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Browsing: Legal Papers of John Adams, Volume 1


This foot note contained in document ADMS-05-01-02-0002-0001-0002
22. The plea, nil debet (literally, “he owes nothing”), was the general issue in debt, putting in issue, “nearly everything that negatived the existence of the debt at the time of the commencement of the action.” Sutton, Personal Actions 164. See Shipman, Common-law Pleading 327–328. The phrase in the plea abbreviated at the “&c.” is, in full, the commonly omitted formula called the “defense”: “comes and defends the wrong and injury when and where it so behoves him, and the damages, and whatsoever else he ought to defend.” “Defends” in this context means “denies.” See note 94 78 below. The concluding phrase, “puts himself on the Country,” is the formal conclusion of a traverse, a pleading tendering an issue triable by jury which the other party had to accept if properly pleaded. See Sutton, Personal Actions 81–83. The formal acceptance of the issue, known as the similiter, is omitted here. See note 68 52 below.