Guest Essayist: William C. Duncan, Director of the Marriage Law Foundation

Chattel slavery in the United States, because of its manifest injustice, was always morally tenuous. As opposition to slavery grew in the United States in the early Nineteenth Century, the states in which slavery was allowed adopted more and more draconian policies to prop up the institution. An example is the Alabama Slave Code of 1852.

Such codes help us understand the meaning and intent of the Fourteenth Amendment enacted after the Civil War to guarantee full citizenship to freed slaves and to end the practice of extending (or, more properly, denying) constitutional protection by race.

The 1852 slave code is virtually an anti-Bill of Rights. Read more