The Case of Mary Clark, A Woman of Colour

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The Case of Mary Clark, A Woman of Colour
Court Supreme Court of Judicature of the State of Indiana
Citation 1 Blackf. 122 (Ind. 1821)
Date decided 1821


Defendant was a free black woman who voluntarily bound herself to serve the plaintiff as an indentured servant for 20 years. She no longer desires to be the servant of the plaintiff.

Procedural History

Mary was remanded to the custody of Johnston, to which she has appealed.


Whether coercion by specific performance is appropriate for the services of one promising to be an indentured servant.


No, specific performance is not an available remedy.


Judgment reversed.


Covenants of servitude cannot be enforced or coerced by specific performance because doing so would produce a state of degrading and demoralizing servitude which would constitute as a state of absolute slavery.