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Bailey v. Alabama

Significance, Minority Opinion, Impact, Involuntary Servitude


Alonzo Bailey


State of Alabama

Plaintiff's Claim

Alabama's peonage law was unconstitutional because the Thirteenth Amendment provided protection against involuntary servitude. To compel servitude in liquidation of a debt restricted personal rights; involuntary servitude applied in situations other than slavery.

Chief Lawyers for Plaintiff

Edward S. Watts, Fred S. Ball, Daniel W. Troy

Chief Defense Lawyers

Alexander M. Garber, Thomas W. Martin

Justices for the Court

William Rufus Day, John Marshall Harlan I, Charles Evans Hughes (writing for the Court), Joseph McKenna, William Henry Moody, Edward Douglass White

Justices Dissenting

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Horace Harmon Lurton (Willis Van Devanter not yet appointed)


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

3 January 1911


Alabama's conviction and sentencing of the plaintiff to hard labor for refusal to perform service and refund advanced money was criminal and incompatible with the Thirteenth Amendment.

Related Cases

  • Henderson v. New York, 92 U.S. 547 (1875).
  • Clyatt v. United States, 197 U.S. 207 (1905).
  • Ex parte Riley, 94 Ala. 82, 10 So. 528 (1907).
  • Keller v. United States, 213 U.S. 138 (1909).


Toledo Law Review, Volume 20, summer 1989.

Further Readings

  • Carrier, Michael A. "Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes: Law and the Inner Self." Michigan Law Review, May 1995, p. 1894.
  • Hall, Kermit L., ed. The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States. New York, Oxford University Press, 1992.
  • Pope, James Gray. "Labor's Constitution of Freedom." Yale Law Journal, January 1997, p. 941.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1883 to 1917