SKILL, contracts. The art of doing a thing as it ought to be done.
2. Every person who purports to have skill in la business, and undertakes for
hire to perform it, is bound to do it with ordinary skill, and is res-ponsible
civilly in damages for the want of it; 11 M. & W. 483; and sometimes he is
responsible criminally. Vide Mala Praxis; 2 Russ. on Cr. 288,
3. The degree of skill and diligence required, rises in proportion to the
value of the article, and the delicacy of the operation: more skill is required,
for example, to repair a very delicate mathematical instrument, than upon a
common instrument. Jones' Bailm. 91; 2 Kent, Com. 458, 463; 1 Bell's Com. 459; 2
Ld. Raym. 909, 918; Domat, liv. 1, t. 4, §8, n. 1; Poth. Louage, n. 425;
Pardess. n. 528; Ayl. Pand. B. 4, t. 7, p. 466; Ersk. Inst. B. 3, t. 3, §16; 1
Rolle, Ab. 10; Story's Bailm. §431, et seq.; 2 Greenl. Ev. §144.
SLANDER, torts. The defaming a man in his reputation by speaking or
writing words which affect his life, office, or trade, or which tend to his loss
of preferment in marriage or service, or in his inheritance, or which occasion
any other particular damage. Law of Nisi Prius, 3. In England, if slander be
spoken of a peer, or other great man, it is called Scandalum Magnatum. Falsity
and malice are ingredients of slander. Bac. Abr. Slander. Written or printed
slanders are libels; see that word.
2. Here it is proposed to treat of verbal slander only, which may be
considered with reference to, 1st. The nature of the accusation. 2d. The falsity
of the charge. 3d. The mode of publication. 4th. The occasion; and 5th. The
malice or motive of the slander.
3. - §1. Actionable words are of two descriptions; first, those actionable in
themselves, without proof of special damages and, secondly, those actionable
only in respect of some actual consequential damages.
4. - 1. Words of the first description must impute: 1st. The guilt of some
offence for which the party, if guilty, might be indicted and punished by the
criminal courts; as to call a person a "traitor," "thief," "highwayman;" or to
say that he is guilty of "perjury," "forgery," "murder," and the like. And
although the imputation of guilt be general, without stating the particulars of
the pretended crime, it is actionable. Cro. Jac. 114, 142; 6 T. R. 674; 3 Wils.
186; 2 Vent. 266; 2 New Rep. 335. See 3 Serg. & Rawle, 255 7 Serg. &
Rawle, 451; 1 Binn. 452; 5 Binn. 218; 3 Serg. & Rawle, 261; 2 Binn. 34; 4
Yeates, 423; 10 Serg. & Rawle, 44; Stark. on Slander, 13 to 42; 8 Mass. 248;
13 Johns. 124; Id. 275.
5. - 2d. That the party has a disease or distemper which renders him unfit
for society. Bac. Abr. Slander, B 2. An action can therefore be sustained for
calling a man a leper. Cro. Jac. 144 Stark. on Slander, 97. But charging another
with having had a contagious disease is not actionable, as he will not, on that
account, be excluded from society. 2 T. R. 473, 4; 2 Str. 1189; Bac. Abr. tit.
Slander, B 2. A charge which renders a man ridiculous, and impairs the enjoyment
of general society, and injures those imperfect rights of friendly intercourse
and mutual benevolence which man has with respect to man, is also actionable.
Holt on Libels, 221.
6. - 3d. Unfitness in an officer, who holds an office to which profit or
emolument is attached, either in respect of morals or inability to discharge the
duties of the office in such a case an action lies. 1 Salk. 695, 698; Rolle, Ab.
65; 2 Esp. R. 500; 5 Co. 125; 4 Co. 16 a; 1 Str. 617; 2 Ld. Raym. 1369; Bull. N.
P. 4; Holt on Libels, 207; Stark. on Slander, 100.
7. - 4th. The want of integrity or capacity, whether mental or pecuniary, in
the conduct of a profession, trade or business, in which the party is engaged,
is actionable, 1 Mal. Entr. 244 as to accuse an attorney or artist of inability,
inattention, or want of integrity; 3 Wils. 187; 2 Bl. Rep. 750; or a clergyman
of being a drunkard; 1 Binn. 178; is actionable. See Holt on Libels, 210; Id.
8. - 2. Of the second class are words which are actionable only in respect of
special damages sustained by the party slandered. Though the law will not permit
in these cases the inference of damage, yet when the damage has actually been
sustained, the party aggrieved may support an action for the publication of an
untruth; 1 Lev. 53; 1 Sid. 79, 80; 3 Wood. 210; 2 Leon. 111; unless the
assertion be made for the assertion of a supposed claim; Com. Dig. tit. Action
upon the case for Defamation, D 30; Bac. Ab. Slander, B; but it lies if
maliciously spoken. See 1 Rolle, Ab. 36 1 Saund. 243 Bac. Abr. Slander, C; 8 T.
R. 130 8 East, R. 1; Stark. on Slander, 157.
9. - §2. The charge must be false; 5 Co. 125, 6; Hob. 253; the falsity of the
accusation is to be implied till the contrary is shown. 2 East, R. 436; 1 Saund.
242. The instance of a master making an unfavorable representation of his
servant, upon an application for his character, seems to be an exception, in
that case there being a presumption from the occasion of the speaking, that the
words were true. 1 T. R. 111; 3 B. & P. 587; Stark. on Slander, 44, 175,
10. - §3. The slander must, of course, be published, that is, communicated to
a third person; and if verbal, then in a language which he understands,
otherwise the plaintiff's reputation is not impaired. 1 Rolle, Ab. 74; Cro.
Eliz. 857; 1 Saund. 2425 n. 3; Bac. Abr. Slander, D 3. A letter addressed to the
party, containing libelous matter, is not sufficient to maintain a civil action,
though it may subject the libeler to an indictment, as tending to a breach of
the peace; 2 Bl. R. 1038; 1 T. R. 110; 1 Saund. l32, n. 2; 4 Esp. N. P. R. 117;
2 Esp. N. P. R. 623; 2 East, R. 361; the slander must be published respecting
the plaintiff; a mother cannot maintain an action for calling her daughter a
bastard. 11 Serg. & Rawle, 343. As to the case of a man who repeats the
slander invented by another, see Stark. on Slander, 213; 2 P. A. Bro. R. 89; 3
Yeates, 508; 3 Binn. 546.
11. - §4. To render words actionable, they must be uttered without legal
occasion. On some occasions it is justifiable to utter slander of another, in
others it is excusable, provided it be uttered without express malice. Bac. Ab.
Slander, D 4; Rolle, Ab. 87; 1 Vin. Ab. 540. It is justifiable for au attorney
to use scandalizing expressions in support of his client's cause and pertinent
thereto. 1 M. & S. 280; 1 Holt's R. 531; 1 B. & A. 232; see 2 Serg.
& Rawle, 469; 1 Binn. 178; 4 Yeates, 322; 1 P. A. Browne's R. 40; 11 Verm.
R. 536; Stark. on Slander, 182. Members of congress and other legislative
assemblies cannot be called to account for anything said in debate.
12. - §5. Malice is essential to the support of an action for slanderous
words. But malice is in general to be presumed until the contrary be proved; 4
B. & C. 247; 1 Saund. 242, n. 2; 1 T. R. 1 11, 544; 1 East, R. 563; 2 East,
R. 436; 2 New Rep. 335; Bull. N. P. 8; except in those cases where the occasion
prima facie excuses the publication. 4 B. & C. 247. See 14 Serg. &
Rawle, 359; Stark. on Slander, 201. See, generally, Com. Dig. tit. Action upon
the case for Defamation; Bac. Abr. Slander; 1 Vin. Abr. 187; 1 Phill. Ev. ch. 8;
Yelv. 28, n.; Doctr. Plac. 53 Holt's Law of Libels; Starkie on Slander, Ham. N.
P. ch. 2, s. 3.
SLANDERER. A calumniator, who maliciously and without reason imputes a
crime or fault to another, of which he is innocent.
2. For this offence, when the slander is merely verbal, the remedy is an
action on the case for damages; when it is reduced to writing or printing, it is
a libel. (q. v.)
SLAVE. A man who is by law deprived of his liberty for life, and
becomes the property of another.
2. A slave has no political rights, and generally has no civil rights. He can
enter into no contract unless specially authorized by law; what he acquires
generally, belongs to his master. The children of female slaves follow the
condition of their mothers, and are themselves slaves.
3. In Maryland, Missouri and Virginia slaves are declared by statute to be
personal estate, or treated as such. Anth. Shep. To. 428, 494; Misso. Laws, 558.
In Kentucky, the rule is different, and they are considered real estate. 1 Kty.
Rev. Laws, 566 1 Dana's R. 94.
4. In general a slave is considered a thing and not a person; but sometimes
he is considered as a person; as when he commits a crime; for example, two white
persons and a slave can commit a riot. 1 McCord, 534. See Person.
5. A slave may acquire his freedom in various ways: 1. By manumission, by
deed or writing, which must be made according to the laws of the state where the
master then acts. 1 Penn. 10; 1 Rand. 15. The deed may be absolute which gives
immediate freedom to the slave, or conditional giving him immediate freedom, and
reserving a right of service for a time to come; 6 Rand. 652; or giving him his
freedom as soon as a certain condition shall have been fulfilled. 2 Root, 364;
Coxe, 4. 2. By manumission by will. When there is an express emancipation by
will, the slave will be free, and the testator's real estate shall be charged
with the payment of his debts, if there be not enough personal property without
the sale of the slaves. 9 Pet. 461. See Harper, R. 20. The manumission by will
may be implied, as, where the master devises property real or personal to his
slave. 2 Pet; 670; 5 Har. & J. 190. 3. By the removal of the slave with the
consent of the master, animo morandi, into one of the United States where
slavery is forbidden by law; 2 Mart. Lo. Rep. N. J. 401; or when he sojourns
there longer than is allowed by the law of the state. 7 S. & R. 378; 1 Wash.
C. C. Rep. 499. Vide Stroud on Slavery; Bouv. Inst. Index, h. t.; and as to the
rights of one who, being free, is held as a slave, 2 Gilman, 1; 3 Yeates, 240.
SLAVE TRADE, criminal law. The infamous traffic in human flesh, which
though not prohibited by the law of nations, is now forbidden by the laws and
treaties of most civilized states.
2. By the constitution of the United States, art. 1, s. 9, it is provided,
that the "migration or importation of such persons as any of the states now
existing (in 1789,) shall think proper to admit, shall not be probibited by the
congress, prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight." Previously to
that date several laws were enacted, which it is not within the plan of this
work to cite at large or to analyze; they are here referred to, namely; act of
1794, c. 11, 1 Story's laws U. S. 319; act of 1800, c. 51, 1 Story's Laws U. S.
780 act of 1803, c. 63, 2 Story's Laws U. S 886; act of 1807, c. 77, 2 Story's
Laws U. S. 1050; these several acts forbid citizens of the United States, under
certain circumstances, to equip or build vessels for the purpose of carrying on
the slave trade, and the last mentioned act makes it highly penal to import
slaves into the United States after the first day of January, 1808. The act of
1818, c. 86, 3 Story's Laws U. S. 1698 the act of 1819, c. 224, 3 Story's Laws
U. S. 1752; and the act of 1820, c. 113, 3 Story's Laws U. S. 1798, contain
further prohibition of the slave trade , and punish tho violation of their
several provisions with the highest penalties of the law. Vide, generally, 10
Wheat. R. 66; 2 Mason, R. 409; 1 Acton, 240; 1 Dodson, 81, 91, 95; 2 Dodson,
238; 6 Mass. R. 358; 2 Cranch, 336; 3 Dall. R. 297; 1 Wash. C. C. Rep. 522; 4
Id. 91; 3 Mason, R. 175; 9 Wheat. R. 391; 6 Cranch, 330; 5 Wheat. R. 338; 8 Id.
380; 10 Id. 312; 1 Kent, Com. 191.
SLAVERY. The state or condition of a slave.
2. Slavery exists in most of the southern states. In Pennsylvania, by the act
of March, 1780, for the gradual abolition of slavery, it has been almost
entirely removed in Massachusetts it was held, soon after the Revolution, that
slavery had been abolished by their constitution; 4 Mass. 128; in Connecticut,
slavery has been totally extinguished by legislative provisions; Reeve's Dom.
Bel. 340; the states north of Delaware, Maryland and the river Ohio, may be
considered as free States, where slavery is not tolerated. Vide Stroud on
Slavery; 2 Kent, Com. 201; Rutherf. Inst. 238.
SMUGGLING. The fraudulent taking into a country, or out of it,
merchandise which is lawfully prohibited. Bac. Ab. h. t.
SO HELP YOU GOD. The formula at the end of a common oath, as
administered to a witness wlio testifies in chief.
SOCAGE, Eng. law. A tenure of lands by certain inferior services in
husbandry, and not knight's service, in lieu of all other services. Litt. sect.
SOCER. The father of one's wife; a father-in-law.
SOCIDA, civ. law. This is the name of a contract by which one man
delivers to another, either for a small recompense, or for a part of the
profits, certain animals, on condition that if any of them perish they shall be
replaced by the bailer, or he shall pay their value.
2. This is a contract of hiring, with this condition, that the bailee takes
upon him the risk of the loss of the thing hired. Wolff, §638.
SOCIETAS LEONINA. Among the Roman lawyers this term signified that
kind of society or partnership by which the entire profits should belong to some
of the partners in exclusion of the rest.
2. It was so called in allusion to the fable of the lion and other animals,
who having entered into partnership for the purpose of hunting, the lion
appropriated all the prey to himself. Dig. 17, 2, 29, 2; Poth. Traite de
Societe, n. 12. See 2 McCord's R. 421; 6 Pick. 372.
SOCIETE EN COMMENDITE. This term is borrowed from the laws of France,
and is used in Louisiana; the societe en commendite, or partnership in
commendam, is formed by a contract, by which one person or partnership agrees to
furnish another person or partnership a certain amount, either in property or
money, to be employed by the person or partnership to whom it is furnished, in
his or their own name or firm, on condition of receiving a share in the profits,
in the proportion determined by the contract, and of being liable to losses and
expenses to the amount furnished and no more. Civ. Code of Lo. art. 2810; Code
de Comm. 26, 33; 4 Pard. Dr. Com. n. 1027; Dall. Dict. mots Societe Commerciale,
n. 166. Vide Commendam; Partnership.