Rafael Pardo

Walter D. Coles Professor of Law, School of Law

Professor Pardo’s current research focuses on the intersection of the 1841 Bankruptcy Act, slavery, and race in the antebellum United States. His published work in this area has analyzed how the federal government through the Act became the owner and seller of enslaved Black Americans, provided direct economic support to financially distressed slave traders, and restructured financially distressed assets involved in the domestic slave trade. He has also analyzed how free Black Americans facing financial distress used the Act to reintegrate into their commercial communities and protect their claims to citizenship. This research serves as the foundation for Pardo’s current book project, “The Color of Bankruptcy: Financial Failure and Freedom in the Age of American Slavery,” which Columbia University Press will publish as part of its Columbia Studies in the History of U.S. Capitalism series.

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