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Berlin, le 28 Novembre, 1841. MONSIEUR :

Je m'empresse de vous exprimer mes remercimens de la bonté que vous avez eu de me remettre l'ouvrage de M. Story.

Depuis long temps, je connais et j'éstime votre savant compatriote comme un homme qui fait le plus grand honneur à sa double patrie, je veux dire à l'Amérique et à la Jurisprudence. Je connais même la première édition de cet ouvrage, dont le haut mérite est généralement reconnu, et qu'il a eu l' attention de m'envoyer. C'est donc avec un double plaisir que je recois ce précieux ouvrage dans une forme encore perfectionée. Je vous prie d'exprimer à votre illustre compatriote combien je suis sensible au nouveau présent qu'il lui plu de me faire, et qui est de la plus haute importance pour mes études.

Agréez, Monsieur, l'assurance de ma consideration la plus distinguée.


The third volume of Mr. Sumner's Reports, containing the Judgments of my father in his Circuit, was published in the year 1841. This volume is particularly rich in Admiralty and Insurance Cases, one of the most important of which, is Peters v. The Warren Insurance Company. In this case, in consequence of an accidental collision between two ships, one of them was forced to go into port for repairs, and the question arose, whether the expenses of the repairs were chargeable to the underwriters, on the ground of general average or consequential injury, arising from a peril of the seas. It was held, that they were. In discussing the question, whether the amount of damage apportioned on the ship, resulted so proximately from the collision, as to found a claim for indemnification against the underwriters, the meaning and application of the maxim, Causa proxima non remota spectatur, is fully considered, and the decision of the Queen's Bench, pronounced by Lord Denman, in the case of De Vaux v. Salvador (4 Adolph. and Ellis, 420,) is reviewed at length, and dissented from.

Lord Denman, in the following letter to Charles Sumner, Esq., written after reading this judgment, makes a declaration, which all, who are familiar with the decisions of the English Courts, will recognize as a tribute to a foreign jurist, of an almost unprecedented character.


Middleton, September 29th, 1840.


Your report of Judge Story's sentiments on our decision in De Vaux v. Salvador had not escaped my memory, and his now recorded judgment makes me regret, that we did not grant a rule to show cause, that a full discussion of the point might have been had. If it should arise again, the case of Peters v. The Warren Insurance Company will, at least, neutralize the effect of our decision, and induce any of our Courts to consider the question as an open one.

Pray offer my best respects to Judge Story, and assure him, that nothing in my judicial life has given me more pleasure than to know that the proceedings of the Court of Queen's Bench in the Privilege case have met with his approbation. It is highly gratifying to receive his elucidation of the passage quoted from our Year Books. For my part, I never doubted that the legal authorities, reasonably interpreted, compelled us to decide as we did; but I certainly felt serious apprehensions, lest the apparent weight of authority should embarrass the Court, and render it less sensible of the simplicity and importance of the principle involved. The effect of a contrary decision would not have been confined to England, but we should have stood forth in shameful preëminence, an example for every judicature in every country to conform its decisions to the will of the ruling power, whether an absolute monarch, or a popular assembly.

You speak of yourself as having incurred a debt of gratitude to the Bar of England and myself, and express a wish for some opportunity of testifying your feelings. Be assured that for every attention we could offer we were more than repaid by the pleasure of your society and conversation. But you may show us that kindness which we all highly estimate by repeating your visit; and if you could persuade Judge Story to accompany you, we should be delighted to receive him in a manner in some degree answerable to his ability, learning, and character.

Very sincerely, yours,


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Of the cases which came before the Supreme Court in 1842, one here deserves particular notice, namely, Prigg v. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The question, which arose in this case, was in respect to the construction of the article in the Constitution relative to the delivering up of persons held to service or labor in one State under the laws thereof, escaping into another.” As the judgment in this case excited a considerable interest at the time, and was severely animadverted upon by some persons, and as it involves a great constitutional question, it seems to demand in this place some special consideration. The facts of the case were these :

“ The plaintiff in error was indicted, in the Court of Oyer and Terminer for York county, for having taken and carried away from that county to the State of Maryland a certain negro woman, named Margaret Morgan, with a design and intention of selling and disposing of and keeping her as a slave or servant for life, contrary to a statute of Pennsylvania, passed on the 26th of March, 1826. That statute, in the first section, in substance provides, that if any person or persons · from and after the passing of the Act, shall take, carry away, or seduce any negro or mulatto from any part of that commonwealth, with a design and intention of selling and disposing of, or causing to be sold, or of keeping and detaining, or of causing to be kept and detained, such negro or mulatto as a slave or servant for life, or for any term whatsoever, — every such person or persons, his or their aiders or abettors, shall, on conviction thereof, be deemed guilty of a felony, and shall forfeit and pay a sum not less than five hundred, nor more than one thousand dollars; and, moreover, shall be sentenced to undergo a servitude for any term or terms of years, not less than seven years, nor exceeding twenty-one years; and shall be confined, and kept to hard labor, &c. There are many other provisions in the statute which is recited at large in the record, but to which it is unnecessary to advert to.

“ The plaintiff in error pleaded not guilty to the indictment; and, at the trial, the jury found a special verdict, which in substance states, that the negro woman, Margaret Morgan, was a slave for life, and held to service and labor under and according to the laws of Maryland, to a certain Margaret Ashmore, a citizen of Maryland; that the slave escaped, and fled from Maryland into Pennsylvania, in 1832; that the plaintiff in error, being legally constituted the agent and attorney of the said Margaret Ashmore, in 1837, caused the said negro woman to be taken and apprehended, as a fugitive from labor, by a state constable, under a warrant from a Pennsylvania magistrate; that the said negro woman was thereupon brought before the said magistrate, who refused to take further cognizance of the case; and thereupon the plaintiff in error did remove, take, and carry away the said negro woman and her children out of Pennsylvania into Maryland, and did deliver the said negro woman and her children into the custody and possession of the said Margaret Ashmore. The special verdict further finds, that one of the children was born in Pennsylvania, more than a year after the said negro woman had fled and escaped from Maryland.

“ Upon this special verdict, the Court of Oyer and Terminer of York county adjudged that the plaintiff in error was guilty of the offence charged in the indictment. A writ of

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