HIST231 - SLAVERY, UNION & THE EARLY CONSTITUTION

Description: 
This course will explore the political, legal, constitutional, and social history of slavery in the American colonies and early United States. The course readings will pay particular attention to slavery’s place within the new nation’s constitutional order. We will begin with an overview of the development of African and Indian slavery in the English colonies. Moving forward to the period after the Seven Years' War, we will consider the importance of slavery and the slave trade in various colonies within the English empire on the eve of the American Revolution, as well as how slavery sparked conflicts over legal jurisdiction and the interpretation of common law at both local and imperial levels. Building upon this foundation, we will investigate the creation of the United States Constitution and slavery’s place within the nation’s most fundamental legal document. Students will have the opportunity to read a variety of arguments—both historical and contemporary—about what the original Constitution said about slavery and why. Students will also explore how various state governments addressed the problem of slavery in their respective constitutions and legal orders. We will investigate the idea of a “federal consensus,” the existence of competing legal sovereignties, and the question of slavery in the territories. Throughout the course readings, students will not only learn about 18th and 19th century slavery and constitutional law, but about the role that slaves and free blacks played in shaping the American Revolution and the nation's constitutional order. Both primary and secondary readings will emphasize black men and women’s impact on politics and law in the era of the nation’s founding.
Instructors: 
GRONNINGSATER, SARAH
Day and Time: 
CANCELED
Activity: 
SEM
Cross Listings: 
  • AFRC229405
Registration Notes: 
CULTURAL DIVERSITY IN US