Each year the First Baptist Church of Heathsville has a commemoration of Robert Carter III’s 1791 Deed of Emancipation and the lives of those set free. Carter was a well to do man, who lived in the period after the Revolutionary War, who on September 5th, 1791 presented a “Deed of Gift” to the District Court of Northumberland County. This document set out his plan for the gradual manumission of 452 slaves he owned. He declared that he had, “for some time past been convinced that to retain them in slavery is contrary to the true principles of religion and justice, and that therefore it was my duty to manumit them.” A gentleman of the aristocracy planned to free his slaves. This did not sit well with his community, peers, or family. But he did it anyway. And each year, the First Baptist Church remembers a man who went against his society to do what was right.
Pick up a copy of the September 13 edition of the Northumberland Echo to read the full story