Though the Heavens May Fall

Though the Heavens May Fall

The Landmark Trial That Led to the End of Human Slavery

Book - 2005
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The 1772 London trial of James Somerset, rescued from a ship bound for the West Indies slave markets, was a decisive turning point in history. As in the Scopes trial, two encompassing world views clashed in an event of passionate drama. Steven M. Wise, trial lawyer and legal historian, has uncovered layer upon layer of fascinating revelations in a case which threatened, according to slave owners, to bring the economy of the British Empire to a crashing halt. In a gripping narrative of Somerset's trial-and of the slave trials that led up to it-he sets the stage for the unexpected decision by the famously conservative judge, Lord Mansfield, which would lead to the abolition of slavery, both in England and the United States, and the end of the African slave trade.The characters in this great historical moment go beyond a screenwriter's dream: Somerset's novice attorneys arguing their first case; the fervent British abolitionist Granville Sharp, a cross between Ralph Nader and WilliamLloyd Garrison, who had brought case after case to court in an attempt to abolish slavery; the master's two-faced and skillful lawyer, who had recently argued before Mansfield that slavery could not exist in England; and finally, the greatest judge of his time, Lord Mansfield, whose own mulatto grand-niece, Dido Belle, was his slave.As the case drew to a close Lord Mansfield spoke these stirring words that continue to resound more than two centuries later: "Let Justice be done, though the Heavens may fall."A Merloyd Lawrence Book
Publisher: Cambridge, Mass. : Da Capo Press, 2005.
ISBN: 9780738206950
Branch Call Number: 342.42087 W813
Characteristics: xvi, 282 p. : ports.

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Jan 09, 2014

This is a fascinating topic, but the language was too legalistic for me. If you know what habeas corpus means, you'd probably understand this book better than I did. I gave up quite early on.

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