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The Legal Understanding of SlaveryFrom the Historical to the Contemporary$
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Jean Allain

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199660469

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199660469.001.0001

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Slavery in the United States

Slavery in the United States

Persons or Property?

(p.105) 6 Slavery in the United States
The Legal Understanding of Slavery

Paul Finkelman

Oxford University Press

This chapter studies slavery in the United States, specifically how the Supreme Court and the U.S. Constitution defined and understood it. It first shows how slavery was protected by law due to the efforts of the framers of the 1787 Constitutional Convention. It then explains how the Supreme Court came to define slavery through its legal system. This chapter also demonstrates the way the legal system balanced the dual status of slaves as ‘people’ and ‘property’.

Keywords:   Supreme Court, U.S. Constitution, 1787 Constitutional Convention, legal system, dual status

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