Home > Back to Search Results > The precedent-setting case of American slave James Somersett...
Click image to enlarge 667890
Show image list »

The precedent-setting case of American slave James Somersett...



Item # 667890 THE GENTLEMAN'S MAGAZINE, London, January, 1773  Certainly the most historically significant item in this issue is: "An Argument in the Case of James Somersett, a Negro, Lately Determined in the court...attempted to be Demonstrated the Present Unlawfulness of Domestic Slavery in England" which takes about a full page.
This case involves James Somersett, an American slave purchased by Charles Stewart when he was in Boston. Stewart brought Somersett with him when he returned to England in 1769 but in 1771 he escaped. After being recaptured he was imprisoned on a ship & bound for Jamaica to be sold to a plantation for labor. The case was quite convoluted but ultimately became a boon to the abolitionist movement & ended the holding of slaves within England.
This articles summarizes the case and notes in part: "...to prove that Mr. Steuart had purchased Sommersett as a slave in Virginia & had afterwards brought him into England, where he left his master's service..." and further on: "...It does not appear...whether the court disallowed Mr. Steuart's right in the person of Sommersett, or merely his authority to enforce that right by the imprisonment of Sommersett & transporting him out of the kingdom..." with more.
This issue has four full page plates, although only two are called for. One called for is "The Giraffe or Camelopardus" which is a reasonably good print of this then almost unknown animal.
Near the back is the "Historical Chronicle" which has reports of a slave insurrection on a French ship noting in part: "...that the slaves in a French brig from Africa to Martinico, had risen, killed the crew, and turned pirates..." with a bit more.
Complete in 48 pages, 5 by 8 inches, full title/contents page with an engraving of St. John's Gate, nice condition.

A very nice magazine from the "mother country" just  before the outbreak of the Revolutionary War with a wide range of varied content. This was the first periodical to use the word "magazine" in its title, having begun in 1731 and lasting until 1907.

Item from Catalog 298 (released for September, 2020)...

Category: The 1600's and 1700's