William Foote's Will


William Foote's Will


William Foote, a very prosperous farmer and lawyer, owned land that had once been part of Mount Vernon. His estate was conservatively estimated to be worth $20,000. He owned fifty slaves, a large number for any plantation in the south but especially large for a section of the country which was shifting away from slave labor and becoming a diversified region in population and economy. When Foote died in 1846, his will freed his slaves, including Jasper, his wife Sarah, and at least two of their children. Though Foote emancipated them, he left the timing to others. He wrote "My slaves I recommend to the care and kindness of my wife and executor and I direct that they emancipate them from time to time, as may comport with the probable welfare of my slaves..." He further emphasized that "the said will does not emancipate the slaves directly; and that till they are emancipated by the Executrix and Executor." Court documents indicate that the slaves were held in bondage for almost another decade. Around 1853, they filed deeds of emancipation at Alexandria's Courthouse. William, Sarah, Susan, and Eliza were among the 43 slaves listed.


William H. Foote, "Legal Papers," Vertical File, Box 240A, Alexandria Library, Special Collections, Alexandria, Virginia; and "Inventory and Appraisement of the Estate of William H. Foote,"
Fairfax County Will Book , V5:74, 83, 227, 243, and W 16:231.




"William Foote's Will," in Teaching with Laurel Grove School, Item #13, http://chnm.gmu.edu/laurelgrove/items/show/13 (accessed April 25, 2018).