By Dale Baum
For lots of of the 40 years of her existence as a slave, Azeline Hearne cohabitated together with her prosperous, single grasp, Samuel R. Hearne. She bore him 4 youngsters, just one of whom survived previous early youth. whilst Sam died almost immediately after the Civil struggle ended, he publicly said his courting with Azeline and bequeathed his whole property to their twenty-year-old mulatto son, with the availability that he look after his mom. whilst their son died early in 1868, Azeline inherited essentially the most ecocnomic cotton plantations in Texas and have become one of many wealthiest ex-slaves within the former Confederacy. In Counterfeit Justice, Dale Baum lines Azeline’s impressive tale, detailing her ongoing criminal battles to say and preserve her legacy.
As Baum exhibits, Azeline’s inheritance speedy made her a aim for predatory whites made up our minds to strip her of her land. a well-recognized determine on the Robertson County District court docket from the past due 1860s to the early Eighties, Azeline confronted a number of lawsuits—including one filed opposed to her via her personal legal professional. Samuel Hearne’s kinfolk took steps to dispossess her, and different unscrupulous white males challenged the identify to her plantation, utilizing claims according to outdated Spanish land promises. Azeline’s lengthy and brave security of her rightful identify introduced her a undeniable notoriety: the 1st freedwoman to be a celebration to 3 separate civil proceedings appealed all of the approach to the Texas ideal court docket and the 1st former slave in Robertson County indicted on legal fees of perjury. even supposing many times blocked and annoyed by means of the convolutions of the criminal procedure, she developed from a bewildered defendant to a decided plaintiff who, in a single impressive lawsuit, got here tantalizingly on the subject of reaching revenge opposed to those that defrauded her for over a decade.
Due to gaps within the to be had ancient checklist and the unreliability of secondary money owed in line with neighborhood Reconstruction folklore, a few of the information of Azeline’s tale are misplaced to heritage. yet Baum grounds his hypothesis approximately her existence in fresh scholarship at the Reconstruction period, and he places his findings in context within the background of Robertson County. even if historical past has no longer credited Azeline Hearne with influencing the process the legislations, the tale of her uniquely tricky place after the Civil conflict supplies an exceptional view of the period and of 1 solitary woman’s try to negotiate its social and felony complexities in her fight to discover justice.
Baum’s meticulously researched narrative may be of prepared curiosity to criminal students and to all these drawn to the plight of freed slaves in this period.
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Extra resources for Counterfeit Justice: The Judicial Odyssey of Texas Freedwoman Azeline Hearne (Conflicting Worlds: New Dimensions of the American Civil War)
In 1850 the census enumerator for Caddo Parish recorded Sam as a “planter” at 10. McCarver and McCarver, Hearne on the Brazos, pp. 6–7. 11. ), 1854], p. 82, and Book “H,” [January 1856], pp. 112–13, Microfi lm Reel #964208, PM, CCO, Robertson County, Texas; McCarver and McCarver, Hearne on the Brazos, p. , Robertson County Texas 1860 Census, [typescript, July 4, 1985], pp. 8 and 66, Evans Library, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas. 12. “An Agreement,” made by the attorneys and fi led in folder 3, [June Term, 1873], in Eliza Cornelia Willett (Reynolds) vs.
In addition, Sam’s conduct served as an agonizing reminder of one of the abolitionists’ most lurid critiques of slavery, that the slave system permitted white men to sexually exploit black women. 39 38. Genovese, Roll, Jordan, Roll, pp. 421 (Haller Nutt quoted on) and 415; Bureau of the Census, Population Schedules of the Seventh Census of the United States, 1850, Microfi lm Reel #242, Louisiana [Slave Schedules] “Bienville—Concordia,” p. 887, M432, NA (1963); and Bureau of the Census, Population Schedules of the Eighth Census of the United States, 1860, Microfi lm Roll #1312, Texas [Slave Schedules] vol.
16. “Answers to Interrogatories by Jesse Mumford,” September 24, 1860 (quotation), in folder #2, in Eliza Cornelia Willett (Reynolds) vs. , Case No. ], Microfi lm Reel #964224, CCO, Robertson County, Texas. No Place for a White Man to Live 15 The court of county commissioners summoned Lum and his cousin Rasche for jury duty in 1853, and it appointed them, along with Alley, Nancy, and her mother Harriett, to employ their slaves as workers on county roads. The following year it appointed Rasche to the county’s slave patrol for the precinct that included most of the family’s plantation lands.