What is meant by pleading the baby act?

According to law, a person not of age cannot be bound by contract. If a minor makes a contract and does not abide, by the agreement he may plead his minority as a defense in court. The popular phrase pleading the baby act originally referred to this law protecting minors. It meant merely pleading legal infancy as a defense for disregarding a contract. Figuratively a person is said to plead the baby act when he pleads ignorance or inexperience as an excuse for his mistakes or wrongdoing. The expression carries with it an implication of weakness and cowardice. In 1841 Abraham Lincoln represented a man in court who had. sold two brothers a team of oxen and a plow on time. When the note came due they pleaded they were minors when they signed it, but they refused to return the goods. Lincoln told the jury: “The judge will tell you what your own sense of justice has already told you, that these Snow boys, if they were men enough to plead the baby act, when they came to be men should have taken the oxen and plow back.”