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Somerset case


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In 1771 the American master of James Somerset, a negro slave, attempted to send him out of England to be sold. Abolitionists pleaded habeas corpus on his behalf. Blackstone, in his Oxford lectures, had already denied that English law recognized slavery. In a famous judgment on 22 June 1772, Mansfield declared that slavery was odious and unknown to common law. Somerset was given his freedom.

Subjects: British History.


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