Defining Slavery Under a 'Government Instituted for the Protection of the Rights of Mankind'

35 Hamline Law Review 551-590, Summer 2012

40 Pages Posted: 4 Dec 2012  

Paul Finkelman

University of Pittsburgh, School of Law; Albany Law School - Government Law Center

Date Written: 2012

Abstract

This article explores the way slavery was defined under American law. The article begins with the colonial period, showing how Virginia law allowed for the treatment of slaves as property. The article then turns to the US Constitution, which refers to slaves as “persons,” but in some places also treats them as property. The article then turns to Supreme Court jurisprudence, showing how the Marshall and Taney Courts treated slaves mostly as property. Finally, the article considers how slaves were redefined as people through the Emancipation Proclamation, the enlistment of black troops, and the Thirteenth Amendment.

Suggested Citation

Finkelman, Paul, Defining Slavery Under a 'Government Instituted for the Protection of the Rights of Mankind' (2012). 35 Hamline Law Review 551-590, Summer 2012. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2184451

Paul Finkelman (Contact Author)

University of Pittsburgh, School of Law ( email )

3900 Forbes Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
United States
412-648-2079 (Phone)

Albany Law School - Government Law Center ( email )

80 New Scotland Avenue
Albany, NY 12208
United States

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