17 August 2014

Jacob v. The State

He [Return Jonathan Meigs] was a thoroughly trained lawyer, not only in the common law of England and the practice in Tennessee courts...as applicable to this country.  He was regarded as a great advocate, and specially distinguished himself in defense of the negro slave Jake Bradford, who was indicted for killing his master. [Source]


The story of Jake Bradford was found in the New York Times via a book entitled Runaway Slaves, Rebels on the Plantation, By John Hope Franklin and Loren Schweninger: 

"On 17 August 1840, the day of a great Whig political convention in Nashville, Tennessee, Jake, a slave owned by an old and respected farmer, Robert Bradford, refused to go to work. Like other blacks in the neighborhood, he wanted to go to the convention, listen to the speeches, and attend the celebrations. The overseer informed Bradford that Jake was "in an ugly mood" and asked him what to do. Bradford said he would speak with Jake and see if he could calm him down. Bradford was unable to placate the black man and ordered his overseer to tie him up for a whipping. Jake quickly drew a knife. "Whether he aimed to cut the rope or the Overseer no one knew," a Nashville slave recalled, "but he made a wild thrust which killed Mr. Bradford on the spot."'

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