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Black Trials: Citizenship from the Beginnings of Slavery to the End of Caste


Black Trials: Citizenship from the Beginnings of Slavery to the End of Caste Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A sweeping history of American ideas of belonging and citizenship, told through the stories of fourteen legal cases that helped to shape our nation.

Spanning the period from colonial times to the present, Black Trials tells how the place of blacks in American society evolved through the actions of our courts of law. Some of the cases discussed are legendary, such as the ordeal of John Brown, the fiery abolitionist who was hanged for raiding Harpers Ferry in order to equip an army of insurgent slaves. Some are forgotten, such as that of Joseph Hanno, an eighteenth-century free black man charged not only with the brutal murder of his wife but with having brought smallpox to Boston. All of these cases compelled the legal system and the public to reconsider the place of blacks in America and, in so doing, to reconcile our founding ideals with the realities of American life. Drawing on a wealth of new archival sources, Weiner recounts the essential dramas of American civic identity–illuminating where our sense of minority rights has come from and where it might go.

Combining brilliant interdisciplinary analysis with riveting narrative, Black Trials offers a new way of thinking about inclusion and citizenship–and by extension about the meaning of America itself.

From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Mark S. Weiner was born and raised in Los Angeles. After graduating from Stanford University, he received a Ph.D. in American studies and a law degree from Yale. He now teaches constitutional law, legal history, and legal ethics at Rutgers School of Law in Newark, New Jersey.

Table of Contents


Introduction: Rituals of Citizenship

Part One: Colonial Visions, 1619-1773

The Birth of Black Trials

1. Let Us Make a Tryal

(Joseph Hanno and Cotton Mather, Boston, 1721)

2. This Villainous Conspiracy

(The Great Negro Plot, New York, 1741)

3. Air Too Pure

(Somersets Case, London, 1772)

Part Two: White Republic, 1776-1849

National Identity on Trial

4. I Should Not Turn Her Out

(Crandall v. Connecticut, Hartford, 1833)

5. All We Want Is Make Us Free

(The Amistad,Washington, 1841)

6. Christian Witness

( Jones v. Van Zandt, Cincinnati, 1847)

Part Three: New Americans, 1850-1896


7. The Law of Blood

(John Brown, Virginia, 1859)

8. Original Purity

(The Ku Klux Klan Trials, South Carolina, 1871)

9. In the Nature of Things

(The Civil Rights Cases, California, 1883, and

Plessy v. Ferguson, Louisiana, 1896)

Part Four: Uplift the Race, 1903-1970

Overcoming Jim Crow

10. Black, White, and Red

(The Scottsboro Boys, Alabama, 1931)

11. Hearts and Minds

(Brown v. Board of Education, Kansas, 1954)

12. To Die for the People

(Huey Newton, California, 1968)

Part Five: After Caste, 1991-2004


13. Confirmation

(Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas, Washington, 1991)

14. Statistics and Citizenship

(Mumia Abu-Jamal, Philadelphia, 2001)




Product Details

Weiner, Mark S
Vintage Books USA
Weiner, Mark S.
Mark Weiner
United States - General
Legal History
Ethnic Studies - African American Studies - Histor
Civics & Citizenship
African Americans - Legal status, laws, etc
African American Studies-Black Heritage
African American Studies-General
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
7.97 x 5.18 x 0.9 in 1 lb

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » African American Studies » General
History and Social Science » Law » General
History and Social Science » Politics » United States » Politics

Black Trials: Citizenship from the Beginnings of Slavery to the End of Caste New Trade Paper
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Product details 448 pages Vintage Books USA - English 9780375708848 Reviews:
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