Offered is an extremely RARE 1861 Slavery Manumission document from Norfolk, Virginia, executed for A. A. (Alexander Augustus) Cowdery and referencing his slave, George Danley.
Measuring approximately 10 inches long x 8 inches wide, this extraordinary and historical document is handwritten and was executed on April 29, 1861, just 12 days after Virginia chose to secede from the Union on April 17, 1861.
The document is in excellent condition save the fold marks; this document clearly has been stored in this folded state for the past 153 years. It is suitable and ready for archival preservation- appropriate acid-free backing and matting materials with framing. In the upper left hand corner, the local stationery store's embossed imprint is visible and reads: “S & P Lawrence Superfine”.
The text of the document is as follows:
“Know all men by these presents, that A A Cowdery, of the city of Norfolk, for and in consideration of the faithful services of my negro man George Danley, do hereby emancipate and set free the said negro man George Danley and absolve him from all claim to my service; and for the consideration aforesaid hereby warrant unto him his freedom against the claim of myself and of all persons whomsoever to witness my hand and seal at the city of Norfolk, this 29th day of April 1861.”
A A Cowdery (SEAL)
“City of Norfolk, to wit
Simon S. Stubbs (sp?) a Notary Public in the city aforesaid in the state of Virginia hereby certify, that A.A. Cowdery, whose name is signed to the writing above (?) bearing (?) date on the 29th day of April 1861, has acknowledged the same before me in the city aforesaid. Given under my hand this 29th day of April 1861.”
Simon. S. Stubbs
Truly an extraordinarily rare piece of historical ephemera documenting a tiny light shining within a very dark period in American history. If only the circumstances and "story" surrounding the execution of this document were known today!
Some relevant family history that was very kindly provided by extant Cowdery-Taylor family ancestors:
Alexander Augustus Cowdery was born May 11, 1817, in Norfolk, Virginia, the son of Jonathan Cowdery of Sandisfield, Berkshire County, Massachusetts, and Elizabeth Reddick of White Haven, England. Jonathan Cowdery was a career physician surgeon in the United States Navy, serving until his death in 1852.
Alexander Augustus Cowdery was uncle to Walter Herron Taylor, who served as Lieutenant Colonel in the Confederate Army as Aide-de-Camp and then Adjutant-General under General Robert E. Lee, becoming one of Lee's most trusted aides and an intimate friend. Taylor later authored two works documenting his wartime experiences: "Four Years With General Lee" and "General Lee, His Campaigns in Virginia, 1861-1865".