Mary Charlotte, a woman of color v. Gabriel S. Chouteau
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There can be no reasonable doubt, that the proclamation
and commissions, above referred to, plainly express the
will of the KingKing for the substitution in the colony of the law
of EnglandEngland for the law and usages which prevailed in the
French time. That the law of EnglandEngland did so prevail, unmistakeably
at least within the apprehension of the Chief
law-Officer of the Crown in CanadaCanada, appears from the draught
of the Report prepared by Mr. (afterwards Baron) Masers, Attorney
General for the Province, for submission by the Governor General and Council of the Province to the KingKing , in 1769, in which,
observing upon the effect of the capitulation, it is remarked
âby which (namely, the 42nd article, and General Amherst's
answer thereto,) it should seem, that these Your Majesty's
new subjects in this Province were put upon the same footing
as Your Majesty's other subjects in other parts of Your
Majesty's British dominions with respect to the laws by
which they were to be governed, and the power of legislation
that was to be exercised over them for the time to come; and
that the continuance or abolition of their former laws and
customs was to depend entirely upon the future counsels
which Your Majesty, in your royal wisdom, should
find it expedient to pursue.â (Maseres' Collection of
Commissions &ca, LondonLondon 1772, ) As mere matter of
fact, the English laws
[ was ] the prevailing and
recognised law of the
colony, and, on that very
account, became obnoxious
to the strong representations
against its continuance made by the French
colonists to the Government
at home for its removal,
and the restoration of
the old French system.
WW Badgley BadgleyW Badgley
Charles Terroux

It is manifest, from these citations and references, that the
law of EnglandEngland became the measure of Justice, and of the
personal and public rights of every class of the inhabitants of
the province: that the negroes and PanisPanis , with the other
resident colorists, by their submision to those laws, became
liable to all their penalties, and consequently, had a right
to all their privileges and protection.

If in fact the status of slavery ever had legal existence in
the Colony, it became absolutely abolished by contact with the
laws of England. A similar question of the status of individuals in the Colony, as to the enjoyment of civil rights,

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arose in a case in 1835, in which it was held, in effect, by
the Vice Chancellor of EnglandEngland, giving the Judgment of the
Privy Council in appeal from the Colony, that the status of
the party must be decided by the public law, the law of
EnglandEngland: and that being settled, the municipal law then
applied itself to the rights or property in contest. The Vice
Chancellor in the course of his judgment observed: the cession
of the Country to EnglandEngland of course varied the law of the country
in respect of the Sovereign:: when the King of England became
King of Canada, the natives of CanadaCanada became his subjects.
CanadaCanada became part of his dominions, subject to be governed
by its local laws. By the change of Sovereignty it happened,
that the law of EnglandEngland, and not the law of FranceFrance or French
CanadaCanada, would, of necessity, determine the question. (3 Knapp's
P. C. Rep. Donegani v Donegani.)

The status of slavery, must, therefore, be settled by the
law of EnglandEngland; but that law does not, in principle, recognise
the existence of slavery, except as the creature of municipal
laws; holding, that slavery is not a natural, but a municipal
relation, an institution confined to certain places, and
that a mere change from a place of contrary custom is sufficient
by that law to secure freedom. These principles were
established, after great argument, in the case of the VirginiaVirginia
negro Somerset against his master StewartStewart , in which the
Court of King's Bench, Lord MansfieldMansfield presiding, distinctly
and expressly recognized the principle, that the
status of slavery was a municipal relation; an institution,
therefore, confined to certain places, and necessarily
dropped in a Country where such municipal relation
did not subsist. (1 Lofft's Rep: & 20 state trials.)

Coleridge, in a note to 1 H: Com: p. 124, remarks upon
the case, âthe principle of decision is, that slavery is not a
state recognized by the law of nature generally, or by the
[ law ]