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Hugh Auld Purchase - Deed Freeing Frederick Douglass

Hugh Auld Purchase - Deed Freeing Frederick Douglass American History Biographies Famous People Slaves and Slave Owners African American History Tragedies and Triumphs

This is the document - a deed - which purchased freedom for Frederick Douglass (then known as Frederick Bailey). 

Slaves, under the American system of chattel slavery, were considered property.  They were bought, and sold, as property.  Just as a deed gives a person title to real estate, so did a deed give the "owner" title to a slave.

Soon after Hugh Auld purchased Frederick Bailey, he issued this deed.  The National Park Service provides more information about this document and the transaction it represents:

A deed manumission written by Hugh Auld of Baltimore to Walter Lowrie of New York in the sale of a Frederick Baily, alias Frederick Douglass, for $711.66 to set him free from slavery on December 5, 1846.

Mary Richardson, a quaker and the wife of Henry Richardson of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, England, wrote to Hugh Auld asking him whether Douglass's freedom had a price. Hugh Auld replied in October of 1846 that he would manumit Douglass for £150 sterling.

Anna Richardson and her sister-in-law, Ellen Richardson raised the purchase money and made arrangements with American abolitionist, Ellis Gray Loring of Boston to handle the negotiations.

On November 24, 1846, Walter Lowrie of New York City, an abolitionist, also involved in the negotiations, notified Hugh Auld that the £150 had arrived in New York. He directed Auld to produce proof of legal ownership of Douglass. Less than a week later Thomas Auld filed a bill of sale (FRDO 3861) in Talbot County signifying the transfer of Douglass to Hugh Auld.

On December 5, 1846 Hugh Auld filed Douglass's manumission [literally, "releasing the hand of authority"] papers in Baltimore County. One week later the transaction was consummated.

Hugh Auld gave the papers to Lowrie; a copy of the bill of sale from Thomas Auld, a deed of manumission for Douglass, and a receipt showing he had received $711.66 for Douglass's freedom. These papers were given to Frederick Douglass's shortly afterwards.

Source: Frederick Douglass papers, series one, speeches, debates and interviews, Vol. I. edited by James W. Blassingame.


Media Credits

Image and quoted passage from the National Park Service, Frederick Douglass Historic Site.

The deed is written on paper measuring 18.9 cm in length and 20.1 cm in width.

 

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