Judith Cocks was a slave who belonged to United States Congressman James Hillhouse of Connecticut. Although Hillhouse was an advocate of abolition and later, as a United States senator, was instrumental in abolishing the slave trade, he was a slave owner himself. He had rented Judith (a common practice) to a Mrs. Woodbridge who had taken her and her son Jupiter to Marietta, Ohio. Judith and Mrs. Woodbridge did not get along at all and she wrote to her master to complain about the abuse her son was experiencing.
I have been so unhappy at Mrs. Woodbridges that I was obliged to leeve thare by the consent of Mrs. Woodbridge who gave up my Indentures and has offen said that had she known that I was so sickly and expencieve she would not have brought me to this Country but all this is the least of my trouble and I can truly say sir had I nothing else or no one but myself I am sure I should not make any complaint to you But my Little son Jupiter who is now with Mrs. Woodbridge is my greatest care and from what she says and from the useage he meets with there is so trying to me that I am all most distracted therefore if you will be so kind as to write me how Long Jupiter is to remain with them as she tells me he is to live with her untill he is twenty five years of age this is something that I had no idea of I all ways thought that he was to return with me to new england or at Longest only ten years these are matters I must beg of you sir to let me know as quick as you can make it convenient I hope you will excuse me of troub Ling you wich I think you will do when you think that I am here in A strange country without one Friend to advise me Mrs. Woodbridge setts out for connecticut and I make no doubt but she will apply to buy Jupiter’s time which I beg you will be so good as not to sell to her I had much reather he wold return and Live with you as she allows all her sons to thump and beat him the same as if he was a Dog Mrs. Woodbridge may tell you that I have behaved bad but I call on all the nabours to know wheather I have not behaved well and wheather I was so much to blame She has called me A theif and I denie I have don my duty as well as I could to her and all her family as well as my Strength wold allow of I have not ronged her nor her family the nabours advised me to rite you for the childs sake I went to the Gentlemen of the town for these advise thay told me I could get back without any dificulty I entend to return
remember me to all your family if you please I thank you for sending me word my dauter was well this is my hand writing I remain the greatest humility[,] you Humble servant
please [dont?] show this to Mrs. Woodbridge
Teacher Alert! The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center has created an excellent lesson plan based on Judith Cocks and Senator Hillhouse for teachers to use in examining the paradox that existed in the early United States when many of the nation’s leaders were slaveholders although they espoused the cause of abolition.