The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 40, July 1936 - April, 1937 Page: 268
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
ing from that body consent to his continued residence. According
to Pattillo "Mr. Ashworth is a man under a good Character and
in good Standing in the country where he has migrated from. I
have my Self been acquainted with him for the last fifteen years
and know him to Be a quiet and unassuming good citizen, you
will confer a favour by paying some attention To the petition.
Mr. Ashworth is not unly [sic] a good Citizen but a man of some
property and will be of some benafit to the Gourment."2 Jessee
Ashworth had probably immigrated previous to February 5, and
under the law was entitled to the privilege which he asked, and
no action was taken on his petition.3
Thomas J. Rusk, who was employed as attorney by a number
of free Negroes to aid them in their efforts to retain status and
remain in Texas, expressed the opinion that the joint resolution
of June 5, 1837, permitting Negroes resident in Texas on the
day of the declaration of independence to remain, was still in
force and that the law of February 5, 1840, did not apply to them.4
His contention, however, was hardly tenable since the eleventh
section of the 1840 law specifically stated that "all laws contrary
to the meaning and spirit of this act are hereby repealed." Rusk
probably had little hope that his interpretation would be accepted,
since for his clients he resorted to the one clear avenue of escape
which remained, an appeal to Congress to exercise its constitutional
right and pass private acts enabling particular Negroes to remain
in the country.
'G. A. Pattillo to M. B. Lamar, February 24, 1840. Lamar Papers,
MS. No. 1729, Texas State Library.
sThe name of Jessee is lost in subsequent petitions. The rapid fluctu-
ation in the given names of the Ashworth brothers, as well as of other
Negroes, is probably accounted for by a number of names under which
some of them were known rather than by continuous migrations. On
September 19, 1840, the names of the four Ashworth brothers are given
as Joshua, Aaron, David and William. It is supplemented by another
of the same date in which two of these brothers are called Abner and
William (Memorial No. 19, File 49, September 19, 1840). In the latter
part of 1842, the names of the "heirs of Moses Ashworth," their father,
are given as William, Abner, Aaron, Elisha, Lamas, Elija and Thomas
(Memorial No. 11, File A, no date). On January 6, 1843, three brothers
are named William, Abner and Aaron (Bill No. 2706, File No. 29, Janu-
ary 6, 1843, Seventh Congress). The names of the four brothers are
assumed to have been William, Abner, Aaron and David.
'Memorial No. 21, File 21, December 3, 1840. This petition for the
relief of Allen Dimery and his family, old residents, was sent to Con-
gress in order "that all apprehension may be set at rest."
"Gammel, The Laws of Texas, II, 326.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 40, July 1936 - April, 1937, periodical, 1937; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101099/m1/296/: accessed May 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.