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Products for grant FT-61421-14

Black Litigants in the Antebellum American South
Kimberly Welch, West Virginia University Research Corporation

Grant details:

Black Litigants in the Antebellum American South (Book)
Title: Black Litigants in the Antebellum American South
Author: Kimberly Welch
Abstract: In the antebellum Natchez district, in the heart of slave country, black people sued white people in all-white courtrooms. They sued to enforce the terms of their contracts, recover unpaid debts, recuperate back wages, and claim damages for assault. They sued in conflicts over property and personal status. And they often won. Based on new research conducted in courthouse basements and storage sheds in rural Mississippi and Louisiana, Kimberly Welch draws on over 1,000 examples of free and enslaved black litigants who used the courts to protect their interests and reconfigure their place in a tense society. To understand their success, Welch argues that we must understand the language that they used—the language of property, in particular—to make their claims recognizable and persuasive to others and to link their status as owner to the ideal of a free, autonomous citizen. In telling their stories, Welch reveals a previously unknown world of black legal activity, one that is consequential for understanding the long history of race, rights, and civic inclusion in America.
Year: 2018
Primary URL:
Publisher: University of North Carolina Press
Type: Single author monograph
ISBN: 978-1-4696-364
Copy sent to NEH?: Yes