Did the slave help free the free man’s slave?

by Lisa Y. Henderson

The State v. Edmund, a slave, 15 NC 340 (1833).

This was an indictment of Edmund in New Hanover County for violating the Act of 1825, chapter 22, i.e. concealing a slave on board a vessel for the purpose of conveying her beyond state limits and helping her escape.  Edmund was a slave, the property of a Mr. West of Virginia, who had absconded years before, passed as a free man and served as a steward aboard the brig Fisher.  Nathan Green, the alleged owner of the concealed slave, was a free man of color, “a dark mulatto,” and a North Carolina resident.  Edmund was convicted of the offense and appealed his death sentence on the bases that (1) as a slave, Edmund was not a person within the meaning of the Act and (2) Nathan Green, as a free man of color, was not a citizen of the state.  The Supreme Court ordered a new trial on the alternate ground that the indictment was defective.