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Vol 23 No 3 March/April 2018

Book of the Month

Cover of Scamell and Gasztowicz on Land Covenants

Scamell and Gasztowicz on Land Covenants

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Before Dred Scott: Slavery and Legal Culture in the American Confluence, 1787-1857

ISBN13: 9781107112063
Published: December 2016
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Country of Publication: UK
Format: Hardback
Price: £39.99

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Before Dred Scott draws on the freedom suits filed in the St Louis circuit court to construct a ground-breaking history of slavery and legal culture within the American Confluence, a vast region where the Ohio, Mississippi, and the Missouri rivers converge. Formally divided between slave and free territories and states, the American Confluence was nevertheless a site where the borders between slavery and freedom, like the borders within the region itself, were fluid. Such ambiguity produced a radical indeterminacy of status, which, in turn, gave rise to a distinctive legal culture made manifest by the prosecution of hundreds of freedom suits, including the case that ultimately culminated in the landmark United States Supreme Court decision in Dred Scott vs Sandford. Challenging dominant trends in legal history, Before Dred Scott argues that this distinctive legal culture, above all, was defined by ordinary people's remarkable understanding of and appreciation for formal law.

Legal History, Other Jurisdictions , USA
1. A radical indeterminancy of status
2. 'With the ease of a veteran litigant'
3. '[B]y the help of God and a good lawyer'
4. Slavery from liberty to equality
5. '[W]orking his emancipation'
6. Exploiting the uncertainties of federalism
7. Remembering slavery and freedom in the American Confluence