Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Finkelman on Regulating the Slave Trade

Here is another reference to an article in a Project Muse journal sent in by Robert Richards. Earlier this year, Paul Finkelman, Albany Law School, published "Regulating the African Slave Trade," 54 CIVIL WAR HISTORY 379 (2008). It commences:
In 1807 the U.S. Congress passed legislation, which became effective on January 1, 1808, to end all importations of slaves into the United States. Even before that date, Congress had passed a series of laws which prevented Americans from participating in the trade as sailors, ship captains, ship owners, ship builders, or investors in slave trading ventures. The bicentennial of closing the trade to United States provides an appropriate moment to examine how the United States withdrew from this form of commerce. At one level, the tale is inspiring. This was the first time in history that a slaveholding nation voluntarily ceased to import new slaves. At another level, this is a cautionary, but nevertheless instructive, tale about how to use law to effectuate social change.