Contract and the Culture of Constitutionalism
This chapter focuses on the reconfigurations of race, labor, and national citizenship during the Union crisis. Specifically, it discusses Frederick Douglass's shift from the Garrisonian position—which read the Constitution as a proslavery document—to the political-abolitionist position as seen in his writings. His remarks on the Constitution—that it is fully opposed “in letter and spirit” to slavery—elaborated the trope of “a man from another country,” the figure for a legal hermeneutic whose perspective locates constitutional “intention” exclusively in the letter of the law. The remainder of the chapter traces the slavery debates in relation to transformations in contract and labor law that began with the antebellum market revolution.
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