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Manumission | What does “manumission” mean?


What does the word “manumission” mean?

The word “manumission” denotes the voluntary freeing of a slave by a slaveholder.  Unlike abolition—an event which happens to an entire legal system—manumission is an event that happens in a specific case, namely, that of a particular, living creature (an “owner”*) releasing another particular, living creature (a “slave”) from slavery.

Example:  Jane, a slaveholder, is the “owner” of Bill, a slave who is “owned” by Jane; one day, Jane decides to—and does—release Bill such that Bill is, thereafter, neither a slave of Jane nor a slave of anyone else.  That event—the freeing of Bill by Jane—is manumission.

Note that manumission permanently changes the status of the freed slave from property to personhood.  If a slaveholder merely sells a slave to another slaveholder, the slave remains a slave, and manumission has not occurred.

Note also that if a slave is freed by abolition of the institution of slavery itself within the given jurisdiction, the slave’s status changes to that of a free being, but manumission has not occurred, because the “owner” himself or herself did not willingly free the slave. Rather, the freeing of the slave was forced upon the “owner”.

*The Humane Party does not recognize “ownership” of one living creature by another as a valid legal relationship.  All purported cases of one sentient being’s “ownership” of another sentient being are, in fact, merely cases of coercion, oppression, and captivity.