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Abolitionism as a Question of Citizenship

The Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments extended citizenship to formerly enslaved persons. But what did this status entail? In the subsequent political debates over abolition, one view carried the day: a contract and property-based notion of citizenship that fortified rather than unsettled antebellum era social relations. To realize the promise of Reconstruction today, we need a bolder vision of citizenship, one rooted not in marketplace imaginaries but in the elusive yet powerful concept of human dignity.