Primary Source Documents


The documents in this collection are organized into chronological chapters with a thematic focus for each time period. This organization is intended to provide a narrative arc while also highlighting connections between particular ideas and debates as they intersected with, and shaped, historical events on both sides of the Atlantic.

Note:  Some transcriptions are under editorial review and may contain errors.
Please do not cite or otherwise reproduce without permission.


Prologue: Iberian Antecedents

Las Siete Partidas (1348)

Romanus Pontifex (1455)

Inter Caetera (1493)

Requerimiento (1513)

Royal Charter of 1518

Early Spanish Slave Trade (1519/20)

Petition to the Portuguese King (1526)

New Laws of 1542

Los Tres Mulatos (1599)

Chapter 6: Tory Reactions

1698 African Trade Act

Virginia Slave Code 1705

Robert Harley’s investigations into Bacon’s Rebellion (1676-1705)

Queen Anne’s speech on the Assiento 1712

Assiento and the Treaty of Utrecht 1710-1713

Cato by Joseph Addison 1712

Hogarth’s South Sea Bubble Print 1720

Yorke Talbot Decision 1729

Chapter 8: Colonial Aftershocks

Sedition Legislation in Congress (1830s-1860s)

Kansas Prohibitions on Anti-Slavery Material and Ending Slavery (1850s)

Corwin Amendment (1860)