Walter Hoye

Winny v. Whitesides (1824)

In Abortion, Special Edition on November 25, 2013 at 12:00 am
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Without Life, Nothing Matters.

Freedom Suit Series

“Anyone who kidnaps someone and either sells him as a slave or still has him when he is caught must be put to death.” — Exodus 21:16, New Century Version (NCV) 

Freedom suits are legal petitions filed by slaves for freedom. Between America’s colonial period and the American Civil War, a number of civil actions were brought to courts of law that challenged both the moral maxim and legal legitimacy of JUST-SUBJECTION 1 and WRONGFUL-ENSLAVEMENT 2 in America. This series of columns will explore those lawsuits and expose lessons that can be engaged by the Body of Christ and the Pro-Life movement today, in the wake of the 1973 United States Supreme Court (USSC) decisions in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton.

White Space Holder

Fugitive Slave Law 1850

Winny v. Whitesides (1824) established Missouri’s judicial criteria for freedom.
If a Slave Owner took a Slave to free territory and established residence there, the Slave
would be free. Winny’s case for freedom was allowed under the provisions of the 1789
Northwest Ordinance
and gave rise to the phrase: “Once Free, Forever Free.” 3

Northwest Ordinance Of 1789

“There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said territory.” — Northwest Ordinance; July 13, 1787, Section 14, Article 6 4

Map Of The Northwest TerritoryArticle VII of the United States Constitution stipulated that nine (9) states had to ratify the United States Constitution for it to be adopted.5 In June of 1788 New Hampshire became the ninth (9th) state to ratify our Constitution.6 In July of 1789, our newly created United States Congress reaffirmed the Northwest Ordinance of 1789 (with slight modifications).7 In August of 1789 our first President George Washington signed the Northwest Ordinance of 1789 into law.8 The Northwest Ordinance of 1789 set up how the territories could make new States and forbade Slavery in the federal (i.e., northern) territories. While the ordinance did prohibit Slavery, it did not emancipate the Slaves already held by Slave Holders within the territory.9 By the 1820s the Pro-Slavery Lobby was working overtime to legalize Slavery.10 While the Pro-Slavery Lobby fought valiantly for the virtue of Slavery, the Pro-Slavery Lobby failed. However, after closer examination, it is easy to see that the Pro-Slavery Lobby merely failed on paper and not in practice. In the end, the Pro-Slavery Lobby employed the ancient art of compromise, and a deal was struck. “Indentured Servants” 11,12 were allowed and while Slaves could not be bought or sold,13 this enabled Slaveholders to bring their Slaves into the territory under the status of “Indentured Servants.” Slave Kidnapping PosterTo sweeten the deal, the compromise also allowed for the recapture and return of any runaway Slaves who just “happened” to venture into Slave Holding Territories.14 This compromise worked for the Southern states for two (2) reasons. First, the Pro-Slavery Lobby knew Slavery would be legal south of the jurisdiction of the Northwest Ordinance, that is to say the Ohio River.15 Thus, with most Slave States in 1790 located south of the Ohio River, the balance of the number of Free States versus the number of Slave States would not be affected. Second, (and in my earnest opinion, the most important reason), the Pro-Slavery Lobby did not want to compete with the then Free States over tobacco as a commodity crop. The Pro-Slavery Lobby knew that growing tobacco was very labor intensive and that tobacco could only be grown profitably with Slave Labor.16 Truly the love of money is the root of all evil (1st Timothy 6:10).

Missouri Compromise Of 1820

“I was losing interest in politics, when the repeal of the Missouri Compromise aroused me again. What I have done since then is pretty well known.” — Abraham Lincoln, December 20th, 1859 17

Missouri Compromise 1820

In 1820 the Missouri Compromise was passed by the Democratic Congress as congressional policy.18 This allowed and promoted Slavery in close to half of the federal territories, the very opposite of what the Northwest Ordinance stated.19 This is where our Congress officially started promoting Slavery in an effort to preserve the balance of power in Congress between Slave and Free States.20 The Missouri Compromise admitted Missouri (already compromised) as a Slave State and Maine as a Free State.21 Furthermore, with the exception of Missouri, this law prohibited Slavery in the Louisiana Territory north of the 36° 30´ latitude line.22 While on paper the Missouri Compromise of 1820 was a mutual concession between two (2) parties, Elektra Tig (Lawyer and Historian) notes that an “overwhelming majority of southern senators and a slim majority of southern representatives voted in favor of the compromise.” 23 Tig goes on to say that “to the North, the Compromise of 1820 was not a compromise. It was not even an armistice. It was a defeat. Of those northern legislators who voted, 82% of Senators and 86% of Representatives voted against compromise or against the key concession they were asked to make.” 24 Clearly, when truth is at stake, the art of compromise is the practice of illusionists.

Winny v. Whitesides (1824)

“We are clearly of the opinion that if, by a residence in Illinois, the plaintiff [ Mrs. Whitesides ] lost her right to the property in the defendant [ Winny ], that right was not revived by a removal of the parties to Missouri.” — Justice George Tompkins, Missouri Supreme Court 25

Winny v. Whitesides, Phebe Suit

St. Louis Courthouse, Credit: Missouri Historical SocietyWinny, a “Negro Girl” and Slave, was owned by Mr. and Mrs. Whitesides.26 Between 1794 or 1795, the Whitesides took Winny from Carolina to Illinois, which in 1795 was within the 1789 Northwest Ordinance Territory.27 The Whitesides then resided in Illinois until about 1798 or 1799.28 After which the Whitesides moved to the Missouri Territory.29 In 1818 Winny filed suit to win her freedom in the Superior Court of the Missouri Territory.30 The basis of Winny’s argument was that her residence in the Northwest Territory made her free.31 The jury decided in Winny’s favor and awarded her the sum of $167.50 in damages.32 In response Mrs. Whitesides, that is to say Phebe Whitesides now a widow and sole owner of Winny, appealed the judgement against her to the Missouri State Supreme Court.33 In the end, Winny and her nine (9) children won their freedom as this time the Missouri State Supreme Court ruled in her favor. It was this decision that firmly established the legal precedent of “Once Free, Forever Free.” 34 However, by 1852 the ever vigilant Pro-Slavery Lobby in Missouri led a now Pro-Slavery Missouri State Supreme Court to deny Dred Scott his freedom in the Dred Scott v. Irene Emerson case.35 This decision marked the end of the “Once Free, Forever Free” doctrine.36 Book Cover: Dred Scott And The Dangers Of A Political CourtIn 1854, the Missouri Compromise was repealed by the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which some say “may have been the single most significant event leading to the Civil War.” 37 By 1857 the Missouri Compromise was declared unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court in their notorious Dred Scott decision. 38 In their Scott decision, the United States Supreme Court ruled that Black Americans, whether Slave or Free, could not be citizens of the United States of America, that Black Americans had no standing to sue in a federal court and that Congress did not have the authority to prohibit Slavery in the territories.39 The United States Supreme Court Dred Scott decision not only upheld the earlier de facto end of the 1824 precedent “Once Free, Forever Free,” it drove the proverbial nail in the coffin deeper by legally establishing the South’s “Once A Slave, Forever A Slave” doctrine as the law of the land.40 If it is true, that compromise weakens a reputation or a principle by accepting standards that are lower than desirable, then the United States Supreme Court Dred Scott decision is the logical conclusion to the Northwest Ordinance of 1789 and the Missouri Compromise of 1820.

Open Letter To The Church

LESSON: Compromising On Principle Compromises Culture.

A Lesson We Can Learn From The Case Of Winny v. Whitesides

“Compromise is meant for those competing interests, NOT for the core principles of the country that the Constitution exists to protect and secure. When the principles of our free nation under God are under siege, it is a time for confrontation, not compromise.” — Star Parker 41

Sign: You Can't Compromise On PrinciplesWhen the issue at stake does not contradict the Word of God, that is to say biblical principles and|or biblical convictions, but is rather a matter of differences in mode or methodology, there is no need to be dogmatic. We are free to be flexible. We are free to allow the law of expediency to operate. However, in doing so, we must never allow our mode or methodology to mask or manipulate our theology. For example, in Acts 21:18-26, the Apostle Paul agreed to the compromise proposed by James (the son of Alphaeus) and the Elders of the church at Jerusalem. Paul did so because the compromise did not contradict the Word of God nor did it conflict with the fundamentals of the faith. It’s clear that the Apostle understood the righteous relationship between principle and practice and the world of difference between mode, methodology and theology. As God’s missionary to the Gentiles (Acts 13:47), Paul knew that while our opinions may change, the Word of God never will.

Sign: You Can't Compromise On PrinciplesIn Revelation 2:12-17 Christ shares with us the sin of the church at Pergamum, then the capital of Asia Minor. Pergamum was known for its rampant idolatry. Pergamum hosted the altar of Zeus and was the center of Caesar worship. Idolatry, wickedness, and sexual immorality were commonplace. The sin of the church at Pergamum was not the evil in the city, but rather her toleration of the evil within her midst. It’s clear from the biblical record, that the leadership of the church at Pergamum not only pardoned the “teaching of Balaam (Revelation 2:14) who taught Balak how to make the people of Israel sin,” but also the “teaching of the Nicolaitans” (Revelation 2:15) who believed man can freely partake in sin because God understands the needs of our flesh. Because the leadership at the church of Pergamum conceded and compromised on biblical standards to accommodate the corrupt culture of the city, the message of Christ to the church at Pergamum was to change their hearts and repent.

Civil War SolidersYOU CAN’T FIGHT FOR BOTH SIDES! “Have you ever heard the story of the guy who could not decide what side he wanted to fight for during the Civil War? He put on the coat of the North and the trousers of the South, and guess what? He got shot at from both sides! This is what happens to the compromiser, the person who tries to live in two worlds. It’s one miserable place to be.” 42

No Compromise Cartoon

Pro-LifeAs I think about the Pro-Life movement, could it be true, that compromise has left us feeling like our plate is half-empty instead of half-full? Could it be true, that whatever we gained by compromising yesterday, we have lost today? Could it be true, that whatever we have gained by compromise, we will have to make more compromises to keep it? Could it be true, that compromise breeds compromise? Could it be true, that what we have lost by compromise is greater that what we would have gained if we had refused to compromise? Could it be true, that compromising a little has led us to compromising much? Could it be true, that our non-compromise positions of yesterday are just not enough to compensate for our compromised positions of today? Could it be true, that the great British preacher, G. Campbell Morgan, was right when he said: “It is a remarkable thing that the church of Christ persecuted has been the church of Christ pure. On the other hand, the church of Christ patronized has been the church of Christ impure.” 43 Could it be true, that by compromising our principles we compromised both our culture and our future?

Yeah, I think it could.

Brothers, we need to talk.


 In my very, very strong opinion, THE BIBLE DOES NOT JUSTIFY SLAVERY. If pastors (christian leaders) of the South taught their congregants to obey the Mosaic laws that criminalized kidnapping human beings, the harsh treatment of servants, the return of runaway servants and without preferring the rich over the poor or men over women, held everyone accountable for their own actions in the public square, slavery would not have existed.


Deuteronomy 24:7 says: “If someone kidnaps a fellow Israelite, either to make him a slave or sell him, the kidnapper must be killed. You must get rid of the evil among you.”

Harsh Treatment

Exodus 21:26,27 says: “If a man hits his male or female slave in the eye, and the eye is blinded, the man is to free the slave to pay for the eye. If a master knocks out a tooth of his male or female slave, the man is to free the slave to pay for the tooth.”

Runaway Servants

Deuteronomy 23:15-16 say: “If an escaped slave comes to you, do not hand over the slave to his master. Let the slave live with you anywhere he likes, in any town he chooses. Do not mistreat him.”

The New Testament speaks equally as strong against the kidnapping of human beings (which is the basis of slavery) as the Old Testament. Please read the Apostle Paul’s warning against false teaching in 1st Timothy 1:8-10 (NCV): “But we know that the law is good if someone uses it lawfully. We also know that the law is not made for good people but for those who are against the law and for those who refuse to follow it. It is for people who are against God and are sinful, who are unholy and ungodly, who kill their fathers and mothers, who murder, who take part in sexual sins, who have sexual relations with people of the same sex, WHO SELL SLAVES, who tell lies, who speak falsely, and who do anything against the true teaching of God.

“Perhaps the most compelling argument AGAINST SLAVERY in the New Testament is Paul’s letter to Philemon, in which the Apostle asks Onesimus (a fellow Christian) to free his Christian slave.


01. A paradox noted by Edlie Wong in her book “Neither Fugitive Nor Free” (2009), slave states had statutes that provided for slaves to sue for “wrongful enslavement”, based on slave laws that established “just subjection”, page 5 and 153 (
02. Ibid.
03. St. Louis Circuit Court Historical Records Project “History of Freedom Suits in Missouri” (
04. The Northwest Ordinance, is a project of the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University (
05. Article Seven of the United States Constitution, Wikipedia (
06. New Hampshire, Wikipedia (
07. Steve Straub, “The Northwest Ordinance of 1787”, The Federalist Papers, December 17th, 2012 (
08. Ibid.
09. Charles G. Mills “Did the Old South Change its Mind?”, The Confederate Lawyer
January 13, 2012 (
10. William Earl Parrish, Perry McCandless, William E. Foley, “A History of Missouri: 1820-1860”, page 287 (
11. David Brion Davis and Steven Mintz, “The Boisterous Sea of Liberty”, 2000, page 234 (
12. Paul Finkelman, “Evading the Ordinance: The Persistence of Bondage in Indiana and Illinois”, Journal of the Early Republic, Vol. 9, No. 1, Spring 1989, page 21 (
13. George Washington And Slavery, Wikipedia (
14. Marcus D. Pohlmann, Linda Vallar Whisenhunt, “Student’s Guide to Landmark Congressional Laws on Civil Rights”, page 14 (
15. Fredericksburg.Com, “American Civil War, A Nation Divided. Slavery In The Territories” (
16. Northwest Ordinance: Prohibition Of Slavery, Wikipedia (
17. The History Place: Abraham Lincoln, Short Autobiography 1859 (
18. Freedom Fighter Moe’s Blog, “Northwest Ordinance 1789 and Missouri Compromise 1820” (
19. Missouri Compromise, The Library of Congress (
20. This Day In History, “March 3rd, 1820: Congress passes the Missouri Compromise” (
21. Ibid.
22. Missouri Compromise, The Library of Congress (
23. Elektra Tig, “The Missouri Compromise: Compromise, Armistice or Defeat?” (
24. Ibid.
25. Robert Moore, Jr., “A Ray of Hope, Extinguished: St. Louis Slave Suits for Freedom” ( or St. Louis Circuit Court Records “Harriet Scott vs. Irene Emerson” (
26. Winney a free blackwoman vs. Phebe Pruitt, Washington University In St. Louis, Court Records (
27. Elektra Tig, Winny v. Whitesides I: A Suite for Freedom (, Winny v. Whitesides II: The Northwest Ordinance (, Winny v. Whitesides III: Recognition of Status Conveyed By Foreign Law (, Winny v. Whitesides IV: Residence vs. Transit (
28. Ibid.
29. Ibid.
30. Ibid.
31. Ibid.
32. Ibid.
33. Ibid.
34. Tim McNeese, “Dred Scott V. Sandford: The Pursuit of Freedom”, page 85 (
35. Missouri State Archives , Missouri’s Dred Scott Case, 1846-1857″ (
36. Freedom Suit: History, (
37. U.S. History, Pre-Columbian to the New Millennium, The Kansas-Nebraska Act (
38. Missouri Compromise, The Library of Congress (
39. Dred Scott, Wikipedia (
40. Ibid.
41. Star Parker, “Compromise in politics? No, confront” (
42. Greg Laurie, “The Danger of Compromise”, Article By A new Beginning (
43. Ibid.

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