Abstract

Abstract:

This article emphasizes northerners' arguments for state sovereignty across a range of antebellum conflicts over migration and immigration, emphasizing the many ways free state residents discussed and defended the sovereignty of states and, in particular, the power of the states to regulate persons they considered potentially disruptive. Free state lawyers, legislators, and judges, drawing on a legal tradition dating back to early modern England, regularly argued that states were entitled to regulate the mobility and residency not only of paupers and vagrants, but also of immigrants from Europe, alleged fugitive slaves, free black people, Chinese immigrants, and even slavecatchers. These contemporaries were engaged less in an argument over abstract theories of states' rights versus nationalism than in a struggle to govern a mobile and diverse population.

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Additional Information

ISSN
2159-9807
Print ISSN
2154-4727
Pages
pp. 588-611
Launched on MUSE
2019-12-05
Open Access
No
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