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1829: Writing State v. Mann

1829: Writing State v. Mann

Chapter:
XV. 1829: Writing State v. Mann
Source:
A Community Built on Words
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226677224.003.0016

Next to the infamous Dred Scott case, State v. Mann is probably the best known American judicial decision involving the institution of slavery. The decision's prominence during the antebellum period was due in part to the fact that the author of the North Carolina Supreme Court's opinion, Thomas Ruffin, was a judge with a national reputation. Beginning at an early point, however, Ruffin's opinion in Mann began to attract attention for its language and what that language revealed about slavery as well as the author. Ruffin did not achieve these effects without effort. By chance three drafts of his opinion survive, and a comparison of them sheds important light on the final product and on Ruffin's thinking about the place of slavery in an American constitutional order.

Keywords:   slavery, constitutional order, Thomas Ruffin, State v. Mann, judicial decision, antebellum period

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