Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Black Litigants in the Antebellum American South$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Kimberly M. Welch

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781469636436

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469636436.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 23 September 2021

The Sanctity of Property

The Sanctity of Property

(p.134) 5 The Sanctity of Property
Black Litigants in the Antebellum American South

Kimberly M. Welch

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter examines lawsuits over property. Free blacks went to court with full knowledge of their rights to property, and they expected the courts to deal with them fairly and protect those rights, just as they would with white southerners. They sued whites and other people of color in disputes over real and personal property. They also appealed to the courts to protect the dignity of their labor and sued to protect labor contracts or recover back wages. Like many antebellum Americans, free people of color viewed their labor as a form of property; it too represented a path to economic independence. Property ownership, however, sometimes rendered free people of color vulnerable to the greed of unscrupulous individuals. Free blacks’ precarious position in a social order dedicated to white supremacy sometimes meant they were the victims of fraud—or worse. When cheated, they appealed to the courts to intervene. This chapter focuses its attention primarily on the property disputes of free people of color, as the southern legal apparatus did not acknowledge or protect the slaves’ economy, but on occasion even those held as property went to court and sued.

Keywords:   Property, Civil Rights, Property Rights, Litigation, Free Blacks

North Carolina Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .