This word has several significations. 1. It is used in contradistinction to giving assent; thus we say the president has put his negative upon such a bill. 2. It is also used in contradistinction to affirmative; as, a negative does not always admit of the simple and direct proof of which an affirmative is capable. When a party affirms a negative in his pleadings, and without the establishment of which, by evidence, he cannot recover or defend himself, the burden of the proof lies upon him and he must prove the negative. Although as a general rule the affirmative of every issue must be proved, yet this rule ceases to operate the moment the presumption of law is thrown into the other scale. When the issue is on the legitimacy of a child, therefore, it is incumbent on the party asserting the illegitimacy to prove it.
An averment in some of the pleadings in a case in which a negative is asserted.
It is a general rule, established for the purpose of shortening and facilitating investigations, that the point in issue is to be proved by the party who asserts the affirmative but as this rule is not founded on any presumption of law in favor of the party, but is merely a rule of practice and convenience, it, ceases in all cases when the presumption of law is thrown into the opposite scale. For example, when the issue is on the legitimacy of a child born in lawful wedlock, it is incumbent on the party asserting its illegitimacy to prove it. 3. Upon the same principle, when, the negative averment involves a charge of criminal neglect of duty, whether official or otherwise, it must be proved, for the law presumes every man to perform the duties which it imposes.