H-Law Podcast Episode 10: Martha Jones

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In this podcast I talk with Martha S. Jones, Society of Black Alumni Presidential Professor and Professor of History at Johns Hopkins University, about her book Birthright Citizens: A History of Race and Rights in Antebellum America (CUP, 2018). Professor Jones is a legal and cultural historian whose interests include the study of race, law, citizenship, slavery, and the rights of women.


 :29 Author Background


3:05 How Jones’s time as a public interest lawyer influenced Birthright Citizens


7:02 The perspective from which the work is written


9:47 How the work relates to the historiography surrounding race and citizenship


13:12 The sources Jones drew upon to write Birthright Citizens


15:47 Baltimore as a setting


18:37 The pressures that catalyzed arguments for birthright citizenship


24:03 How antebellum Americans perceived the relationship between rights and citizenship


27:56 How antebellum Americans without formal legal training studied law


32:26 Ways antebellum black Americans interacted with the law through newspapers


35:18 Ways individuals used law as an instrument of change


40:48 The concept of rights secured through performance


44:47 Black Baltimoreans' interactions with local courthouses


48:27 How Baltimore’s men and women sometimes inverted the intention of the black laws


52:29 Scott v. Sanford’s impact in Baltimore


57:00 Connections between rights and citizenship in the antebellum period and during Reconstruction


1:02:00 The relationship between finding justice in the present and remembering the past