Herald and Expositor
In the Supreme Court of Penn’a.
Decision of Slave Case.
Kauffman plaintiff in Error.}Error to
Oliver, et al.
This action is instituted at common law, leans upon it for support, and invokes the aid of its principles to sustain its objects and result. The sweeping generality of the two counts in the declaration of the plaintiff and the instruction of the court, would leave [illegible] to infer that Kauffman, the defendant, had proceeded to the State of Maryland and there seduced the alleged slaves from their servitude; brought them to the State of Pennsylvania, and there concealed them, so that the owners could not reclaim or recapture them. This mode of stating this case throws around it some air of plausibility, although it makes no difference in the application of the law which the judgment of the Court deems fit and suitable to control and decide. But the testimony does in nowise warrant, or authorize such general conclusions. Giving to it the most ample verge, it amounts to this and no more:--That the alleged slaves had been removed from
These are the striking and almost the only merits of the case developed by the testimony, except some proof of ownership, and the sum and substance of the evidence—From it no glimmering of fact or circumstance is perceived to warrant a conclusion that Kauffman enticed the fugitives to run away, or that they were enticed to do so by any human being. On the contrary, it appears from that evidence, as given on behalf of the plaintiff, that the negroes were prompted to fly at any hazard, by their fear of being sold, and perhaps and almost inevitably to be separated—mothers from their children, and husbands from their wives and [illegible] [illegible]. Prompted by the vast longings of the heart for kindred by nature, they were [illegible] to seek freedom, through danger and peril, rather than endure slavery among strangers and oppressors.
I wave all inquiry as to a point made on the records, to wit—whether the Court did not err by instructing the jury in the language to wit: “But if Kauffman was acting with others, in [illegible], who indeed these negroes to escape from the service of the plaintiff and his acts [illegible] a link in the chain to accomplish that object successfully, then he is liable as if he had done it all inasmuch as there is no evidence, as alleged by defendant, to warrant any such instruction. I waive it, not because it is of [illegible] magnitude, but for a reason that I will state presently; and for the same reason I waive all observation upon the bills of [illegible] taken to evidence by the defendant. I will observe, however, that the true question in this aspect of the cause ought to be and is whether in the State of Pennsylvania a citizen who gives a cup of cold water and a morsel of bread to [illegible] women and children, and permits them to rest a few hours in his barn, when they are [illegible] to his mercy, and even gives them a lift in his wagon, even if it should turn out that they are fugitives from Slavery to freedom, does by that offer of mercy and compassion break the law, and make himself liable for their price in the mart where men, women and children are bought and sold-whether he is bound to let them perish on his own land, or drive, them all to die on the land of his neighbor? Are they outcasts from the law of mercy and humanity, although they have within them that ray, if from Divinity, which we call a soul, and are sensible to hopes and fears, to agony and despair?
But we turn to another aspect of the case; which present a question which concerns the sovereignty of the State—the independence of its tribunals and the character of the common law—a question which overmasters all minor permits presented on the record.
The defendant pleaded to the jurisdiction of the Court.
Slavery, then, is recognized and enforced here by virtue of that compact alone. The voice of her own policy proclaims, so far shalt thou go, but no farther. The language of that compact is—“No person held to service in one State under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall in consequence of any law of regulation therein be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up on the claim of the party to whom such service of labor may be due.”—Upon claim [illegible] by the person to whom service is due, the [illegible] shall be delivered up. To whom shall this claim, be made?—Undoubtedly to the person or persons who shall have the alleged slave in custody or who shall attempt to [illegible] him from the owner to whom the services are due. And as by the compact, the slave is not discharged from his serve by escaping into a few State the owner or his authorized agent may pursue and take him, without riot or beach of the peace by [illegible] or reprisal, in any place where the compact is obligatory just in the same manner as if the reception was in the slave territory. Sovereignty is so far yielded by the
Congress have regarded this claim, to the service of the fugitive, as a right of property, and that is the only light in which it can be viewed, and which must be made by one person or persons against another person or persons, and property to be attested in a court of justice. It is, therefore, a controversy between parties, arising under the constitution and laws of the
It was ruled in the Circuit Court of the U. States for the district of Ohio, that if a slave escape from
So that the plaintiff here is unaided by that provision upon which he placed some reliance. The damages are the same injuries, and the action for the penalty might as well be maintained at the common law, as the action for the damages. Neither can it be maintained outside of the act of Congress. I admit that a
In the year 1826, the Legislature of this State, for the purpose of acting in the accomplishment of the compact to deliver fugitives when claimed, passed an act enjoining upon upon State magistrates and judges the duty of acting and prescribing the manner in which the duty should be discharged.—This act of capacity was conceived in a just and fraternal spirit; only throwing around the fugitives [illegible] safeguards, to prevent kidnapping under color of law. This act, however, was declared unconstitutional, bu the Supreme Court of the
Under these circumstances, [illegible] Courts are interdicted from assuming a voluntary jurisdiction, since the act of 1826 has been repudiated and thrown out of Court, as the decisions of our tribunals might, and perhaps would be, against the claims of the owner of the fugitives. After all consideration, this Court is of opinion, that an action of this kind can only be sustained under the act of Congress of 1793.
That our State Courts have no jurisdiction of action the statute.
And the principle of the Common law do not sustain any such action in this State.
The plea to the jurisdiction is therefore sustained, and the judgment of the Court of Common Please of Cumberland County, for &2000, is revered.