I’ll be in Maine on June 8 while you’re discussing Connecticut and the Civil War, but I’ll be curious about a couple of details that I recall (maybe some misremembering here?) from the Prudence Crandall readings:
1) Prudence Crandall’s neighbor and nemesis, Judge/attorney Judson, was a presiding judge in the final Amistad trial, at which he ruled in favor of the captives. How must that have felt to him? Was he a grudging adherent to an interpretation of the law that compelled him to this ruling? If so, how had the law changed? Or did he undergo a change of heart that allowed him to interpret the law counter to his previous convictions?
2) The earlier Crandall ruling based on the Black Law, was cited as a precedent in the Dred Scott case in support of the idea that black people could not be considered citizens. It’s striking to me that little Connecticut (with Judson, bobbing around in the current) was a player in that struggle. I wonder what was happening here in the shift of direction that led to the 14th amendment.
I’d love to know how Prof. Warshauer sees these pieces of the puzzle, particularly that last one about Connecticut in the lead-up to the 14th Amendment. And also to know how members of the cohort respond to the Spielberg version of the Amistad story. The movie I really want to see (that I’ve been nagging students to make) is one that looks more closely at these local lives. One in which Venture Smith shows up, too: part Paul Bunyan and part Horatio Alger (as he presents himself through his scribe) but also humorous and cranky and magnetic (as he emerges despite his scribe). Maybe Lawrence Fishburne?