Wetmore’s Minutes of the Trial1
Essex Inferior Court, Newburyport, September 1771
Caesar v. Taylor. Trespass for detention in slavery. Plea non cul. Besides the usual proof of liberty, the plaintiff brot witnesses to prove a contract between him and defendant that he shoud be free on payment of a sum of Money and that the money was partly paid and that the Time of payment is not yet expired.
For defendant was read the province Law shewing negroes to be slaves and that they can’t be manumitted without first giving bond,2 which was not done in the present Case &c.
But answerd by Plaintiff that the Province law doth not make any negroes slaves if it did it being contra. to Laws of God and reason must be void. And [. . .] error &c. [about?] in different matters may make [jus] but not in essentials as life liberty &c.
1. Wetmore Notes. Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 184. This document, and those which follow from the Wetmore Notes contain many contractions (here mostly expanded) and little punctuation (here partly supplied). Particular passages may be difficult to interpret, but the sense is clear.