An Alabama man is suing the state of Alabama over a 153-year-old document he claims entitles him to own several black individuals and their descendants.
Hank Wyatt, 53, is suing the state of Alabama claiming the will of his great-great-grandfather, William Hugh Patton, has been illegally nullified by current state judges.
Hank Wyatt recently came into possession of a document dating from 1865 previously owned by his great-great-grandfather, William Hugh Patton, which claims he legally bought four “negro” prisoners from the state of Alabama.
The 153-year-old document signed by the Governor of Alabama at the time, Thomas H. Watts, boldly states that William Hugh Patton is given ownership over the aforementioned prisoners as well as to all of their descendants.
“I ain’t saying I want those people’s descendants to be my slaves. I just want a financial compensation, because legally, I own them,” Hank Wyatt told reporters.
“My client’s demands clearly comply with current federal laws and the State of Alabama has the obligation of compensating my client for refusing to honor this contract,” attorney Robert Lindsay explained.
The Thirteen amendment to the United States Constitution declared slavery and involuntary servitude illegal in 1865, except as a punishment for criminality.
This loophole, according to modern historians, was used to control, suppress and decimate communities of color, through mass arrests and imprisonment after the Civil War where black men’s free labor was used to help rebuild a ravaged South.