State V The Slave Will 1834, My G, G Grandfather Wins
(The "portrait" is of my great, great Grandfather BF Moore. There are two, one at the Supreme Court in Raleigh and the other at UNC Chapel Hill's Planetarium. A professional photographer from Raleigh went to the latter, took the portrait down and with lights took a roll of 24 with a high end camera. We picked the best of the lot which she put on canvas and once I framed and hung it, you could not tell the difference when you walk into the room. His eyes still follow you. BT)
(Biographical History of North Carolina from Colonial Times to the Present, By Samuel A'Court Ashe.)
From Free North CarolinaThe most noted case, that of the State against Will, of a slave, and the greatest in the entire State was tried in Edgecombe County before Judge Donnell in the last Circuit Court, January 22, 1834. It was a case that awakened a general and profound interest throughout the country, and settled the true relation between master and slave in the State. It recognized the right of the slave to defend himself against the assaults of his master in the preservation of his own life a thing never asserted by slaves heretofore in the county.
A slave, Will, was indicted for the murder of Richard Baxter. Will belonged to James S. Battle, and the deceased, Richard Baxter, was the overseer of Battle, and was entrusted with the management of the slave at the time of the homicide. Early in the morning of the 22d day of January, the day the killing took place, Will had a dispute with another slave, Allen, who was also a slave of Mr. Battle, and a foreman on the same plantation of which the deceased was an overseer. A dispute arose between Will and Allen about a hoe which Will claimed as his own because of having helved it in his own time, but Allen directed another slave to use it on that day.
Some angry words passed between Will and the foreman, and Will broke out the helve, and walked off about one-fourth of a mile to a cotton field and began picking cotton. Soon after the dispute they informed Mr. Baxter, the overseer, of the occurrence. He immediately went into the house, and while he was in there his wife was heard to say, I would not, my dear; to which he was said to have replied in a positive tone of voice, I will. In a very short time after this Mr. Baxter came out of his house to the place where the foreman was and told him that he was going after Will, and instructed the foreman to take his cowhide and follow him at a distance. Mr. Baxter then returned to the house, took his gun, saddled his horse, and rode to the screw,1 a distance of about six hundred yards, where Will was at work.