This table was owned by George Leek of Kingsclear.

© Kings Landing Historical Settlement. All Rights Reserved.

Introduction

Slavery was officially abolished within British North America in 1834. In 1800, Ward Chipman and Samuel Denny Street, two New Brunswick lawyers, defended the right of a slave woman, Nancy, to obtain her freedom (a duel was even fought as a result of this trial – which fortunately ended in a draw). Like other colonies in British North America, there was no existing legislation in New Brunswick on slavery and Chipman and Street offered their services pro bono in an attempt to establish a precedent. Although the two young Fredericton lawyers were not successful in their bid to free Nancy from her owner, Caleb Jones; their efforts are considered seminal in directing the course of New Brunswick law. The trial lasted more than a year and was heard by four judges. Four counsellors offered briefs. The trial resulted in a split decision and Nancy was returned to Jones. Within a year, proponents of slavery introduced legislation that would ostensibly protect slaves, while at the same time entrenching slavery as a legal institution. The legislation was never passed. The key question to ask will be how Nancy’s case represented a violation of human rights in both 1800 as well as the 21st century. By studying this case, students will be able to analyse both sides – for and against slavery. Why was it that by 1822 New Brunswick no longer supported a system of slavery – and why would this differ from the United States of America? 


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