>>> Item number 987, dated 95/01/10 07:26:40 -- ALL
Date: Tue, 10 Jan 1995 07:26:40 -0600 Reply-To: H-Net and ASLH Legal History Discussion list <H-LAW@UICVM.BITNET> Sender: H-Net and ASLH Legal History Discussion list <H-LAW@UICVM.BITNET> From: Chris Waldrep <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Petty treason
From: Chris Suggs <JCSJJ%CUNYVM@UICVM.UIC.EDU>
Could someone comment on "petty treason" for me?
Chris Suggs email@example.com
Moderator's Note: The term came up at the AHA session on domestic violence. The wife of a slave owner testified against her husband and, as a result, authorities executed him. Petty treason.
>>> Item number 991, dated 95/01/10 12:17:06 -- ALL
Date: Tue, 10 Jan 1995 12:17:06 -0600 Reply-To: H-Net and ASLH Legal History Discussion list <H-LAW@UICVM.BITNET> Sender: H-Net and ASLH Legal History Discussion list <H-LAW@UICVM.BITNET> From: Chris Waldrep <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Petty treason
From: M Landon <HSLANDON%UMSVM@UICVM.UIC.EDU>
If by "comment" you mean explain or define, "petty treason" in English law was the murder of a husband by his wife, the murder of a bishop by one of his clergy or the murder of a master by his servant. According to Blackstone, any one who "so forgets the obligations of duty, subjection and allegiance, as to destroy the life of any such his [or her] superior or lord . . . ." is a traitor or traitoress and incurs the penalty for treason--hanging, drawing and quartering for a man,drawing and burning at the stake for a woman. See his COMMENTARIES (1765-69), iv:75, 203.
Dept. of History
Univ. of MS
From: "Stephen Presser" <SBPLAF@nuls.law.nwu.edu>
On "petty treason," in case you haven't gotten the standard definition yet, from Black's (Fifth Edition, page 1345) "Petit treason. In English law, the crime committed by a wife in killing her husband, or a servant his lord or master, or an ecclesiastic his lord or ordinary. 4 Bl. Comm. 75." High treason, of course, is treason against the King or sovereign, petty treason can be committed against a mere subject. Jefferson, in his Notes, indicates that in his revisal of the Virginia laws Petty treason was punished by "Death by Hanging. Dissection. Forfeiture of half the lands and goods to the representatives of the party slain." See Presser and Zainaldin, Law and Jurisprudence in American History 126 (2nd. ed. 1989).
>>> Item number 995, dated 95/01/10 17:44:07 -- ALL
Date: Tue, 10 Jan 1995 17:44:07 -0600 Reply-To: H-Net and ASLH Legal History Discussion list <H-LAW@UICVM.BITNET> Sender: H-Net and ASLH Legal History Discussion list <H-LAW@UICVM.BITNET> From: Chris Waldrep <email@example.com> Subject: Petit Treason
A wife was to her husband as a subject was to a king. Hence, an action against the rule of her husband was petty treason.
Note also that it is my understanding that at first Chesapeake settlers did not have a legal framework within which to place the slaves Dutch traders sold to them -- thus they were at first given the same deal other indentured (contracted) servants were -- 7 years and out. Over a period of decades, culminating in the 1660s, the legal definition of slavery was worked out through various additions to the local codes. Slavery of course was illegal in Britain. The crucial transitions were the legal constraint that slavery be in perpetuitiy -- that is, the child of a slave is a slave (meaning no special category for mulattos) (really sick when you think about it), and the restriction of freedoms of Americans of African heritage so as to make enforcement of slavery easier. Our separation of "white" and "black" into clearly separated boxes is thus the remnant of the legal coding created to enforce slavery. I would like to see it done away with myself.
From: Linda K Kerber <firstname.lastname@example.org>
On the concept of *petit treason*:
traditional reasoning had been that just as regicide is worse than "normal" treason, so the murder of a master by a servant or of a husband by a wife was worse than "normal" murder, and the penalties were harsher. Under the old law of domestic relations [The law of baron and feme, parent and child, master and servant] at marriage the husband became, in effect, the wife's lord, and stood to her as king did to subject. The killing of a wife by her husband, however, remained murder. The concept was not much enforced in early America, but neither was it eliminated from the statutes until the Revolution. *Petit treason* involving the killing of a master by a servant endured in the slave South much longer than in the North.
Linda K. Kerber, Department of History, University of Iowa email@example.com
From: Amy_L_MASCIOLA@umail.umd.edu (am133)
In British criminal law, petty treason refers to murder of a master by a servant, murder of a husband by his wife, and coining. Petty treason implies a crime against ones superior whether it be master, husband, or state (coining), and thus more serious than murder. I am not sure why a slaveowner accused of murdering his slave would be tried and executed for petty treason? One might refer to Blackstone's Commentaries (1774), vol. 4 "On public wrongs" for more details.
University of Maryland, College Park