Rhodes v. Bell - 43 U.S. 397 (1844)
U.S. Supreme Court
Rhodes v. Bell, 43 U.S. 2 How. 397 397 (1844)
Rhodes v. Bell
43 U.S. (2 How.) 397
The District of Columbia being still governed by the laws of Virginia and Maryland, which were in force anterior to the cession, it is not lawful for an inhabitant of Washington County to purchase a slave in Alexandria County and bring him into Washington County for sale. If he does, the slave will become entitled to his freedom.
This was a petition for freedom filed by Bell. The facts are set forth in the special verdict, which is as follows:
"We of the jury find that previous to the year 1837, the petitioner was the slave of a certain Lawrence Hoff, a resident of Alexandria County in the District of Columbia; that in the year 1837, the said Hoff, then owning and possessing the petitioner as his slave, in the County of Alexandria aforesaid, whereof he continued to be a resident, did sell and deliver the petitioner to one Little then
being a resident of Washington County, in the district aforesaid, and that the delivery of the petitioner was made to the said Little in Alexandria County aforesaid, and the petitioner was immediately removed by said Little to Washington County aforesaid to reside, and also for sale, whereof said Little was resident; that the said Little shortly afterwards, to-wit, about one year or a little more, sold the petitioner to one Keeting in Washington County, who sold and delivered him to the defendant; that since said sale to said Little, the petitioner has always been kept and held in slavery in the County of Washington aforesaid; that at the time of the sale and delivery of the petitioner as aforesaid by Hoff to Little, the petitioner was more than forty-five years of age, to-wit, he was fifty-four of fifty-five years old, and is now fifty-nine or sixty years old. And if upon the facts aforesaid the law is for the petitioner, then we find for the petitioner on the issue joined; if upon the facts aforesaid the law is for the defendant, then we find for the defendant on the issue joined."
"Whereupon all and singular the premises being by the court here seen, heard, and fully understood, and mature deliberation being thereupon had, the court is of opinion from the statement of facts aforesaid that the law is for the petitioner."
The writ of error was sued out for the purpose of reviewing this opinion.