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Creon's GhostLaw, Justice, and the Humanities$
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Joseph Tomain

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195333411

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195333411.001.0001

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Law Breaking

Law Breaking

(p.125) Five Law Breaking
Creon's Ghost

Joseph P. Tomain

Oxford University Press

The Underground Railroad, the conductors that operated it, and the fugitive slaves that it transported constitute an essential story of the conflict between man's law and higher law; it is a story about how a higher, religiously inspired, law expiated the sin of slavery contained in man's law. The story of the conflict is told through three episodes from Uncle Tom's Cabin. This chapter argues that Uncle Tom's Cabin was driven by a religious fervor to end slavery, yet that fervor gained no victories in courts of law. The positive law of the country, including the silence of the Declaration of Independence, the accommodations made in the Constitution, and the Fugitive Slave Laws enacted by Congress perpetuated a system of slavery that become intolerable to many and threatened the Union for all. The lesson of Uncle Tom's Cabin, Sim's Case, and the Reconstruction is that man's law stands strong against religion's claims, but is not impenetrable.

Keywords:   Underground Railroad, slaves, Uncle Tom's Cabin, Declaration of Independence, Constitution, American slavery, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Robert M. Cover, Realists

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