Insurgents’ Rights and Borderlands Rebellions

Eric R. Schlereth, Summerlee/Summerfield Roberts Fellow for the Study of Texas History

Wednesday, March 11, 2020 |    Texana Room, Fondren Library Center, 6404 Robert S. Hyer Lane, SMU  |  12 noon to 1 p.m. No registration necessary. 

When Americans in the twenty-first century debate border security they typically concern themselves with non-citizens entering the United States. The opposite was true in the 1830s when many people in the United States believed that American citizens posed the greatest threat to North American borders. During this decade, U.S. citizens joined the Texas Revolution and the Canadian Rebellions. The U.S. citizens that joined rebellions at their borders claimed “insurgents’ rights” to justify their actions. According to this view, citizens could join insurrectionary movements because their right to expatriation entitled them to pledge their allegiance to the government of their choice. This talk will explain why some U.S. citizens in the 1830s believed that they possessed insurgents’ rights along with responses to such claims by the Mexican, Canadian, and U.S. governments. Debates during the 1830s about the relative legality of insurgents’ rights reveal that expatriation was a central legal and political concept behind historical developments in the North American borderlands throughout the nineteenth century.

Eric R. Schlereth
is this year's Summerlee/Summerfield Roberts Fellow for the Study of Texas History and associate professor of history at the University of Texas at Dallas. He received the Ph.D. at Brandeis University. His area of expertise is early America and the United States from the revolutionary era through the Civil War. 

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