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?