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OSBORN V. NICHOLSON, 80 U. S. 654 (1871)

U.S. Supreme Court

Osborn v. Nicholson, 80 U.S. 13 Wall. 654 654 (1871)

Osborn v. Nicholson

80 U.S. (13 Wall.) 654


A person in Arkansas, one of the late slave-holding states, for a valuable consideration, passed in March, 1861, before the rebellion had broken out, sold a negro slave which he then had, warranting "the said negro to be a slave for life, and also warranting the title to him clear and perfect." The Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, made subsequently (A.D. 1865), ordained that "neither slavery nor involuntary servitude . . . shall exist within the United States or any place subject to their jurisdiction." Held that negro slavery having been recognized as lawful at the time when and the place where the contract was made, and the contract

Page 80 U. S. 655

having been one which at the time when it was made could have been enforced in the courts of every state of the Union and in the courts of every civilized country elsewhere, the right to sue upon it was not to be considered as taken away by the Thirteenth Amendment above quoted, and passed only after rights under the contract had become vested, destruction of vested rights by implication never being to be presumed.

The case was argued on both sides interestingly and with ability and learning.

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