Professor of Law and History
University of Southern California Law School
Los Angeles, CA 90089
These tables form a second appendix to my book, Double Character: Slavery and Mastery in the Antebellum Southern Courtroom (Princeton University Press, 2000). ISBN 0-692-05957-8. http://pup.princeton.edu/titles/6949.html
The "Adams County Cases Table" catalogues 177 trials in Adams Superior Court (before 1832) and Adams Circuit Court (after 1832) involving slaves, drawn from a sample of 10,317 out of approximately 30,000 causes of action filed between 1798 and 1860. The table includes the following information for each case: case number, case name, date, type of case, outcome of case, plaintiff's role, whether a trader was involved, the amount in controversy, and the name, gender, age, and skill or defect of the slave involved, if noted in the document. The sources for the table are the Adams Circuit Court Records at the Historic Natchez Foundation, Natchez, Mississippi.
The case number refers to the drawer and docket number of the case, separated by a decimal point.
The codes for case type are as follows:
HIR = hire dispute
REP = replevin
WILL = warranty, illness
WDEA = warranty, death
WDRI = warranty, drinking
WRUN = warranty, runaway
WINS = warranty, insanity
WIDI = warranty, idiocy
WBAD = warranty, bad character
ASH = assault, shooting
AWH = assault, whipping
TNEG or ANEG = tort, neglect
ABOA = tort, boat
MOR = mortgage
W? = unidentified warranty
The codes for case outcome are as follows:
P = jury verdict for plaintiff
D = dismissed or jury verdict for defendant
S = settled
N = nonsuit
A = abated
? = uncertain
The codes for plaintiff's role in case are as follows:
O = owner
H = hirer
B = buyer
M = mortgagor
? = uncertain
Amount in controversy is usually the price of the slave plus interest and/or medical expenses.
Codes for slave skill/defect:
0 = none noted
I = ill
R = runaway
Y = "yellow"; mulatto
H = house servant
M = mad, insane
D = drinking
C = carpenter or other male skilled trade
W = washer or other female skilled trade
B = bad character
The "Five-State Cases Table" consists of information from 503 cases
involving slaves in state supreme courts. The sources for the database are the published appellate reports of state supreme courts, as well as
the trial records of the state supreme courts, at the Departments of Archives and History for Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and SOuth
Carolina, as well as the Special Collections Archives of the University of New Orleans. In all, I obtained 111 trial records from Alabama, Georgia,
Mississippi, and South Carolina, and 74 from Louisiana. The table includes information on the type of case, the plaintiff's role, the outcome at
trial, the outcome on appeal, the amount in controversy, and the name, gender, age, and skill or defect of the slave involved.
The codes are the same for this table.
The "People Table" contains information on 358 participants in Adams County trials obtained from the personal and land tax rolls for Adams County, 1802-1861, and from the manuscript census records for 1830, 1840, 1850, and 1860. Jurors' names derive from jury lists in the Minute Books of the Adams Circuit Court, at the Historic Natchez Foundation, Natchez, Mississippi. All other names were found in the trial records themselves.
Each participant was assigned an ID number: 1000s for plaintiffs; 2000s for defendants; 3000s for plaintiffs' lawyers; 4000s for defendants' lawyers; 5000s for witnesses; 6000s for jurors; 7000s for people who played more than one role in different trials; 8000s for lawyers who appeared on both sides; 9000s for judges or the court clerk.
The year refers to the year in which the property was assessed or the census taken. There are multiple entries for many participants who appeared in more than one census or tax record. There are 749 entries in all.
The role refers to the participant's role in the case in which they appeared:
P = plaintiff
D = defendant
L = lawyer
J = juror
W = witness
Multiple roles are indicated as, for example, PW or DWJ
Acres = acres owned in Adams County (may be underestimates).
Lots = town lots owned in Natchez.
Land value = combined value of Adams County landholding and Natchez town lots.
The "People-Cases Table" was created by merging the "Adams County" Table
with a version of the "People" Table containing only one value for each individual person in the year in which he participated in a case. For
example, Frederick A.W. Davis has four entries in the "People" Table, for 1850, 1852, 1857, and 1858. He was a defendant in one 1853 trial. Davis
had 8 slaves in 1852 and 9 in 1858; I extrapolated that he had 8 in 1853. In 1850, his town lot was worth $4000 and in 1857, it was worth
$7000; by extrapolation, it was worth about $5300 in 1853. The People-Cases Table lists the case number for Davis's case, his ID number,
the date, along with all the other information from the People Table on slaveholding and property ownership, extrapolated to the date 1853. Someone who participated in more than one case will appear more than once in the table, with his propertyholding extrapolated to the dates of the cases, but there is only one value per person per case. There are 564 entries in this table.