By Dale Baum
For lots of of the 40 years of her lifestyles as a slave, Azeline Hearne cohabitated along with her prosperous, single grasp, Samuel R. Hearne. She bore him 4 teenagers, just one of whom survived previous early youth. while Sam died presently after the Civil struggle ended, he publicly said his dating with Azeline and bequeathed his whole property to their twenty-year-old mulatto son, with the availability that he look after his mom. while their son died early in 1868, Azeline inherited the most ecocnomic cotton plantations in Texas and have become one of many wealthiest ex-slaves within the former Confederacy. In Counterfeit Justice, Dale Baum strains Azeline’s impressive tale, detailing her ongoing felony battles to assert and preserve her legacy.
As Baum exhibits, Azeline’s inheritance quick made her a goal for predatory whites decided to strip her of her land. a well-known determine on the Robertson County District court docket from the overdue 1860s to the early Eighteen Eighties, Azeline confronted quite a few lawsuits—including one filed opposed to her via her personal attorney. Samuel Hearne’s kinfolk took steps to dispossess her, and different unscrupulous white males challenged the identify to her plantation, utilizing claims in response to outdated Spanish land promises. Azeline’s lengthy and brave security of her rightful identify introduced her a definite notoriety: the 1st freedwoman to be a celebration to 3 separate civil court cases appealed all of the method to the Texas superb courtroom and the 1st former slave in Robertson County indicted on felony fees of perjury. even if many times blocked and annoyed via the convolutions of the felony method, she developed from a bewildered defendant to a made up our minds plaintiff who, in a single amazing lawsuit, got here tantalizingly as regards to reaching revenge opposed to those that defrauded her for over a decade.
Due to gaps within the to be had ancient list and the unreliability of secondary bills in keeping with neighborhood Reconstruction folklore, a few of the info of Azeline’s tale are misplaced to background. yet Baum grounds his hypothesis approximately her lifestyles in contemporary scholarship at the Reconstruction period, and he places his findings in context within the historical past of Robertson County. even supposing historical past has now not credited Azeline Hearne with influencing the process the legislation, the tale of her uniquely tricky place after the Civil warfare provides an remarkable view of the period and of 1 solitary woman’s try to negotiate its social and felony complexities in her fight to discover justice.
Baum’s meticulously researched narrative should be of willing curiosity to criminal students and to all these attracted to the plight of freed slaves in this period.
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Extra info for Counterfeit Justice: The Judicial Odyssey of Texas Freedwoman Azeline Hearne (Conflicting Worlds: New Dimensions of the American Civil War)
Moreover, Dock 13. United States, Bureau of the Census, Population Schedules of the Seventh Census of the United States, 1850, Microfi lm Reel #230, Louisiana, Caddo Parish, Schedule 1 (Free Inhabitants), p. 695 (quotations), [printed p. 348], M432, NA (1963); Robertson County Tax Rolls, 1838–1882, Tax Rolls for 1853 and 1854, Microfi lm Reel #1198–01, CCO, Robertson County, Texas; and John Bell vs. C. , Louisiana Supreme Court, 10 Louisiana Ann. 515 (1855), La. LEXIS 277, Decided 1855. 14. Bureau of the Census, Population Schedules of the Seventh Census of the United States, 1850, Microfi lm Reel #242, Louisiana [Slave Schedules] “Bienville—Concordia,” p.
2; and Richard G. Lowe and Randolph B. Campbell, Planters and Plain Folk: Agriculture in Antebellum Texas (Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1987), p. 103. 26. Ebenezer Hearne quoted in Joshua L. Randall to Joel T. Kirkman, May , 1867 (fi rst quotation), “Subassistant Commissioner Records fi led under ‘Sterling, Texas,’” BRFAL, [unmicrofi lmed], 1865–1869, RG 105, NA; “Road overseer for Precinct 28,” [Special Term, 1876], p. 94 (second quotation), CCM [March 1876–September 1879], Robertson County, Texas; John R.
No Place for a White Man to Live 21 amount, but also no single family ever had occupied and owned, or for that matter subsequently would control, more land in the Robertson County Brazos Bottoms. A sizable area of the Brazos Bottoms was called “the Hearne Bottoms” throughout the second half of the nineteenth century and into the early twentieth century, regardless of actual ownership. 25 Every single acre of bottomland controlled by Sam and his extended family fell under continuous litigation throughout the entire antebellum period, the ensuing Civil War years, and the immediate postwar era.