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and improved in 1810, and it was then ordained," that the importation of slaves, except by the owner, coming into the state for a residence short of nine months, should be absolutely prohibited, and every slave imported contrary to the act was declared free. All contracts for personal service, by any person held or possessed as a slave, out of this state, were declared to be void; and to entitle a person to claim the services of a person born of a slave, after the 4th of July, 1799, he must have used all reasonable means to teach the child to read, or, in default, the child would be released from servitude after the age of twenty
These provisions were all incorporated into the act of the 9th of April, 113, which contained a digest of the existing laws on the subject of slavery. Under the operation of those provisions, slavery very rapidly diminished, and appearances indicated, that, in the course of the present generation, it would be totally extinguished. Those that were slaves on the 4th of July, 1799, and not manumitted, were the only persons that were slaves for life, except those that were imported prior to the 1st of May, 1810, and remained with their former owners unsold. No slave imported since the 1st of June, 1785, could be sold; and no slave imported since the 1st of May, 1810, could be held as a slave; and no person born within this state since the 4th of July, 1799, was born a slave. At last, by the act of 31st of March, 1817,6 which digested anew all the former laws on the subject, provision was made for the complete annihilation of slavery in about ten years thereafter, by the section which declared, "that every negro, mulatto, or mustee, within, this state, born before the 4th of July, 1799, should, from and after the 4th day of July, 1827, be free." After the arrival of that period, domestic slavery may be considered as extinguished in this state, and unknown to
a Act of 30th of March, 1810, ch. 115. b Laws of N. Y. sess. 40. ch. 137.
our law, except in the case of slaves brought here by per sons as travellers, and who do not reside, or continue in this state, more than nine months." But though slavery be practically abolished, the amended constitution of 1821, art. 2, placed people of colour, who were the former victims of the slave laws, under permanent disabilities as electors, by requiring a special qualification as to property, and pes culiar to their case, to entitle them to vote.
II. Of hired Servants.
The next class of servants which I mentioned, are hired servants, and this relation of master and servant rests altogether upon contract. The onc is bound to render the ser< vice, and the other to pay the stipulated consideration.
There are many important legal consequences which flow from this relation of master and servant.
The master is bound by the act of his servant, either in respect to contracts or injuries, when the act is done by authority of the master. If the servant does an injury fraudulently, while in the immediate employment of his master, the master, as well as the servant, is liable in damages; and he is also liable if the injury proceeds from negligence, or want of skill in the servant, for it is the duty of the master to employ servants who are honest, skilful, and careful. But the master is only answerable for the fraud of his servant, while he is acting in his business, and not for fraudulent or tortious acts, or misconduct in those things which do not concern his duty to his master, and which, when he commits, he steps out of the course of the service.c It was considered, in M'Manus v. Crickett,d to be a question of
a Act supra, s. 15., and act sess. 42. ch. 141. s. 3.
b 1 Blacks. Com. 431. Dy. 161. pl. 45. Ibid. 238. b. pl. 28. Grammer v. Nixon, Str. 653. Sly v. Edgley, 6 Esp. N. P. Cas. 6.
c Lord Kenyon, in Ellis v. Turner, 8 Term Rep. 533. Parker, Ch. J in Foster v. The Essex Bank, 17 Mass. Rep. 508-510.
great concern, apd of much doubt and uncertainty, whether the master was answerable in damages for an injury wilfully committed by his servant, while in the performance of his master's business, but without the direction or assent of the master. The Court of K. B. went into an examination of all the authorities, and, after much discussion, and great consideration, with a view to put the question at rest, it was decided, that the master was not liable in trespass for the wilful act of his servant, in driving his master's carriage against another, without his master's direction or assent. The court considered, that when the servant quitted sight of the object for which he was employed, and without having in view his master's orders, pursued the object which his own malice suggested, he no longer acted in pursuance of the authority given him, and it was deemed, so far, a wilful abandonment of his master's business. This case has received the sanction of the Supreme Court of Massachusetts, on the ground, that there was no authority from the master, express or implied, and the servant, in that act, was not in the employment of his master.
If a servant employs another servant to do his business, and in doing it, the servant so employed is guilty of an injury, the master is liable. Thus, in Bush v. Steinman, A. contracted with B. to repair a house, and B. contracted with C. to do the work, and C. contracted with D. to furnish the materials; and the servant of D. brought a quantity of lime to the house, and placed it in the road, by which the plaintiff's carriage was overturned; it was held, that A. was answerable for the damage, on the ground, that all the subcontracting parties were in the employment of A. But to render this principle applicable, the nature of the business must be such as to require the agency of subordinate, persons, and then there is an implied authority to employ such persons.
a 17 Mass. Rep. 508-510. Croft v. Alison, 4 B. & Ald. 590. S. P.
b 1 Bos. & Pul. 404.
It is said, that the master may give moderate corporal correction to his servant, while employed in his service, for negligence or misbehaviour. But this power does not grow out of the contract of hiring; and Doctor Taylorb justly questions its lawfulness, for it is not agreeable to the genius and spirit of the contract. It may safely be confined to apprentices and menial servants, while under age, for then the master is to be considered as standing in loco parentis. It is likewise understood, that a servant may justify a battery in the necessary defence of his master. books do not admit of a doubt on this point; but it is questioned whether the master can in like manner justify a battery in defence of his servant. In the case of Leward v. Basely, it was adjudged that he could not, because he had his remedy for his part of the injury by the action per quod servitium amisit. It is, however, hesitatingly admitted in Hawkins, and explicitly by other authorities, that he may, and the weight of argument is on that side.d
III. Of Apprentices.
Another class of servants are apprentices, who are bound to service for a term of years, to learn some profession or trade. The temptations to imposition and abuse to which this contract is liable, have rendered legislative regulations particularly necessary.
It is declared, that no apprentice or journeyman shall be laid under restrictions as to the exercise of his trade or calling, after his term of service has expired. Infants may be bound by indenture of their own free will, and by their own act, and with the consent of their father, mother, or guardian, or testamentary executors; or by the overseers of the poor, or two justices, or a judge, as the case
a 1 Blacks. Com. 428. 1 Hawk. P. C. b. 1. ch. 29. sect. 5. b. 1. ch. 60, sect. 23.
b Elements of the Civil Law, 413.
c 1 Ld. Raym. 62. 1 Salk. 407.
d 2 Rol. Abr. 546. D. 1 Blacks. Com. 429. 1 Hawk. P. C. b. 1. c. 60. sect. 23, 24. Reeve's Domestic Relations, p. 378.
e L. N. Y. act of Feb. 1810, ch. 11.
may be, to a term of service, during infancy. In all indentures, by the officers of the city or town, binding poor children as apprentices or servants, a covenant must be inserted to teach the apprentice to read and write, and the overseers of the poor are constituted the guardians of every such indented servant. The age of the infant must be inserted in the indenture, and the consent of the father or guardian must be signified in the indenture, and by their signing and sealing the same. For refusal to serve and work, infants are liable to be imprisoned in gaol, until they shall be willing to serve as such apprentice or servant ; and also to serve double the time they had wrongfully withdrawn themselves from service. Infants coming from beyond sea, may bind themselves to service, until the age of twenty-one, and even until the age of twenty-four, provided it be to raise money for the payment of their passage, and the whole term of such service does not exceed four years. Grievances of the apprentice or servant, arising from ill usage on the part of the master, are to be redressed in the general sessions of the peace, or by any three justices of the peace, who have power to annul the contract, and discharge the apprentice, or imprison him, if he should be in the wrong.
The statute of this state, (of which I have here given the material provisions,) contains the substance of the English statute law on the subject, and the English decisions are applicable. Under our statute, the infant himself must be a party to the indenture, except in the special case of an apprentice who is chargeable as a pauper. The father has no authority under the statute, (and the latter English cases say, he has no authority, even at common law,) to bind his infant gon an apprentice, without his assent; and the infant cannot be bound by an act merely in pais, and if he be not a party to the deed, he is not bound." The English statute law as to
a The King v. Inhabitants of Cromford, 8 East, 25. The King v. Inhabitants of Arnesby, 3 Barn. & Ald. 584. In the matter of M'Dowles, B Johns. Rep. 328.