Photo of Amy Dru Stanley
Amy Dru Stanley Associate Faculty Member, Law School
Faculty Board - Law, Letters, and Society
Office: Social Science Research Building, room 209 Mailbox 76 Phone: (773) 702-4327 Email Interests:

American legal history, political economy, slavery and emancipation, gender, intellectual history.

Associate Professor of History, Law, and the College

Yale University, PhD '90


Amy Dru Stanley is a historian of the United States, with particular interest in law, capitalism, freedom and unfreedom, human rights, the relationship between the household and economic life, and the historical experience of moral problems. Her work has appeared in scholarly books and journals, as well as in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Nation, Dissent, Slate, and Jacobin. She has received the Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching and the Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching and Mentoring. In 2018, she was the jury chair for the Pulitzer Prize in history.

Recent Research / Recent Publications


The Antislavery Ethic and the Spirit of Commerce: An American History of Human Rights. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, forthcoming.

From Bondage to Contract: Wage Labor, Marriage and the Market in the Age of Slave Emancipation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

  • Frederick Jackson Turner Prize, 1999. (For the best first book in US History, awarded by the Organization of American Historians.)

  • Morris D. Forkosch Award, 1999. (For the best book in intellectual history.)

  • Avery O. Craven Award, 1999. (For the best book on the era of the Civil War and Reconstruction, awarded by the Organization of American Historians.)

  • Frederick Douglass Prize, 1999, honorable mention. (For the best book on the history of slavery.)

Selected Articles & Chapters
  • "The Sovereign Market and Sex Difference: Human Rights in America." In American Capitalism: New Histories, edited by Sven Beckert and Christine Desan. New York: Columbia University Press, 2018.

  • "Slave Emancipation and the Revolutionizing of Human Rights." In The World the Civil War Made, edited by Greg Downs and Kate Masur. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2015.

  • “Contract.” In Keywords for American Cultural Studies, 2nd ed., edited by B. Burgett and G. Hendler. New York: New York University Press, 2014.

  • "Slave Breeding and Free Love: An Antebellum Argument over Slavery, Capitalism, and Personhood." In Capitalism Takes Command, edited by Michael Zakim and Gary Kornblith. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012.

  • "Instead of Waiting for the Thirteenth Amendment: The War Power, Slave Marriage, and Inviolate Human Rights." American Historical Review 115, no. 3 (June 2010): 732–65.

  • "When We Were Young." In Wayne F. Miller: Photographs 1942–1958, edited by Stephen Daiter. Brooklyn: Powerhouse Books, 2008.

  • "Wages, Sin, and Slavery: Some Thoughts on Free Will and Commodity Relations." Journal of the Early Republic 24 (Sum. 2004).

  • "Dominion and Dependence in the Law of Freedom and Slavery." Law & Social Inquiry 28, no. 3 (Aut. 2003): 1127-34.

  • "Marriage, Property, and Ideals of Class." In Blackwell's Companion to American Women's History, edited by Nancy Hewitt. Oxford: Blackwell Press, 2002.

  • "The Right to Possess All the Faculties that God Has Given: Possessive Individualism, Slave Women, and Abolitionist Thought." In Moral Problems in American Life, edited by Lewis Perry and Karen Halttunnen. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1999.

  • "Home Life and the Morality of the Marketplace: Slavery and Freedom, Women and Men." In The Market Revolution in America, edited by Melvyn Stokes. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1996.

  • "Beggars Can't Be Choosers: Compulsion and Contract in Postbellum America." Journal of American History 78, no. 4 (Mar. 1992): 1265–93.

  • "Conjugal Bonds and Wage Labor: Rights of Contract in the Age of Emancipation." Journal of American History 75, no. 2 (Sept. 1988): 471–500.