NOTE: The primary source used in this lesson shows people as the property of other people. The teacher will need to determine if sensitivity training may be necessary before going forward with this lesson.

Standards: History Standard Three: Students will interpret historical data.

History Standard Four: Students will develop historical knowledge of major events and phenomena in world, United States and Delaware history.

Objectives: 1) Students will work in groups to determine the political, economic, and social makeup of the slaveowner.

2) Students will complete a worksheet.

Materials: 1) Lesson K, Delaware Public Archives, Probate Inventory, Series Number 4545.9

2) Worksheet


1) Pass out the worksheet that includes the names of the patriots with a brief list of their achievements.

2) Instruct the students to fold the sheet so that the question at the bottom does not appear. Go through the worksheet with the students. Read aloud the accomplishments and contributions of each individual. At the end of each individual's section there is a question for the student to answer. The students should circle the answer they believe is correct. Do not give the answers to the students at this time.

3) Instruct the students to place the sheets on one corner of their desk.

4) Divide the class into small groups (three, four). Write a number of personal, social, and economic descriptions on the chalkboard - examples: wealthy, poor, kind, mean, good citizen, criminal, etc. Look for input from the students for other descriptive words.

5) Using this list as a guide, instruct the students to work in groups to create their profile of a slaveowner. Although there will be nothing turned in from this part of the lesson, the profile's descriptive words should be recorded in order to save time when the profiles are presented orally.

6) Once the groups have completed their profiles, instruct each group to present their descriptions orally.

7) Pass out the probate inventory. Give the students some background about the document and allow the class several minutes to examine the document. Inform the students that this individual served in the American army fighting for independence. Ask the students for some of the items they see listed in this inventory. Note the agricultural nature of many of the items. Point out the slaves listed in the document.

8) Instruct the students to return to their seats and turn over the sheets they worked on at the beginning of the lesson. The correct answer is "yes" for each individual. Inform the students that John Dickinson and George Washington eventually manumitted their slaves. Washington freed his slaves when he died. In 1777 Dickinson manumitted his slaves with the condition that they were not free until they reached the age of 21. Nine years later he released them without any conditions attached. Thomas Jefferson kept his slaves until he died. In contrast to both Washington and Dickinson, Jefferson did not free his slaves. Because of his personal financial problems, Jefferson's slaves were sold after his death. Review the last question listed on the worksheet. Instruct the class to complete the question and turn in the worksheet.

9) Although the worksheet question is opinion based, the answer can be assessed based on creativity, effort, and organization.


With the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, the former American colonies embraced the idea of natural rights and individual freedom for all mankind. In this historic document, Thomas Jefferson wrote that "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." Although the purpose of this document was to break the bonds with England, many Americans saw the hypocrisy of declaring themselves free by natural right while keeping African-Americans enslaved.

Ironically, many of the soldiers and patriots who supported American independence owned slaves. Among the more famous Revolutionary War figures who owned slaves were George Washington, John Dickinson, Caesar Rodney, and Thomas Jefferson - the author of the Declaration of Independence. With the beginning of the Abolitionist Movement in the late 18th century, Jefferson's words in the Declaration of Independence became a weapon against slavery.


This inventory is part of the probate file of Joseph Hazzard (Joseph Hazzard, 1794 - 1809, Sussex County Probates, Series Number 4545.9). Probate is the process used to settle the estate of a deceased person. Probate records are documents generated as part of this process. These records may include a will, letters of administration, inventories, administration or executor's accounts as well as other legal documents that may pertain to the settlement of the estate. At the time of Hazzard's death, the English monetary system was still being used. In order, left to right, the columns represent pounds, shillings, and pence. There are also monetary notations within the writing but they are not transcribed. In addition, more research would be required to identify the function of many of the items in the inventory.


Joseph Hazzard was born on June 9, 1728. He enlisted in the American Army on February 22, 1776 and served as a private in Captain David Hall's Company of Continental Troops. In 1778, he became a Justice of the Peace for Sussex County. Hazzard died on September 27, 1794. His burial place is unknown.


Probate of Joseph Hazzard

Amount brought forward_______103 6 10

Shoes and Slippers two Chests one cupboard table sundries 1 10 0

1 Hackle Spool frames and warping Barrs_____________ 0 14 0

1 Sane and Ropes four spining Wheels 1 big ditto________ 2 10 0

2 pewter dishes Six new Plates Six old ditto_____________ 1 0 6

2 Dishes old pewter_________________________________________11 3

Old loom__________________________________________________ 5 0 1 Spade one Saddle and bridle one old ditto________________ 1 0 0 1 Reel and swifts four pounds of stocking yearn__________________17 6 1 old Still, tub, and worm one grind stone______________________ 3 0 0 1 old stool Carriage one oxcart one horse cart_____________ 3 15 0 1 oxcart Flax in the straw and flax broke____________________ 7 0 0 3 1/2 Bushels of flax seed_____________________________________ 18 0 Wheat in the straw Bushel 74 1/2___________________________ 24 4 3 3 pitch forks old casks in the barn_______________________________ 18 0 1 pare of oxen turn and tone one ditto Swan and Sweeting______ 24 0 0 1 ditto Lamb and Lyon_____________________________________ 12 0 0 300 Bushels of Corn n the field_______________________________45 0 0

7 Stacks of Fodder twelve hundred Sheaves of Blades_____________ 6 15 0 One Negro Woman and Child _______________________________ 30 0 0 1 Negro boy Nehemiah_____________________________________17 10 0

1 Negro Man Abraham_____________________________________32 0 0

1 Negro Jacob____________________________________________35 0 0

1 Negro Girl Diannah______________________________________ 25 0 0

1 Negro Bess old and a Charge________________________________0 0 0

1 Whip saw Oyster tongs_______________________________ 1 1 0

2 Casks with some Cyder____________________________________ 2 5 0

Sundry light ware Sundry Pots _______________________________2 5 0

4 Pots and some soap_______________________________________ 1 6 3

3 Pot trammels Reaphooks________________________________ 1 5 0

3 Hhds. of Cyder one large pot_______________________________1 10 0

Sundry old Casks in the Seller with one at Amelia Hazzards_________0 18 0

10 Head of Cattle legacy to Joseph____________________________26 5 0

6 head to Cornelius Wilbank_________________________________18 15 0

6 head to John Hazzard_____________________________________15 5 0


1 Mare and Colt to Cornelius Wilbank_________________________18 0 0

6 head to Cord Hazzard_____________________________________11 0 0

Amount carried over _455 8 17

***Note: The term "sundry" means miscellaneous.***


George Washington

1. Commander in Chief of the American Army Did George Washington own slaves?

during the Revolution, 1775 - 1783

2. First President of the United States Yes No

Thomas Jefferson

1. Wrote the Declaration of Independence: Did Thomas Jefferson own slaves?

We hold these truths to be self-evident,

that all men are created equal Yes No

2. Governor of Virginia

3. Third President of the United States

John Dickinson

1. Known as the "Penman of the Revolution" Did John Dickinson own slaves?

because of he wrote many articles that

supported American Independence Yes No

2. Soldier in the Continental Army

3. President (Governor) of Delaware

Why did these men fight for American Independence but still hold slaves?