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Law School Case Brief

Davis v. Evans - 18 Mo. 249 (1853)

Rule:

A master who permits his infant slave to remain with its mother during infancy, free from his control, will not be construed to have abandoned his right; nor will the possession of the mother be such adverse possession as is protected by the statute of limitations; nor will the fact that the master permits the mother to receive the benefit of the child's services, after it becomes old enough to render them, in remuneration for her care during its infancy, operate to his disadvantage.

Facts:

Plaintiff Margaret Davis, a former slave who had been emancipated some years earlier, filed an action under the article of the code of 1849, entitled "Claim and delivery of personal property," to recover possession of her daughter, a girl named Patsey, who, she alleged, was her slave, and wrongfully detained by Blakey & McAfee, the defendants. The defendants answered that Patsey was placed in their possession for safe keeping, and denied that she was the property of the plaintiff. The court found that plaintiff had established no such adverse possession as to vest the title in her as against Evans. Plaintiff appealed.

Issue:

Does the law allow a negro to hold slaves?

Answer:

No.

Conclusion:

The judgment of the trial court was affirmed. The court held that the plaintiff had not established an adverse possession of the slave for five years next preceding the possession of the defendant, and she was not entitled to recover.

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