Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-x

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Introduction

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pp. 1-11

In September 1822, Elizabeth Haines, a widow, rented a slave. The lease was for a term of just under four years and cost the widow sixty dollars. As a result of the lease, a woman named Minna or Minner, whose last name was never given, left the household of her owner, Henry Force, to live with Mrs. Haines in Elizabethtown, one township over and about eight miles away.1

At the time, the lease of a slave was a routine legal transaction. Like other rentals, it did not require an explanation. It is thus not surprising that...

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Chapter One. A Mere Voluntary Courtesy

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pp. 12-37

Gabriel Ford wrote the opinion for the court in Force v. Haines. It appears, though, that only one other justice, John Moore White, signed on to his opinion. A well known survey of New Jersey’s judges characterized Ford as an “unreliable” judge. Still, he had once been a successful New Jersey lawyer, not solely because he came from one of the leading families in Morris County. Unlike his older brother, Timothy, who became a prominent South Carolina attorney, Gabriel Ford remained in Morris County, where he cared for the family house and estate, and practiced law until he...

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Chapter Two. Practicing Gradual Emancipation

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pp. 38-86

What do we know about our central characters—about Minna and the litigants, Henry Force and Elizabeth Haines? In particular, what do we know about them as participants in New Jersey’s legal regime of slavery and emancipation?

Elizabeth Haines lived in Elizabethtown; Henry Force lived about eight miles away, along the Rahway River at the border between Woodbridge and Rahway. Elizabeth Haines had once lived in Rahway as well. It is at least possible that Elizabeth Williams (her maiden name) and Henry Force had...

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Chapter Three. Who Is Enslaved?

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pp. 87-134

There once was a house on the beach at Long Branch. A reporter described it as wonderfully situated, “grand and majestic...on the margin of the ocean, about ten miles south from...Sandy-Hook.” Unlike the bays and marshes that “indented” most of the coast, here, “along the Jersey shore,...the ocean boldly approaches.” And here, “the temperate breezes from the sea contribute equally to destroy the influence of the chilling blasts of winter and allay the fervent heat of summer.” The reporter imagined a fully formed vacation business. “Strangers of delicate health, or those bent on...

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Chapter Four. Inferences and Speculations

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pp. 135-150

Once again: On September 2, 1822, Elizabeth Haines of Elizabethtown, New Jersey, rented a slave from Henry Force. Force lived about eight miles away, in Woodbridge, along the Rahway River. Haines paid sixty dollars for the “services” of Minna. The lease was supposed to continue until June 19, 1826, when Minna turned thirty-three. At that time, Minna was to be returned to Force—at least according to William Pennington, the powerful lawyer who represented Haines when the case went to trial in 1836.

Part of the freedom that came with being a white person in New Jersey...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 151-154

I first came across Force v. Haines more than a decade ago, as a citation in cases where late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century judges and lawyers argued over compensation for elder care. I was hooked by that mysterious phrase “a mere voluntary courtesy.” A few years later, when I wanted relief from the stresses that studying elder care raise, I turned temporarily toward the apparently more distant issues of master–slave relations in nineteenthcentury New Jersey (the weird R & R of the legal historian). For one...

Appendix. Maps

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pp. 155-156

Notes

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pp. 157-190

Index

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pp. 191-198