Claim of Samuel Kingman for Hannah, Clara, Lizzie, and Beauregard Smalls, the wife and children of Robert Smalls, November 1862 and April 1863
Printable PDF Versions
- Letter from Samuel Kingman to William Whaley, esquire of the Planters & Merchants Bank, 2 November 1862
- Notarized copy of slave valution of Samuel Kingman by Edward.T. Hughes, notary public, 29 November 1862
- Notarized testimony of Samuel Kingman and Hester Kingman by Edward.T. Hughes, notary public, 24 April 1863
In these series of letters, Samuel Kingman, a prominent planter in South Carolina, filed a claim with the Planters & Merchants Bank of South Carolina regarding the loss of his property. In document#1, Kingman lists the lost property as “one woman (the wife of the Ringleader Robert) a grown Girl and two Children.” Identified in order as Hannah, Clara, Lizzie, and Beauregard Smalls were the wife and children of Robert Smalls. In Document #2, Kingman sheds light on how the property was lost when the slaves “went off in the Steamer Planter from the harbor of Charleston.” He further adds an accounting of the value of each slave. In Document #3, Edward T. Hughes, a notary public, and Mrs. Hester Kingman provide their testimony to the truth of Kingman’s claim as well as indicate in further detail how the slaves “absconded, with all their clothing.”
Robert Smalls was a slave and laborer hired out by his owner Henry McKee. As a laborer in Charleston, Smalls spent considerable time working around the harbor. In 1858, Smalls married Hannah Jones, a slaved owned by Samuel Kingman. Jones had one daughter prior to their marriage and after they were wed they had two more children. After the start of the American Civil War, Smalls worked as a pilot on the steamer Planter. On the May 13, 1862, Smalls along with the slave crew took over the Planter while the white officers were away. As mentioned in the letters, Smalls took his family with him. Sailing past Confederate forces, Smalls directed the ship to Federal forces blockading the Charleston harbor and surrendered to the first Federal vessel.
Smalls' brave act gained him fame and renown throughout the North. Congress rewarded the crew with prize money with Smalls receiving $1,500. His efforts along with the slave crew strengthened the argument to use African Americans in the Union forces. During the war, Smalls served in the Union army. He was the first African American to command a ship in United States Service. He was reportedly involved in 17 military engagements. After the war, in 1867, Smalls was one of the founders of the Republican Party in South Carolina. During Reconstruction, he served as a South Carolina Representative and Senator. Eventually, he became a U.S. Representative for South Carolina.
Smalls died at his home in Beaufort on February 15, 1915, and he is buried in the cemetery at Tabernacle Baptist Church.
“Claims of Samuel Kingman for Hannah, Clara, Lizzie, and Beauregard Smalls, the wife and children of Robert Smalls.” November 1862 and April 1862. Claims of Property Loss Due to The Enemy 1862-1864, S 126189. State Auditor, Office of the Comptroller General, South Carolina Department of Archives and History, Columbia, South Carolina.
Standard 3-4: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the events that led to the Civil War, the course of the War and Reconstruction, and South Carolina’s role in these events.
Indicator 3-4.1 Compare the conditions of daily life for various classes of people in South Carolina, including the elite, the middle class, the lower class, the independent farmers, and the free and enslaved African Americans.
Indicator 3-4.4 Outline the course of the Civil War and South Carolina’s role in significant events including the Secession Convention, the firing on Fort Sumter, the Union blockade of Charleston, and Sherman’s march through the South Carolina.
Standard 4-6: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the Civil War and its impact on America.
Indicator 4-6.4 Summarize significant key battles, strategies, and turning points of the Civil War – including the battles of Fort Sumter and Gettysburg, the Emancipation Proclamation, the significance of the Gettysburg Address, and the surrender at Appomattox – and the role of African Americans in the War.
Standard 8-3: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the American Civil War—its causes and effects and the major events that occurred during the time.
Indicator 8-3.5 Compare the military strategies of the North and South with regard to specific events and geographic locations in South Carolina, including the capture of Port Royal, the Union blockade of Charleston, and Sherman’s march through the state.
Indicator 8-3.6 Compare the effects of the Civil War on daily life in South Carolina, including the experiences of plantation owners, women, Confederate and Union soldiers, African Americans, and children.
Standard USHC-4: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the causes and the course of the Civil War and Reconstruction in America.
Indicator USHC-4.3 Outline the course and outcome of the Civil War, including the role of African American military units; the impact of the Emancipation Proclamation; and the geographic, political, and economic factors involved in the defeat of the Confederacy.