CONTACT: SCOTT HAUSER
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0007; fax (319) 384-0024
UI's Vandervelde featured speaker on slavery in 'free territory'
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Lea Vandervelde, professor of law at the University
of Iowa and an expert on legal and constitutional history and labor law,
will discuss the scope and impact of slavery in parts of Wisconsin, Minnesota
and other areas of the United States thought of as "free territory"
during a symposium Sunday, Sept. 27 in Madison, Wis.
Vandervelde will be one of three guest speakers at a symposium at 1:30
p.m. Sept. 27 at the University of Wisconsin Law Library. The session is
part of Wisconsin's sesquicentennial celebration.
Vandervelde, who is currently writing a book on the Dred Scott decision
of 1856, will discuss her findings on the development of conceptions of
legal relationships that slavery had in the area of the United States known
as the "Northwest Territories," an area north and west of the
present state of Ohio.
Slavery was outlawed in the region by federal statute, but Vandervelde's
research indicates that slaves were routinely brought to the area by federal
officials and their families and lived there as slaves for many years.
"The current resident of these areas -- Wisconsin and Minnesota
in particular -- tend to think of themselves as living in states that have
a long history as non-slaveholding, very pro-freedom regions," Vandervelde
says. "The region actually had a quite complicated relationship with
slavery. For example, the Wisconsin territory had a small slave population
prior to the Civil War, including Dred Scott and his wife Harriett, at
the same time that African-Americans were trying to escape to the territory
from slave states."
Other presenters for the symposium are Anthony Baker of the Pepperdine
University Law School and Linda Greene of the University of Wisconsin Law
School. Commentators are Thomas Russell of the University of Texas and
Dylan Penningroth of Johns Hopkins University.
The symposium also coincides with the opening of a museum exhibit on
"Slavery and Freedom in the Wisconsin Territory." Prepared by
Vandervelde, Arthur McEvoy and Cynthia Poe of the University of Wisconsin,
the exhibit will be on display at the University of Wisconsin Law School
Sept. 27 to Oct. 27.
The exhibit is a sesquicentennial project of the Legal History Program
of the Institute of Legal Studies at the University of Wisconsin Law School.