HARRIS V. MAURY, 30 ALABAMA 679 (1857)

Headnotes

If two slaves were hired for one gross sum, the fulfillment of the entire contract was a requirement for its enforcement.

The hirer of a slave had an implied right to rehire the slave in the absence of a stipulation to the contrary.

If the owner took possession of a hired slave without legal cause and refused to return him on demand, the contract was broken and the owner could recover nothing.

Facts of the Case
Maury hired Gabe and Mary from Harris for the year 1852 with one promissory note for $175. Maury then rehired the slaves to Allison, but Gabe ran away and returned to his owner. Harris refused to return Gabe to either Maury or Allison. In Sumter County Circuit Court, the judge charged the jury to rule in Maury's favor if they believed the evidence.
The Court's Decision
Chief Justice Samuel F. Rice wrote the opinion for the Alabama Supreme Court. He ruled that Maury had a right to rehire Gabe and Mary to Allision; that Harris had broken the contract when the refused to return Gabe; and that Maury owned Harris nothing for the hire of either Gabe or Mary.




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