Slavery as a Takings Clause Violation

70 Pages Posted: 16 Jun 2005 Last revised: 26 Mar 2009


This Article argues that slavery was a violation of the Takings Clause of the United States Constitution. Slaves, like all people, possessed a property right of self-ownership. When the government appropriated that property, through laws establishing slavery, the rightful owners of the property - the slaves - suffered uncompensated physical, regulatory and derivative takings. Victims of slavery, like victims of other impermissible takings, are constitutionally entitled to just compensation under the Takings Clause. This Article concludes by examining some potential judicial and legislative consequences of treating slavery as a Takings Clause violation.

Keywords: slavery, reparations, takings, takings clause, fifth amendment, self-ownership, alienability, givings, regulatory takings, derivative takings

JEL Classification: K10, K11

Suggested Citation

Wenger, Kaimipono David, Slavery as a Takings Clause Violation. TJSL Public Law Research Paper No. 05-02. Available at SSRN:

Kaimipono David Wenger (Contact Author)

Thomas Jefferson School of Law ( email )

701 B Street
Suite 110
San Diego, CA 92101
United States
619-961-4347 (Phone)

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