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This article considers the crucial role that ideas about race and slavery played in the formation of the Early Republic. Instead of highlighting, as have others, the paradoxical emergence of race-based slavery in a society devoted to freedom and liberty, Jason Young instead envisions this conflict as merely a more recent iteration of a much larger trans-Atlantic concern. The central conflicts of citizenship and alienation that were at the heart of key Constitutional debates in the Early Republic were also playing out in West Africa and Western Europe. Instead of reflecting novel problems of state, these debates animated political formations and conceptions long before they arrived on American shores. In this way, viewing the Early Republic through an African Diasporic lens promises new ways of thinking not only about slavery and abolition but also about the processes of nation-building around the Atlantic rim at the turn of the nineteenth century.