The decisions of the Texas Supreme Court from 1847 to 1856
During the period of rising sectional tensions, Texas remained judicially liberal while other southern states grew increasingly conservative in order to defend the institution of slavery. Sensitivity waxed and waned during the first half of the nineteenth century concerning a master‟s right to manumit his slaves. Concern for the security of the southern slave institution generated this volatility. To white southerners, security was threatened by Northern ambivalence toward slavery and threat of a Nat Turner-like slave rebellion. Such fears manifested themselves in legislation which, working alongside but separate from the courts, affected the supreme court rulings of those states. Texas, starting as a slave Republic, met statehood with the same will to protect slavery in order to aid immigration to their state. However, despite legislation similar to other southern states, the Texas Supreme Court ruled in a unique manner on cases concerning manumission. The Texas Supreme Court cases—Jones v. Laney, Guess v. Lubbock, Purvis v. Sherrod, and Moore v. Minerva—present a court which remained distinctly liberal despite rising sectional tension and even when faced with issues such as interstate comity, the right of a slave to own property, and well-established conservative precedent.
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