For more than a generation, historians and legal scholars have documented inequalities at the heart of American law and daily life and exposed inconsistencies in the generic category of 'American citizenship'. Welke draws on that wealth of historical, legal, and theoretical scholarship to offer a new paradigm of liberal selfhood and citizenship from the founding of the United States through the 1920s. Law and the Borders of Belonging in the Long Nineteenth Century United States questions understanding this period through a progressive narrative of expanding rights, revealing that it was characterized instead by a sustained commitment to borders of belonging of liberal selfhood, citizenship, and nation in which able white men's privilege depended on the subject status of disabled persons, racialized others, and women. Welke's conclusions pose challenging questions about the modern liberal democratic state that extend well beyond the temporal and geographic boundaries of the long-nineteenth-century United States.
Barbara Young Welke is Associate Professor of History and Professor of Law at the University of Minnesota. She is the recipient of several prizes including the Surrency Prize from The American Society for Legal History for her article 'When All the Women Were White and All the Blacks Were Men: Gender, Race, Law and the Road to Plessy' and the American Historical Association's Littleton-Griswold Prize in the history of American law and society for her book, Recasting American Liberty: Gender, Race, Law and the Railroad Revolution, 1865-1920. Her earlier articles have appeared in Law and Social Inquiry and the Law and History Review.
Introduction; 1. Constructing a universal legal person: able white manhood; 2. Subjects of law: disabled persons, racialized others, and women; 3. Borders: resistance, defense, structure, and ideology; Conclusion: abled, racialized, and gendered power in the making of the twentieth-century American state; Coda.