IMMIGRATION SEMINAR SERIES-The Problem of Immigration in a Slaveholding Republic: Policing Mobility in the Nineteenth-Century United States by Dr. Kevin Kenny
Wednesday, October 4, 2023
4:15 pm — 6:00 pm
Hybrid (see description for details)
Open to the Public
This event is part of the Immigration Seminar Series.
Kevin Kenny is Glucksman Professor of History at New York University. His books include Making Sense of the Molly Maguires (1998); The American Irish: A History (2000), Peaceable Kingdom Lost: The Paxton Boys and the Destruction of William Penn’s Holy Experiment ( 2009); Diaspora: A Very Short Introduction (2013); and, most recently, The Problem of Immigration in a Slaveholding Republic: Policing Mobility in the Nineteenth-Century United States (2023). He has published articles in Labor History, the Journal of American History, and the Journal of American Ethnic History, among other venues. Oxford University Press published a 25th anniversary edition of his first book, Making Sense of the Molly Maguires, in September 2023. Professor Kenny currently serves as President of the Immigration and Ethnic History Society and as a Distinguished Lecturer of the Organization of American Historians.
This is a hybrid event, taking place online and in person in the Sociology Student Lounge (Room 6112) at the CUNY Graduate Center. Review our Building Entry Policy for in-person events.
About this talk
In the United States today, the federal government controls immigration in the sense of deciding who to admit, exclude, or remove. Yet in the century after the American Revolution, Congress played only a very limited role in regulating immigration. The states, as sovereign entities within a federal system of government, patrolled their borders and set their own rules for community membership. A national immigration policy did not begin to emerge until the 1870s, and the timing—during the era of the Civil War and Reconstruction—was no coincidence. The existence, abolition, and legacies of slavery, more than any other force, shaped American immigration policy as it moved from the local to the national level over the course of the nineteenth century. In making this argument, Kevin Kenny will consider local and federal control over the mobility of immigrants, free black people, and Native Americans; the Constitution and immigration, especially the tension between police power and commerce power; the impact of the Civil War and Reconstruction; Chinese exclusion and the emergence of plenary power over immigration; and some of the ongoing tensions in immigration federalism today. The presentation is based on his recently published book, The Problem of Immigration in a Slaveholding Republic: Policing Mobility in the Nineteenth-Century United States (Oxford University Press, 2023).