Margaret Morgan’s Story: A Threshold between Slavery and Freedom, 1820–1842
Slavery & Abolition: A Journal of Slave and Post-Slave Studies
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.
Copyright © 2012, Taylor & Francis
Taylor & Francis
Reid, Patricia A., "Margaret Morgan’s Story: A Threshold between Slavery and Freedom, 1820–1842" (2012). History Faculty Publications. 118.