smiled as he answered, ‘You don't know Mr. Hopper
as well as we do’
A lawyer was procured for Ben; but Mr. Butler
chose to manage his own cause.
He maintained that he was only a sojourner in Pennsylvania
; that Ben had never resided six months at any one time in that State, except while he was a member of Congress; and in that case, the law allowed him to keep his slave in Pennsylvania
as long as he pleased.
The case was deemed an important one, and was twice adjourned for further investigation.
In the course of the argument, Mr. Butler
admitted that he returned from Congress to Philadelphia
, with Ben, on the second of January, 1804, and had remained there with him until the writ of habeas corpus
was served, on the third of August, the same year.
The lawyers gave it as their opinion that Ben's legal right to freedom was too plain to admit of any doubt.
They said the law to which Mr. Butler
had alluded was made for the convenience of Southern gentlemen, who might need the attendance of their personal slaves, when Congress met in Philadelphia
; but since the seat of government was removed, it by no means authorized members to come into Pennsylvania
with their slaves, and keep them there as long as they chose.
After much debate, the judge gave an order discharging Ben from all restraint, and he walked off rejoicing.