Slavery Law & Power

In the British Empire and Early America

Debating Power & Empire

England’s New World empire emerged within a political, legal, and cultural context shaped not only by the peoples they encountered in the Atlantic world, but also by deep contests over power within England itself and between England and other European countries….

Restoration Settlements

The restoration of Charles II to the throne in 1660 not only restored the hereditary monarchy and the hereditary House of Lords, but also led to the consolidation of hereditary racial slavery in England’s American colonies….

Reacting to Absolutism

As the Stuart monarchs consolidated their power on both sides of the Atlantic, the Whig Party emerged as a new coalition party within Parliament. The Whigs viewed the Stuart monarchs as threats to the liberties of English subjects…

Glorious Revolutions

The Stuart kings continued to consolidate power in the 1680s, forcing dissenters such as John Locke to seek exile in Holland and prosecuting others, including Algernon Sidney, for treason. Charles II’s death in 1685 led to the accession of his brother James II…

Whig Moments

The Glorious Revolution in England led to  basic reforms in government and important statements of rights, especially the English Bill of Rights of 1689. With James II departure, the decade of the 1690s witnessed rich critiqutes of absolute monarchy and defenses of “democratic” ideals, including John Locke’s Two Treatises….

Tory Reactions

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Revolutionary Atlantics

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Colonial Aftershocks

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Explore original primary documents, both in print and manuscript.


Discover debates over slavery, empire, and power in the Anglo-American world.



Learn how, why, and whether debates and struggles over rights and equality reshaped existing social and political structures.

Whilst those abroade are thus acting and carrying on their Butcheries upon the Souls of men there, how quietly and unconcernedly in the mean time do we sit down here, and take our ease, not once in our thoughts reflecting upon this Calamity.

Morgan Godwyn, 1685