Robert R. Wilson Lecture: "Under the Shield of the Law of Nations": Black Women and Children Refugees and the Rights of Humanity

October 28, 2015 • 12:30 PM • Law School 3041

During the Civil War the U.S. confronted a growing population of refugees and a humanitarian crisis. The refugees of the Civil War were predominantly slaves - and increasingly women and children - who fled slavery hoping to get to Union military lines in the South. By the end of the Civil War, tens of thousands had passed through, and many died in, refugee camps. In today's language, they constituted an internally displaced population and simultaneously, a stateless people. Under the rules of war promulgated by the federal government in 1863 - "Instructions for the Government of Aries of the United States in the Field, General Order No 100" - they were not only "made free by the law of war" but came "under the shield of the law of nations." In her lecture, Thavolia Glymph, the John Hope Franklin Visiting Professor of American Legal History, looks at the forces that led to the establishment of refugee camps during the Civil War and places the history of black refugees within the broader scholarship on refugees, human rights, and the law of war. The lecture is part of Duke University's year-long centenary tribute to Franklin, who was the James B. Duke Professor Emeritus of History and taught Constitutional History at the Law School for seven years. This event is free and open to the public. Sponsored by the Office of the Dean. For more information, please contact Sandie MacLachlan at