I, Thaddeus Kosciuszko, being just on my departure from America, do hereby declare and direct, that, should I make no other testamentary disposition of my property in the United States, I hereby authorize my friend, Thomas Jefferson, to employ the whole thereof in purchasing Negroes from his own or any others, and giving them liberty in my name, in giving them an education in trade or otherwise, and in having them instructed for their new condition in the duties of morality, which may make them good neighbors, good fathers or mothers, husbands or wives in their duties as citizens, teaching them to be defenders of their liberty and country, and of the good order of society, and in whatsoever may make them happy and useful. And I make the said Thomas Jefferson my executor of this.
(Signed) T. KOSCIUSZKO. May 5, 1798. [See African Repository, vol. xi., p. 294.]
“Upon the decease of my wife, it is my will and desire that all the slaves whom I now hold in my own right shall receive their freedom.... And whereas among those who will receive freedom according to this devise, there may be some who, from old age or bodily infirmities, and others who on account of their infancy will be unable to support themselves, it is my will and desire that all who come under the first and second description, shall be comfortably clothed and fed by my heirs while they live; and that such of the latter description as have no parents living, or if living are unable or unwilling to provide for them, shall be bound by the court until they shall arrive at the age of twenty-five years; and in cases where no record can be produced, whereby their ages can be ascertained, the judgement of court upon its own view of the subject shall be adequate and final. The negroes thus bound are (by their masters or mistresses) to be taught to read and write, and to be brought up to some useful occupation, agreeable to the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia, providing for the support of orphan and other poor children.”—Benson J. Lossing’s Life of George Washington, vol. iii., p. 537.
The following dialogue took place between Mr. Jackson the master of a family, and the slave of one of his neighbors who lived adjoining the town, on this occasion. Mr. Jackson was walking through the common and came to a field of this person’s farm. He there saw the slave leaning against the fence with a book in his hand, which he seemed to be very intent upon; after a little time he closed the book, and clasping it in both his hands, looked upwards as if engaged in mental prayer; after this, he put the book in his bosom, and walked along the fence near where Mr. Jackson was standing. Surprised at seeing a person of his color engaged with a book, and still more by the animation and delight that he observed in his countenance; he determines to enquire about it, and calls to him as he passes.