Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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p. v

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Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-viii

I am indebted to the many individuals whose generosity and support helped make this book possible. At the University of California, Berkeley, I had the opportunity to work closely with Saidiya Hartman, who challenged me to produce meaningful work. She continues to inspire me. Caren Kaplan reprised her mentorship from my undergraduate to graduate...

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Introduction: Traveling Slaves and the Geopolitics of Freedom

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pp. 1-18

The Augusta (Georgia) Sentinel demanded no less than the dissolution of the Union when word began to spread throughout the states south of Mason-Dixon of Massachusetts Chief Justice Lemuel Shaw’s judgment freeing a young slave girl named Med.1 Med had accompanied her mistress from New Orleans to Boston, and in Commonwealth v. Aves (1836)...

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1. Emancipation after “the Laws of Englishmen”

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pp. 19-76

Charles Orpen’s words form the epigraph to this chapter not, as one might expect, for their philosophical originality but rather for so plainly expressing what had become a “universal admission” of popular British antislavery in the heady years preceding West Indian emancipation.1 Orpen, one of the self-professed “Directors” of the Dublin-based Hibernian Negro’s Friend Society, published the organization’s political...

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2. Choosing Kin in Antislavery Literature and Law

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pp. 77-126

Like many southern travelers, North Carolina Whig congressman Samuel Tredwell Sawyer, the equivocal “Mr. Sands” of Harriet Jacobs’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861), brought his slave John S. Jacobs to attend him on his 1838 wedding journey from Washington City to Chicago. Sawyer, aware of the growing antislavery activism targeting slaves...

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3. The Gender of Freedom before Dred Scott

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pp. 127-182

Former bondswoman and White House intimate Elizabeth Keckley authored one of the few extant postemancipation U.S. slave narratives, Behind the Scenes; or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House (1868), as a defense of her patron, Mary Todd Lincoln, after the so-called old clothes scandal.1 Critics often note in passing that Irene Sanford Emerson retained Keckley’s former master, Hugh A. Garland, as her counsel...

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4. The Crime of Color in the Negro Seamen Acts

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pp. 183-239

Radical black abolitionist David Walker proposes this counterfactual journey into the slave states early on in his Appeal to the Coloured Citizens of the World.1 In an Atlantic world where freedom had become increasingly territorialized, Walker seizes on travel as an ironic test of the individual freedoms purportedly secured in the federal compact. His series...

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Conclusion: Fictions of Free Travel

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pp. 240-262

The geopolitics of freedom and slavery revealed in and exacerbated by the freedom suits discussed in this book helped to consolidate the profoundly American understanding of personal liberty as freedom of movement, an understanding that persists to this day. Black and white abolitionists had long couched their protests against punitive black exclusion laws such as the Negro Seamen Act in terms of a constitutional right to...

Notes

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pp. 263-324

Index

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pp. 325-337

About the Author

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p. 339