Gov. Henry Dodge frees his enslaved workers, 1838

Circuit Court (Iowa County). Clerk of Court papers, 1809-1868: selections.

When territorial governor Henry Dodge (1782-1857) moved from Missouri to Wisconsin in 1827, he brought several enslaved African-Americans with him. According to a friend, he promised freedom to any who would stay with him in his new home for five years. In fact, it was more than a decade before he filed court papers ("deed of manumission") in the spring of 1838, signed by himself and five of the former slaves, that legally established their free status. Those papers are given here (click "View the Document" below). The Dodge family's relationship with their formerly enslaved workers lasted for decades, according to recollections in J.N. Davidson's Negro Slavery in Wisconsin. (Milwaukee, 1896)

Related Topics: Wisconsin in the Civil War Era
Abolition and Other Reforms
Creator: Circuit Court (Iowa County)
Pub Data: Unpublished Clerk of Court papers, 1809-1868. Iowa Circuit Court (Iowa Series 16, Box 1). Housed at Southwest Wisconsin Room, Platteville Area Research Center, University of Wisconsin-Platteville, One University Plaza, Platteville, WI 53818
Citation: "Henry Dodge, Deed of Manumission for Tom, Lear, and others, April 12, 1838" and "Papers in relation to the manumission of Tom, Lear, Jim, Joe, and Toby--formerly slaves of Henry Dodge, April 14, 1838." Clerk of Court papers, 1809-1868. Wisconsin. Circuit Court (Iowa County), Iowa Series 16, Box 1: selections. Online facsimile at:; Visited on: 12/16/2019