The Resource Virginia Attorney General's Records Regarding the Lemmon Slave Case, 1857-1860
- Virginia Attorney General's Records Regarding the Lemmon Slave Case, 1857-1860
- Inclusive dates
- Contains court records, correspondence, and a newspaper clipping that document the "Lemmon Slave Case." This case, held in the state of New York, was a particularly important footnote in the history of slavery and poses an interesting juxtaposition to the Dred Scott case. The records were collected and utilized by Virginia Attorney General John Randolph Tucker. The Commonwealth of Virginia was heavily invested in the outcome of this case because it had paid for the Lemmon's legal counsel and because the case had the potential to impact the right to transport slaves
- Agency history record describes the history and functions of the Virginia Office of the Attorney General. (Search author as Virginia Office of the Attorney General).
- Biographical or historical data
- The Lemmon case was brought before the Superior Court of the City of New York in 1852 after a Virginia couple, Jonathan Lemmon and his wife Juliet, brought eight of their slaves into New York while they waited for a steamer to take them to Texas. The Superior Court judge found that the Lemmon's slaves were free because they had been brought into a state where slavery was prohibited. This case highlighted the regional differences in opinion regarding the legal status of slaves in free states. The case was appealed to the New York Supreme Court, and the Commonwealth of Virginia hired Charles O'Conor to represent the Lemmon's interests. Two letters from O'Conor to Virginia Attorney General, John Randolph Tucker are found in this collection of records, as is correspondence from Governor Henry A. Wise. In 1860, the higher court upheld the ruling of the lower court, allowing the Lemmon's slaves to be free. The Lemmons appealed the case to the United States Supreme Court, but the onset of the Civil War put the case on hold indefinitely.
- The Office of the Attorney General originated in medieval England. While representing the king in his courts, the Attorney General gradually assumed the role of legal advisor to the government and all its agencies. In Virginia, the first Attorney General was commissioned in 1643. The Declaration of Independence in 1776 ended the Attorney General's connection with royal authority, but the state constitution adopted that year continued the office under the auspices of the General Assembly. The constitution adopted in 1851 provided for the popular election of the Attorney General, rendering him independent of all three branches of government. The Attorney General is elected to a four-year term in office and is eligible for reelection.
- Cataloging source
- Citation source
- Salmon, John S., comp. A GUIDE TO STATE RECORDS IN THE ARCHIVES BRANCH OF THE VIRGINIA BRANCH OF THE VIRGINIA STATE LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES. Richmond: Virginia State Library, 1985
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