Lecture to examine how states used Constitution to defend slavery

Published: March 16 2012

Category:Announcements, Happenings, InsideUF

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — By the time of Abraham Lincoln’s election in 1860 to U.S. President and the South’s subsequent secession from the United States, the Southern states had already been exposed to a comprehensive pro-slavery doctrine for three decades, according to University of North Carolina School of Law Professor Alfred Brophy.

The Judge John J. Parker Distinguished Professor of Law will present a lecture titled, “Slavery, Secession and the Constitution,” at the ninth annual UF Levin College of Law Center for the Study of Race and Race Relations Spring Lecture at noon March 21 at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, Room 345. The lecture is free and open to the public.

“While everyone understands that slavery was at the center of the South’s secession, what I’m interested in is how Southern politicians, lawyers and professors used constitutional ideas – like the Constitution’s protection of slavery – to argue for secession,” Brophy said.

Brophy said while today we see the Constitution as a guarantee of equal rights, before the Civil War, Southerners used the same document to protect slavery, even at the cost of a united nation.

This presentation is the culmination of years of work analyzing Southern academics and their defense of slavery, and “how ideas about slavery, history and economy were used to gin up support for a proslavery interpretation of the Constitution and separate Confederate nation.”

Brophy is the author of “Reconstructing the Dreamland: The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921″ (Oxford University Press, 2002) and “Reparations Pro and Con” (Oxford University Press, 2006), and is the co-author of “Integrating Spaces: Property Law and Race” (Aspen, 2011). He is completing a study of jurisprudence in the old South tentatively titled “University, Court, and Slave” and is starting a study of the idea of equality among African-American intellectuals in the early 20th century and the road to Brown, tentatively titled “Reading the Great Constitutional Dream Book.”

The University of Florida Levin College of Law Center for the Study of Race and Race Relations is committed to fostering communities of dialogue on race. The center creates and supports programs designed to enhance race-related curriculum development for faculty, staff and students in collegiate and professional schools. Of the five U.S. law schools with race centers, the CSRRR is uniquely focused on curriculum development.


Matt Walker, mlwalker@law.ufl.edu , 352-273-0650

Category:Announcements, Happenings, InsideUF