History Faculty Publications

Title

The Haitian Revolution, Black Petitioners and Refugee Widows in Maryland, 1796-1820

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

10-2010

Publication Source

American Journal of Legal History

Abstract

The article demonstrates that the circumstances of Haitian petitioners coming into court reveals as much about the construction of race and gender as it does about the expansion or restriction of slave law. When women of African descent confronted white women in court, they employed lawyers to define laws related to international comity, domestic relations and property. In petitioning the court, the black women asserted the urgency for freedom and the right to control their reproductive and productive labor and their family relations. Daniel Raymond, as the attorney for the petitioners, entered the chorus of later challenges to a proslavery Constitution.

The lower court freed them and the petitioners were regarded as legal persons. Raymond’s arguments revealed that in a slave society like Maryland there were opportunities to strengthen black citizenship claims during the early national period. The final decision in the Maryland Court of Appeals, much to the dismay of the petitioners and their supporters, reassigned slave status.

Inclusive pages

431-452

ISBN/ISSN

0002-9319

Comments

Permission documentation is on file.

Publisher

Oxford University Press

Volume

50

Issue

4

Peer Reviewed

yes