Dethroning Justice: Race, Law, and Police after Slavery
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Booth, Jonathon Joseph
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CitationBooth, Jonathon Joseph. 2021. Dethroning Justice: Race, Law, and Police after Slavery. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
AbstractThe abolition of slavery in Jamaica and the United States, in 1834 and 1865 respectively, began the process of emancipation. In the three decades following abolition, former slaves and former slave owners struggled over the economic, political, and legal relations of emancipation. In both places, former slaveowners maintained a great deal of political power, especially at the local level. They used that power to construct a system of labor control in which the law replaced the individual power of the master. The new legal architecture that they built after abolition aimed to force freedpeople to continue working on plantations by expanding the reach of criminal law, making other means of subsistence difficult or illegal, and creating or expanding new legal institutions, such as low-level courts and police, to enforce the new laws. Freedpeople in both Jamaica and the United States resisted these impositions. Sometimes they directly protested the police and other law enforcement institutions and attempted to enforce the new rights they had won with abolition. At other times, especially in Jamaica, freedpeople successfully avoided the plantation economy and acquired their own land.
The struggles over emancipation looked similar in both Jamaica and the United States in part because Jamacia’s earlier abolition shaped emancipation policy in the United States. Both pro- and anti-slavery Americans closely followed the course of emancipation in Jamaica, highlighting its failures or successes, depending on their point of view. Most importantly, during the American Civil War, the example of Jamaican emancipation convinced Republican politicians that any type of semi-freedom was counterproductive and that the freedpeople should be granted full citizenship rights. Planters emerged victorious from the process of emancipation. And after achieving victory, established Jim Crow segregation in the United States and undemocratic Crown Colony government in Jamaica. The struggle for equal rights for black citizens, both through and against the law, continued well into the twentieth century.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37370109
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