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Central to the development of the American legal system, writes Professor Finkelman in Slavery & the Law, is the institution of slavery. It informs us not only about early concepts of race and property, but about the nature of American democracy itself. Prominent historians of slavery and legal scholars analyze the intricate relationship between slavery, race, and the law from the earliest Black Codes in colonial America to the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law and the Dred Scott decision prior to the Civil War. Slavery & the Law's wide-ranging essays focus on comparative slave law, auctioneering practices, rules of evidence, and property rights, as well as issues of criminality, punishment, and constitutional law. What emerges from this multi-faceted portrait is a complex legal system designed to ensure the property rights of slave-holders and to institutionalize racism. The ultimate result was to strengthen the institution of slavery in the midst of a growing trend toward democracy in the mid-nineteenth-century Atlantic community.
Chapter 1 The Centrality of Slavery in American Legal Development Part 2 Theories of Democracy and the Law of Slavery Chapter 3 Learning the Three "I"s of America Slave Heritage Chapter 4 Ideology and Imagery in the Law of Slavery Part 5 Constitutional Law and Slavery Chapter 6 Slavery in the Canon of Constitutional Law Chapter 7 Chief Justice Hornblower of New Jersey and the Fugitive Slave Law of 1793 Chapter 8 A Federal Assault: African-Americans and the Impact of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 Chapter 9 The Crisis Over The Impending Crisis: Free Speech, Slavery, and the Fourteenth Amendment Part 10 Criminal and Civil Law of Slavery Chapter 11 Slaves the the Rules of Evidence in Criminal Trials Chapter 12 "Details are of a Most Revolting Character": Cruelty to Slaves as Seen in Appeals to the Supreme Court of Louisiana/The Unreported Case of Humphreys v. Utz Chapter 13 Pandora's Box: Slave Character on Trial in the Antebellum Deep South Chapter 14 Slave Auctions on the Courthouse Steps: Court Sales of Slaves in Antebellum South Carolina Part 15 Comparative Law and Slavery Chapter 16 Seventeenth-Century Jurists, Roman Law, and Slavery Chapter 17 The British Constitution and the Creation of American Slavery Chapter 18 Thinking Property at Rome Chapter 19 Thinking Property at Memphis: An Application of Watson