Extraordinary Trial in Kentucky


Escape of a White Woman from Slavery 

We copy the following interesting case from the Maysville (Ky) Eagle of Thursday afternoon: 

One of the most remarkable and interesting cases ever brought before a court of justice was tried and disposed of in Circuit Court last week.  The plaintiff, Ann Goddard, was a handsome young white woman about twenty-one years of age, perfectly white, with long, luxurious and straight hair, graceful and easy in manners, and having all the appearance of an accomplished and well-raised lady.  Her features bore the highest marks of European perfection, and there was not the slightest indication of African blood in her veins. 

She brought suit here fro freedom, alleging that she was been forcibly arrested by officers and lodged in the negro jail of the late James McMillan, under the claim of the defendant, Mary Goddard, that she was a slave, when in truth she was a free white woman. 

The suit was brought nearly two years ago by the Hon. R. H. Stanton and prosecuted by him with the assistance of Hon. W. H. Wadsworth and Judge J. D. Taylor, and defended by the Hon. H. Taylor and T. C. Campbell, Esq.  When the jury was sworn the only testimony relied on by the plaintiff was the exhibition of her own person for their inspection, her counsel claiming that her appearance was prima fascia evidence of her freedom and the presumption thus being raised, of course the burden of proof rested upon the defendant to prove her a slave. An attempt was made by the defendant to prove her the daughter of a mulatto named Matilda by whom the plaintiff had been reared from infancy, but in this they did not succeed, as no witness was produced who was present at the birth of the child. 

The case was argued on both sides and much feeling was manifested in the community on behalf of the plaintiff.  When the Jury brought in their verdict to the effect that she was a “free white woman,” the Judge was compelled to address the audience about the propriety of any demonstrations of applause in a Court of Justice, in order to keep down s universal impulse to show the satisfaction given  by the result. 


from the New York Times, August 27. 1858