342: Though the Heavens May Fall by Steven M. Wise

342.4208625: Wise, Steven M. Though the Heavens May Fall: The Landmark Trial That Led to the End of Human Slavery. US: De Capo Press, 2005. 225 pp. ISBN 0-306-81450-1.

Dewey Construction:

  • 300: Social Sciences
  • 340: Law
  • 342: Constitutional and administrative law
  • +42: In England and Wales
  • +08625: Concerning slaves, serfs, or peons

In 1772, a landmark case was presented before The Court of King’s Bench in London. Lord Mansfield, the celebrated jurist of his day, and three associate judges heard the case of James Somerset, a black man from Africa, who had been sold into slavery to Charles Steuart, transported to the West Indies, and then to America. Once in England, he escaped from his master and, with the help of an 18th-century legal dream team, petitioned to be considered a free man under English law.

This is his story.

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