Letitia vs. Greenberry Smith II

Complaint by Andrew Thayer on behalf of Letitia Carson_1 of 2_August 2 1855.jpg

This document was written by Jas H. Slater, clerk of the District Court of the Oregon Territory on August 2nd, 1855 marking Leitita's second court case against Greenberry Smith. 

Despite her initial victory, Letitia was still not finished with Greenberry Smith. In August 1855, Thayer filed a second suit against Smith –this one for the illegal sale of Letitia's cattle. This was significant, as cattle was how Letitia had made a living before David’s death. A second trial was held. One witness, a neighbor, confirmed that Letitia had owned and raised most of the cattle herself. Importantly, it was this second case where Letitia established that she was not David’s property, and in fact, owned property of her own. In October 1856, the judge in the case issued a judgment in Letitia's favor, awarding her $1,200 plus nearly $200 in costs.

Letitia's legal victories marked an unexpected and substantial departure from the racial status quo in the United States, illustrating the strength, determination, and resilience of Letitia in the face of significant loss, mistreatment, and long-lasting racial discrimination. Despite the Oregon Territory's exclusionary laws, Letitia Carson won both suits, proving that Black Americans were entitled to basic rights and legal protections in Oregon.

Letitia's second victory over Greenberry Smith in 1856

Greenberry Smith response to second complaint_1 of 2_October 4 1855.jpg

Oct 4, 1855, Greenberry Smith response to the second complaint

This document outlines Greenberry Smith's response to Letitia's former complaint that Greenberry Smith sold and otherwise converted her cattle. On the first page of his response, dated October 4th, 1855, he claims to have no knowledge, information, or belief sufficient to enable him to answer Letitia's complaint. He goes on to say that "if any such cattle were the property of said Letitia Carson that said Letitia Carson is indebted to the estate of the decedent [sic] in the sum of ($500) Five hundred dollars for the securing and rearing of said cattle from 1845 to the time of said sale which he offers to offset against any sum which said Plff may recover in this action." This page ends with an acknowledgment that Greenberry is speaking the truth.

Jury rules in favor of Letitia Carson for 1200_October 21 1856.jpg

This brief document announces the jury's ruling in favor of Letitia Carson in her second case against Greenberry Smith. Dated October 21st, 1856, and only one sentence long it reads, "We the jury find for the plaintiff [sic] twelve hundred Dollars."

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