The case of James Somerset, an escaped slave, in June of 1772 in London's Westminster Hall was a decisive turning point in human history. Steven Wise has uncovered fascinating new revelations in this case, which statesmen of the time threatened would bring the economy of the British Empire to a crashing halt. In a gripping, hour-by-hour narrative of the trial and the inflamed participants, Wise leads the reader to the extraordinary and unexpected decision by the great conservative judge, Lord Mansfield, which led to the United States' own abolition movement. As the case drew to a close, and defenders of slavery pleaded with him to maintain the system, Mansfield's reply has resounded down through more than two centuries: "Let Justice be done, though the Heavens may fall."
|Publisher:||Da Capo Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.12(w) x 9.12(h) x 0.87(d)|
About the Author
Steven M. Wise, J.D., has practiced animal law for over twenty years and has taught at the Harvard, Vermont, and John Marshall law schools. He is President of the Center for the Expansion of Fundamental Rights, which he founded in 1995. The author of Rattling the Cage, praised by Cass Sunstein as "an impassioned, fascinating, and in many ways startling book" (New York Times Book Review), and Drawing the Line, which Nature called "provocative and disturbing," he has been profiled nationally by such publications as the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Time magazine.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
It is with a certain amount of trepidation that I write this review since I am neither a writer, a lawyer, a solicitor, a barrister or a serjeant [a title not defined for the period 1770 in the Encyclopedia Britannica of 1982]. The prose and speeches of most the quoted participants is thoroughly uplifting. Pure gems. And there are many of them. Wonderful personalities and descriptions thereof. Granville Sharp, Mansfield, Davy, Dunning¿.An inspiring read that raises questions why England was able to ban slavery by a judge¿s decision and in the US it took a strong president, a self-crippling war, thousands of dead¿and the `deadly¿ feeling can still be felt. I do find the authors style to be trying, and that is why I award only 4 stars. With clearer writing, 5 stars. I find the continual interjection of thoughts and background items interrupts the drama. Example of one of the worst: The seventh line of Page 180 reads. Lord Mansfield began to speak. Then is a long explanation of what he might say¿and Mansfield actually began speaking at the bottom of Page 181. A personal aside: I enjoyed the interjection of John Wilkes, a parliamentarian and a staunch supporter of the American Revolution along with fellow parliamentarian, Barre, form the basis for the name of the city of Wilkes-Barre.