"Aslakson’s book deserves praise for his strong organizational structure, clear writing style, and useful descriptions of the various elements of Louisiana’s cosmopolitan social and legal arenas."
—William and Mary Quarterly
“Kenneth R. Aslakson’s insightful Making Race in the Courtroom contributes to our understanding of how civil law and French and Spanish cultural influences helped shape a different set of racial dynamics in one section of American South.
—Journal of American History
“Making Race in the Courtroom is well written and tightly argued, and it contains much for historians of southern race law.”
—Journal of Southern History
"Between 1791 and 1812, as New Orleans was transformed by the consequences of the Haitian Revolution and the Louisiana Purchase, the city's free people of color fought to establish and defend their freedoms and to protect their property rights. Despite facing a legal, political, and social system that was increasingly hostile to their interests, this book demonstrates how they successfully utilized the court system to carve out a space for themselves within New Orleans' racial hierarchy. Most importantly, Aslakson's exhaustive examination of the records of the New Orleans City Court reveals the ways in which free people of color participated in the continuous project that was race making in the early republic."
—Jennifer M. Spear, Simon Fraser University
"Historians are fond of spotlighting the role of 'human agency' in making history. Kenneth Aslakson is one of those rare scholars who actually map out its modus operandi—in this case, in the courtrooms of New Orleans, where free people of color used jurisprudence to defend their rights and, unwittingly, erect a tripartite racial order that was Caribbean before it was American. Aslakson’s research is superb, his writing unfailingly clear, his arguments smart and crisp. Making Race in the Courtroom joins a lengthening bookshelf that is changing how we think about race in America."
—Lawrence N. Powell, Tulane University
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