Discover the story of African American activists' long fight to gain US citizenship with Dr. Martha S. Jones, author of Birthright Citizens: Race and Rights in Antebellum America. Dr. Jones shows
Discover the story of African American activists’ long fight to gain US citizenship with Dr. Martha S. Jones, author of Birthright Citizens: Race and Rights in Antebellum America. Dr. Jones shows how when the 14th Amendment constitutionalized the birthright principle, the aspirations of black Americans were realized.
Birthright Citizens tells 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 US Supreme Court decision in Dred Scott, which had historical roots in Minnesota. Still, 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.
Dr. Martha S. Jones is the Society of Black Alumni Presidential Professor and professor of history at Johns Hopkins University. Her work has been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Humanities Center, the National Constitution Center, and the Gilder-Lehrman Institute of American History.
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