thomas Hudson, photo via Wikipedia Commons, 1753
3. “Robert Carter III of Nomini Hall”
decision as it was an ethical one. As early as the 1770s, he and his wife had deduced that there were easier ways to turn a buck. The Carters could reap more profit by freeing the slaves and renting out the land to them. However, their decision did not sit well with their sons-in-law (who resented losing a large part of their inheritance) and neighbors who feared a possible rebellion on their own plantations. And while the majority of his slaves were patient and waited for their turn to come, they too caused headaches for Carter. In addition to never-ending negotiations with his own freed slaves, he learned that slaves from nearby estates were trying to pass as his own via forged documentation.” (Submitted on November 6, 2016.) 

3. Virginia Lawyer article providing additional details. The date the marker was installed (September 10, 2016) is mentioned at the beginning of the article (Submitted on February 24, 2017, by Kevin Vincent of Arlington, Virginia.) 
Categories. African AmericansAntebellum South, US
Northumberland Countyís Antebellum Courthouse image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, November 5, 2016
4. Northumberland Countyís Antebellum Courthouse
Wikipedia: “Northumberland County has two courthouses: an antebellum building constructed before the Civil War and a new building constructed in the late 1990s behind the older structure. The county courts (Circuit Court, General District Court, and Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court), along with the Clerk of the Circuit Court and the Commonwealth's Attorney, both commonwealth constitutional officers, are located in the new building. The Commissioner of Revenue and the County Treasurer, both commonwealth constitutional officers, have offices in the older building.”

More. Search the internet for Freedom for Slaves of Robert Carter III.
Credits. This page was last revised on February 24, 2017. This page originally submitted on November 6, 2016, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio. This page has been viewed 343 times since then and 33 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on November 6, 2016, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio.
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