Middletown [CT]: Tertius Dunning, 1812. Contemporary paper-covered boards [rebacked in period style]. , 186 pp. Untrimmed, occasional toning and mild foxing. Very Good.
This is the record of a judicial rarity: the trial of a master for murdering his slave. Hodge's brutality was too much even for the slave province of Tortola: the jury sentenced him to hang because Hodge, after having flogged Prosper for two days, left him to die a painful death-- without food or medical aid-- over the next week and a half.
This case was extraordinary for several reasons, not least that "the chief prosecution witness was a free black woman. In the slave states (and some of the free states) it was illegal for a black to testify against a white" [Finkelman 291]. The evidence demonstrated Hodge's notoriously cruel treatment of his slaves. For Hodge's lawyers to assert "that a negro, being property, it was no greater offence in law for his owner to kill him, than it would be to kill his dog" [page 77], was surely a major tactical error.
Hodge was hanged; the case apparently contributed to the abolition of slavery in the British West Indies.
FIRST EDITION. Finkelman 290. II Harv. Law Cat. 1103. LCP Supp. 1080. Cohen 12700. Item #33713