RESPUBLICA v. RICHARDS
2 U.S. 224

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

RESPUBLICA v. RICHARDS, 2 U.S. 224 (1795)

2 U.S. 224 (Dall.)

Respublica
v.
Richards

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania

April Term, 1795

This was an indictment, on the 7th section of the act supplemental to the act for the gradual abolition of slavery (2 Vol. Dall. Edit. p. 589) which is expressed in the following

Page 2 U.S. 224, 225

words: 'If any person or persons shall, from and after the passing of this act, by force or violence, take and carry, or cause to be taken and carried, or shall by fraud seduce, or cause to be seduced, any negro, or mulatto, from any part or parts of this state, to any other place, or places whatsoever, with a design and intention of selling and disposing, or of causing to be sold, or of keeping and detaining, or of causing so to be, as a slave, or servant for term of years, every such person and persons, their aiders and abettors, shall, on conviction,' forfeit L 100, and be confined at hard labour for any term not less than six months, nor more than twelve months. The indictment contained two counts; the 1st charging the defendant with fraudulently seducing negro Toby from Pennsylvania into New Jersey, with a design to enslave him: and the 2nd charging him with fraudulently causing negro Toby to be so seduced, for the same purpose.

Upon the evidence in support of the prosecution, it appeared, that negro Toby had been brought upon a temporary visit to Philadelphia, as a servant in the family of General Sevier, of the State of Virginia; that when General Sevier proposed returning to Virginia, the negro refused to accompany him; that after several propositions for securing him, the defendant told Mr. Sevier, that there was no way of managing the matter effectually, but by inducing the negro to go into New Jersey, and then to lay hold of him; that Toby was forcibly sent by General Sevier, to Cooper's-Ferry, whither the defendant went on purpose to secure, and actually did secure him; that after some severity towards the negro, Gen. Sevier arrived at the same place, and demanded Toby's pocket-book, which Toby, however, delivered to one of the witnesses, saying, 'it contains my freedom papers'; that the witness delivered the pocket-book to General Sevier; and that, finally, the defendant and General Sevier put Toby on board of a boat, and carried him down the river.

The evidence, on behalf of the defendant, proved, that Toby was a slave, belonging to the father of General Sevier, who had lent him to his son, merely for the journey to Philadelphia; and several witnesses, who had known Toby as a slave for more than ten years, were examined, to repel the idea, suggested by the negro himself, that he had ever been emancipated.

As soon as the testimony was closed, the Court stopped the defendant's counsel, M'Kean and Porter, who were about to argue the case, and declared that it was unnecessary to make a single remark in his defence.

Hallowell and Lewis, in support of the prosecution, attempted to establish three position 1st. That the defendant had seduced negro Toby from this, into another, state, with an intention to enslave him: 2nd. That the fact of Toby's being a slave did not satisfactorily appear: And 3rd. That even if the fact of his [2 U.S. 224, 226]


Official Supreme Court case law is only found in the print version of the United States Reports. Justia case law is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect current legal developments, verdicts or settlements. We make no warranties or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this site or information linked to from this site. Please check official sources.