Legal Papers of John Adams, volume 2

Wetmore's Minutes of the Argument

Wetmore's Minutes of the Trial

Adams’ Minutes of the Trial<a xmlns="" href="#LJA02d026n1" class="note" id="LJA02d026n1a">1</a>: Essex Superior Court, Ipswich, June 1772 JA


Adams’ Minutes of the Trial: Essex Superior Court, Ipswich, June 1772 Adams, John
Adams' Minutes of the Trial1
Essex Superior Court, Ipswich, June 1772
Tayler vs. Caesar. Salem Novr. 1771

Mem. examine civil Law, and Villenage, to see what Rules are to govern these Negro Causes.

Sergeant. 2


Tim. Fuller. Known Caesar between 20 and 30 years. I bought him, about 12 years old. A new Negro, right from Guinea, could not talk English. Tayler bound him, 3 Years. He came to me to buy him when Hircum owned him. I hired him of Tayler, a Month. He gave me Liberty to hire him, and I paid the Negro. Tayler said if he behaved well and got him his Money, he should be willing to let him have his Time. I said if he did not get the Money by such a Time3

Indian Woman rejected because Caesars Wife.4

Josh. Felt. 5 Tayler told me, that he sold him, because he behaved6

Trials Per Pais 538. Regula.7 But read the Cases that follow in Illustration of the Rule, which shew that the Rule takes Place where a Person meddled with the Property of another.8

Wilson 254.9 Court gave Leave to Defendant to withdraw the general Issue and Plead a Justification.

Court determined that the Master should not give in Evidence that Caesar was a slave.


Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 185. Apparently JA wrote the title of this minute and noted the continuance at the Salem Superior Court, Nov. 1771. But the notes seem to have been taken at the Ipswich Superior Court, June 1772.


Nathaniel Peaslee Sergeant was Caesar's attorney.


The MS breaks off here. The next paragraph is in a clearer hand, suggesting that JA took time off to sharpen or replace his quill.


“Husband and Wife cannot be admitted to be Witnesses for or against each other, for if they swear for the Benefit of each other, they are not to be believed, because their Interests are absolutely the same, and therefore they can gain no more Credit when they attest for each other, than when any Man attests for himself.” Gilbert, Evidence 135–136.


Josiah Phelps, according to the file. SF 132190.


Sentence left incomplete by JA.


“Regula. Upon the General Issue, if by the Evidence the Defendant acknowledge that he did the Wrong, and justify this, and gives the Matter that goes to discharge him of the Act by Justification, this Evidence is not good, but he ought to have pleaded it.” 2 Duncombe, Trials Per Pais 538.


“This Rule is demonstrated by those Cases, where, upon Not guilty in Trespass, the Defendant would say the Property was in a Stranger, and that by his Commandment, or as his Servant, he took the Goods.” 2 Duncombe, Trials Per Pais 538.


Taylor v. Joddrell, 1 Wils. K.B. 254, 95 Eng. Rep. 603 (1749):

“Imprisonment: defendant pleaded the general issue inadvertently, and now moved to withdraw it, and for leave to plead a justification that he was master of a ship, that the plaintiff was making a mutiny therein, and so he imprisoned him. . . . Per curiam: There are many instances of this having been done when the court can prevent the plaintiff from suffering any inconvenience by it, as by obliging the defendant to take short notice of trial, and that if there be a verdict for the plaintiff he shall have judgment as of the present term; therefore let the defendant be at liberty to plead a justification, and the general issue also, if he pleases, upon the terms mentioned.”