Black History Month: Holmes v. Ford

Today, I want to talk about Robin and Polly Holmes (their daughter Mary is pictured below)who filed a landmark lawsuit against their former slaveholder referred to as Holmes v. Ford.

The Holmes family was brought to Oregon from Missouri as slaves, and Nathaniel Ford made may promises to free them, but did not follow through.

After many years Robin and Polly were set free, but Ford kept their children and refused to free them, intending to sell them on the slave market.

At the conclusion of this lawsuit the children were returned to their parents, but as the article here notes- “Oregon’s anti-slavery prohibitions should not be misconstrued as sympathy for blacks. There was a simultaneous effort to legally exclude all blacks, slave or free, from the area and to create a free soil white homeland in Oregon.”

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