Cover, Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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pp. ix-x

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Introduction: How a Slave Was Made a Man

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pp. 1-48

Writing was an indispensable tool for the public assertion of black humanity in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when millions of Africans and their descendants were being bought and sold as objects of property throughout the Atlantic world...

Part I

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pp. 49-116

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1. Contracting Guilt: Mixed Character, Civil Slavery, and the Social Compact

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pp. 51-86

With respect to citizenship, the query posed by Crèvecoeur’s fictional American farmer (himself a British colonist) would go formally unanswered from the Founding to the Civil War. Until passage of the Fourteenth Amendment...

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2. Black Catalogues: Crime, Print, and the Rise of the Black Self

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pp. 87-116

Writing for the abolitionist National Era newspaper five years after Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin had debuted in its pages, prolific Southern novelist and death penalty critic E.D.E.N. Southworth concluded one of her popular serialized...

Part II

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3. The Ignominious Cord: Crime, Counterfactuals, and the New Black Politics

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pp. 119-163

The remarkable Address of Abraham Johnstone, A Black Man, Who Was Hanged at Woodbury, in the County of Glocester, and State of New Jersey, on Saturday the the [sic] 8th Day of July Last; To the People of Colour. To Which Is Added His Dying Confession or Declaration. Also, a Copy of a Letter to His Wife, Written the Day Previous to His Execution (1797) opens with...

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4. The Work of Death: Time, Crime, and Personhood in Jacksonian America

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pp. 164-205

Faced with the dilemma race slavery and its legacy posed to the new republic, such prominent Americans as Noah Webster, Thomas Jefferson, and St. George Tucker suggested that a slavery-engendered propensity for crime precluded...

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5. How Freeman Was Made a Madman: Race, Capacity, and Citizenship

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pp. 206-251

In contrast with the thousands who flocked to early American Execution Day rituals, only about three hundred people attended the prison-yard hanging of Edward Coleman, and doubtless fewer still watched Dr. Chilton apply his Galvanic...

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6. Who Aint a Slaver? Citizenship, Piracy, and Slaver Narratives

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pp. 252-294

As initial reports of the Van Nest murders appeared throughout the spring of 1846, the press was also publicizing the seizure of the American slave ship, Pons, and the landing of its nearly nine hundred sick and dying African...

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Conclusion

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pp. 295-311

Let us return to the gallows portrait depicting “two sweeps, one of whom was represented as a negro, and the other as a mullato speaking the German language,” at prayer before their hanging for the murders of Pennsylvania Dutch matrons Anna Garber...

Notes

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pp. 313-379

Bibliography

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pp. 381-431

Index

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pp. 433-441

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 443-446

This book began in 1992, when Houston Baker encouraged me to seek the slave narrative’s testimonial origins in Puritan evidences. Doubt turned into fascination when I encountered the remarkable number of confessions and execution...