Southern Slavery and the Law, 1619-1860

Southern Slavery and the Law, 1619-1860

by Thomas D. Morris

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Overview

This volume is the first comprehensive history of the evolving relationship between American slavery and the law from colonial times to the Civil War. As Thomas Morris clearly shows, racial slavery came to the English colonies as an institution without strict legal definitions or guidelines. Specifically, he demonstrates that there was no coherent body of law that dealt solely with slaves. Instead, more general legal rules concerning inheritance, mortgages, and transfers of property coexisted with laws pertaining only to slaves. According to Morris, southern lawmakers and judges struggled to reconcile a social order based on slavery with existing English common law (or, in Louisiana, with continental civil law.) Because much was left to local interpretation, laws varied between and even within states. In addition, legal doctrine often differed from local practice. And, as Morris reveals, in the decades leading up to the Civil War, tensions mounted between the legal culture of racial slavery and the competing demands of capitalism and evangelical Christianity.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807864302
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 01/21/2004
Series: Studies in Legal History
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 592
Lexile: 1380L (what's this?)
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

Thomas D. Morris, professor of history at Portland State University, is author of Free Men All: The Personal Liberty Laws of the North, 1780-1861.

Table of Contents

Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction

Part I. Sources: Racial and Legal
Chapter 1 The Function of Race in Southern Slave Law
Chapter 2 The Sources of Southern Slave Law

Part II. Slaves as Property
Chapter 3 Slaves as Property—Chattels Personal or Realty, and Did It Matter?
Chapter 4 Slavery and the Law of Successions
Chapter 5 Contract Law in the Sale and Mortgaging of Slaves
Chapter 6 The Slave Hireling Contract and the Law

Part III. Slaves as Persons
Chapter 7 Southern Law and the Homicides of Slaves
Chapter 8 Law and the Abuse of Slaves
Chapter 9 Jurisdiction and Process in the Trials of Slaves
Chapter 10 Slaves and the Rules of Evidence in Criminal Trials
Chapter 11 Masters and the Criminal Offenses of Their Slaves
Chapter 12 Obedience and the Outsider
Chapter 13 Slave's Violence against Third Parties
Chapter 14 Slaves, Sexual Violence, and the Law
Chapter 15 Property Crimes and the Law
Chapter 16 Police Regulations
Chapter 17 Wrongs of Slaves and the Civil Liability of Masters

Part IV. Manumission
Chapter 18 Emancipation: Conceptions, Restraints, and Practice
Chapter 19 Quasi and In futuro Emancipations
Conclusion

Notes
Bibliography
Index

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

This book is a tour de force. We have nothing as comprehensive and valuable in the literature of slavery and the law in the United States.—American Historical Review



Until now, we have lacked a broad-sweeping portrait of this most wretched piece of our legal past. Thomas D. Morris . . . fills the gap admirably. . . . This encyclopedic work belongs in the library of any scholar of southern slavery or American legal history. Not only does it provide abundant information about American slave law; it also provokes thought about the function of social change in forming the law and, conversely, the role of law in shaping society.—Journal of American History



Professor Morris offers a comprehensive guide to the profound difficulty faced by southern legislators and judges in composing the laws of slavery during the entire tenure of that institution. Original and welcome, this guide rests on a selection of previously unedited local records.—Georgia Historical Quarterly



A valuable contribution to the historiography of southern law and to the historiography of the institution of slavery.—Journal of the Early Republic



Morris's comprehensive investigation ranges from 17th-century Chesapeake to late antebellum Texas in considering sources of slave law, the role of race in its development, and relationships among slavery, capitalism, and the law. . . . Historians of slavery will find perceptive observations on violence by and against slaves, manumission, hiring out, and flight.—Choice



One of the most significant works on Southern slave law.—Law and Politics Book Review



Brimming with knowledge and insight about a horrific aspect of our legal culture that continues to affect us.—Washington Post Book World



One of the most impressive and thoughtful volumes on slavery in the last twenty years.—History: Reviews of New Books



Supports and takes exception to many of the traditional views regarding Southern slavery. By overlaying American slavery with Southern law, Morris provides us with valuable insight and analysis. This book will long be considered a classic for understanding Southern slavery and the social system in which it existed.—Our State



This is the most thorough and comprehensive book yet written on the law of slavery in the United States. It is an impressive and enormously useful contribution to our understanding of both American law and American slavery. Morris's knowledge of the field is breathtaking while his analysis is on the mark. This is a scholarly tour de force.—Paul Finkelman, University of Miami



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