From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

[Clarissa] Street vs. Ferry

In January 1853, Clarissa, a slave, was given her freedom by Judge J. Crenshaw of the Kentucky Court of Appeals; the decision was a new legal point of view.

Clarissa, who was owned by Mrs. Trigg, had accompanied Mrs. Alexander to Philadelphia in 1838. Mrs. Alexander was a close relative of Mrs. Trigg. The laws in Philadelphia had been discussed prior to the trip: if a slave lived in the city for at least six months, the slave became a free person. Mrs. Trigg was willing to take the chance that Clarissa and Mrs. Alexander might be in the city six months or longer (which they were) because she knew that Clarissa would not abandon her husband and children, who were slaves in Kentucky. Also, Clarissa and all of the other slaves owned by Mrs. Trigg were to be freed when Mrs. Trigg died. Clarissa returned to Kentucky and continued living as Mrs. Trigg's slave.

Prior to Mrs. Trigg's death, she had taken a loan from Mrs. Ferry, her adopted daughter, and used Clarissa as collateral to secure the note. The debt was to be repaid from Mrs. Trigg's estate. However, when Mrs. Trigg died, there were not sufficient funds to repay the debt. Therefore all of the Trigg slaves except Clarissa were freed; Clarissa became the property of Mrs. Ferry. Clarissa sued Ferry to gain her freedom.

For more see article 12 in the New York Daily Times, 1/31/1853, p. 6; "The Slavery agitation--will it never cease?," New York Daily Times, 2/01/1853, p.   4; and "Court of Apeals of Kentucky, January, 1853: Ferry vs. Street," The American Law Register (1852-1891), vol. 1, issue 5 (Mar., 1853), pp. 295-300.


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NKAA Source: New York daily times (newspaper)
NKAA Source: The American law register (1852-1891) (periodical)

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“[Clarissa] Street vs. Ferry,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed June 13, 2024,

Last modified: 2021-02-26 18:29:50