National Archive Microfilm Publications Microcopy No. 434

Habeas Corpus Case Records of the United States Circuit Court for the District of Columbia 1820 – 1863


Roll 1 – 1820 – 1843

Habeas Corpus for Catharine Smith


To the Honorable the Judges of the Circuit Court of the United States for the County of Washington, District of Columbia

The petition of the undersigned respectfully sheweth that she was committed to the prison of Washington County on Saturday Nov. 1, 1834 as a runaway slave, that she is a free woman and that she is still illegally confined in said Jail and humbly prayeth your interposition in her behalf and that your Honors will issue out a writ of Habeas Corpus and bring her out of prison where you can duly examine the merits of her case.
Katharine Smith
Washington 10 Nov. 1834

The United States of America

To the Marshal of the District of Columbia
Greeting –

You are hereby commanded to have the body of Katherine Smith, confined in the prison of Washington County as it is said, by whatever name she was committed, together with the cause of her caption and detention before the Honble. William Cranch, Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of the District of Columbia, at his chambers in the City Hall of said County immediately, to do and receive what may then and there be considered in the premises.

Hereof fail not as you will answer the contrary at your peril.

Issued the 10th day November 1834
W. Brent, Clk.

Issued by my order
W. Cranch

The Marshal respectfully makes the following return to the within Habeas Corpus. That he has the body of the within named Katherine Smith now before your honor, that the cause of her caption and detention is a warrant of commitment from B. K. Morsell, Justice of the Peace, a copy of which is hereto affixed and that she is detained for no other cause.
Nov. 10 1834
Alvin Hunter
Marshal Dis. Col.

Commitment Neg. Catharine Smith – Copy

District of Columbia
Washington County

To the Marshal of the District of Columbia

Whereas Catharine Smith, a Negro woman hath been this day brought before me, the subscriber, a Justice of the Peace for said County, as a runaway slave and failing to establish her title to freedom you will therefore receive from R. R. Bun and Lambert L. Beck, Constable, the body of the said Catharine and her safe keep in your Jail and custody until she shall be released by due course of law.

Given under my hand and seal this 1st day of Nov. 1834.
B. K. Morsell

True Copy
Thos. Hawke

The within named Catharine Smith having been brought before me by virtue of this writ; and having examined J. W. Nye, a competent & respectable witness upon oath, and being satisfied by his testimony that the said Catharine Smith is not a runaway, I have ordered her to be discharged from her imprisonment this 10th of Nov. 1834.
W. Cranch