“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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