Judge Albert Rosenblatt Discusses “The Eight: the Lemmon Slave Case and the Fight for Freedom”
The Lemmon Slave Case of 1852 was a groundbreaking case dealing with establishing the right of personhood for slaves. The case and its impact on the issue of slavery is the subject of the book “The Eight: The Lemmon Slave Case and the Fight for Freedom” by Judge Albert Rosenblatt. Miranda Warnings host David Miranda sat down with the former Associate Judge of the Court of Appeals to discuss the case in a new episode of the Miranda Warnings podcast.
Rosenblatt was inspired to learn more about the case while he was serving on the New York State Court of Appeals from 1999-2007. The retired judge, who teaches at NYU School of Law, said reading the case was not an easy task.
“In today’s writing we value and emphasize clarity,” he said “The writing in those days was much more prosaic and more difficult to get through with phrases upon phrases in the syntax, but I did get through it.”
The case started when the Lemmon family decided to move from their home in Virginia to Texas and had to switch ships in New York. On the ship from traveling to New York, the eight slaves are met in steerage by a free man named Nathan Lobam who asks if they want to be free. What happens next is a quick moving effort by New York abolitionists to persuade a judge to sign a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of the slaves.
Judge Rosenblatt was struck by the sheer humanity of the case.
“This case is not a mere legal abstraction, but it’s about people,” he said. “It’s about their quest to become people from their former status of inanimate chattel that could be traded, sold, mortgaged, bartered or inherited.”
Listen here for the full discussion in the latest episode of Miranda Warnings.