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.
|Publisher:||University of Massachusetts Press|
|Series:||Childhoods: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Children and Youth|
|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
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
What People are Saying About This
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.
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.