John Murry vs. Louis Menard and Clayton Tiffin
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To the Honorable the Judge of the Circuit Court
of the County of St LouisCounty of St Louis.

The Petition of John HenryHenry a free man of colour,
unto your honor, that your petitioner was born in the
Village of CahokiaCahokia, in the State of IllinoisIllinois, and is
now about thirty five years of age, and was born
of a black mother who was claimed and hild as a slave
in said State; And your petititioner further shows that
he was born since the passage of an Ordinance of
CongressCongress , for the Government of the then Territory
of the United StatesUnited States Northwest of the river OhioOhio,
passed on the thirteenth day of July, in the year of our Lord Seventeen hundred and Eighty Seven, in
which said Ordinance it is declared and ordained, that
Slavery or involuntary servitude, (Except for the pun
ishment of Crimes) shall not Exist or be allowed,
which said State was then a part of said Territory,
subject to the operation of said Ordinance. And
your petitioner saith, that he is advised, that under
the operation of said Ordinance he was born free
and of right is free according to the laws of the land
And your petitioner further shows, that one
Pensins, of said state claimed and held your peti
tioner in servitude, in the character of a slave, from
his birth, [ untill ] within a few years past, when your
petitioner passed from the possession of said Pensins
into the possession of Louis Pensins, the son of said
Pensins, by virtue of a deed of gift or sale.
And your petitioner further showeth unto your honor,
that same time after he came into the possession of
said LewisLewis Pensins, your petitioner of
obtaining his natural freedom, same time in the month
of January, in the year of our Lord Eighteen hundred and twenty five, entered into a verbal agreement & con
tract with the said LewisLewis Pensins to obtain his natural
liberty, whereby it was agreed, that the said LewisLewis
Pensins should liberate & discharge your petitioner from
servitude as a slave, for the consideration of the sum
of four hundred and fifty Dollars, to be paid by your

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Petitioner to said LewisLewis within three years, next ensuing the
date of making said contract, which said Term of three years
has not yet expired. And your petitioner saith, that in faith
of said agreement with said LewisLewis , your petitioner did, a
short time after the making of said contract, & in person
once thereof, pay unto the said LewisLewis Pensins the sum
of two hundred and thirty dollars, as part and parcel
of the said sum of four hundred and fifty dol
lars, two hundred of which said sum of two hundred
and thirty dollars was paid in money, and thirty dol
lars in two horses, at the sum of fifteen Dollars each.
And your petitioner further shows, that immediately
after said agreement was made between said LewisLewis &
your petitioner, and in pursuance of said agree
ment, the said LewisLewis Pensins did liberate & dis
charge your petitioner from his Service, and told
your petitioner that he might go free of him where
he pleased. And your petitioner further saith, that
after said Pensins had liberated and discharged him
from slavery & from his service in pursuance of
said agreement, that your petitioner did go at Large
in the full & perfect enjoyment of his liberty, &
Left St Clair CountySt Clair County in the said state of IllinoisIllinois &
came to the Town of St LouisSt Louis, with the intent of earn
ing money to pay the remainder of the said sum
of four hundred and fifty dollars to said LewisLewis Pen
sins, in pursuance of said agreement.
And your petitioner further saith that he resided in the
City of St LouisCity of St Louis in the perfect enjoyment of his natural
freedom for the space of several months, with the
Knowledge & Consent of said LewisLewis Pensins, and con
tinued in the uninterrupted exercise thereof, in pursuance
of said contract, & by virtue of being liberated & discharged
from slavery as aforesaid, by said LewisLewis , untill be
said LewisLewis Pensins, not regarding the natural & legal
rights of your petitioner to his freedom, under & by
virtue of said contract, and discharge, & under of by vir
tue of the said ordinance of congress, but intending
to cheat and defraud your petitioner out of the said
sum of money paid to him by your petitioner as afore
said, and to reduce your petitioner to a state of slavery
and servitude for life, came to St LouisSt Louis aforesaid, where