Monday, August 15, 2016

Hartog on Gradual Emancipation

Over at Process, the blog of the Organization of American Historians, Hendrik Hartog, Princeton University, has posted Learning from the Legal Culture of Gradual Emancipation, or, Misled by the Thirteenth Amendment.  It begins:
For some historians, the recurrent debates about the relationship of our “Framers” to slavery and abolition are irritating at best. What those few white men—preeminently Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson—thought and wrote about the presence of slavery is, of course, important. Their words live on and may still play a part in shaping our political culture. But what interests social and cultural historians is how lives were led, even as sentiments were expressed. What did it mean to live in a regime of gradual emancipation, for example in Hamilton’s New York, at the beginning of the nineteenth century? And why should we care about the contradictions that shaped their lives?

1 comment:

Philip A said...

This was an interesting article, but the take-away seemed to be shoe-horned in. I would like to avoid a legal/political quagmire, but I don't understand how the gradual emancipation of slaves and their integration into society is related to what was alluded to be the current illegal immigrant population (the allusion being derived from the "probably not "legal"" part). It sounds to me like he's suggesting the U.S.A. should not enforce an immigration policy and just work on a gradual integration process. So basically I'm asking what does slavery have to do with immigration, both legal and illegal? Does he believe or is he suggesting that parts of the illegal and legal immigrant populations are treated as slaves? Anyone else have any thoughts on this?
(As a note: I am aware that the number of slaves in the world today is the highest it has ever been in history. It is a serious issue and the forced enslavement or indentured servitude of any person is a terrible practice and it is very clear that more needs to be done to end it).