Lives of Judges Infamous as Tools of Tyrants and Instruments of Oppression
Author: John Campbell Baron Campbell
Publisher: The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd.
Category: Biography & Autobiography
Compiled in the midst of the American debates over the extension of slavery into the western territories, Hildreth's decidedly anti-expansionist views were beset by a fundamental historical dilemma. On the one hand "it was... by judicial, far more than by legislative institutions, that among those progenitors of ours private rights and public liberty were guarantied" (11). On the other, judges in England, and by inference those in the United States, were perfectly capable of restricting the expansion of liberty in service to "petty tyrants" be they Stuarts or American slaveholders. Drawing from Campbell's Lives of the Chief Justices and Lives of the Lord Chancellors, Hildreth highlights judges who served the interests of oppression, such as Roger Le Brabancon and Robert Wright. The appendix contains the case of Passmore Williamson, a famed Philadelphia abolitionist and member of the Underground Railroad, who was prosecuted under the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act. Hildreth [1807-1865] was the author of The Slave (1836), Despotism in America (1854) and other popular books on slavery, law and American history.