This seminar examines the legal history of the interrelationship of race and citizenship in the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries. The course pays special attention to the active role that law has played historically in racially defining U.S. and state citizenship and the consequent rights and duties that flowed from it.
The changing law of American citizenship was an important determiner of inclusion and exclusion in the US and a site for the legal construction of persistent socio economic inequalities. The seminar will attempt to incorporate both primary sources as well as secondary studies by leading legal-historical scholars as we survey the major citizenship cases and controversies, from the original U.S. Naturalization Act to Dred Scott; from the role of judicial statutory interpretation in defining race to epic 20th century battles over immigration and its restriction.