Professor Gillmer presents new book Slavery and Freedom in Texas: Stories from the Courtroom, 1821-1871 at SMU in Texas

November 08, 2017

Gonzaga Law Professor Jason Gillmer Presents New Work to Legal Academics and Practitioners

Gonzaga Law Professor Jason Gillmer recently traveled to Texas to share his latest scholarly work, a recently-published book titled, “Slavery and Freedom in Texas: Stories from the Courtroom, 1821-1871.” On November 1, Professor Gillmer spoke to the faculty at Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law in Dallas, TX as part of SMU’s Faculty Forums. There he offered intimate glimpses into Texas society in the time of slavery and the tensions within Texas as it moved from borderland society to republic to state. Gillmer holds the Hemmingson Chair in Civil Liberties and is the director of Gonzaga Law’s Center for Civil and Human Rights.

The day before, Gillmer presented his work to local attorneys in a CLE-accredited events sponsored by the J.L. Turner Association and the Dallas Bar Association Legal History Discussion Group. In a program entitled, “Lawyers and Slaved on Galveston Island,” Professor Gillmer told the stories of real people, in their own words and expressions, which he salvaged from Texas trial court records and documents, memoirs, census records, tax returns, deeds, cattle brands, and the pages of newspapers. He focused primarily on the life of a resourceful woman of color, freed by her owner in his will, in comparatively urban Galveston, and explored the relationship she fostered with her attorneys in an effort to secure her rights through Texas court litigation and trials. Founded in 1952, the J.L. Turner Legal Association, is the African-American bar association in Dallas, Texas.

In a review of “Slavery and Freedom in Texas,” Daniel J. Sharfstein described Professor Gillmer’s work as “[b]eautifully crafted, deeply moving, and alive with insights into law’s power to define family, community, and nation, Gillmer’s stories will transport readers to another Texas.” Sharfstein is the Tarkington Chair of Teaching Excellence at Vanderbilt University Law School and is the author of Thunder in the Mountains: Chief Joseph, Oliver Otis Howard and the Nez Perce War.