Joseph Munn (sometimes spelled Mun) was snatched
by the hand of Fraud and violence while a child in
Africa. He was sold as a slave for life to Thomas Seymour,
Esq. of Hartford, Connecticut. Munn remained with Seymour
for some time before being sold to Daniel Barber
and several others whose names are not known.
In 1773, Munn was purchased by Waterbury resident William
Nichols. He was given a verbal promise by Nichols to be
granted his freedom following three years of faithful service.
At the end of the three years, Munn asked for his freedom,
but Nichols refused to give it to him. Munn was, however,
allowed to enlist in the Continental army, joining Col.
Thaddeus Cooks regiment in 1776. Munn served as a
private during the Revolutionary War.
On May 2, 1780, Joseph Munn petitioned the Connecticut General
Assembly for his liberty, stating that he was entitled
to Freedom and the unalienable rights of Humanity.
William Nichols was a Loyalist and had left Waterbury during
the Revolutionary War to fight for the British. Before leaving,
he sold Munn to his cousin, Thomas Hickcox, Jr., who also
lived in Waterbury, and who took possession of Nichols
estate. Nichols estate was confiscated, and he moved
to Nova Scotia after the war.
By 1780, Joseph Munn was a private in the 1st Connecticut
Regiment, stationed in Farmington, Connecticut in Col. John
Durkees regiment. According to his petition, Hickcox
was at that time making an effort to hold Munn in bondage
and Slavery...contrary to the Laws of Nature and Humanity.
Munn was discharged from the military for a broken arm and
stiff knees on April 5, 1781. Some time afterwards,
Hickcox, through his attorney, John Trumbull, withdrew his
objection to Munns petition. Trumbull stated that
the situation between Hickcox and Munn had been long
Munns petition was finally settled in May of 1785.
The Lower House of the state Assembly initially voted to
grant Munn his freedom, but the Upper House voted against
it. Representatives from the two Houses were appointed to
confer on the differing votes. In their final decision,
both Houses voted against Munns petition for freedom.
The day before Joseph Munn was discharged from the army,
Chauncey Deming, a soldier also stationed in Farmington,
brought a suit against Joseph Munn because Munn owed him
22 shillings. In the process of settling the debt, an
inventory of Munns possessions was taken. He owned
only a few items, including four shirts, two forks, two
bowls, a wooden box and a padlock.