The State v. John Mann. From Chowan.
SUPREME COURT OF NORTH CAROLINA
13 N.C. 263; 1829 N.C. LEXIS 62; Devereux's Ct. Cl. 263
December, 1829, Decided
PRIOR HISTORY: [**1] The Defendant was indicted for an assault and battery upon Lydia,
the slave of one Elizabeth Jones. On the trial it appeared that the Defendant had hired the slave
for a year--that during the term, the slave had committed some small offence, for whichthe
Defendant undertook to chastise her--that while in the act of so doing, the slave ran off,
whereupon the Defendant called upon her to stop, whichbeing refused, he shot at and wounded
her. His honor Judge DANIEL charged the Jury, that if they believed the punishment inflicted
by the Defendant was cruel and unwarrantable, anddisproportionate to the offence committed by
the slave, that in law the Defendant was guilty, as he had only a special property in the slave. A
verdict was returned for the State, and the Defendant appealed.
DISPOSITION: Judgment reversed, and judgment entered for the Defendant.
HEADNOTES: The Master is not liable to an indictment for a battery committed upon his slave.
One who has a right to the labor of a slave, has also a right to all the means of controlling his
conduct which the owner has. Hence one who has hired a slave is not liable to an indictment for
a battery on him, committed during the hiring. But this rule does not interfere with the owner's
right to damages for an injury affecting the value of the slave, which is regulated by the law
COUNSEL: No Counsel appeared for the Defendant. The Attorney-General contended, that no
difference existed between this case and that of the State v. Hall, (2 Hawks, 582.) In this case the
weaponused was one calculated to produce death. He assimilated the relation between a master
and a slave, to those existing between parents and [**2] children, masters and apprentices, and
tutors and scholars, and upon the limitations to the right of the superiors in these relations, he
cited Russell on Crimes, 866.
OPINION: [*264] RUFFIN, Judge.-- A Judge cannot but lament, when such cases as the
present are brought into judgment. It is impossible thatthe reasons on which they go can be
appreciated, but where institutions similar to our own, exist and are thoroughly understood. The
struggle, too,in the Judge's own breast between the feelings of the man, and the duty of the
magistrate is a severe one, presenting strong temptation to put asidesuch questions, if it be
possible. It is useless however, to complain of things inherent in our political state. And it is