James Robinson and an enslaved woman named Susan Gaskins had six children, all born into slavery. Susan and four of the children were the property of John Lee, a resident of the Manassas area. Found with the Robinson Papers, this contract documents Robinson’s purchase of his son Tasco from Lee for $30. Terms such as “hire” or “bound out” are believed to mean “indenture”. Eventually, Robinson purchased two of his sons from Lee, while the remainder of his family was legally entrusted to him upon Lee's death in 1847.

This contract is a poignant reminder of slavery’s painful separation of family members and of the extraordinary lengths to which African Americans went in order to maintain their family ties.

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the Robinson Papers
NPS Archeology Program