Slaves could not be emancipated by will in Alabama.
Facts of the Case
The will of Thomas Welch called for the liberation of four slaves: Flora, John, Julia, and her child. The administrators applied to the legislature to free the slaves, but their petition was denied. By agreement among themselves, the administrators permitted the slaves to go at large. John went to Arkansas. After several years, the administrators divided the other slaves and their descendants.
The Court’s Decision
Judge Edward S. Dargan wrote the Alabama Supreme Court’s opinion. He relied on the court’s earlier decision in Trotter v. Blocker in the portion of his decision that dealt with the emancipation of the slaves through the will of Thomas Welch: "Although the testator expressed a strong desire" that the slaves be liberated, "they were incapable of receiving their liberty by way of a legacy."