The Legality of Killing Slaves in the United States and Atlantic World
University of Georgia Press 2017
Andrew T. Fede is a lawyer in private practice in northern New Jersey and an adjunct professor of law at Montclair State University. His new book Homicide Justified: The Legality of Killing Slaves in the United States and Atlantic World (University of Georgia Press, 2017) is a comparative account of slave homicide law in the American colonies and states, covering the period from the early 17th century through the American Civil War. Professor Fede’s account traces the variations in restrictions on slave owners and third parties’ treatment upon the murder of a slave. The harsh, often lethal, conditions of servitude in the Caribbean seem to have shaped the willingness (usually unwillingness) of slave owners and elected officials in these island to restrict what masters could do to their slaves. Whereas in the mid-Atlantic and northeastern colonies, restrictions were somewhat more easily countenanced. Fede reveals the details of murder prosecutions against slave masters, overseers and third-party non-owners and the limits such prosecutions faced in courts.
Ian J. Drake is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Law at Montclair State University. His scholarly interests include American legal and constitutional history and political theory.