WWS Calendar

LAPA Hot-Off-The-Press Book Talk with Author Martha S. Jones on "Birthright Citizens: A History of Race and Rights in Antebellum America"

Apr 15, 2019 12:15PM to 01:20PM
Julis Romo Rabinowitz Building
399 Julis Romo Rabinowitz Building


Open to the Public
Martha S. Jones, Johns Hopkins University

Rescheduled from February 20th

Please join us for a discussion with Martha S. Jones on her recentl book, 

Birthright Citizens: A History of Race and Rights in Antebellum America.

"Birthright Citizens" tells how African American activists radically transformed the terms of citizenship for all Americans. Before the Civil War, colonization schemes and black laws threatened to deport former slaves born in the United States. Birthright Citizens recovers the story of how African American activists remade national belonging through battles in legislatures, conventions, and courthouses. They faced formidable opposition, most notoriously from the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Dred Scott. Still, Jones explains, no single case defined their status. Former slaves studied law, secured allies, and conducted themselves like citizens, establishing their status through local, everyday claims. All along they argued that birth guaranteed their rights. With fresh archival sources and an ambitious reframing of constitutional law-making before the Civil War, Jones shows how, when the Fourteenth Amendment constitutionalized the birthright principle, the aspirations of black Americans' aspirations were realized.​

Martha S. Jones is a legal and cultural historian whose interests include the study of race, law, citizenship, slavery, and the rights of women. She joined the Johns Hopkins University Krieger School of Arts and Sciences Department of History in June, 2017 as the Society of Black Alumni Presidential Professor and Professor of History. Jones came from the University of Michigan College of Literature, Science, and the Arts where she was a Presidential Bicentennial Professor, Professor of History and Afro-American and African Studies. She was a founding director of the Michigan Law School Program in Race, Law & History and a senior fellow in the Michigan Society of Fellows. She holds a Ph.D. in history from Columbia University and a J.D. from the CUNY School of Law. Jones is the author of All Bound Up Together: The Woman Question in African American Public Culture 1830-1900 (University of North Carolina Press, 2007) and Birthright Citizens: A History of Race and Rights in Antebellum America (Cambridge University Press, 2018) and a coeditor of Toward an Intellectual History of Black Women (University of North Carolina Press, 2015), together with many important articles and essays. Her work includes the curatorship of museum exhibitions, including “Reframing the Color Line” and “Proclaiming Emancipation” in conjunction with the William L. Clements Library. Jones’s essays and commentary have appeared in The Washington Post, the Chronicle of Higher Education, CNN, and the Detroit Free Press, among other news outlets. 

Details and to RSVP for lunch: http://lapa.princeton.edu/content/birthright-citizens-history-race-and-rights-antebellum-america