Fanny Tarlton v. Cartwright Tippett

United States. Circuit Court (District of Columbia) - Washington (D.C.)


On August 4, 1823, Fanny Tarlton filed a petition for freedom on behalf of herself and her children. She argued that because Alexander Scott took her to Caracas and returned over a year later, she was entitled to her freedom under the Maryland Act of 1796 barring importation of slaves. Alexander Scott was appointed by President James Madison as an agent on a "secret mission" to Caracas in 1811, and he took Fanny Tarlton to Venezuela where he was stationed sometime between 1811 and 1813. He then returned with her to Maryland and then moved back into Washington, D.C. The court ruled that a special agent of the government with a necessarily uncertain term of residency does not upon return violate the terms of importation in the Maryland Act. It is possible that Alexander Scott sold Fanny Tarlton and her children to Cartwright Tippett sometime after 1813.

This case summary was written and researched by William G. Thomas III, and edited by project scholars.