Thomas Reade Roots Cobb’s An Inquiry into the Law of Negro Slavery
Thomas R. R. Cobb, a Georgia lawyer and law professor, published his proslavery legal treatise in 1858. Cobb’s book surveyed slavery in human society from the ancient world to the modern West Indies and American South. He made the case for an empirical basis for his proslavery world view. He saw slavery as nearly ubiquitous in human history, as necessary for economic and demographic development, and as beneficial to the enslaved and the enslavers as well. Cobb’s treatise argued for the extension of slavery and for slavery’s consistency with natural law. Cobb argued that slavery was the natural state of humans and that the common law should preference slavery, not freedom. His treatise was used in years between its publication and the Civil War to justify proslavery positions when enslaved people challenged the legitimacy of their bondage in court.
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