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Confronting InjusticeMoral History and Political Theory$
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David Lyons

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199662555

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199662555.001.0001

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Slavery and the Rule of Law in Early Virginia 1

Slavery and the Rule of Law in Early Virginia 1

(p.14) 2 Slavery and the Rule of Law in Early Virginia1
Confronting Injustice

David Lyons

Oxford University Press

This paper concerns systematic practices by public officials that are clearly unlawful, not hidden from view, and tolerated for many years. Such a “legal entrenchment of illegality” characterized America’s Jim Crow period, from the 1890s to the 1960s, especially in the former slave states, where the rape, assault, and murder of African Americans, police brutality, procedural bias, and anti‐black pogroms were tolerated or engaged in by officials. The related cynicism of officials is illustrated by a review of Supreme Court decisions that undermined the legal framework for the post‐Civil War “reconstruction” of the former slave states. This paper also shows how the legal entrenchment of illegality required officials to embrace an incoherent and unstable set of attitudes towards law, which was incompatible with Hart’s legal theory as originally presented, but was compatible with its final form.

Keywords:   slavery, slave law, Virginia colony, enslavement of Christians, inheritable slavery, slave homicides, race-based slavery

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