Tyrannicide: Forging an American Law of Slavery in Revolutionary South Carolina and Massachusetts

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University of Georgia Press, 2014 - History - 217 pages
"Tyrannicide uses a captivating narrative to unpack the experiences of slavery and slave law in South Carolina and Massachusetts during the Revolutionary Era. In 1779, during the midst of the American Revolution, 34 South Carolina slaves escaped aboard a British privateer ship (the Tyrannicide), and ended up in Massachusetts. Once they arrived in Boston, the slaves became the center of a legal dispute between the two states, and the case affected slave law and highlighted the profound differences between how the "terrible institution" was practiced in the North and South, in ways that would foreground issues that would eventually lead to the Civil War. Emily Blanck uses the Tyrannicide Affair and the slaves involved--some of which become active in the American Revolution in Massachusetts--as a lens through which to view contrasting slaveholding cultures and ideas of African American democracy. The legal and political battles that resulted from the affair reveal much about revolutionary ideals and states' rights at a time when notions of the New Republic--and philosophies about the unity of American states--were being created. Blanck's examination of the debate analyzes crucial questions: How could the colonies unify when they viewed one of America's foundational institutions in fundamentally different ways? How would fugitive slaves be handled legally and ethically? The experience of the Tyrannicide Affair informed the writing of parts of the Constitution, and led indirectly to the nation's writing of the fugitive slave law"--
 

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Contents

Forging an American Slave Law
1
Chapter 1 Slavery Rhetoric and Reality before the War 17641774
9
Chapter 2 Slavery and the Start of the Revolution 17751779
47
Chapter 3 The Tyrannicide Affair Begins 17791782
81
Chapter 4 Diverging Slave Law in the New Nation 17831787
115
Fugitive Slaves in the Constitutional Convention
147
Notes
171
Index
201
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About the author (2014)

Emily Blanck is an associate professor of history at Rowan University.

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