April 1, 1844, Carson v White, 3 pages

Dublin Core


April 1, 1844, Carson v White, 3 pages


In 1844, prior to migrating to Oregon Territory, David Carson was accused of mistreating an enslaved girl named Ann Eliza, who was only 16 at the time. Though we only have limited evidence and understanding of this case and its history, it shows us that David Carson had the potential for violence and debauchery - the accusations of this legal battle - and that this behavior could have continued into his relationship with Letitia Carson. While there is no evidence whether David ever owned Letitia, and the state of their relationship still remains unclear - the details of the Ann Eliza case prove that David did own an enslaved woman, and mistreated her in both sexual and violent ways, suggesting that he could have possibly continued this behavior into his time with Letitia. Additionally, this abhorrent mistreatment of a young Black girl provides insight into how David may have considered Letitia and suggests that their partnership was not as equal as one may think.

The first page of this document reads, "David Carson Pltf Vs John A White, Susannah White, Replevin - Be it remembered that on the trial of the above cause, said plaintiff knows that on or about the 1st day of April in the year 1843, he hired the negro girl in the declaration mentioned of Susannah White one of said defendants for the term of one year at the price of 45 dollars and had the possession thereof under such contract of him, and that said girl afterwards on or about the [blank] day of January in the year of 184[ ] came to the possession of the said John A. White, and that said plaintiff on ?? last mentioned ?? sent one [blank] Quimby to the house of said White for said negro girl, and that John A. White upon the demand of said Quimby for said plaintiff refused to permit said negro to return to the service of said plaintiff giving as a reason that she had been badly treated by said plaintiff, and showed to said Quimby a scar on the face of said negro girl about two inches long which said Jno A White stated had been inflicted by said plaintiff, and which had the appearance of having been inflicted by a stone or club, that said John A. White acted as the Agent of said Susannah White-"

It cuts off here, but is continued onto the next page and states "his mother in hiring and otherwise contracting her negroes, that said Susanna White lived with the said John A White, but was not present at the time said Quimby demanded said negro girl as aforesaid, the plaintiff who read the following instrument of writing ??? ??? ??? which is all the testimony in the case on the part of the plaintiff in whom the defendants introduced a witness and proved the girl to be about 13 or 14 years old and who offered to prove that while said negro girl was in the service of said Carson under said contract of him she was treated with inhumanity and cruelty by said plaintiff and that said plaintiff had debauched said negro girl while thus in his service and that said plaintiff continued to treat said negro girl inhumanly, cruelly and with debauching till she left him and returned home, to the introduction of which testimony offered as aforesaid by said defendants said plaintiff objected, which objection was sustained by the court and the testimony offered as aforesaid by said defendants was rejected by the court, to which opinion the court in rejecting the testimony offered as aforesaid by said defendants, the said defendants excepts which is all the evidence on both sides -- The defendants then offered to read to the jury the following instruction “The defendants move the court to instruct the jury that if they believe from the testimony that the plaintiff treated the negro girl inhumanly or in a manner that -" it then cuts off and is continued onto a third page.

This third-page states, "endangered her health, then they will find for defendants” which instruction the court refused to give to which opinion the court in refusing to give said instruction the said defendants except, and pray that this thus bill of exception be signed sealed and made as part of the record in this case and it is accordingly done. ?. Young (seal)"


Platte County Circuit Court


Platte County Historical Society






Bob Zybach


Copyright: Platte County Historical Society






Legal Document




Platte County, Missouri


Platte County Circuit Court, “April 1, 1844, Carson v White, 3 pages,” Letitia Carson Digital History Collection , accessed March 3, 2024, https://letitiacarson.omeka.net/items/show/359.

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