Search using this query type:

Advanced Search (Items only)


The decisions of Judge William Gaston clearly show an evolution thinking when it came to the thinking regarding slave law. His arguments in primarily State vs. Will and State vs. Jarrot show an attempt to improve the legal footing of slaves as well as a softening of the limitless power of the master. While justices like Thomas Ruffin represented the paradigm of slave law and maintained a harsher, more broad-based approach to slave and freedmen issues, Gaston tried to establish terms and conditions where the master's will and actions are limited in certain situations. These early cases set precedents for later conclusions that were instrumental in changing the policy towards slaves and freedmen. The arguments within the cases of State v Caesar and more importantly Dred Scott v Sandford both cite in their conclusions the cases of Gaston. As a result, Gaston was instrumental in changing the attitudes towards the laws and feelings regarding slavery.