A newspaper advertisement regarding the route of a steamboat was not conclusive evidence of a contract that a hired slave would work only on that route, but it was evidence that could be considered by the jury.
Facts of the Case
Two brothers named Gilbert owned the steamboat Montezuma, which operated between Mobile and New Orleans. They hired a slave from Myers to work as a deck hand on the boat. On one run, the slave drowned in the Mobile River, near the confluence of the Alabama and Tombigbee, while the Montezuma had detoured upriver to pick up cargo bound for New Orleans. In Mobile County Circuit Court, Myers contended that Gilbert had broken the contract because newspaper advertisements claimed that the boat ran between Mobile and New Orleans and said nothing of detours. The court charged the jury that they could consider the newspaper advertisement, but refused to consider it as conclusive evidence of a contract as Myers had requested.
Before the Alabama Supreme Court, Myers contended that Gilbert had employed the slave in a purpose different from that called for in the contract.
Gilbert replied that the advertisement was not conclusive evidence of a contract. The court had allowed the jury to consider it, although Myers may have never seen it prior to the accident, which was as much as could be asked.
Judge William P. Chilton wrote the decision for the Alabama Supreme Court. He ruled that the Mobile County Circuit Court had been correct in it's charge to the jury regarding the newspaper advertisement, but reversed the decision and remanded the case for other reasons.
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