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Legal redress for transatlantic black maritime laborers in the antebellum United States: a case study.

By the 1880s, race-based, chattel slavery became a relic of Atlantic history as every jurisdiction around the Atlantic World prohibited property in human beings. Emancipation occurred unevenly over these hundred-plus years in part because different processes, from armed slave revolts, blanket judicial decrees, incremental legislative enactments to military directives eroded slavery's legal and practical stability in different ways. This piecemeal demise of Atlantic slavery led to inconsistencies in the incorporation of people of color into the formal bodies politic of the Atlantic world. These inconsistencies bred a host of thorny legal issues not just within states, but between them. Not least of these was the treatment of the transnational black maritime workforce. These sailors routinely crisscrossed the oceans and experienced differing treatment in Atlantic jurisdictions during this period of slavery's dismantling. In other words, by traveling to areas with more stringent racial regulations, these itinerant workers forced officials in slave jurisdictions to reconcile their own internal racial policies and objectives with the demands of international economics and diplomacy. (1)

This essay examines one of the legal issues faced by transnational black sailors. It examines two court cases that emerged almost simultaneously in the federal courts of the United States in the 1850s. Both cases involved transnational black sailors jailed under the Negro Seamen Acts. Put in place across the southern United States between 1822 and the 1850s, these laws typically subjected all black sailors who arrived in port to incarceration and potentially corporal punishment during their stay.

The two cases represent different avenues of legal redress sought by transnational black workers or agents working on their behalf. In Roberts v. Yates (1852), the British Foreign Office abandoned its previous dedication to diplomatic channels in addressing the blatant assault to national sovereignty that occurred when officials in the United States forcibly extracted black British sailors from their vessels and placed them in confinement. Seeking judicial intervention to remedy this flaunting of the Union Jack, the suit based its assertions on the rights claims of black Britons protected by treaties between the United States and Great Britain. In the second case, Stratton et al. v. Babbidge (1855), three black sailors brought suit against their captain for his attempt to use the threat of the Louisiana Seamen Act to drive down the wages of his crew. Rather than attack the Seamen Act in the language of citizenship rights, the sailors instead focused on the captain's breach of contract. By investigating these two cases and the history that produced them, we may gain a better understanding of how some sailors and governments understood and explicated the relationship between race, individual rights, and international law during the era of Atlantic emancipations. (2)

Case One: Roberts v. Yates

On May 19, 1852, the Nassau trading schooner Clyde sailed into Charleston harbor with a cargo of fruit and a black cook named Reuben Roberts onboard. Immediately upon its entry, a deputy sheriff boarded the vessel and arrested Roberts according to South Carolina's 1835 Seamen Act. Eight days later, Charleston Sheriff Jeremiah Yates returned Roberts to the Clyde just before the vessel left port. In the meantime, however, British Consul George Mathew sought legal representation and underwrote a lawsuit filed in U.S. Circuit Court against Sheriff Yates. The suit was "brought in the form a trespass for assault, battery, and false imprisonment, the damages being laid at 4000 dollars." (3)

The decision to sue in federal court marked a distinct change in British policies. Ever since 1824, the British Foreign Office had abandoned judicial remedies as it sought to dismantle the various state Seamen Acts. Whether pressuring federal or state officials, the British Foreign Office under Whigs and Tories alike preferred diplomatic over judicial action. For the most part, pragmatism determined the policy. British litigants had only won one case in any state or federal court since 1823, and that solitary victory only led to a more stringent statute thereafter. Though it only took two years for the British government to withdraw all plans to seek recourse via the courts, it took them nearly three decades to realize that formal diplomatic efforts had produced the same nugatory results. Though early negotiation with federal officials seemed promising during the 1820s, any hopes of federal intervention were dashed with the ascension of the Jackson Administration. In 1831 and 1832, consecutive U.S. Attorneys General-John M. Berrien and Roger B. Taney-declared the Seamen Acts beyond the reach of the federal executive, with all due apologies to the British Foreign Office. Subsequent Secretaries of State toed this Jacksonian line, even when serving under Whig Presidents. (4)

Rather than return to the courts after the failure of British efforts in Washington, the Foreign Office instead instructed British consuls to act as "quasi-diplomats" in southern port cities and state capitals. For the most part, these negotiations were informal and led to a liberalization of the Seamen Acts in Louisiana. Informality was important for two reasons. First, overt outside meddling in the "private affairs" of the southern states tended to rub southern lawmakers the wrong way. On more than one occasion in the 1840s, southern states refused to amend their Seamen Acts, viewing any such action as a threat to their vaunted sovereignty. Second, formal international negotiations were supposed to be the sole responsibility of federal officials. Despite the intentions of the Foreign Office to remain low profile, one British consul assumed the formal posture of a foreign diplomat commencing negotiations with the governor of South Carolina. When newspapers north and south learned of this "Official Correspondence," they berated both the injudicious "diplomatic" actions of the British Foreign Office and the gall of the "fiery-spirited little commonwealth" of South Carolina. By 1851, then, it seemed to the Foreign Office that diplomacy at both the state and federal levels had no chance of securing amendments to the Seamen Acts. Federal officials claimed that the Constitution forbade their intervention in state racial regulations. At the same time, state officials demurred that the Constitution forbade them from engaging directly with foreign nations. (5)

With all diplomatic (and quasi-diplomatic) roads leading to dead ends, the Whigs in the Foreign Office contemplated alternatives. One British consul suggested imposing trade restrictions or duties on southern exports to Great Britain. The recommendation fell on deaf ears in the Foreign Office, providing a sad commentary on the relative expendability of Britain's black maritime workforce in the eyes of the British government. The decision of the Foreign Office to return to the courts rested on recent developments in U.S. Supreme Court jurisprudence on the Commerce Clause. British officials were well aware of the High Court's recent decision in The Passenger Cases (1849) where it struck down a pair of state laws that taxed interstate and international travelers-and its potential impact on the Seamen Acts. In fact, one British consul went so far as to quote two opinions from the decision in a letter to a southern politician regarding the likely unconstitutionality of laws targeting black sailors and their captains. This optimism in the British Foreign Office stemmed from The Passenger Cases' deviation from previous Taney Court decisions (i.e. The License Cases and New York v. Miln) that rested on the plenary power of the states to regulate their borders as they saw fit. So, with a newfound faith in the likelihood of a Supreme Court decision against the Seamen Acts, the British consul in Charleston requested funds to initiate a pair of lawsuits in hopes of capitalizing on the apparent change in jurisprudential direction. The Foreign Office obliged. A short time later, the Clyde sailed into Charleston, and Reuben Roberts was arrested. (6)

The suit in Roberts v. Yates was filed by local attorney James L. Petigru in the U.S. Circuit Court for South Carolina. The action in tort accused the sheriff of Charleston of false imprisonment because existing Anglo-American treaties explicitly entitled British subjects access to the port cities of the United States. Since Roberts was a British subject and thereby protected by the treaty, the sheriff was liable for damages attached to the mariner's unlawful arrest. The sheriff was represented by the State Attorney General Isaac Hayne and three other members of South Carolina's esteemed legal community, including U.S. Senator Andrew Butler. They maintained that Roberts' arrest was entirely legal, being done in strict compliance with the Seamen Act of 1835.

Roberts v. Yates was not the first time the U.S. Circuit Court in South Carolina encountered a black Briton suing the Charleston sheriff over an imprisonment sanctioned by the Seamen Act. Back in 1823, a Jamaican mulatto named Henry Elkison sought a writ of habeas corpus from Supreme Court Justice William Johnson, claiming that existing treaties protected him while in the United States. In his decision, Johnson robustly declared that black Britons were every bit as entitled to treaty protections as white Britons. While he was legally barred from issuing the writ to free Elkison, Johnson declared that federal treaties controlled state regulatory enactments. Despite the strong language against the law in Johnson's ruling, the Seamen Act remained in force and was even strengthened in subsequent decades. (7)

In Roberts v. Yates, the case was heard by Judge Robert B. Gilchrist, an elderly Jacksonian Democrat who initially received his commission as a recess appointment of Martin Van Buren in 1839. Gilchrist's tone could not have been more different than Johnson's. Because both sides in Roberts agreed to all the facts of the case, the trial was quick and straightforward. Gilchrist informed the jury that the 1835 Seamen Act did not violate existing treaties, was therefore constitutional, and thus, the sheriff was acting in a legitimate and official capacity when he detained the British mariner. As a consequence of these instructions, the jury found for the sheriff, with Petigru and the petitioner immediately filing an exception to Gilchrist's instructions, paving the way for an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. (8)

For Petigru and the Foreign Office, Gilchrist's instructions and the jury's verdict were not overwhelming defeats. In fact, Petigru was far more worried that the jury would find for Roberts, award him one dollar in damages, and thereby bar an appeal and prevent a lasting resolution at the same time. With this particular outcome in a lower federal court, Petigru could bring his case before the Taney Court. (9)

Petigru's excitement about the prospects of a Supreme Court hearing was not shared by many of his pro-Union friends in his increasingly radical state. Some fearful Unionists in South Carolina wanted the appeal to die before appearing on the Supreme Court docket. For them, no possible good could emerge from an appeal. If the Supreme Court struck down the Seamen Act, their argument went, South Carolina radicals would scream encroachment and, at best, ignore the decision. If the Supreme Court upheld the statute, then Britain would have no recourse other than war to ensure the liberty of their free black maritime laborers. Neither scenario seemed all that appealing. (10)

Luckily for these pro-Union men, the Supreme Court never heard the appeal from Gilchrist's courtroom. Fresh from their recent electoral victory, the leaders of the new Conservative ministry in London informed the British consul in Charleston, the man underwriting the costs of the suit, to drop the case against the sheriff. Rather than invite the Taney Court to rule on the legal status of a free person of color, the Foreign Office hoped to accumulate political capital amongst both Unionist and secession-minded officials in South Carolina by voluntarily ending the case. Fire-eaters, they hoped, would see the decision as a show of respect to South Carolina's esteemed laws while unionists would appreciate avoiding the unenviable position of potentially defending a Supreme Court decision infringing on state sovereignty. By withdrawing the suit, Foreign Secretary Aberdeen reasoned, Great Britain might convince state lawmakers of their interest in working outside Washington.

The effort backfired. For the next three years, the South Carolina Assembly flatly refused to reciprocate by easing the Seamen Act in exchange for the Foreign Office dropping Roberts. Only in December 1856 did South Carolina liberalize its regulations, and then only as a sign of solidarity with the rest of the Slave South, not as an act of reciprocity towards the Foreign Office. (11)

Case Two: Stratton, et al. v. Babbidge

In September 1854, three free black sailors named William Stratton, Henry Mansfield, and Isaac Ross contracted themselves to work aboard the U.S. vessel Iddo Kimball for twenty-four dollars a month in wages. Their contract stipulated that they would leave Halifax, Nova Scotia, where they signed on, travel across the Atlantic to Britain, and then return to a "port of discharge in the United States." This contract was not the first between the sailors and the master of the Kimball, Captain Babbidge. The two sides had agreed to a similar contract less than a month earlier in New York City, though a rough storm off the coast of Newfoundland damaged the ship and sent it limping to Halifax. The men were released from their employment contract while the ship underwent repairs. When the ship was seaworthy, Babbidge once again solicited the services of the three mariners. However, these crafty tars had realized their increased market value in Halifax. When Captain Babbidge attempted to reenlist the sailors for the same rate he offered--and they had previously accepted--in New York, the men refused. They had originally signed for only fifteen dollars a month, as the abundance of ready ship hands in New York had driven the monthly wages of sailors down. In Halifax, the relative dearth of able-bodied sailors willing to make a transatlantic run enhanced the sailors' bargaining position. With little other choice, Babbidge signed a contract to pay the men twenty-four dollars a month, sixty percent more than their original agreement. (12)

From Halifax, the Kimball sailed to Sharpness, near Bristol, where the cargo was unloaded. Eager to take advantage of some downtime as Babbidge went about resupplying the vessel with food and other necessities, the sailors elected to receive a small advance on their pay to enjoy what the port city had to offer. The record does not reveal much about their exploits in Sharpness, but the stories of other transatlantic black sailors in Britain may shed some light. In his semi-autobiographical account Redburn, Herman Melville described his impression when he first encountered the African-Americans at a British port. "In Liverpool indeed the negro steps with a prouder pace, and lifts his head like a man." He witnessed several public displays of interracial affection, which, had they occurred in New York, would have resulted in a mob "in three minutes." (13)

For one of the sailors, at least, the stay in Sharpness was quite eventful. According to Captain Babbidge, Isaac Ross contracted an unspecified venereal disease through "illicit intercourse with women," though the symptoms apparently did not surface until weeks later, when the vessel was sent to re-cross the Atlantic. After leaving Sharpness, the Kimball then sailed across the Bristol Channel to Cardiff, where the vessel was loaded up for a transatlantic voyage. The new merchandise was headed for New Orleans, and the vessel was fitted with the necessary supplies, including foodstuffs and medical supplies, the latter to be a point of contention between Captain Babbidge and Isaac Ross, as we shall soon see. (14)

A few weeks later, the Kimball reached New Orleans. As the vessel approached the harbor, local officials informed Babbidge of Louisiana's Seamen Act, which demanded that the captain of every vessel post a bond for both the good behavior of their black crewmen and to ensure the removal of said crewmen from the state. If the captain refused to post the bond, he could be fined and incarcerated, as would the unbonded black crewmen. Captains could not recover their bonds until they were set to leave harbor and could prove to the magistrate's satisfaction that the crewmen he introduced to the state had left or were in the process of leaving. (15)

For the white tars onboard the Kimball, the arrival in New Orleans meant the end of their work for Captain Babbidge. They were summarily paid and discharged, leaving the docks for the enchantment of the Crescent City. For Stratton, Mansfield, and Ross, however, the Louisiana Seamen Act complicated their discharge. According to the captain's affidavit, he attempted to secure them employment on other commercial vessels and found several heading to ports in Europe. He hoped the men would accept a new contract so he could quickly recoup his bond. The men, however, refused to sign on with these alternative vessels, declaring their wish to head to a port in the northern U.S. This is where the testimonies diverge. The captain testified that the three black sailors finally agreed to re-sign on board the Kimball for fifteen dollars per month, the going rate for mariners in New Orleans and the rate that was originally offered when the men first left New York the previous summer. According to the captain, the men willingly signed on, as no other ship was headed to an agreeable port. The sailors told a different story. They claimed that Babbidge pressured them into signing a new contract with reduced wages by threatening to leave them in New Orleans. They only entered into the new contract because if they did not, they would have been incarcerated. If the stories pouring in from abolitionist presses were at all accurate, the men risked being a permanent feature of the New Orleans workhouse, quasi-slaves in the employment of city officials. Rather than an ideal solution, the new contract was actually signed under duress. (16)

Whatever happened in New Orleans, the Kimball with Captain Babbidge and the three future petitioners travelled north and soon arrived in Boston. Upon their discharge, the three sailors were paid their wages, including the fifteen dollars per month wage stipulated in the contract agreed to in New Orleans. After receiving their income, the sailors sought legal redress for the difference in wages between the Halifax contract and the New Orleans contract. Their attorney, F.W. Sawyer, filed a libel in the Federal Circuit Court of Massachusetts, where the noted maritime law expert Peleg Sprague heard the arguments. Their argument was straightforward. Because of the Louisiana Seamen Act, New Orleans could not be considered "a port of discharge in the United States" for sailors of color. Consequently, the original Halifax contract was still in force, since the men were never officially discharged. Thus, the new contract, signed under duress, was null and void, and the captain was legally required to pay the men the full twenty-four dollars per month as originally negotiated in Nova Scotia. In a supplemental libel, Isaac Ross also sued for the wages that the captain deducted during his incapacitation after contracting a venereal disease in England. According to Ross, the captain prevented Ross from being discharged in Cardiff so as to allow him to be admitted to a hospital and willfully refused to provide the necessary medication after the vessel left Europe. (17)

For the captain, Boston attorney and renowned maritime writer Richard H. Dana, Jr. argued to the contrary. In his answer, Babbidge claimed the men, without protest, voluntarily agreed to the new contract while in New Orleans, and only in Boston did the men make any mention of lost wages. The captain ought to be congratulated, since he tried his best to secure the men new work, and even offered the new contract weeks before the Kimball set sail out of New Orleans just so the men might be kept from jail. If the court found for the libellants, then all shipmasters heading into New Orleans might be held hostage by their sailors and the $1000 per sailor bond, preventing captains from making appropriate employment negotiations. As for Ross's claim of malfeasance, the captain simply stated that Ross's allegations were spurious. (18)

For Judge Sprague, this was not his first encounter with a suit touching on the enforcement of the Seamen Acts in Louisiana. Eleven years earlier, in 1844, Sprague decided Martin v. The Cynosure, a case with some stark similarities to Stratton. William Martin, a free black sailor, sued his captain after he withheld from the mariner's wages the costs of incarceration that accrued while Martin sat in confinement in New Orleans. When Martin returned to Boston, he hired attorney Richard Henry Dana, Jr.--the same man who later would represent Babbidge --and sued his captain for the deducted wages and for damages attending to his extended incarceration. Sprague awarded Martin his lost wages, but denied his request for damages since the shipping articles explicitly listed New Orleans as a port of call. (19)

In his decision in Stratton, Sprague hinted, as he did in Martin, that the Louisiana Seamen Act was likely unconstitutional, but since the exact question of the statute's constitutionality was again not raised, his ruminations on its imbecility were only dicta. Nonetheless, he followed on Martin by awarding the difference in wages. "I am of opinion," Sprague wrote, "that a port in the slave states, where laws of this description prevail, is not a port of discharge for colored seamen ... [because t]hey cannot be, in any just sense of the term, discharged from the vessel." Sprague continued, "They are not free to go where they please, and to find other voyages. They must be either in jail or on board this vessel, and. cannot even leave the vessel without the hazard of being made slaves." From the reasoning, the judge concluded, "they were entitled to proceed to Boston in the vessel at the original rate of wages [since] They did not waive this right freely. but made the new contract under duress and under protest, and for no consideration." Babbidge was forced to pay the back wages and court costs, less "certain deductions ... for the sickness of a seaman by his own fault." (20)

Besides its value in comparison to Roberts, this case offers us a rare glimpse of the legal and economic sophistication of some transnational black workers. The three petitioners displayed incredible acumen. They successfully opted out of their original contract with Babbidge when their vessel was forced ashore at Halifax. They understood their enhanced market value in Nova Scotia, where they could demand sixty percent higher wages than they originally negotiated in New York. The sailors knew of their impending arrest in New Orleans if they could not find immediate work aboard a departing vessel. When they arrived in Boston, they sought out legal counsel and successfully sued for the difference in wages. Thus, these illiterate men displayed a masterful ability to navigate the geographic, economic, and legal landscape of the mid-nineteenth-century Atlantic World. (21)

As a postscript, this was not the final case to come before Judge Sprague based on the loss of wages by black sailors encountering the Seamen Acts. In 1859, in a very similar case, The William Jarvis, he ruled in favor of black crewmen whose captain had deducted wages during the men's confinement in New Orleans. With Martin v. The Cynosure, Stratton et al. v. Babbidge, and The William Jarvis, the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts had carved out a legal lifeline for black sailors whose captains hoped to double the indignity of the Seamen Acts by charging the mariners for their incarceration. (22)

Comparing the Cases

Within the span of two years, then, the federal courts in the United States heard two cases regarding the southern Seamen Acts. In Stratton et al. v. Babbidge, the libellants won their case by basing their claims on contract law and lost wages. In Roberts v. Yates, Reuben Roberts lost his case based on his citizenship claim and its corresponding attachment to the infringement of British sovereignty. Both cases had precedents that foreshadowed the outcome of their respective cases.

In the end, we see that the repeated protests of the Seamen Acts' insult to British sovereignty never affected the administration of the laws. Claims of British sovereignty and Afro-British rights had no impact. Absent any military or economic threats, these legal claims were completely ineffectual. When the issue of treaty rights, individual liberties, and freedom of movement for people of color came before federal tribunals, the sailors lost. However, the federal courts did offer a different sort of assistance for some sailors. When mariners sued for back wages or for being compelled to sign a contract under the duress the Seamen Acts posed, they won. This observation suggests something substantive about the American legal system during this age of emancipation. The complex history of race and citizenship that culminated in the Dred Scott decision and the Fourteenth Amendment was not confined within the borders of the United States. Rather, it was part of larger, international developments. The law of citizenship could not match the colorblindness increasingly being achieved in the law of contracts. In other words, sovereignty of the flag apparently paled in comparison to sovereignty of the contract. And perhaps most interesting, illiterate free black sailors took advantage while the British Foreign Office continued to face legal defeat.

Michael Schoeppner (California Institute of Technology)

(1) For a macro analysis of Atlantic slavery, see David Brion Davis, Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2006).

(2) On the enactment and enforcement of the Seamen Acts, see Michael Schoeppner, "Peculiar Quarantines: The Seamen Acts and Regulatory Authority in the Antebellum South," Law & History Review 31 (forthcoming, 2013) and Philip Hamer, "Great Britain, the United States, and the Negro Seamen Acts, 1822-1848," Journal of Southern History 1 (February 1935): 3-28.

(3) Roberts v. Yates, 20 F. Cas. 937 (1853). Unfortunately, the case file is not among the other files for the U.S. District Court for South Carolina housed in the Southeast depository of the National Archives. The details of the case come from the decision cited above and from correspondence between Roberts' attorney, James L. Petigru, and British officials. Those letters can be found in Foreign Office Papers, Correspondence relative to the Prohibition against the Admission of Free Persons of Colour into certain Ports of the United States, 1823-1851, Volume 579, Series 5, (Kew, England: Public Records Office), 260-274. Hereafter referred to as Correspondence.

(4) Hamer, 9-12; Michael Schoeppner, "Status across Borders: Roger Taney, Black British Subjects, and a Diplomatic Antecedent to the Dred Scott Decision" Journal of American History 100, no. 1 (forthcoming, 2013); Philip S. Foner and Ronald Lewis, eds., The Black Worker: A Documentary History from Colonial Times to the Present (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1978), 1:437.

(5) Philip Hamer, "British Consuls and the Negro Seamen Acts, 1850-1860," Journal of Southern History 1 (May 1935): 138-168. Some of the press responses were included in letters from British agents in the United States. See Correspondence, 174-180 and 182-185, with the quote from 178.

(6) George Mathew to Viscount Palmerston, January 10, 1852, in Correspondence, 234-236; George Mathew to the Governor of South Carolina, December 10, 1851, in Correspondence, 218-222; The Passenger Cases, 48 U.S. 283 (1849); The License Cases, 46 U.S. 504 (1847); New York v. Miln, 36 U.S. 102 (1837); George Mathew to the Earl of Malmesbury, May 28, 1852, in Correspondence, 260; Earl of Malmesbury to George Mathew, June 16, 1852, in Correspondence, 261.

(7) Michael Schoeppner, "Status across Borders." Interestingly, the State Attorney General and the man supposedly responsible for defending the Seamen Act in Elkison was none other than James Petigru. He refused to argue the case, leaving it to two private attorneys to defend the sheriff and the Seamen Act. On Petigru's role as State Attorney General, see William H. Pease & Jane H. Pease, James Louis Petigru: Southern Conservative, Southern Dissenter (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1995), 24-27. On the maintenance of the law post-Elkison, see Alan January, "The South Carolina Association: An Agency for Race Control in Antebellum Charleston," The South Carolina Historical Magazine 78 (July 1977): 191-201.

(8) Roberts v. Yates, 20 F. Cas. 937 (1853).

(9) James Petigru to George Mathew, February 4, 1853, in Correspondence, 265-266.

(10) See, for example, the sentiments expressed in George Mathew to Viscount Palmerston, January 10, 1852, in Correspondence, 234-236.

(11) By 1856, Alabama, Louisiana, and Georgia had amended their Seamen Acts to allow black sailors to remain aboard their vessels, and, in some instances, to come ashore after receiving explicit permission from municipal authorities. Some South Carolina officials, in hopes of creating a unified South, sought to coordinate racial policies. The leading proponent of liberalization in South Carolina, John Harleston Read, Jr., quipped, "Are we more subject to the assaults of northern incendiaries [than] our sister states [that already amended their Seamen Acts]? Are our institutions weaker than theirs?" See Alan January, "The First Nullification: The Negro Seamen Acts Controversy in South Carolina, 1822-1860" (PhD diss., University of Iowa, 1976), 386.

(12) Stratton, et al. v. Babbidge, 23 F. Cas. 225 (1855). The case file is housed in RG 21.23.1, Records of the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts, Case Files, 1790-1911, NARA-Northeast, Waltham, MA.

(13) Herman Melville, Redburn (London: Jonathan Cape, 1937), 231-232.

(14) Case File, Stratton, et al. v. Babbidge, 23 F. Cas. 225 (1855).

(15) Acts of Louisiana (1852), 193-194.

(16) Case File, Stratton, et al. v. Babbidge, 23 F. Cas. 225 (1855); Schoeppner, "Peculiar Quarantines."

(17) Case File, Stratton, et al. v. Babbidge, 23 F. Cas. 225 (1855).

(18) Case File, Stratton, et al. v. Babbidge, 23 F. Cas. 225 (1855).

(19) Martin v. The Cynosure, 6 F. Cas 1102 (1844). Before 1851, the Louisiana Seamen Act mandated the immediate incarceration of all free black sailors. In 1851, the law was amended to allow sailors to remain aboard their vessel, and even come ashore in certain cases. See Schoeppner, "Peculiar Quarantines."

(20) Stratton, et al. v. Babbidge, 23 F. Cas. 225 (1855).

(21) I am assuming the men were illiterate, since both Stratton and Ross signed their names with an "X."

(22) The William Jarvis, 29 F. Cas. 1309 (1859).
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Title Annotation:Special Section: Sovereignty and World History
Author:Schoeppner, Michael
Publication:World History Bulletin
Article Type:Essay
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 22, 2013
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