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14 Tul. L. Rev. 384 (1939-1940)
Law of Slaves--A Comparative Study of the Roman and Louisiana Systems

handle is hein.journals/tulr14 and id is 424 raw text is: THE LAW OF SLAVES-A COMPARATIVE STUDY
OF THE ROMAN AND LOUISIANA SYSTEMS
LEoNARD OPPENHEIM-
An historical treatment of the law pertaining to the peculiar
institution of slavery which prevailed in Louisiana until the time
of the Civil War has long been neglected. It is the purpose of
this article to survey the peculiar institution as it existed in
Louisiana, to discuss its background and to reveal its residual
effects in the law today.
Louisiana, unlike the other states where slavery existed, had a
Romanist background for its law, and had, both by code and by
statute, a comprehensive system which dealt with the rights,
duties and interrelationships of slaves and their masters. While
Roman law was not the only source of slave law in Louisiana, it
did constitute a fruitful source from which could be drawn many
of the concepts which were adopted. Hence, as a necessary start-
ing point, it is advisable to study the slave law as it existed in
Rome.
ROMAN LAW
In early Rome the number of slaves was small and their position
relatively unimportant. With the growth of the commerce and
material wealth of the late Republic and early Empire, however,
the importance of slaves became more pronounced.' Slave trade,
though a somewhat discredited business, flourished because of the
booming market for the product that was handled. Multitudinous
uses were found for the slaves, for many of them were highly
intelligent and capable beings. They not only engaged in menial
domestic and agricultural labors but were teachers, architects,
traders, and even bankers and philosophers. Indeed, as Buckland
points out,2 public slaves employed in the public service were in
some cases socially superior to the lower class of freemen. With
this in mind, it is not difficult to see how in the late Empire
slaves were regarded more as human beings with great incapaci-
ties than as chattels in dominium.' Such a radical change, how-
fResearch Associate in Law, College of Law, Tulane University; for-
merly member of the Student Board of Editors, Tuldne Law Review.
'Buckland, A Manual of Roman Private Law (1928) 37, § 14.
21bid.
3But the definition admits of being understood as meaning that a
slave is always owned, and as in this sense it is not correct, moderns

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