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Amanda Laury Kleintop
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (North Adams, MA 01247-4100)
The Balance of Freedom: Abolishing Property Rights in Slaves during and After the Civil War

Research and writing one chapter of a book interrogating the significance of policies governing property rights in slaves before and after Emancipation.

Until the US Civil War, legal recognition of property rights in slaves enabled slaveholders, merchants, and investors to buy and sell slaves on credit and to mortgage slaves. The US government’s wartime decision to abolish slavery without reimbursing slaveowners for the lost value of freed slaves threatened to send this complex system of finance, founded on human property, into chaos. From 1864-1871, southern and federal lawmakers and judges, as well as everyday southerners, argued over who ought to be responsible for the financial burden of emancipation. This project explores the little-known history of white southerners’ defense of their perceived right to own slaves or to be reimbursed for their value. Their debates, ranging from former Confederate states to the US Capital, reveal that immediate, uncompensated emancipation in the US South was not an inevitable outcome of Union victory in the Civil War, and the process of emancipation extended well beyond the abolition of slavery.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
Legal History; Political History; U.S. History

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2020 – 7/31/2020