Not Enslaved but Also Not Free: Connecticut Courts and Free Black Citizenship, 1818–1865
By Elan Isaacson ’23
A look into the history of the political status of free Black people in Connecticut before the Civil War reveals the unique position held by the state in larger national conversations over the citizenship of free Black people. Historical analysis of the state’s history reveals that Connecticut occupies a conflicted, yet influential, space in the history of American racism, citizenship, and equal protection. Justice Daggett’s, of the Connecticut Superior and Supreme Courts, instructions to the jury and beliefs on the citizenship status of free Black people in the famous case Crandall v. State would come to be cited by Chief Justice Taney in Scott v. Sandford. For Taney, the rejection of the argument that free Black people were citizens of the United States by a Connecticut judge was notable in that it suggested that even within a state that “displayed [hostility] to the slave trade”, free Black people were not seen as citizens. Connecticut, therefore, occupied an important position in pre-Civil War American debates over citizenship and the rights of Black people. One the one hand it produced, as we will see, strong arguments in favor of a more inclusive definition of citizenship. On the other hand, however, it repeatedly delivered legal victories to opponents of this more inclusive definition of citizenship. Others have argued, such as Donald Williams in Prudence Crandall’s Legacy, that the arguments made in Crandall v. State, laid the groundwork for the “antislavery constitutional theory” and the decision in Brown v. Board. By investigating the shifting, often contradictory, history of free Black citizenship in Connecticut we broaden our historical understanding of the political position of free Black people in pre-Civil War America and how Connecticut influenced, in both liberatory and repressive ways, the larger national approach to citizenship as it connected to racial identity.
In this paper, I argue that an analysis of three key moments in Connecticut’s history, the cases of Crandall v. State, Jackson v. Bulloch, and the 1865 affirmation of citizenship for free Black people by the Connecticut Supreme Court of Errors, reveals the tension that existed between reformers’ conception of a more egalitarian notion of citizenship and the State’s legal architecture. In performing this historical review, I argue there was a deep nuanced conflict between the conceptions of citizenship that rested on notions of obligation and reciprocal protection that marks social contract theory and the actual text of foundational documents in Connecticut and the United States which introduced racial distinctions in notions of the people as a political body and citizenship. I then argue that, through these key moments, we can see how those pushing for equal rights and the recognition of free Black people as citizens faced serious institutional and legal hurdles in Connecticut Courts. These hurdles and the challenges faced by advocates of equal rights and protection then link to larger questions concerning law and justice and the role of the courts in these matters.
“[T]here is nothing in the legislation of the State [Connecticut] indicating any change of opinion as to the relative rights and position of the white and black races in this country, or indicating that it meant to place the latter, when free, upon a level with its citizens. And certainly nothing which would have led the slaveholding States to suppose, that Connecticut designed to claim for them, under the new Constitution, the equal rights and privileges and rank of citizen in every other State.”[EI1]
Before we discuss the three specific historical moments I focus on in this paper, it is important to locate Connecticut in the larger context of American slavery and racism. When Chief Justice Taney cited Crandall v. State in his Scott v. Sandford opinion, he argued that Connecticut was a State that was particularly likely to be sympathetic to Black people in America. For Taney, then, the finding that free Black people were not citizens by a Connecticut judge, was suggestive that, “we shall hardly find them [Black people] elevated to a higher rank anywhere else.” Taney’s conclusion and argument here is interesting in a few ways. On the one hand, it reveals the selectivity of Taney’s approach. Connecticut was, to be sure, more opposed to slavery and sympathetic to the rights of free Black people than the Southern States. Connecticut had passed a gradual emancipation act in 1774 (updated in 1784) and had habeas corpus protections for Black people via personal liberty laws. However, Connecticut was a relative laggard when compared to some of its other Northern contemporaries. Paul Finkelman, in his piece on the legal rights of Black people in the pre-Civil War North, placed Connecticut behind all its direct neighbors—Massachusetts, New York, and Rhode Island—and on par with Pennsylvania in its treatment of Black people. Connecticut would be the last state in New England to abolish slavery, only doing so in 1848, and its 1818 Constitution, in contrast with the constitutions of other New England states, explicitly restricted the right to vote on the basis of race. Consequently, when Taney wrote that Connecticut was the state where one would expect to see laws most favorable to Black people, he was clearly selecting the New England state most favorable to his position. Hence why the notable 1836 Massachusetts case Commonwealth v. Aves, a massive legal victory for abolitionists, was cited only in Justice McLean’s dissent and loudly absent from Chief Justice Taney’s majority opinion. In fact, Chief Justice Taney’s selectivity is further revealed by his failure to mention the later Connecticut case Jackson v. Bulloch, which drew heavily on the Aves decision. On the other hand, however, it shows how Connecticut’s failure to stake out a clear, decisive position on the question of free Black citizenship and its less emancipatory position, when compared to its Northern counterparts, allowed Chief Justice Taney to hold Connecticut up evidence of there being no attitude for free Black people to be considered citizens in Northern states.
By not definitively rejecting Judge Daggett in its opinion on the Prudence Crandall case the Connecticut Supreme Court of Errors allowed Justice Daggett’s instruction to the jury that free Black people were not citizens to stand unchallenged, and hence available for Chief Justice Taney to seize upon. Instead, the Court chose to stake out an unclear middle ground. They dismissed the case against Crandall on technical grounds and, despite the extensive arguments surrounding the question of citizenship for free Black people from both the State and Crandall’s attorneys, sidestepped the fundamental question. I will consider the Crandall case in more detail in the following paragraphs, but I provide some analysis of the 1818 Connecticut Constitution.
Notably, Connecticut’s constitution, which was heavily derived from Mississippi’s 1817 constitution, begins with a statement about the idea of a social compact and what such a form of government implies. Article 1, Section 1 of the Constitution reads, “that all men when they form a social compact, are equal in rights; and that no man, or set of men are entitled to exclusive public emoluments or privileges from the community.” At the outset, this seems like a classic statement of liberal social contract theory. Locating the government’s authority in a social compact between equals, the Constitution begins with what could have been a bold affirmation of egalitarianism. It was this theoretical implication, or rather potentiality, that would be seized upon by Crandall’s attorneys and discussed at length in Jackson v. Bulloch. Yet, the potentiality for a robust understanding of equal rights was immediately undercut by qualifications to who was part of the contracting political body. The clause itself instantly limits the political body on the basis of gender, speaking of a political covenant between “men.” The Constitution would go on to further draw exclusionary boundaries around the people inside the social contract, this time on the basis of race. Article 6, Section 2 of the Constitution tied the privilege of being an elector explicitly to race, writing “[e]very white male citizen of the United States, who shall have gained a settlement in this state, attained the age of twenty-one years, and resided in the town in which he may offer himself to be admitted to the privilege of an elector.” This distinction based on race would not be removed from the Constitution until 1876, and an 1845 amendment to the clause world retain the word “white.” Thus, we can see how Connecticut took steps to limit participation in political life in very explicit and measured ways. Because Connecticut’s constitution grounded itself in a social contract theory, the restriction of political privileges to a specific group meant that the denial of said privileges to groups cast them as explicitly outside the contracting political body.
The restriction of political power, in particular voting, to white men of 21 years or more would loom large in the arguments in Crandall v. State where the question of citizenship for free Black people was heavily litigated. Prudence Crandall established a school in Canterbury Connecticut which, eventually, came to be dedicated to the instruction of free Black people from other states. In response to the establishment of this school, the Connecticut Legislature passed a law forbidding the establishment of schools “for the instruction or education of coloured persons, who are not inhabitants of this state.” Crandall, after her first trial ended in a hung jury, was convicted in Connecticut’s Superior Court in a trial presided over by Judge David Daggett. Daggett, a proponent of colonization and opponent of education institutions for free Black people, instructed the jury that free Black people were not citizens of the United States:
In most of the United States, there is a distinction in respect to political privileges, between free white persons and free coloured persons of African blood; and in no part of the country do the latter, in point of fact, participate equally with the whites, in the exercise of civil and political rights. The African race are essentially a degraded caste, of inferior rank and condition in society.
The case was then appealed to the Connecticut Supreme Court of Errors. Here, due to the particular judicial system employed in Connecticut at the time, Judge Daggett heard the case as Chief Justice. Despite this, or perhaps, as we shall see later, because of this, the Court overturned Crandall’s conviction on a technicality—that the information that was submitted when Crandall was charged failed to actually charge her of a crime, on the grounds that it only accused her of “harbour-ing and boarding coloured persons, not inhabitants of this state, without license”, which was potentially permissible under the law according to the Court, but not of “setting up” such an unlicensed school, which would be contrary to the Connecticut law— leaving the major question of Black citizenship unanswered.
We should take care to note, however, that the question of free Black citizenship was before the Court because of the particular argument being laid out by Crandall’s attorneys. Crandall’s lawyers, William Ellsworth and Calvin Goddard, located their defense in the Privileges and Immunities clause of Article IV of the Constitution. Ellsworth argued that there was no precedent for citizenship distinctions based on race in English Common Law, the Declaration of Independence, or the Connecticut Constitution. Ellsworth began his arguments by pointing out the obvious challenge to any citizenship based on race; arbitrariness and difficulty in having the government determine what racial category an individual fits into. But beyond these practical and historical challenges to the notion of race-based citizenship or exclusion from citizenship on the grounds of race Ellsworth looked to make an argument based in social contract theory and the notion of reciprocal privileges and obligations. Ellsworth argued that because free Black people could be convicted of crimes such as treason and were bound by the laws of the state and country, in combination with the fact that they were born in the United States, meant that they were entitled to the privileges of a citizen. They, being natural-born residents who were bound by all of the same laws as citizens, were thus in a relationship of obligation with the government. Because they had these obligations, Ellsworth argued, they then must be entitled to the privileges. It is from this concept of natural allegiance that Goddard, Ellsworth’s co-counsel, derives his definition of citizenship, telling the court:
citizen…embraces high and low— rich and poor—male and female— white and coloured…all who are free and live under the same government and owe to it permanent allegiance—subject to its duties— entitled to its privileges.
This here was the crux of Crandall’s counsel’s argument, that citizen in the United States was a term to be applied to all who were free and obligated to follow the laws of the state. Free Black people, on this measure were citizens and thus entitled to the protection of the privileges and immunities clause. Then sensitive to the objection that free Black people could not be citizens, as they could not vote in Connecticut, Ellsworth argued that there was no inherent connection between citizenship and voting. For Ellsworth, the connection between voting and citizenship was not obvious as women and children could not vote and yet they were considered citizens. To Ellsworth then, voting was an important but not fundamental right. One could be a citizen without the political power of the ballot.
Crandall’s lawyers had laid out a powerful theoretical argument, grounded in an understanding of reciprocity and obligation, for the citizenship of free Black people. Yet perhaps more interesting than the argument made by Crandall’s counsel is the one offered up by the State in response. What is most striking about the State’s argument, at least to the contemporary reader, is the forthrightness with which the State makes its argument that the country was intended to promote and reinforce white supremacy. Andrew Judson, lawyer for the state and noted member of the American Colonization Society and opponent of several proposals for education for free Black people, began by arguing that the Founders explicitly meant to reserve citizenship for whites. He then sought to reject Ellsworth’s claim that there were no distinctions based on color in the state Constitution and to push back on Ellsworth’s invoking of the social compact clause. Judson pointed out that only white men were eligible to be electors and thus hold political power or offices in the state. Judson then pushed this argument further. Judson, after listing a litany of restrictions to the ballot based on color across the country, argued that because Black people were systematically denied the privileges of being an elector, they must not be citizens nor are they protected by the privileges and immunities clause. Judson rejected Ellsworth’s claim that there was no historical grounding for citizenship based on race. Judson pointed to several early laws, including a 1790 law concerning naturalization, that explicitly included the term white in discussions of citizenship and naturalization. This, combined with the systematic exclusion of free Black people from political power led Judson to argue that America was, “the white man’s country, and the white men is an American citizen.” Judson’s argument reached its climax when he said, in no uncertain terms, that America was an explicitly white nation, “it [America] belongs to a race of white men.” Judson’s co-counsel, Chauncy Cleveland, would make another explicitly racist argument. Addressing the Justices of the Supreme Court of Error he said, “No black man can take the seat occupied by your Honors.” He went on to say that if a black person was allowed to serve on the Court it would “destroy a nation of free white Americans.”
Crandall’s lawyers made a strong theoretical argument to display the incoherencies of race-based citizenship. They pointed to the lack of historical precedent for such a distinction, and by analysis of existing laws cleverly pointed out the arbitrariness and difficultly of such a standard. Yet the State countered with arguments that closely tracked Justice Daggett’s instructions to the jury. They unabashedly argued that the founders had intended for citizenship and whiteness to be inextricably linked, and that the purpose of the country was, in no uncertain terms, white supremacy. Ultimately, the Court ended up dismissing the charges against Crandall on a technical point, leaving the fundamental question unsettled. We shall return to this decision and the circumstances surrounding it in our discussion of the third key moment, the reply of the Court in 1865, but first, we should discuss the critical case, Jackson v. Bulloch.
The case of Jackson v. Bulloch, an 1837 case which concerned the legal status of Nancy Jackson, an enslaved person brought to Connecticut from Georgia, falls into a larger pattern of cases and laws concerning the transit of enslaved persons through free states. Jackson had been brought to Connecticut from Georgia by James Bulloch, her enslaver. Jackson then sued Bulloch with the argument that,pursuant to the Connecticut gradual abolition laws of 1774 and 1784, Bulloch’s extended residence in Connecticut with her should put him in violation of Connecticut law and that she should be freed. The majority would find in favor of Jackson, ruling Bulloch to be in violation of the 1774 law and freeing her. Yet despite the personal victory for Jackson, and the larger victory for abolitionists and enslaved people, the Court did not go so far as to render Connecticut entirely free soil, as “the court made clear that travelers did not forfeit their property in slaves upon entering the state.” Beyond this, the Court, in both its majority and dissenting opinions, explicitly cast both enslaved people and free Black people as outside the political body defined by the contours of a social contract.
The majority opinion in Jackson v. Bulloch represents a divergence, of sorts, from the Court’s earlier approach in Crandall. Here, Justice Williams, writing for a three-judge majority, roundly denounced slavery as an “evil”, despite its “implied sanction” from the legislature. Finding that Nancy Jackson should be freed, Justice Williams determined that the intent of the legislature’s gradual emancipation acts had been to “destroy” the institution of slavery in the state of Connecticut. Yet, Justice Williams, despite ruling in favor of Jackson revisited the earlier question of citizenship, albeit in a somewhat different context. Here Justice Williams, writing “[s]o, too, when by another article in the constitution, all coloured persons are excluded from the privileges of electors, it would seem as if all such persons were considered as excluded from the social compact”, denies the citizenship of Black people, both free and enslaved.  Williams, then referencing the preamble of the Constitution wrote, “it cannot be seriously contended, that it included that class of people called slaves.” Here Justice Williams, with no acknowledgment, appears to have resolved the question at hand in Crandall. First Justice Williams, employing a comparable argument to the one made by Judson in Crandall, reasons that the Connecticut social compact clause cannot be seen as part of the social contract. They do not have the privilege of electors and thus are not citizens. Justice Williams, then, continues along this line of logic reasons enslaved people cannot be considered to be part of the ‘people’ as covered by “the term people” in the bill of rights” or the phrase “We The People” in the preamble to the Constitution. While Justice Williams is not explicitly referring to free Black people in this particular discussion of the political category of ‘the people’, his earlier logic would suggest that they would not be included. If free Black people are cast as outside the social contract, from which the legitimacy of the government is derived, it would seem that they cannot be part of the ‘the people’ insofar as the ‘the people’ represents the source of political power. Consequently, despite Justice Williams delivering a very tangible victory to Nancy Jackson, he renders free Black people outside the social contract and thus, a potential claim to citizenship.
The dissent, delivered by Justice Bissell on behalf of himself and Justice Church, was even more explicit in its discussion of the political position of enslaved people and free Black people. Justice Bissell, like Justice Williams, takes up the social compact clause in his opinion. Looking to the exclusive privileges language in the Connecticut Constitution, Bissell points out that, “even free blacks are excluded from the right of suffrage; the most important of political rights.” Bissell then argued that because political power emanates from the ‘people’, free Black people, with no right to vote, cannot be construed as part of the ‘people’ in a political sense. In this sense Justice Bissell prefigures Justice Taney in the Dred Scott decision, who argued along similar lines that Black people, enslaved or free, were not a constituent part of the ‘people’ or citizens. Another notable component of Justice Bissell’s opinion is the frank manner in which he discusses his role as a jurist. Justice Bissell is forthright in his opposition to slavery on moral grounds, terming it an “evil”, and an “injustice.” Yet he argues that his moral opposition to slavery cannot lead him to find in favor of Jackson. In a particularly lucid paragraph Justice Bissell writes:
And I am not about to deny the propriety of Bulloch, urging them upon the moral sense and feelings of the community. With these topics, and with the excitement that is abroad on this subject, whether favourable or adverse to the present claim, I can have nothing to do. Sitting here to administer the law, I cannot undertake to be wiser than the laws and constitution of my country, nor purer than those great and good men, by whom they were ordained. As a citizen and as a man, I may admit the injustice and immorality of slavery; that its tendencies are all bad; that it is productive of evil, and of evil only. But as a jurist, I must look at that standard of morality, which the law prescribes.
For Justice Bissell, the laws of Connecticut were obvious enough on the question and the state clearly endorsed slavery as an institution. Therefore, despite his opposition to slavery, he argues that the legal system of the state is inclined to deliver a verdict in favor of Bulloch.
Let us now consider our final key moment, the reply of the Court to the Connecticut legislature in 1865. In its May 1865 session, the General Assembly of the Connecticut State Legislature passed a resolution that asked the Supreme Court of Errors to reply to the following question: “whether a negro is or is not a citizen of the United Slates [sic], within the meaning of that phrase as used in the amendment to the constitution of the state, adopted in October, 1845.”  In response to the legislature’s question the Court wrote, “a free colored person born in this state is a citizen of the state and of the United States, within the meaning of the amendment of the constitution referred to.” The Court then added a note to their reply which read as follows:
In the case of Crandall v. The State… Daggett, Ch. J., charged the jury in the superior court that free blacks were not citizens. The case was carried to the Supreme Court, where the question was elaborately argued, but was ultimately decided on another point, and no opinion expressed upon the principal question. … It appears by minutes of the consultation taken by Judge Bissell, and found since his death among his papers… that the question of the citizenship of free blacks was discussed at considerable length by the judges, and that while Judge Daggett adhered to the opinion expressed by him in the superior court, all the other judges either held or inclined to the opinion that they were citizens.
The Court attached a letter written by Justice Williams to Justice Bissell in which Justice Williams, talking about Justice Daggett, wrote, “that our respected friend was wrong in his charge to the jury.” The unambiguous reply from the Court invites several questions. The most obvious question is why the Court, with no constitutional change having occurred within the state and only the first of the Reconstruction Amendments passed, finally settled a question that had bounced around the Connecticut Courts in the 1830s. The obvious answer is a combination of attitude towards for free Black citizenship and the composition of the Court having changed in the years since Crandall and Jackson. None of the judges from either case remained on the Court in 1865, and the Reconstruction Amendments, despite having not all been passed at the time of the reply, were making their way through Congress. Yet, this answer runs into a few complications. Despite the Court informing the legislature that Black people were citizens of the United States and the State of Connecticut, the word white would remain in the State Constitution, qualifying who could be an elector until it was removed by the 23rd Amendment in 1876. The 15th Amendment, ratified in 1870 would, of course, supersede this state qualification, but the language would remain until 1876. Beyond this immediate, though deeply important issue, in which Black people remained written out of the body of electors, the included commentary about Crandall raises some interesting questions.
The Court explicitly repudiated Justice Daggett’s instructions to the jury and, using the papers of the former justices and a letter from Justice Williams, informed the legislature that every justice but Daggett had been inclined to find that free Black people were citizens. Yet despite this, the Court notably sidestepped the issue of free Black citizenship in Crandall and both the majority and the dissent in Jackson appear to suggest that free Black people were not citizens in the eyes of the State. One could perhaps explain the Court’s decision in Crandall as a product of internal Court politics. If it is true, as the documents suggest, that “all the other judges either held or inclined to the opinion that they [free Black people] were citizens”, then perhaps the finding for Crandall on procedural grounds was a way to appease Justice Daggett while still acquitting a defendant whose cause they were sympathetic to. Of course, we should note, that if this was indeed the compromise at hand in Crandall, it came with disastrous consequences for free Black people in the state and the country at large. As we saw above, it was the lack of a conclusive resolution to the question of citizenship in Crandall that, in part, allowed Chief Justice Taney to argue that even northern states were unsympathetic to the idea that free Black people should be citizens.
Crandall notwithstanding the reply of the Court also raises interesting questions for Jackson. Both Justice Williams and Justice Bissell were on the Court in the Crandall case, where Justice Bissell signed onto Justice Williams’s majority opinion. If the 1865 reply of the Court is correct in its assessment of the inclinations of the justices in Crandall, then it would seem that both Bissel and Williams were in favor of citizenship for free Black people. Yet, despite the two finding themselves on opposite sides in Jackson, both their opinions suggested that free Black people were not citizens. At first glance it appears that the tension between their reported opinions in Crandall and their respective stances in Jackson can be resolved. Jackson was concerned with the status of an enslaved person, whereas Crandall moved around the question of free Black citizenship. Yet, as we saw above, a closer look at Jackson reveals that both Justice Williams and Justice Bissell, in their respective opinions, cast free Black people as explicitly outside the social contract. In the case of Justice Williams this leads to the implication that free Black people are not citizens. In Justice Bissell’s opinion, this is argument is made even more explicitly, as Justice Bissell ties voting to citizenship and being included in ‘the people’. Consequently, it would seem that both Williams and Bissell, despite their reported private opinions in Crandall gave, in passing, legal sanction to the claim that free Black people were not citizens.
The reply of the Court helps put a finer point on the dynamics that marked the Connecticut Supreme Court’s grappling with the question of citizenship for and the political status of free Black people. It highlights the way in which individual actors making conscious choices and compromises, in combination with Connecticut legal code, produced an inconsistent and contested, but nonetheless repressive and exclusionary political situation for free Black people. As we saw, the justices of the Supreme Court Errors appeared to have been inclined to side with Crandall and the argument being put forth by her counsel. Yet, for whatever reason—perhaps a desire to maintain a relationship with Justice Daggett or an unwillingness to go so far as to affirm citizenship for free Black people—the judges skirted around the question. A positive outcome for Crandall, at least in the immediacy, but a decision with lasting, painful consequences. Crandall’s school would close, nevertheless, and as argued before, the failure of the Court to stake out a clear position meant that Taney could cite Crandall in his Dred Scott decision. Jackson yet again showcases how justices delivered a result that was to the benefit of an individual person, in this case emancipating Nancy Jackson, yet harmful to free Black people as a larger group. In this case, one could argue that, despite Jackson not being cited in the odious Dred Scott case, the Court delivered an even more exclusionary decision than their non-decision in Crandall.
Yet, it is important to stress that these outcomes were not simply the product of individual judges and justices failing to deliver just outcomes inside of a neutral system. We should take care to note and emphasize the fact that it was Connecticut, and the country’s, legal code and constitution that helped deliver these repressive and discriminatory outcomes. Crandall’s lawyers made strong theoretical arguments that highlighted the absurdity and incoherence of race-based qualifications to citizenship. Yet the state was able to count these arguments not by providing a logically coherent argument for such qualifications, but by pointing to the very real racist intent behind several key documents and clauses. They pointed out that many of the founders were slaveholders and that the original founding documents of the country contained several clauses pertaining to race. They turned to Connecticut’s Constitution and its race-based qualifications for voting to find legal grounding for their arguments. In Jackson, both Justice Williams and Justice Bissell looked at the social compact and elector clauses of the state Constitution and found reasons to find against, not in favor of, free Black citizenship. And while the 1865 reply of the Court put the question of Black citizenship to rest, at least legally speaking, the state Constitution retained, albeit superseded by the 15th Amendment, distinctions based on race until 1876 and retained literacy tests until they were made illegal by federal law in 1970.
By looking at these three key moments in Connecticut’s legal history we see a history of both liberatory, egalitarian impulses and repressive, nakedly racist and white supremacist legal codes. Figures like Prudence Crandall and her lawyers proudly made arguments for citizenship for free Black people. Yet at the same time, Connecticut’s legal system, with its particularly exclusionary constitution and its painfully slow path towards both abolition and citizenship for free Black people meant that such attempts were persistently slowed or denied, with the cost of much human suffering. In the middle of these impulses lay, time and time again, the Connecticut Supreme Court of Errors. It is in the behavior of the Court that we see weakness of the institution’s ability to deliver justice for Black people, both free and enslaved. In Crandall, it seems likely that a desire to keep on good terms with, or some sort of deference towards, Justice Daggett led to the Court sidestepping the core question. While this did ensure Crandall would not be punished, legally, she still closed her school. But beyond this, the failure to actually issue an opinion that, as the later reply of the Court showed, comported with the justices’ actual beliefs cause immeasurable loss. Chief Justice Taney would use Crandall to support his larger arguments against Black citizenship. Yet again the Court was presented with an opportunity in Jackson to return to the question they skipped over in Crandall. This time, however, as we saw, both justices explicitly wrote free Black people outside of Connecticut’s social contract. Justice Bissell saw the evils of slavery, denounced them in his opinion, and yet voted to condemn Nancy Jackson to a life under that institution. Even though Justice Williams and the majority delivered Jackson a personal victory, his casual denial of citizenship to free Black people should not be understated. Ultimately, the history of these cases shows a Court that had at multiple opportunities a chance to deliver justice and liberation, and yet balked at these chances. The fact that the arguments in these cases swirled around the question of the social contract and membership in said contract shows both the importance of membership in a larger political body and the serious effects of being denied a spot in the fundamental fabric of a political society and othered, not just by those with the privileges of citizenship, but by political institutions themselves.
Brown, et al .b. Board of Education of Topeka, Brief for Appellants in Nos. 1, 2, and 4, and for Respondents in No. 10 on Reargument, 205. (U.S. Supreme Court, October Term, 1953.) in Williams, Donald. Prudence Crandall’s Legacy.
The Constitution of Connecticut (1818) hosted at: https://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/Content/constitutions/1818Constitution.htm
Crandall v. State, 10 Conn. 339 (1834). https://cite.case.law/conn/10/339/
Crandall, Prudence, and Member of the bar. Report of the Arguments of Counsel, in the Case of Prudence Crandall, Plff. in Error, Vs. State of Connecticut: before the Supreme Court of Errors, at Their Session at Brooklyn, July Term, 1834. Boston: Published by Garrison & Knapp, 1834
Literacy tests and the right to vote – Connecticut history: A cthumanities project. Connecticut History | a CTHumanities Project – Stories about the people, traditions, innovations, and events that make up Connecticut’s rich history. (2020, November 2). Retrieved July 27, 2022, from https://connecticuthistory.org/literacy-tests-and-the-right-to-vote/
Paul Finkelman, “Prelude to the Fourteenth Amendment: Black Legal Rights in the
Antebellum North,” Rutgers Law Journal 17, no. Issues 3 & 4 (Spring and Summer 1986):
Jackson v. Bulloch, 12 Conn. 38 (1837). https://cite.case.law/conn/12/38/
Menschel, D. “Abolition Without Deliverance: The Law of Connecticut Slavery 1784-1848.” The Yale law journal 111, no. 1 (2001): 183–222. 195
Opinion of the Judges of the Supreme Court, 32 Conn. 565 (1865) https://cite.case.law/conn/32/565
Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. 393, 15 L. Ed. 691, 1856 U.S. LEXIS 472, 19 HOW 393 (Supreme Court of the United States March 5, 1857, Decided; December 1856 Term)
Williams, Donald E. Prudence Crandall’s Legacy: the Fight for Equality in the 1830s, Dred Scott, and Brown V. Board of Education. Middletown, Conn: Wesleyan University Press, 2014.
 Brown, et al .b. Board of Education of Topeka, Brief for Appellants in Nos. 1, 2, and 4, and for Respondents in No. 10 on Reargument, 205. (U.S. Supreme Court, October Term, 1953.) in Williams, Donald. Prudence Crandall’s Legacy. 341
 Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. 393, 15 L. Ed. 691, 1856 U.S. LEXIS 472, 19 HOW 393 (Supreme Court of the United States March 5, 1857, Decided; December 1856 Term)
 Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. 393, 15 L. Ed. 691, 1856 U.S. LEXIS 472, 19 HOW 393 (Supreme Court of the United States March 5, 1857, Decided; December 1856 Term)
 Paul Finkelman, “Prelude to the Fourteenth Amendment: Black Legal Rights in the
Antebellum North,” Rutgers Law Journal 17, no. Issues 3 & 4 (Spring and Summer 1986):
 Ibid. 421
 The Constitution of Connecticut (1818) hosted at: https://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/Content/constitutions/1818Constitution.htm
 Crandall, Prudence, and Member of the bar. Report of the Arguments of Counsel, in the Case of Prudence Crandall, Plff. in Error, Vs. State of Connecticut: before the Supreme Court of Errors, at Their Session at Brooklyn, July Term, 1834. Boston: Published by Garrison & Knapp, 1834. Pg. iii
 Report of the Arguments of Counsel, in the Case of Prudence Crandall. 25.
 Ellsworth usage of ‘free’ is important as it shows the concessions he had to make to in his arguments. Ellsworth was forced to concede the enslaved people could not be considered citizens.
 Report of the Arguments of Counsel, in the Case of Prudence Crandall. 19
 Ibid. 18
 Ibid. 22
 Ibid. 23
 See: Commonwealth v. Aves, Finkelman 444
 Menschel, D. “Abolition Without Deliverance: The Law of Connecticut Slavery 1784-1848.” The Yale law journal 111, no. 1 (2001): 183–222. 195
 Ibid. 43
 Scott v. Sandford
 Jackson v. Bulloch, 12 Conn. 38 (1837) 57
 The State Constitution Amendment in question was Amendment 8, which had altered Article 6 of Constitution. Both Amendment 8 and Amendment 6 address the “Qualifications of Electors” and include the word “white” amongst the qualifications.
 Opinion of the Judges of the Supreme Court, 32 Conn. 565 (1865)
 Despite the removal of the word white from the electoral qualifications, the state reaffirmed a literacy test with the 24th Amendment.
 Literacy tests and the right to vote – Connecticut history: A cthumanities project. Connecticut History | a CTHumanities Project – Stories about the people, traditions, innovations, and events that make up Connecticut’s rich history. (2020, November 2). Retrieved July 27, 2022, from https://connecticuthistory.org/literacy-tests-and-the-right-to-vote/