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Thomas Ruffin’s Public and Private Sentiments Regarding North Carolina Slaves

In remembering the legacy of Supreme Court judge Thomas Ruffin (1783-1870), all too often the legacy of arguably the most influential North Carolina judge is reduced to his legal ruling in State v. Mann (1829). Ruffin’s infamous ruling that “the power of the master must be absolute to render the submission of the slave perfect,” if not analyzed further and read in full context, can distort inner moral quandaries regarding the master-slave relationship this southern judge, businessmen, and slave-owner both privately and publicly admitted. 


Josh Calhoun