Carleton Lefler History Lecture to Focus on Antebellum America

October 12, 2018

John Hopkins University history professor Martha S. Jones will present, “Birthright Citizens: A History of Race & Rights in Antebellum America” on Wednesday, October 17, from 5 to 6 p.m. in Leighton Hall Room 305. This event is free and open to the public.

Jones is the Professor of History and Society of Black Alumni Presidential Professor at the Krieger School of Arts & Sciences at Johns Hopkins University. She is a legal and cultural historian whose interests include the study of race, law, citizenship, slavery, and the rights of women. In addition to publishing various essays and articles, Jones has authored numerous books including, “All Bound Up Together: The Woman Question in African American Public Culture 1830-1900” (University of North Carolina Press, 2007) and the subject of her Carleton talk, “Birthright Citizens: A History of Race and Rights in Antebellum America” (Cambridge University Press, 2018).

In her lecture, Jones will explore “the activism of free African Americans in the period before the U.S. Civil War and the impact that their argument for birthright citizenship had on passage of the Fourteenth Amendment.” She will tell the story of how African-American activists remade national belonging through battles in legislatures, conventions, and courthouses and show “how the Fourteenth Amendment constitutionalized the birthright principle, fulfilling the long-held aspirations of African Americans.”

Jones holds a Ph.D. in history from Columbia University and a J.D. from the CUNY School of Law. Prior to joining the Johns Hopkins faculty, Jones was a professor of history at the University of Michigan and founding director of the Michigan Law School Program in Race, Law & History. Learn more at

This event is sponsored by the Carleton College History Department, with support from the Herbert P. Lefler Lecture Series. For more information, including disability accommodations, call (507) 222-4217. Leighton Hall is located on College Street on the Carleton College campus in Northfield.