"They expected to be free"
Alexandria Gazette, January 7, 1861
News reports during the winter of 1860–1861 indicate that some enslaved Virginians believed that the election and inauguration of Abraham Lincoln as president of the United States might make them free. This news item, printed in an Alexandria newspaper, reported that ten enslaved people in Chesterfield County were punished by a local judge because "they had said amongst themselves, that they expected to be free about the 4th of March, in consequence of Lincoln's election, (that at least was the substance of it.)" The county's court records do not preserve an account of the proceedings.