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University, Court, and SlaveProslavery Academic Thought and Southern Jurisprudence, 1831–1861$
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Alfred L. Brophy

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199964239

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199964239.001.0001

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Pro-slavery Jurisprudence

Pro-slavery Jurisprudence

Thomas Reade Roots Cobb’s An Inquiry into the Law of Negro Slavery

Chapter:
(p.227) 10 Pro-slavery Jurisprudence
Source:
University, Court, and Slave
Author(s):

Alfred L. Brophy

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199964239.003.0011

Thomas R. R. Cobb, a Georgia lawyer and law professor, published his proslavery legal treatise in 1858. Cobb’s book surveyed slavery in human society from the ancient world to the modern West Indies and American South. He made the case for an empirical basis for his proslavery world view. He saw slavery as nearly ubiquitous in human history, as necessary for economic and demographic development, and as beneficial to the enslaved and the enslavers as well. Cobb’s treatise argued for the extension of slavery and for slavery’s consistency with natural law. Cobb argued that slavery was the natural state of humans and that the common law should preference slavery, not freedom. His treatise was used in years between its publication and the Civil War to justify proslavery positions when enslaved people challenged the legitimacy of their bondage in court.

Keywords:   Thomas Cobb, historical jurisprudence, empirical analysis, slavery, natural law, emancipation, West Indies

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