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Lord Mansfield Chief Justice of England.

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Presentation on theme: "Lord Mansfield Chief Justice of England."— Presentation transcript:

1 Lord Mansfield Chief Justice of England.
Slavery and Justice Lord Mansfield Chief Justice of England.

2 Lord Mansfield, Chief Justice 1756
Look at this portrait, how is Lord Mansfield trying to portray himself? What does this tell you about what he thinks of himself? How important is he?

3 The Case of James Somerset 1771-2
The man who had brought Somerset to England (Charles Stewart) would have to prove that Somerset was his property. However, Granville Sharp wanted to widen the issue. There was the question of whether anyone should be able to forcibly remove another person from England. December 1771, Mansfield was petitioned for a writ of habeas corpus. It stated that a black man, James Somerset, was being held on board a ship that was about to sail to Jamaica, and that he must be released. habeas corpus means that a person arrested must be brought to court. Granville Sharpe had developed a reputation for fighting for the rights of enslaved people.

4 22 June 1772 When Mansfield was due to give his verdict, there was a mixed and excited crowd of spectators of all backgrounds and social ranks. The ruling was celebrated by hundreds and people saw it as slavery being outlawed in England, but Mansfield later restated that he had meant only to curtail one of the more abusive powers of slave-owners, not outlaw slavery. Most importantly James Somerset was treated as an equal citizen, his right to habeas corpus was upheld.

5 Would you celebrate? 'Slavery is so odious that it must be construed strictly. No master was ever allowed here to send his servant abroad because he absented himself from his service or for any other cause. No authority can be found for it in the laws of this country and therefore we are all of opinion that James Somerset must be discharged.’ Lord Mansfield Account of a ball held to celebrate the Somerset verdict, Public Advertiser, 27 June 1772 The Bodleian Library, University of Oxford Think about language used during the Transatlantic Slave Trade- is it still acceptable to use today? Go to the Understanding Slavery Initiative for a list of words What does the word ‘odious’ mean- is Lord Mansfield making a strong statement?

6 The Case of Gregson v Gilbert (the Zong Case), 1783
The Zong's voyage began no differently than many others, the ship sailing on 18 August, 1781 from Accra with 442 enslaved people and a crew of about 17. By November, Jamaica was sighted, but then a huge mistake was made by the Captain. He mistook Jamaica for Hispaniola (now the Dominican Republic) and carried on sailing. It would take then 2-3 weeks longer to get to Jamaica. How long had they been at sea for before they made the mistake? What does this tell you about how the Captain’s viewed the people on board?

7 The Captain started to panic as 62 enslaved people and 7 sailors had already died and they thought that the low levels of water left would not last them to Jamaica. On 29 November at 8.00pm, up to 54 enslaved women and children, were thrown overboard. This was described as a ‘Perilous Necessity’. On 30 November, males were thrown overboard, with 10 slaves jumping overboard to spare themselves the cruelty of waiting for execution. The next day it rained which would have sorted their water levels but still, 36 more slaves were thrown into the sea.

8 The Trial The case did not come to court as a murder trail, instead it was an insurance case for the loss of profit. The verdict was in favour of the owners, and cover for 132 enslaved people, at £30 each, was to be paid. There was a call for a re-trail, at this point abolitionist Olaudah Equiano and Granville Sharp heard of the case and where horrified and pushed for a criminal case. Through widespread publicity, it came to symbolise the utter, shocking inhumanity of the transatlantic slave trade, and was an essential spur to the formation of a formally organised committee for its abolition.   Can you think of contemporary cases, where one event has sparked a whole movement?

9 The Power of Public voice
Public outcry, and the work of the abolitionists, resulted in the bill and 1794 statute to at least regulate the Transatlantic slave trade. The new legislation stated that 'no Loss or Damage shall be hereafter recoverable against Loss by throwing overboard of Slaves, on any account whatsoever'. It is 1782 and the verdict of the Zong case has just been announced. Come up with a newspaper heading for the Zong case. Is your newspaper for or against abolition? If you have more time you could also get your class to: think of a letter you would write to the editor- would you be for or against this ruling and why?

10 The Abolition Campaign
In groups research the Abolition of Slavery Campaign. Can you rank in order of importance the impact that; Legal rulings such as Lord Mansfield’s Public Campaigns Accounts from ex enslaved people Politicians, had on the campaign. Get your class to form arguments as if they were presenting them in court.

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