Law and the Borders of Belonging in the Long Nineteenth Century United States

Hardcover (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $64.03
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 24%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (8) from $64.03   
  • New (4) from $64.03   
  • Used (4) from $67.42   


For more than a generation, historians and legal scholars have documented inequalities at the heart of American law and daily life and exposed inconsistencies in the generic category of “American citizenship.” Welke draws on that wealth of historical, legal, and theoretical scholarship to offer a new paradigm of liberal selfhood and citizenship from the founding of the United States through the 1920s. Law and the Borders of Belonging questions understanding this period through a progressive narrative of expanding rights, revealing that it was characterized instead by a sustained commitment to borders of belonging of liberal selfhood, citizenship, and nation in which able white men’s privilege depended on the subject status of disabled persons, racialized others, and women. Welke’s conclusions pose challenging questions about the modern liberal democratic state that extend well beyond the temporal and geographic boundaries of the long nineteenth century United States.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A book that ‘every historian should read’ is a rare phenomenon, but in my estimation this is one of them. Barbara Young Welke’s remarkable achievement is to say something original and unexpected about race and gender. By setting both in relation to disability, she shows how these intertwined categories of identity have profoundly shaped the modern understanding of citizenship and legal personhood. That she does so in lucid and often powerful prose is icing on the cake.” – Douglas Baynton, University of Iowa

“In this extraordinary book, Barbara Young Welke embraces a revolution in historical understanding that has been elusive, even though in some ways it has long been right before our eyes. Moving past old paradigms and writing with clarity, confidence, and authority, she offers a fresh understanding of the meanings of U.S. citizenship and a truly original narrative of social change in the United States from the founding generation to World War I.” – Linda Kerber, University of Iowa

“With clarity and concision, Barbara Young Welke shows the complex ways in which American law drew the lines of membership and citizenship according to physical and mental ability, race, and gender. This is a book of enormous sweep, power, and humanity.” – Mae M. Ngai, Columbia University

“Passionate, provocative, powerful: this splendid book should be required reading for everyone who wants to know anything about the history of American law.” – Peggy Pascoe, author of What Comes Naturally: Miscegenation Law and the Making of Race in America

"This is a short book with big ideas....powerful analysis leaves no doubt that significant shifts occurred withing American legal history, and Welke's interpretive framework...will be pivotal in shaping future inquiries." - Lucy Salyer, American Historical Review

"Law and the Borders of Belonging shows the origins of that dynamic, the critical role of law in that process, the enduring legacies for American political development of conceptual choices made during the early republic, and the path Americans will have to travel to disentangle this history." -Christopher Capozzola, The Journal of American History

"Law and the Borders of Belonging discusses the parameters of legal inclusion and exclusion during a formative phase of American history." -Katharine Wrobel, CANADIAN WOMANSTUDIES/LES CAHIERS DE LAFEMME

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521761888
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 3/31/2010
  • Series: New Histories of American Law Series
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Barbara Young Welke is Associate Professor of History and Professor of Law at the University of Minnesota. She is the recipient of several prizes including the Surrency Prize from The American Society for Legal History for her article 'When All the Women Were White and All the Blacks Were Men: Gender, Race, Law and the Road to Plessy' and the American Historical Association's Littleton-Griswold Prize in the history of American law and society for her book, Recasting American Liberty: Gender, Race, Law and the Railroad Revolution, 1865–1920. Her earlier articles have appeared in Law and Social Inquiry and the Law and History Review.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Introduction; 1. Constructing a universal legal person: able white manhood; 2. Subjects of law: disabled persons, racialized others, and women; 3. Borders: resistance, defense, structure, and ideology; Conclusion: abled, racialized, and gendered power in the making of the twentieth-century American state; Coda.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)