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The Eight


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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Dramatis Personae

1. Life in Bath County, Virginia

2. From Virginia to New York

3. Rescue

4. At the Courthouse

5. We Wish to Plead Our Own Cause

6. Self-Help for the Slave Owner

7. Fugitives

8. The Court’s Ruling

9. Life, Liberty, or Property

10. The First Appeal

11. High Stakes

12. Privileges and Immunities

13. The Voice of Humanity

14. The Final Ruling


About the Author

Albert M. Rosenblatt teaches at the New York University School of Law and is a retired Judge of New York State Court of Appeals. His previous books include Opening Statements: Law, Jurisprudence, and the Legacy of Dutch New York (coedited with Julia C. Rosenblatt) and Judith S. Kaye in Her Own Words: Reflections on Life and the Law, with Selected Judicial Opinions and Articles (coedited with Judith S. Kaye and Henry M. Greenberg), both published by SUNY Press.


"…a human, humanizing, and timely work." — Hudson River Valley Review

"In his lucid book, unencumbered by legalese, Rosenblatt narrates how, upon reaching New York, abolitionists, Black and white, assisted the eight enslaved people in suing for their freedom. An 1841 New York law granted liberty to any enslaved person brought into the state. Rosenblatt painstakingly charts the successful freedom suit in New York City's Superior Court and ultimately its victory in the New York Court of Appeals." — CHOICE

"The Lemmon affair of the 1850s was New York's Dred Scott case. Raising the question whether eight Black people on a vessel in New York harbor were enslaved or free, the eight-year litigation put the American legal system on a collision course with Civil War. Albert Rosenblatt's lucid and revelatory account of the case brilliantly shows how it threatened to turn every state in the Union into a slave state. Unearthing previously unknown documents, The Eight is the definitive story of this courageous fight—one that is as complete as it is compelling. Historians and lawyers will rely on the book for years to come." — John Fabian Witt, author of Lincoln's Code: The Laws of War in American History

"Albert Rosenblatt's extensive research of the Lemmon Slave Case provides a rare glimpse into the circumstances surrounding the emancipation of eight enslaved individuals. Thanks to Rosenblatt, this history has been brought to life and made more accessible through this thought-provoking book." — Luanne Wills-Merrell, descendant of two of the eight

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