Slavery in America From Colonization to the Philadelphia Convention
A Virtual Mini-Seminar
This course focuses on the lives of enslaved and free people of African descent in the American colonies from 1619 through the American Revolution. We will consider the ways enslaved and free people of African descent helped shape colonial society and the ways colonial laws shaped their lives. We will explore African American community life and culture from New England to the Chesapeake and Florida and will examine the laws and practices that defined slavery, indentured servitude and freedom before the American Revolution. We will consider regional differences and similarities in enslaved people’s daily lives. Course material includes a study of African American contact with Native Americans and also African Americans’ resistance to slavery in British, French and Spanish colonial territory.
In 1776, African Americans understood very well the meanings and potential consequences of the Declaration of Independence and American Revolution. We will explore the ways enslaved and free African Americans responded to the idea of American independence and to the reality of wartime life. We will look at legal cases that recognized the freedom of enslaved people after the Revolution and we will consider efforts to strengthen the laws of slavery. Finally, we will take a close look at where the institution of chattel slavery fits in the United States Constitution.
Barbara Krauthamer is Dean of the College of Humanities and Fine Arts, and Professor of History at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Barbara Krauthamer’s book Black Slaves, Indian Masters: Slavery, Emancipation, and Citizenship in the Native American South was published by the University of North Carolina Press in spring 2013. It is the first full-length study of chattel slavery and the lives of enslaved people in the Choctaw and Chickasaw Indian nations. The book reveals the centrality of slavery and racial ideology in Native leaders’ definitions of Indian sovereignty, as well as in U.S. federal policy towards Indian peoples and territory. She has already written a number of articles and book chapters on the subjects of slavery in Indian Territory, and African American/Native American intersections. Her work has been supported with funding from the NEH, Stanford University, Yale University, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and the Institute for Historical Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.
Professor Krauthamer co-authored Envisioning Emancipation: Black Americans and the End of Slavery with Professor Deborah Willis of New York University. The book features 150 historical photographs of enslaved and free African Americans from the 1850s through the 1930s, and also includes four essays that discuss the photographic representations of slavery, emancipation, and freedom. This book was published by Temple University Press in 2013, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.
She is currently working on a study of runaway slave women that frames enslaved women as intellectual and political actors and examines the meanings and manifestations of freedom in their lives.
Professor Krauthamer was recently appointed the Associate Dean for Student Inclusion and Engagement in the Graduate School at UMass Amherst. As Associate Dean, she will set up and manage the new Research Enhancement and Leadership Fellows program, a joint effort of the Graduate School, the Provost's Office, and the Colleges to increase graduate student diversity and success in HFA, SBS, Education, ISOM, and Nursing. She will also work with the Office of Professional Development on alternative career paths for doctoral students in the humanities and social sciences.