Birthright Citizens: A History of Race and Rights in Antebellum America
by Martha S. Jones
Publication Date: Jun 28, 2018
List Price: $27.99
Format: Paperback, 268 pages
Imprint: Cambridge University Press
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Parent Company: Cambridge University
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Birthright Citizens tells how African American activists radically transformed the terms of citizenship for all Americans. Before the Civil War, colonization schemes and black laws threatened to deport former slaves born in the United States. Birthright Citizens recovers the story of how African American activists remade national belonging through battles in legislatures, conventions, and courthouses. They faced formidable opposition, most notoriously from the US Supreme Court decision in Dred Scott. Still, Martha S. Jones explains, no single case defined their status. Former slaves studied law, secured allies, and conducted themselves like citizens, establishing their status through local, everyday claims. All along they argued that birth guaranteed their rights. With fresh archival sources and an ambitious reframing of constitutional law-making before the Civil War, Jones shows how when the Fourteenth Amendment constitutionalized the birthright principle, the aspirations of black Americans’ aspirations were realized.
- History / African American
- History / United States / 19th Century
- Law / Legal History
- Political Science / Civics & Citizenship
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