The Lemmon Slave Case

VIDEO

The Lemmon Case: 1852-1860 — A Prelude to the Civil War

The film deals with the history of slavery in New York State and the critical role New York courts played in freeing eight enslaved young women and children who sailed into New York harbor with their owners from the South, a ruling that was in direct conflict with the 1857 Supreme Court Dred Scott decision. This film on the New York Lemmon Slave Case and its aftermath is narrated by Mr. James Earl Jones and features an introduction by Chief Judge Janet DiFiore.

Watch the Video

TIMELINE

July 1827

Due to a law passed in 1817, all enslaved people in New York State were freed on July 4, 1827.

September 1850

Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which required enslaved people to be returned to slaveholders, even if the formerly enslaved were in a free state. 

November 1852

In November 1852, the Lemmons traveled into New York State with their slaves. In that same month, Judge Elijah Paine of the Superior Court rules that the enslaved people brought into the State by the Lemmons were free under New York’s laws.

March 1857

The U.S. Supreme Court decides Dred Scott v. Sandford, ruling that Black Americans, free or enslaved, were not citizens and therefore the rights of the Constitution did not apply.

December 1857

The New York Supreme Court affirms Judge Paine’s decision. In New York, the State Supreme Court is an intermediate appellate court. 

March 1860

The New York Court of Appeals affirms the lower court decisions, 5-3, freeing the enslaved people. The Court of Appeals is the highest court in New York State.

April 1861

Virginia secedes from the Union, thus ending the possibility of appealing the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

TRAVELING EXHIBIT PHOTOS

  • Lemmon Slave Case Travelling Exhibit
  • Lemmon Slave Case Travelling Exhibit
  • Lemmon Slave Case Travelling Exhibit

TRAVELING EXHIBIT SCHEDULE

November 1, 2021 › Westchester County Courthouse

November 15, 2021 › New Rochelle Family Court

November 29, 2021 › Putnam County Courthouse

December 13, 2021  ›  Dutchess Family Court

January 10, 2022  ›  Rockland County Courthouse

January 24, 2022  ›  Newburgh City Court

February 7, 2022  ›  Orange County Courthouse

June 13, 2022 › The NYS Judicial Institute

February 22, 2022 › Albany County Courthouse

March 7, 2022 › Rensselaer County Courthouse

March 21, 2022 › Ulster County Family Court

April 4, 2022 › Broome County Family and County Court Building

April 18, 2022 › Madison County Courthouse

May 2, 2022 ›  Cortland County Courthouse

May 16, 2022 ›  Tompkins County Courthouse

May 31, 2022  › Yates County Courthouse

June 27, 2022  ›  Monroe County Hall of Justice

July 11, 2022  ›  Orleans County Courthouse

July 25, 2022  ›  Genesee County Courts Facility

August 8, 2022  ›  Wyoming County Courthouse

August 22, 2022  ›  Allegany County Courthouse

September 6, 2022  ›  Chautauqua County Courthouse

September 12, 2022  ›  Robert H. Jackson Center

September 19, 2022  ›  Cattaraugus County Courthouse – Family Court

October 3, 2022  ›  Erie County Courthouse

October 17, 2022  ›  Niagara County Courthouse

October 31, 2022  ›  Tormey Criminal Courts Building

November 14, 2022  ›  Oneida County Courthouse

November 28, 2022  ›  Herkimer County Office and Court Facility

December 12, 2022  ›  Lewis County Courthouse

January 3, 2023  ›  Jefferson County Court Complex

January 17, 2023  ›  Jefferson County Supreme Court

January 30, 2023  ›  St. Lawrence County Courthouse

February 12, 2023  ›  Clinton County Government Center

February 27, 2023  ›  Essex County Courthouse

March 13, 2023  ›  Warren County Courthouse

March 27, 2023  ›  Nassau County Supreme Court

April 10, 2023  ›  Nassau County Court/Nassau Surrogate’s Court

April 24, 2023  ›  John P. Cohalan, Jr. Court Complex

May 8, 2023  ›  Arthur M. Cromarty Court Complex

May 22, 2023  ›  Hon. Alan D. Oshrin Supreme Court Building

June 5, 2023  ›  Queens Supreme Courthouse

June 20, 2023  ›  Bronx County Courthouse

July 3, 2023  ›  Kings County Supreme Courthouse

July 17, 2023  ›  Staten Island Courthouse

July 31, 2023  ›  New York County Courthouse

Chief Judge Janet DiFiore announced the Lemmon Slave Case Exhibit debut during her biweekly video message.

Watch the Video Here

DIG DEEPER

In an event produced by the New York State Archives Partnership Trust, New York State Archivist Thomas Ruller and Society President Emeritus Hon. Albert M. Rosenblatt had an in-depth discussion about this celebrated case that brought up hard questions about slavery within the United States and challenged the slavery laws between the northern and southern states.

Watch The Lemmon Slave Case: New York’s Battle Against Slavery

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