Annual Robert R. Wilson Lecture

March 06, 2017 • 12:30 PM • Law School 3041
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Rebecca Scott, the John Hope Franklin Visiting Professor of American Legal History, will deliver Duke University's Robert R. Wilson Lecture. Prof. Scott's lecture, "Adjudicating Status in a Time of Slavery: Luisa Coleta and the Capuchin Friar (Havana, 1817)," will ask to what extent the exercise of authority under slavery was constrained by law. Was the Caribbean war refugee named Coleta a slave, or was she a free woman? When a Capuchin friar prepared to administer the last rites at Coleta's deathbed in Havana in 1817, she refused absolution, instead obliging the friar on pain of conscience to transcribe her final confession and submit her words to a judge in order to initiate a suit for freedom for her children. The record thus created reveals the deep indeterminacy of status, the entanglement of the law of property with the law of persons, and the limits of legal process in a slave society. This event is free and open to the public. A light lunch will be available on a first-come, first served basis. Sponsored by the Office of the Dean. For more information, please contact Sandie MacLachlan at