Mayo Bridge Pass, 1793

Collections in the Classroom

Grade Level

Elementary, High, Middle

Time Period

1785-1850: Building America

Resource Type

Post-visit material, Pre-visit material, Primary Source

Collections in the Classroom: Mayo Bridge Pass

Download Collections in the Classroom: Mayo Bridge Pass (pdf)


  • Why was this pass used and provided to the person working the toll on the Mayo Bridge?
  • What do you think the pass carrier’s duties were when they entered the city?


The Mayo Bridge, built in 1780, was the first bridge that allowed the villages on the southside of the James to access Richmond. This rudimentary toll bridge was operated by James Mayo and was prone to breaking and being washed away. This pass is part of the Valentine’s Mayo Bridge papers and provides insight into the system of urban slavery post Revolutionary War. While the boy in the note is not named, he could have been an enslaved person crossing the river with permission from his enslaver. See the transcription below.