Report of the Holden Slave Case

Report of the Holden Slave Case

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Excerpt from Report of the Holden Slave Case: Tried at the January Term of the Court of Common Pleas, for the County of Worcester, 1839

The case of Commonwealth vs. Samuel Stratton, Samuel Foster, James E. Cheney, and Farnum White, Jun., who were charged in the indictment with a conspiracy to defraud Olivia Eames of Holden, of the voluntary services of her servant girl, named Anne, without her consent, - came on in the Court of Common Pleas, in this town, (Worcester) on Tuesday, January 29th, 1839, Judge Strong presiding. Pliny Merrick, Esq., District Attorney, conducted the prosecution; and Charles Allen, Esq., appeared for the defendants.

Mr. Merrick, in opening the case, stated that Mrs. Eames, the party aggrieved, was a native of Worcester County - that she was married to Mr. Eames, also a native of this County, who a few years since removed with her to New Orleans. There he acquired some property, and, among other articles, came in possession of a number of slaves. In 1837, he died; after which, Mrs. Eames sold her property, excepting the girl Anne, then 12 or 13 years of age. She was retained as a house servant and nurse; and accompanied Mrs. Eames in that capacity, on a visit to Mrs. Eames's friends in Grafton and Holden, in Massachusetts.

Of course, as soon as she came into this State, she was as free as any native born citizen of this State, and had the right to remain with or leave her mistress, as she saw fit. The highest tribunal has decided, that, if a person come here on business or pleasure, and bring a slave, the slave becomes free.

In the session of 1837, an important Act was passed by the Legislature of this State. By that act any person is entitled to the Writ, unless indicted for some offence. He may go to the Clerk and demand it.

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