History Faculty Publications

Title

Margaret Morgan’s Story: A Threshold between Slavery and Freedom, 1820–1842

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

9-2012

Publication Source

Slavery & Abolition: A Journal of Slave and Post-Slave Studies

Abstract

This article goes beyond previous interpretations of the Prigg v. Pennsylvania opinion by focusing on the historical circumstances and lived-experiences of Margaret Morgan and her family and other African Americans who lived along the Mason/Dixon line.

By examining the ambiguity of slavery and freedom as revealed in Margaret Morgan’s status in Maryland and in Pennsylvania as well as looking closely at the development of case law in both states, this research posits and hopes to explain how an otherwise anti-slavery Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, Joseph Story, could write such a proslavery opinion in Prigg.

In examining the dialectic of case laws and the ambiguous labor status of Margaret Morgan and the children in Maryland, Story’s interpretation of Margaret’s status as a slave helps to bolster slaveholders’ claims on putative fugitives and begins to lay the legal groundwork for Roger B. Taney’s proslavery opinion in Scott.

Inclusive pages

359-380

ISBN/ISSN

0144-039X

Comments

Permission documentation is on file.

Publisher

Taylor & Francis

Volume

33

Issue

3

Peer Reviewed

yes