The hirer owed the full amount when a slave became disabled during the term of the contract, unless the agreement had specified otherwise.
Facts of the Case
A healthy slave was hired for one year, but three months into the term suffered an accidental injury which rendered him useless as a laborer. The Circuit Court charged the jury that the hirer was bound to pay the full amount, unless the contract had stipulated otherwise.
The Court's Decision
Judge Henry Minor wrote the decision of the Alabama Supreme Court. He compared the case to actions on contracts for the rent of houses. In the latter instance, it had been uniformly held that the tenant owed the full amount if the house was destroyed by fire. So too with hired slaves who were injured, disabled by sickness, or ran away: the hirer bore the loss. The tenant or hirer was considered the purchaser for a limited time and subject to the same risks as if he was purchaser in fee simple. Judge Minor saw no reason to disturb "these settled principles."
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