Slavery, Freedom, and the Law in the Atlantic World
First Edition   ©2007

Slavery, Freedom, and the Law in the Atlantic World

A Brief History with Documents

Sue Peabody (Washington State University) , Keila Grinberg (U. Federal do Rio de Janeiro)

  • ISBN-10: 0-312-41176-6; ISBN-13: 978-0-312-41176-3; Format: Paper Text, 224 pages

During the era of revolution, independence, and emancipation in the north Atlantic, "slavery" and "freedom" were fluid and contested concepts. Individuals and groups turned to courts of law to define and enforce the status of indigenous Americans, forcibly imported Africans, and colonizing Europeans -- and their progeny. Legal institutions of the state manufactured and mediated a new, dynamic concept of freedom, inventing categories of race and codifying white privilege. In this collection of documents from the French, British, Spanish, and Portuguese empires, Peabody and Grinberg introduce the voices of slaves, slave-holders, jurists, legislators, and others who struggled to critique, overturn, justify, or simply describe the social order in which they found themselves. Discussion questions, illustrations, a glossary, and a bibliography allow students to analyze these rich documents and discern their lasting influences.
“This wonderful volume brings together four different regions of the Atlantic World, facilitating both specific and broad comparisons across space and time. The selection of documents is excellent, and it nicely combines normative texts with other types of documents in which the voices of the slaves and other actors are heard.”
— Carlos Aguirre
University of Oregon