Manumission papers of a slave discovered in Pittsburgh

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On Oct. 22, 1816, a 14-year-old girl named Lucy took her first steps to freedom in Pittsburgh.

Born on the freedom side of the Gradual Abolition Act of 1780, Lucy was entitled to the expectation of manumission that eluded all other blacks born before March 1, 1780.

All Lucy or a sponsor had to do was scrounge up the necessary cash and goodwill to make it happen. Freedom was a pen stroke away.

We don't know whether Lucy personally made the trip to the Allegheny County recorder of deeds office to begin the paperwork for her freedom, but I'd like to think she at least tagged along on that momentous occasion.

It's more likely that someone from the family that "owned" Lucy dealt with the clerk who looked over her manumission documents.

She may have been 14, but she understood the significance of what was about to occur....

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