This case addressed whether a standard press-warrant, which authorized the impressment of seamen, applied to a man who had worked aboard ships while enslaved. The man in question, James Graham, accompanied a slaveholder on voyages between Scotland and the Caribbean, performing duties such as steering and reefing. However, when Graham’s enslavement ended, he became apprenticed to Grant, Wood, and Company, a carpet manufacturing company in Glasgow. The petitioner in this case, Lieutenant William Stewart, subsequently attempted to press Graham into naval service based on his sailing experience. Grant, Wood, and Company petitioned the magistrates of Glasgow to prevent Graham’s impressment, and Graham appeared on his own behalf. After allowing the parties to gather proof, the magistrates found that Graham could not be impressed because he did not voluntarily choose a seafaring life. Lieutenant Stewart appealed to the Court of Session.
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