Winter for Purehearts


The worst judicial opinion ever written issued from Florida on an anonymous day in 1864. The opinion discussed slavery. More accurately, it cherished slavery—lionizing the then extant practice in the way the British sing of the sea. As a legal precedent, it was a dangerous opinion because it was presented as something basic, fundamental and inexorable, something not to be questioned. It was dangerously simple when conveyed to accepting minds in the way a cold knife is dangerous in angered hands. The opinion, Miller v. Gaskins, is a vital study for researchers surveying the lines of human fallacy that in the American past have demarcated those regions of thought where the pretense of law dissolves real legal foundational principles like freedom and justice. Improbably, this article is the first ever to study it.


Civil Rights and Discrimination | Human Rights Law | Law and Society | Legal History

Date of this Version

September 2006