Slavery & Silence

September 7, 2:30pm – 4:00pm

Manoa Campus, Sakamaki A201

Professor Marcus Daniel (History) will be presenting “Slavery & Silence: Rethinking the Somerset Decision and the American Revolution” as the first meeting of the new History Workshop series, “Human Rights and Historical Responsibilities.” In 1772, in the midst of the imperial crisis between Britain and its North American colonies, Lord Chief Justice Mansfield, delivered a landmark decision in the case of Somerset v. Knowles that recognized the freedom of the enslaved James Somerset.

The ruling has traditionally been treated within the context of British abolitionism and the history of Afro-Britons in the C18th, as the first great legal victory for anti-slavery in England, and as a decision that led to the rapid demise of slavery within the imperial metropole. But the decision also sent shock waves through the colonies. Although Mansfield’s ruling did not extend beyond English soil, it created a “free soil” zone within the empire for the first time, and raised unsettling questions about the future status and security of slavery in the British American colonies.

This talk will explore the impact and implications of the Somerset decision in North America, its relationship to the transatlantic debate about slavery in the 1770’s, to the broader debate about imperial sovereignty that led to the declaration of American independence in 1776, and to the history of slavery in the revolutionary and post-revolutionary United States.

Event Sponsor
History, Manoa Campus

More Information
History Workshop, 956-7407,