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takes to satisfy the inquiries of justice, must do so entirely and unfeignedly, if he would avoid the palpable suspicion of interested suppression; still less can I comprehend how he, who has sworn to depose all that he knows, can feel himself justified in withholding a part. Any further observation, how. ever, must be unnecessary upon an argument which is so wholly rebutted by every rational and received rule of evidence.
Again, it has been urged that Mr. Delaunay is a man unacquainted with judicial proceedings, and that some irregularities on his part in matters of this sort may be overlooked. Setting aside all that his oath required, passing over the solemn warning of the officer who administered that oath, and supposing that a defect of form is the utmost fault which can be imputed to him, I must at least observe that he is a man of the most methodical irregularity I ever knew; because it so happens, that he withholds his information precisely upon those points which are most material. He is ready enough to speak of the voyage from Philadelphia to Havanna; but as to any thing which happened prior to the last departure from Philadelphia, which was the important point to be ascertained, he refused to depose. Where a conscientious witness has erred upon matter of form, the court would never be disposed to press a mere omission or irregularity against him; but it must be perfectly obvious how little this gentleman has intitled himself to such excuse.
What then, upon the whole, is the effect of Mr. Delaunay's testimony? I have no hesitation in pronouncing, that it is completely confirmatory of the history made out by the testimony of the two preceding witnesses, and with this serious addition, that the penalties of the transaction were well known to the parties concerned in it, and that this gentleman was from beginning to end employed by them to avoid those penalties, by means of fraud and concealment, to his own as well as their advantage.
It has been argued for Mr. Delaunay, that if he had answered those interrogatories fully, he could not have stated any thing to the prejudice of the claims. When we reflect upon
what we have heard from the other witnesses, and upon what even Mr. Delaunay himself has admitted upon those interrogatories which he did please to answer, I should not claim much credit for penetration, if I were to form a conjecture as to what his answers would have amounted to, if they had been explicit; but I forbear to enter upon an inquiry which is, in no degree, imposed upon the Court. This gentleman, by his improper conduct, compels me to presume every thing against him, and has deprived himself of the benefit of those lenient constructions (even ifany lenity of construction could be strained to serve him) which it is the practice and the pleasure of the Court to apply to persons of ingenuous conduct. I must rather observe as to him, what was eloquently said upon another occasion," a pertinacious refusal to submit to fair inquiry must incur all the penalties of convicted guilt."
Having drawn this result from the examinations, the documentary evidence becomes of less moment. In a case of this nature, it could scarcely be expected but that some colour of fairness should be given to the formal documents. And yet even among those there is nothing contradictory to the oral testimuny.
As to the ship, there are the formal papers in proof of the property of Mr. Mann; but they are of a most recent date, being in fact no older than the present voyage from Philadelphia. This circumstance combined with the testimony, as to the commencement of the transaction, the change of name, and of captain and crew, the landing and reshipment, leads to no other conclusion than that this change of property was effected for some colourable purpose; and it is equally evident that this purpose was to suppress the former history of the vessel, and to stamp her with new credentials for the present occasion.
As to the cargo, there are bills of lading and invoices in proof of the property of Messrs. Foussatt and Mann and Mr. Delaunay, but the articles themselves which they enumerate, bespeak French produce or manufacture, as we have before learned was the fact from some of the witnesses. That the
articles in Mr. Delaunay's invoice came from France, is further evident from the calculation of prices in francs, which is an ideal denomination of money familiar in French mercantile computation. This is not indeed the case with Mr. Foussatt's invoice, but in that many articles are of a similar nature, and the marks almost indiscriminately the same with Mr. Delaunay's. The articles too, of both invoices are wholly included in the certificate for obtaining the drawback, a paper which, it was justly observed, bespoke a mere entry at Philadelphia for exportation. I cannot but conclude from all these circumstances, that the whole of these articles came from France, and in this vessel.
A question has been made, how far the misconduct of Mr. Delaunay, even if penal as to himself, could affect the property of other persons committed to his charge. I cannot but agree with the captor's advocate in holding this gentleman to be no ordinary supercargo, but one in whom the most unbounded confidence and power have been placed. His employers must therefore be bound by that very general rule of admiralty law, which holds the principal to be affected by the acts of his agents. There are cases, indeed, of wilful and unauthorized conduct in the agent, where that rule may seem to be harsh; but no such argument arises in the present case, where the whole plot appears to have been projected by and known to the employers themselves, as well as their deputed agents.
I beg to be understood as applying these observations, more especially to Messrs. Foussatt and Mann, who are the owners of the ship, and the former, together with Mr. Delaunay, the principal proprietor of the cargo.
There are, however, three smaller shipments claimed on behalf of Mr. Dabadie, Mr. Duval and Messrs. Warder and Sons, as to which considerations of a different nature may be applied.
The chief article, in the shipments of both Dabadie and Duval, are ribbons and satins, articles which are most probably of French produce and manufacture; but that circumstance alone is not enough to affect them. It is not improbable but that
they had been previously imported, bona fide, into America. Certain it is that they were not included in the certificate of drawback; so that there is no evidence, prima facie, of their having been entered for exportation. There is no evidence that they were brought from France in this ship; and it appears by the depositions that articles were on board, besides those which were brought from Marseilles.
If these articles were of that description, and these persons had no connexion with Mr. Delaunay previous to the voyage from Philadelphia, I should hold it rather too severe an application of the rule of responsibility by a principal for the acts of his agent to call them participes criminis with Mr. Delaunay, in respect of his concerns throughout the whole of this transaction. On the other hand, considering the general conduct of Mr. Delaunay, I think it would be too much to decree immediate restitution of the property committed to his charge, as to which any possibility of doubt can exist. But I shall allow these gentlemen an opportunity of showing, if they can, by further proof, that they have not been implicated in any of the improper and illegal conduct which I have found it necessary to animadvert upon, in respect to the ship and general cargo.
The only remaining shipment is that of Messrs. John Warder and Sons, which stands entirely free of all objection. The sole article in their invoice is lard, amounting in value to about 3000 dollars. This is an article which bespeaks itself to beof American origin. It is consigned to a merchant at Havanna, having nothing to do with the other parties to this transaction; and the shipper himself is equally free from any such connexion.
This shipment, therefore, becomes a very fit subject for immediate restitution; but the ship, together with the property of Mr. Delaunay and his employers, I feel that it is my duty at once to condemn.
BY THE HONOURABLE
Judge Wilds of South-Carolina.
Through the politeness of a gentleman of the bar, on whose accuracy we rely, we have been favoured with the following impressive and eloquent sentence, passed on the inhuman SLATER, by Judge Wilds; which we have pleasure in communicating to the public, as doing no less honour to his head, as a sound and able Judge, than to his heart, as a virtuous and humane man.
JOHN SLATER! You have been convicted by a jury of
your country, of the wilful murder of your own slave; and I am sorry to say, the short, impressive, uncontradicted testimony, on which that conviction was founded, leaves but too little room to doubt its impropriety.
The annals of human depravity might be safely challenged for a parallel to this unfeeling, bloody and diabolical transaction.
You caused your unoffending, unresisting slave to be bound hand and foot, and by a refinement in cruelty, compelled his companion, perhaps the friend of his heart, to chop his head with an ax, and to cast his body, yet convulsing with the agonies of death, into the water! And this deed you dared to perpetrate in the very harbour of Charleston, within a few yards of the shore, unblushingly in the face of open day. Had your murderous arm been raised against your equals, whom the laws of self-defence, and the more efficacious law of the land unite to protect, your crimes would not have been without precedent, and would have seemed less horrid. Your personal risk would at least have proved, that though a murderer you were not a coward. But you too well knew that this unfortunate man, whom chance had subjected to your caprice, had not, like yourself, chartered to him by the laws of the land, the