Birthright Citizens

BIRTHRIGHT CITIZENS: A HISTORY OF RACE AND RIGHTS IN ANTEBELLUM AMERICA.

Forthcoming in fall 2018 from Cambridge University Press and the Studies in Legal History series.

Birthright Citizens tells how African American activists radically transformed the terms of citizenship for all Americans. Before the Civil War, colonization schemes and black laws threatened to deport former slaves born in the United States. Birthright Citizens recovers the story of how African American activists remade national belonging through battles in legislatures, conventions, and courthouses. They faced formidable opposition, most notoriously from the US Supreme Court decision in Dred Scott. Still, Martha Jones explains, no single case defined their status. Former slaves studied law, secured allies, and conducted themselves like citizens, establishing their status through local, everyday claims. All along they argued that birth guaranteed their rights. With fresh archival sources and an ambitious reframing of constitutional law-making before the Civil War, Jones shows how the Fourteenth Amendment constitutionalized the birthright principle, fulfilling the long-held aspirations of African Americans.

TALKS and APPEARANCES

April 19, 2018.            University of Connecticut, Draper Workshop.

April 10, 2018.            University of Texas, Dallas, History Department.

April 5, 2018.              Harvard University, Radcliffe Institute.

March 30, 2018.         Duke University.

March 13, 2018.          American Bar Association, Division for Public Education. 

February 22, 2018.     University of Georgia, Department of History.

February 7, 2018.        Yale University, RASW Workshop.

January 18, 2018.        Roger Williams School of Law. 

January 4, 2018.          American Association of Law Schools.

November 6, 2017.      Notre Dame School of Law.

COMMENTARY and ANALYSIS

“Race, Citizenship, and a Search for Intellectual Honesty,” Journal of the Civil War Era and Muster: How the Past Informs the Present. January 2018.

”Who Was Roger Taney?” WYPR Public Radio  August 2017.

“The 14th Amendment Solved One Citizenship Crisis, but it Created a New One.” Washington Post. July 2017.

“Before Frederick Douglass: William Watkins Speaks for Black Americans on Independence Day, July 4, 1831.” Medium. July 2017.

“Birthright Citizenship and Reconstruction’s Unfinished Revolution.” Journal of the Civil War Era.

“First the Streets, Then the Archives,” American Journal of Legal History 56, no. 1 (March 2016): 92-96.

“Marin et citoyen : être noir et libre à bord des navires états-uniens avant la Guerre civile.” Le Mouvement social, 3 (2015): 93-112.

“The Dreams Deferred in Baltimore’s Mortgage Crises Set the Stage for Unrest.” The Conversation. May 2015.

REVIEWS

[Forthcoming.]