Skip to main content Accessibility help
The Forgotten Emancipator
  • Export citation
  • Recommend to librarian
  • Recommend this book

    Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this book to your organisation's collection.

    The Forgotten Emancipator
    • Online ISBN: 9781316155059
    • Book DOI:
    Please enter your name
    Please enter a valid email address
    Who would you like to send this to *
  • Buy the print book

Book description

Congressman James Mitchell Ashley, a member of the House of Representatives from 1858 to 1868, was the main sponsor of the Thirteenth Amendment to the American Constitution, which declared the institution of slavery unconstitutional. Rebecca E. Zietlow uses Ashley's life as a unique lens through which to explore the ideological origins of Reconstruction and the constitutional changes of this era. Zietlow recounts how Ashley and his antislavery allies shared an egalitarian free labor ideology that was influenced by the political antislavery movement and the nascent labor movement - a vision that conflicted directly with the institution of slavery. Ashley's story sheds important light on the meaning and power of popular constitutionalism: how the constitution is interpreted outside of the courts and the power that citizens and their elected officials can have in enacting legal change. The book shows how Reconstruction not only expanded racial equality but also transformed the rights of workers throughout America.


'Rebecca E. Zietlow is right - James Mitchell Ashley has been all but forgotten and deserves to be remembered. Thanks to Zietlow, we can now appreciate Ashley's pivotal role in the pre-Civil War struggle against slavery, abolition during the war, and the battle for black rights during Reconstruction. But she also emphasizes his commitment to the rights of all labourers, and we would benefit today from recalling his vision of a 'free labour' society of equals.'

Eric Foner - Columbia University, New York

'James Mitchell Ashley spent decades of the nineteenth century crusading against slavery, discrimination, and labor injustice - positions in absolute harmony with one another, as the author Rebecca E. Zietlow deftly shows. This readable biography reveals Ashley in his heroism, defeat, and contradictions. More than that, it illuminates the challenges that any old-line egalitarian faced in a modern, industrializing world. In Zietlow’s able hands, Ashley’s life becomes as significant for our present era as it was for his own.'

Michael Vorenberg - Brown University, Rhode Island

'An impressively informative and original work of seminal scholarship from beginning to end, The Forgotten Emancipator is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library 19th century American history collections and supplemental studies reading lists.'

Source: Midwest Book Review

Refine List

Actions for selected content:

Select all | Deselect all
  • View selected items
  • Export citations
  • Download PDF (zip)
  • Send to Kindle
  • Send to Dropbox
  • Send to Google Drive
  • Send content to

    To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to .

    To send content items to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

    Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

    Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

    Please be advised that item(s) you selected are not available.
    You are about to send

Save Search

You can save your searches here and later view and run them again in "My saved searches".

Please provide a title, maximum of 40 characters.


  • Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress

  • Charles Sumner Papers, Houghton Library, Harvard University

  • John M. Morgan papers relating to James M. Ashley, University of Toledo libraries, Ward M. Canaday Center Manuscript Collection (“Morgan Papers”)

  • Proceedings of the Anti-Slavery Convention, held at Putnam, on the twenty-first, twenty-second, and twenty-third of April, 1835 (Beaumont and Wallace, Printers)

  • Salmon P. Chase, An Argument for the Defendant, Submitted to the Supreme Court of the United States, as the December Term, 1846: In the Case of Wharton Jones vs. John Vanzandt (1847)

  • Salmon P. Chase Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, DC

Aynes, Richard L.On Misreading John Bingham and the Fourteenth Amendment,” Yale Law Journal 103 (1993): 57.
Barnett, Randy E.Whence Comes Section One? The Abolitionist Origins of the Fourteenth Amendment,” Journal of Legal Analysis 3 (2011): 165.
Benedict, Les. “James M. Ashley, Toledo Politics and the Thirteenth Amendment,” University of Toledo Law Review 38 (2007): 815.
Birney, James G. “Can Congress, under the Constitution, Abolish Slavery in the States?,” The Albany Patriot, May 12, 19, 20, 22, 1847.
Birney, James G. The Philanthropist, January 13, 1837.
Bivens, Josh, Gould, Elise, and Mishel, Lawrence. “Wage Stagnation in Nine Charts,” Economic Policy Institute (January 6, 2015),
Body, Jessica. “The Forces Driving Middle-Aged White People’s ‘Deaths of Despair,’” NPR, March 23, 2017,
Case, Anne, and Sir Deaton, Angus. “Mortality and Morbidity in the 21st Century,”
Curtis, Michael Kent. “John A. Bingham and the Story of American Liberty: The Lost Cause Meets the ‘Lost Clause,’” Akron Law Review 36 (2003): 617.
DeNavas-Walt, Carmen, Proctor, Bernadette D., and Smith, Jessica C.. “Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2010,” United States Department of Commerce 12 (2011), pubs/p60-239.pdf.
Douglass, Frederick. “A Change of Opinion Announced,” The North Star, May 15, 1851, reprinted in The Liberator, May 23, 1851.
Douglass, Frederick. “Comments on Gerrit Smith’s Address,” The North Star, March 30, 1849.
Forbath, William E. “The Ambiguities of Free Labor and the Law in the Gilded Age,” Wisconsin Law Review 1985: 767.
Fox, James W. Jr.Publics, Meanings and the Privileges of Citizenship,” Constitutional Commentary 30 (2015): 567.
Garrison, William Lloyd. “The Constitution: A Covenant with Death and an Agreement with Hell,” Liberator 12 (1842).
Gourevitch, Alex. “Labor Republicanism and the Transformation of Work,” Political Theory 41 (May 2013): 591.
Graber, Mark. “The Second Freedman’s Bureau Bill’s Constitution,” Texas Law Review 94 (2016): 1361.
Graber, Mark. “Subtraction by Addition? The Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments,” Columbia Law Review 112 (2012): 1501.
Klarman, Michael J.Rethinking the Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Revolutions,” Virginia Law Review 82 (1996): 1.
Lofton, William H.Appeal of the Abolitionists to the Northern Working Classes,” The Journal of Negro History 33, no. 3 (July 1948): 249.
McLain, Charles J.The Chinese Struggle for Civil Rights in Nineteenth Century America: The First Phase, 1850–1870,” California Law Review 72 (1984): 529.
McPherson, James M. “America’s Greatest Movement,” New York Review of Books, October 27, 2016.
Morgan, Denise C., and Zietlow, Rebecca E.. “The New Parity Debate: Congress and Rights of Belonging,” Cincinnati Law Review 73 (2005): 1347.
Nice, Julie A.Whither the Canaries? On the Exclusion of Poor People from Equal Constitutional Protection,” Drake Law Review 60 (2012): 1023.
Ontiveros, Maria. “Immigrant Workers’ Rights in a Post-Hoffman World: Organizing around the 13th Amendment,” Georgetown Immigration Law Journal 18 (2004): 651.
Ontiveros, Maria. “Is Modern Day Slavery a Private Act or a Public System of Oppression?Seattle University Law Review 39 (2016): 665.
Pinckney, Darryll. “Kerry James Marshall: Mastry,” New York Review of Books, January 2, 2017.
Pope, James Gray. “Contract, Race, and Freedom of Labor in the Constitutional Law of ‘Involuntary Servitude,’” Yale Law Journal 119 (2010): 1474.
Pope, James Gray. “Labor’s Constitution of Freedom,” Yale Law Journal 106 (1997): 941.
Pope, James Gray. “Why Is There No Socialism in the United States? Law and the Racial Divide in the American Working Class, 1676–1974,” Texas Law Review 94 (2016): 1555.
Pope, James Gray, and Zietlow, Rebecca E.. “The Auto-Lite Strike and the Fight against ‘Wage Slavery,’” University of Toledo Review 38 (2007): 839. Reprinted in Kenneth M. Casebeer, ed., American Labor Struggles and Law Histories (Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, 2011).
Post, Robert C., and Siegel, Reva B.. “Legislative Constitutionalism and Section Five Power: Policentric Interpretations of the Family and Medical Leave Act,” Yale Law Journal 112 (2003): 1943.
Richardson, Heather Cox. “Legacies of Lincoln Symposium, Abraham Lincoln and the Politics of Principle,” Marquette Law Review (2010): 1383.
Soifer, Aviam. “Federal Protection, Paternalism, and the Virtually Forgotten Prohibition of Voluntary Peonage,” Columbia Law Review 112 (2012): 1607.
tenBroek, Jacobus. “Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States: Consummation to Abolition and Key to the Fourteenth Amendment,” California Law Review 39 (1951): 171.
VanderVelde, Lea S.Henry Wilson, Cobbler of the Frayed Constitution, Strategist of the Thirteenth Amendment,” Georgetown Journal of Law and Politics 15 (2017): 173.
VanderVelde, Lea S.The Labor Vision of the Thirteenth Amendment,” University of Pennsylvania Law Review 138 (1989): 437.
VanderVelde, Lea S.The Thirteenth Amendment of Our Aspirations,” University of Toledo Law Review 38(2007): 855.
Wang, Xi. “The Making of Federal Enforcement Laws, 1870–1872,” Chicago Kent Law Review 70 (1995): 1013.
Waterson, Liz, and Swanberg, Jennifer. “Flexible Workplace Solutions for Low-Wage Hourly Workers: A Framework for a National Conversation,” American University Labor and Employment Law Forum 3 (2013): 380.
Weiss, Marley. “Human Trafficking and Forced Labor: A Primer,” ABA Journal on Labor and Employment Law 31 (2015): 1.
Weld, Theodore Dwight. “The Power of Congress over the District of Columbia,” The Antislavery Examiner No. 6. Reprinted from the New York Evening Post, with additions by the author, published by the American Antislavery Society (New York, 1838).
Zedlewski, Sheila R. “Work Activity and Obstacles to Work among TANF Recipients,” The Urban Institute (1999),
Zietlow, Rebecca E.Free at Last! Anti-Subordination and the Thirteenth Amendment,” Boston University Law Review 90 (2010): 255.
Zietlow, Rebecca E.The Political Thirteenth Amendment,” Maryland Law Review 71 (2011): 283.
Zietlow, Rebecca E.A Positive Right to Free Labor,” Seattle University Law Review 39 (2016): 859.
Zietlow, Rebecca E.The Rights of Citizenship: Two Framers, Two Amendments,” University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law 11 (2009): 1269.
Aarim-Heriot, Najia. Chinese Immigrants, African Americans, and Racial Anxiety in the United States (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2003).
Alexander, Michelle. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (New York: New Press, 2010).
Arnett, Benjamin, ed. Duplicate Copy of the Souvenir from the Afro-American League of Tennessee to Hon. James M. Ashley of Ohio (Philadelphia: Publishing House of the AME Church, 1894).
Ashley, Charles S.Governor Ashley’s Biography and Messages,” in Contributions to the Historical Society of Montana (Helena, MT: Rocky Mountain Publishing, 1907).
Baer, Judith A. Equality under the Constitution: Reclaiming the Fourteenth Amendment (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1983).
Baruch, Mildred C., and Beckman, Ellen J.. Civil War Union Monuments (Washington, DC: Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War, 1978).
Beatty, Paul. The Sell Out (New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2015).
Benedict, Michael Les. A Compromise of Principle (New York: W. W. Norton, 1974).
Biondi, Martha. To Stand and Fight: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Postwar New York City (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003)
Blackmon, Douglas A. Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II (New York: Anchor Books, 2009).
Bowers, Claude G. The Tragic Era: The Revolution after Lincoln (1929).
Boyle, Kevin. Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights and Murder in the Jazz Age (New York: H. Holt, 2004).
Brandwein, Pamela. Reconstructing Reconstruction: The Supreme Court and the Production of Historical Truth (Durham: Duke University Press, 1999).
Coates, Ta-Nehisi. Between the World and Me (New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2015).
Cohen, Lizabeth. Making a New Deal: Industrial Workers in Chicago, 1919–1939 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990).
Curtis, Michael Kent. No State Shall Abridge: The Fourteenth Amendment and the Bill of Rights (Durham: Duke University Press, 1986).
Deyrup, Marta Mestrovic, and Harrington, Maura Grace. The Irish-American Experience in New Jersey and Metropolitan New York: Cultural Identity, Hybridity, and Commemoration (Lanham: Lexington Books, 2014).
Douglass, Frederick. Two Speeches (New York, 1857).
Efford, Alison Clark. German Immigrants, Race, and Citizenship in the Civil War Era (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013).
Evans, Sara M. Born for Liberty: A History of Women in American (New York: Free Press, 1989).
Finkelman, Paul. Slavery and the Founders: Race and Liberty in the Age of Jefferson (Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharp, 1996).
Finkelman, Paul, Gallagher, Gary W., and Wagner, Margaret E.. The Library of Congress Civil War Desk Reference (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2002).
Fladeland, Betty. James Gillespie Birney, Slaveholder to Abolitionist (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1955).
Foner, Eric. Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men: The Ideology of the Republican Party before the Civil War (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995).
Foner, Eric. Politics and Ideology in the Age of the Civil War (New York: Oxford University Press, 1980).
Foner, Eric. Reconstruction: American’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863–1877 (New York: Harper Collins, 1988).
Foner, Philip Sheldon. History of the Labor Movement of the United States (New York: International Publishers, 1947).
Foner, Philip S., and Shapiro, Herbert, eds. Northern Labor and Antislavery: A Documentary History (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1994).
Foner, Philip S., and Walker, George E., eds. Proceedings of the Black State Conventions, 1840–1865 (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1980).
Garrow, David J. Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (New York: Vintage Books, 1988).
George, Harold A. Civil War Monuments of Ohio (Mansfield, OH: Book Masters, 2006).
Goluboff, Risa L. The Lost Promise of Civil Rights (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007).
Goodell, William. Views of American Constitutional Law, in Its Bearing upon American Slavery (Utica, NY: Jackson & Chaplain, 1844).
Grubb, Farley. German Immigration and Servitude in America, 1709–1920 (New York: Routledge, 2013).
Horowitz, Robert F. The Great Impeacher: A Political Biography of James M. Ashley (New York: Brooklyn College Press, 1979).
Jones, William P. The March on Washington: Jobs, Freedom, and the Forgotten History of Civil Rights (New York: W. W. Norton, 2013).
Jones-Deweever, Avis, Peterson, Janice, and Song, Xue, Before and after Welfare Reform: The Work and Well-Being of Low-Income Single Parent Families (Washington, DC: Institute for Women’s Policy Research, 2003).
Kersch, Ken I. Constructing Civil Liberties: Discontinuities in the Development of American Constitutional Law (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004).
Kramer, Larry D. The People Themselves: Popular Constitutionalism and Judicial Review (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004).
Lee, Sophia Z. The Workplace Constitution: From the New Deal to the New Right (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014).
LeMay, Michael C. Transforming America: Perspectives on U.S. Immigration (Santa Barbara: Praeger, 2013).
Magliocca, Gerard. American Founding Son: John Bingham and the Invention of the Fourteenth Amendment (New York: NYU Press, 2013).
Mantler, Gordon Keith. Power to the Poor: Black-Brown Coalition and the Fight for Economic Justice (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2013).
Matthews, Jean W. Women’s Struggle for Equality: The First Phase, 1828–1876 (Chicago: Ivan V. Dee, 1997).
Montgomery, David. Beyond Equality: Labor and the Radical Republicans 1862–1872 (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1967).
Montgomery, David. Citizen Worker: The Experience of Workers in the United States with Democracy and the Free Market during the Nineteenth Century (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993).
Nieman, Donald G. To Set the Law in Motion: The Freedman’s Bureau and the Legal Rights of Blacks (Millwood, NY: KTO Press, 1979).
Oakes, James. Freedom National: The Destruction of Slavery in the United States, 1861–1865 (New York: W. W. Norton, 2013).
Paine, Byron. Unconstitutionality of the Fugitive Slave Act: Argument of Byron Paine, Esq. and Opinion of Hon. A. D. Smith, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of Wisconsin (Milwaukee: Free Democrat Office, 1854).
Phan, Hoang Gia. Bonds of Citizenship: Law and the Labors of Emancipation (New York: NYU Press, 2013).
Phillips, Wendell. The Constitution: A Proslavery Compact, Or Selections from the Madison Papers (New York: American Anti-Slavery Society, 1844).
Phillips, Wendell. A Review of Lysander Spooner’s Essay on the Unconstitutionality of Slavery (Boston: Andrew Prentiss, 1847).
Richards, Leonard L. Who Freed the Slaves? The Fight over the Thirteenth Amendment (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015).
Richardson, Heather Fox. The Death of Reconstruction: Race, Labor and Politics in the Civil War North, 1865–1901 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001).
Richardson, James D., ed. Messages and Papers of the Presidents of the United States, 1789–1897 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1896–99).
Rutherglen, George. Civil Rights in the Shadow of Slavery: The Constitution, Common Law, and the Civil Rights Act of 1866 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013).
Schultz, David A., ed. Encyclopedia of the Supreme Court (New York: Facts on File, 2005).
Sewell, Richard H. Ballots for Freedom: Antislavery Politics in the United States 1837–1860 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1976).
Smith, Rogers. Civic Ideals: Conflicting Visions of Citizenship in U.S. History (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997).
Sinha, Manisha. The Slave’s Cause: A History of Abolition (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016).
Spooner, Lysander. The Unconstitutionality of Slavery (Boston: B. Marsh, 1845).
Stanley, Amy Dru. From Bondage to Contract: Wage Labor, Marriage, and the Market in the Age of Slave Emancipation (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998).
Stein, Gertrude. Three Lives (Boston: Bedford St. Martin’s, 2000).
Steinfeld, Robert J. The Invention of Free Labor: The Employment Relation in English and American Law and Culture, 1350–1870 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991).
Thatcher, Joseph. The Library of Original Sources (New York and Chicago: University Research Extension, 1907).
Tiffany, Joel. A Treatise on the Unconstitutionality of Slavery, together with the Powers and Duties of the Federal Government in Relation to That Subject (Cleveland: D. J. Calyerk, 1849).
Tomlins, Christopher L. Law, Labor, and Ideology in the Early American Republic (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993).
Trefousse, Hans L. The Radical Republicans: Lincoln’s Vanguard for Racial Justice (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1968).
Tsesis, Alexander. ed. Promises of Liberty: The History and Contemporary Relevance of the Thirteenth Amendment (New York: Columbia University Press, 2010).
Tsesis, Alexander. The Thirteenth Amendment and American Freedom: A Legal History (New York: NYU Press, 2004).
Tuchinsky, Adam. Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune: Civil War Era Socialism and the Crisis of Free Labor (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2009).
Vorenberg, Michael. Final Freedom: The Civil War, the Abolition of Slavery, and the Thirteenth Amendment (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001).
Whitehead, Colson. The Underground Railroad (New York: Doubleday, 2016).
Wiecek, William M. The Sources of Antislavery Constitutionalism in America, 1760–1848 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1977).
Wilentz, Sean. Chants Democratic: New York City and the Rise of the American Working Class, 1788–1850 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1984).
Zietlow, Rebecca E. Enforcing Equality: Congress, the Constitution, and the Protection of Individual Rights (New York: NYU Press, 2006).
A Bill to Designate the United States Courthouse located at 1716 Spielbusch Avenue in Toledo, Ohio as the “James M. Ashley and Thomas W. L. Ashley United States Courthouse”; H.R. 3712, P.L. 110–284 (July 23, 2008)
Anti-Peonage Act, March 2, 1867, ch. 187, 14 Stat. 546, now codified as amended at 18 U.S.C. §1581 et seq. and 42 U.S.C. §1994
Civil Rights Act of 1866, ch. 31, 14 Stat. 27 (codified at 42 U.S.C. §§1981–1983 (2000)
Civil Rights Act of 1870, ch. 114, §16, 16 Stat. 140, 144 (1869–1871)
The Freedmen’s Bureau Act, 14 Stat. 174, 176–177 (1866)
Fugitive Slave Act of 1793, ch. 7, 1 Stat. 302 (repealed 1864)
Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, ch. 60, 9 Stat. 462 (repealed 1864)
Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104–193, 110 Stat. 2105 (1996) (codified at 42 U.S.C. §§601–619 (2006))
Seattle Secure Scheduling Ordinance, SMC 14.22 (effective July 1, 2017)
Social Security Act of 1935, 42 U.S.C. §§401–406
Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, Pub. L. No. 106–386, §102(b)(22), 114, Stat. 1464
  • U.S. Const. art. I, §2, cl. 3

  • U.S. Const. art. I, §9, cl. 1

  • U.S. Const. art. IV, §2, cl. 3

  • U.S. Const, art. IV, §4

  • U.S. Const. amend. XIII

  • U.S. Const. amend. XIV

Barron v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, 32 U.S. (7 Pet.) 243 (1833)
Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954)
Dandridge v. Williams, 397 U.S. 471 (1970)
Dred Scott v. Sanford, 60 U.S. (19 How.) 393 (1857)
Jones v. Alfred Mayer Co., 392 U.S. 409 (1968)
Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle District No. 1, 551 U.S. 701 (2007)
Pollock v. Williams, 322 U.S. 4 (1944)
Prigg v. Pennsylvania, 41 U.S. 539 (1842)
Robertson v. Baldwin, 165 U.S. 275 (1897)
Slaughter House Cases, 83 U.S. 36 (1873)
United States v. Driscoll, 96 U.S. 421 (1877)
Yick Wo v. Hopkins, 118 U.S. 356 (1886)


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Book summary page views

Total views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between #date#. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed