Beginning in 1803, the Ohio legislature enacted what came to be known as the Black Laws. These laws instituted barriers against blacks entering the state and placed limits on black testimony against whites. Basing his narrative on massive primary research, often utilizing previously unexplored sources, Stephen Middleton tells the story of racial oppression in Ohio and recounts chilling episodes of how blacks asserted their freedom by challenging the restrictions in the racial codes until the state legislature repealed some pernicious features in 1849 and finally abolished them in 1886.
The fastest-growing state in antebellum America and the destination of whites from the North and the South, Ohio also became the destination for thousands of southern blacks, both free and runaway. Thus, nineteenth-century Ohio became a legal battleground for two powerful and far-reaching impulses in the history of race and law in America. One was the use of state power to further racial discrimination, and the other was the thirst of African Americans and their white allies for equality under the law for all Americans.
Written in a clear and compelling style, this pathbreaking study will be required reading for historians, legal scholars, students, and those interested in the struggle for civil rights in America.
About the Author
Stephen Middleton is a professor of constitutional history at North Carolina State University. He is the author of Ohio and the Antislavery Activities of Salmon P. Chase, The Black Laws in the Old Northwest: A Documentary History, and Black Congressmen during Reconstruction: A Documentary Sourcebook.
Table of Contents
|Preface and Acknowledgments||ix|
|1||Ambiguous Beginnings 1787-1801||7|
|2||The Many Meanings of Freedom 1800-1803||18|
|3||"A State for White Men" 1803-1830||42|
|4||The Battle over the Color Line 1830-1839||74|
|5||The Struggle to Abolish the Color Line 1840-1849||115|
|6||Enforcing the Fugitive Slave Act 1803-1850||157|
|7||The Fugitive Slave Crisis in the 1850s||201|
|8||The Limits of Freedom||241|