Samuel Spencer (c. 1734 – 1794) Homesite and Cemetery

Traveling back from the beach this weekend, I forced my wife and dog to endure something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, which is to find, and then visit, the homesite and resting place for one of my favorite deceased North Carolinians, Judge Samuel Spencer. I’m going to post some seemingly inane photographs, because the site is harder to find than it should be, especially if you’re expecting it to just be off the highway.  If you ever find yourself driving westbound on I-74 outside of Lilesville, in Anson County, you may notice this sign:

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I’ll explain more below.

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Scalia v. Breyer and William Wirt

The Supreme Court issued its opinion today in National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning, a case primarily centered on (a) when recess appointments can be made by the President, and (b) whether or not the vacancy needed to occur before or after Senate went into recess.  Just as a refresher, Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution says that “the President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.”  So, in an opinion of the sort that causes non-lawyers to hate lawyers, Justice Breyer discusses the meaning of the words “the” and “during”…over the course of 41 pages.

The good news though, is that this opinion cites a great deal of historical research.  In reading the opinion, I don’t think I’ve seen this much evidence of pure history footwork since Boumediene v. Bush (2006) or District of Columbia v. Heller (2008).  Somewhere, some history Ph.D.’s have earned their keep for the past few years by pawing through the nation’s archives for this case.

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“Book Debt”, Early American Law, and Slavery

In doing some research today on actions on account, I managed to run across a fairly musty case, Mitchell v. Clarke, 3 N.C. 13, 1 Martin 25 (Superior Court, 1791).  I figured it might be interesting to explore the case a little further, give it some context, and see where this goes; I present the text below, with my discussion after the jump:

“Motion by Iredell for plaintiff to prove work and labor done, not by the plaintiff himself, but by negroes which he employed: and goods &c. sold and delivered for the use of the defendant, by sundry persons and paid for by the plaintiff, under the book debt act.

Objected by Mr. Attorney General Moore, that this is neither within the spirit nor letter of the act, because the work was not done by the plaintiff himself, &c.

But, on a long time taken up in discussing the subject, the court overruled the objection, and admitted the plaintiff to swear.”

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