June 22, 1772

Somerset Case Decided in London

James Somerset, a runaway slave owned by Charles Steuart, a Scots merchant living in Virginia, is essentially declared a free man by a court led by Lord Mansfield, Chief Justice of King’s Bench, who held that the power claimed by Steuart in trying to capture and return Somerset to slavery "never was in use here." Although the holding was expressly limited to the facts of the case, it gave rise to the broad belief across the British world that slavery was thereby outlawed in England.

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