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Until Justice Be Done: America’s First Civil Rights Movement, from the Revolution to Reconstruction

The half-century before the Civil War was beset with conflict over equality as well as freedom. Kate Masur’s book illuminates a multi-decade struggle to rid the free states of racist laws and push the principle of racial equality onto the federal agenda. She follows African American activists and their white allies - pastors, editors, lawyers, politicians, ship captains, and countless ordinary men and women – as they mobilized through petitioning, lobbying, court cases, and party politics. In drawing attention to the ideas and practices that characterized this early movement for racial equality, Masur offers a new vision of antebellum politics and recasts the history of the nation’s earliest federal civil rights measures: the Fourteenth Amendment and the Civil Rights Act of 1866.

Date & Time

Monday
Apr. 19, 2021
4:00pm – 5:30pm ET

Location

Zoom Webinar

Overview

The half-century before the Civil War was beset with conflict over equality as well as freedom. Kate Masur’s book illuminates a multi-decade struggle to rid the free states of racist laws and push the principle of racial equality onto the federal agenda. She follows African American activists and their white allies - pastors, editors, lawyers, politicians, ship captains, and countless ordinary men and women – as they mobilized through petitioning, lobbying, court cases, and party politics. In drawing attention to the ideas and practices that characterized this early movement for racial equality, Masur offers a new vision of antebellum politics and recasts the history of the nation’s earliest federal civil rights measures: the Fourteenth Amendment and the Civil Rights Act of 1866.

Kate Masur is an associate professor of History at Northwestern University. She has written extensively on race and politics in the nineteenth-century United States, including in her first book, An Example for All the Land: Emancipation and the Struggle Over Equality in Washington, DC (2010). With Gregory P. Downs, she co-authored, for the US National Park Service, the National Historic Landmark Theme Study on the Era of Reconstruction (2017) and serves as co-editors of the Journal of the Civil War Era.

The Washington History Seminar is co-chaired by Eric Arnesen (George Washington University and the National History Center) and Christian Ostermann (Woodrow Wilson Center) and is organized jointly by the National History Center of the American Historical Association and the Woodrow Wilson Center's History and Public Policy Program. It meets weekly during the academic year. The seminar thanks its anonymous individual donors and institutional partners (the George Washington University History Department and the Lepage Center for History in the Public Interest) for their continued support.


Hosted By

History and Public Policy Program

The History and Public Policy Program strives to make public the primary source record of 20th and 21st century international history from repositories around the world, to facilitate scholarship based on those records, and to use these materials to provide context for classroom, public, and policy debates on global affairs.  Read more

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