The Case of the Slave-Child, Med: Free Soil in Antislavery Boston

The Case of the Slave-Child, Med: Free Soil in Antislavery Boston

by Karen Woods Weierman


View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Monday, November 25


In 1836, an enslaved six-year-old girl named Med was brought to Boston by a woman from New Orleans who claimed her as property. Learning of the girl's arrival in the city, the Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society (BFASS) waged a legal fight to secure her freedom and affirm the free soil of Massachusetts. While Chief Justice Lemuel Shaw ruled quite narrowly in the case that enslaved people brought to Massachusetts could not be held against their will, BFASS claimed a broad victory for the abolitionist cause, and Med was released to the care of a local institution. When she died two years later, celebration quickly turned to silence, and her story was soon forgotten. As a result, Commonwealth v. Aves is little known outside of legal scholarship. In this book, Karen Woods Weierman complicates Boston's identity as the birthplace of abolition and the cradle of liberty, and restores Med to her rightful place in antislavery history by situating her story in the context of other writings on slavery, childhood, and the law.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781625344762
Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press
Publication date: 09/13/2019
Series: Childhoods: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Children and Youth
Pages: 184
Sales rank: 654,958
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

KAREN WOODS WEIERMAN is professor of English at Worcester State University and author of One Nation, One Blood: Interracial Marriage in American Fiction, Scandal, and Law, 1820--1870.

Table of Contents

Preface xi

Introduction: The Said Med 1

Chapter 1 Before Med: James Somerset and Phillis Wheatley 13

Chapter 2 Slaves Cannot Breathe in Boston 29

Chapter 3 All Girls Are Bound to Someone 54

Chapter 4 Maria Sommersett, the American Stewart, and Bred Scott 76

Chapter 5 Free Soil Fictions 98

Conclusion Sarah Ruby, and Med 117

Notes 127

Index 153

What People are Saying About This

Elise Lemire

The story of Med is not widely known, if known at all. That alone makes this a valuable book. That it results in new readings of texts from this period, in particular Lydia Maria Child's novel A Romance of the Republic, is also exciting.

Alice Hearst

Weierman nicely traces abolitionists' efforts to create a triumphal narrative out of Med's story. She is also excellent in tracing concerns about other cases challenging the free soil doctrine, which shifted from court to court and in different geographical contexts.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews