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Creating Citizenship in the Nineteenth-Century South$
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William A. Link, David Brown, Brian Ward, and Martyn Bone

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780813044132

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813044132.001.0001

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Rewriting the Free Negro Past

Rewriting the Free Negro Past

Joseph Lumpkin, Proslavery Ideology, and Citizenship in Antebellum Georgia

(p.41) 2 Rewriting the Free Negro Past
Creating Citizenship in the Nineteenth-Century South

Watson Jennison

University Press of Florida

*By the 1850s the debate over slavery had reached its peak. In the midst of growing sectionalism and political conflict, slavery’s defenders and its opponents engaged in a heated battle over the true nature of bondage in the U. S. South and its impact on those enslaved. These debates concerned not only the fate of the slave population in the South, but the place of the free black population as well. Their collective condition figured prominently in the discussions over the institution. Although white northerners were similarly hostile to the notion that blacks were equal to whites, most were less inclined to cast free blacks in such unequivocally negative terms or to deprive them of basic rights. Indeed, free blacks retained privileges of citizenship, including the right to vote, in New York and most of New England throughout the antebellum era. One of the leading figures in the assault on free black rights was Justice Joseph Lumpkin of Georgia, a prominent jurist and the legal architect of the state’s antebellum slave regime. In sixty important cases related to those issues during his 21 years on the bench, Lumpkin stood at the vanguard of a southern movement promoting proslavery ideology in the legal realm.

Keywords:   Slavery, free blacks, Georgia, Joseph Lumpkin, citizenship

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