Between an African and a mulatto.
by Lisa Y. Henderson
Alfred Nichols v. William F. Bell, 46 NC 32 (1853).
The first issue in the case involved a question of parol evidence. The second involved Alfred Nichols himself. Nichols was “neither black nor white, but … he was of a brown color, between that of an African and a mulatto, and … neither of his parents could have been a white person.” Further, “in Onslow, where the contract he was made, he was reputed to be a free person, was called and known as free Alfred Nichols.” Defendant Bell requested that the court instruct the jury that any person darker than a mulatto was presumptively a slave. The court declined. Affirmed, as the principle is incontroverted that only “black” skin carries the presumption. “Let the presumption rest upon the African color; that is a decided mark: but to carry it into shades, would lead us into darkness, doubt and uncertainty, for they are as various as the admixture of blood between the races, and against the rule that presumptions are always in favor of liberty.”