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People/Characters: Samuel Tredwell Sawyer

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Harriet Jacobs: A Life by Jean Fagan Yellin

Character description

Samuel Tredwell Sawyer (1800 – November 29, 1865) was an attorney and politician, serving as Congressional Representative from the U.S. state of North Carolina.

As a young man, before he married, Sawyer had a relationship with an enslaved woman, Harriet Jacobs, who was seeking protection from her master, Dr. James Norcrom of Edenton. They had two mixed-race children together, Joseph and Louisa, who were enslaved at birth, according to law, which transferred the mother's status as free or enslaved to her children. After Jacobs went into hiding, she arranged with Sawyer to buy their children in order to protect them from a sale to masters further away. He promised to free them, but refused to do so, as North Carolina greatly restricted manumissions after the Nat Turner slave rebellion of 1831. He and his daughter Louisa Jacobs would establish a relationship after the Civil War.

Sawyer later married Lavinia Peyton, with whom he had three additional daughters, Fannie Lenox, Sarah Peyton, and Laura. He moved to Washington, DC with his family when he served as a congressman. After leaving Congress in 1839, he moved to Norfolk, Va., and resumed the practice of law. During the Polk administration he founded a newspaper to support the president. The first number of the Southern Argus and Virginian and North Carolina Advertiser, with the motto "Southern Views and Southern Rights" on the masthead, appeared on 8 Jan. 1848. Sawyer was editor and proprietor until 1853, when he was named collector of customs for Norfolk, a position he held for five years

During the Civil War, he was appointed on September 17, 1861, as commissary with the rank of major in the Confederate service. He served until August 2, 1862. He died in Bloomfield, New Jersey, 1865.

Samuel Tredwell Sawyer in NCpedia

Samuel Tredwell Sawyer in Wikipedia

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