Chestertown, MD — Dr. Carol Wilson, Professor of History at Washington College and the author of The Two Lives of Sally Miller: A Case of Mistaken Racial Identity in Antebellum New Orleans, will present a lecture based on her book at the Casey Academic Center Forum on Tuesday, November 27, at 4:30 p.m. A booksigning will follow.
Dr. Wilson's talk is being presented by the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience.
In 1843, the Louisiana Supreme Court heard the case of a slave named Sally Miller, who claimed to have been born a free white person in Germany. Sally, a very light-skinned slave girl working in a New Orleans café, might not have known she had a case were it not for a woman who recognized her as Salomé Muller, with whom she had emigrated from Germany more than 20 years earlier. Sally decided to sue for her freedom, and was ultimately freed, despite strong evidence contrary to her claim.
In The Two Lives of Sally Miller, Dr. Wilson explores this fascinating legal case and its reflection on broader questions about race, society and law in the antebellum South. Why did a court system known for its extreme bias against African-Americans help to free a woman who was believed by many to be a black slave? Dr. Wilson explains that while the notion of white enslavement was shocking, it was easier for society to acknowledge that possibility than the alternative—an African slave who deceived whites and triumphed over the system.
In addition to The Two Lives of Sally Miller, Dr. Wilson also is the author of Freedom at Risk: The Kidnapping of Free Blacks in America, 1780-1865.
Admission to "The Two Lives of Sally Miller" is free and open to the public.
November 21, 2007