We will learn about the changing history of slavery and freedom from the Revolution to the Civil War. For over seventy years and five generations, enslaved families in the U.S. filed hundreds of lawsuits for their freedom against slaveholders, often taking their cause all the way to the Supreme Court. Between 1787 and 1861, these lawsuits challenged the legitimacy of slavery in American law and put slavery on trial in the nation’s capital. Hear the intricate and intensely human story of the enslaved families (the Butlers, Queens, Mahoneys and others), their lawyers (among them a young Francis Scott Key), and the slaveholders who fought to defend slavery, beginning with the Jesuit priests who held some of the largest plantations in the nation and founded a college at Georgetown. Consider the moral problem of slavery and its legacies in the present day. We will also use the instructor’s recent award- winning documentary films "Anna" (2018) and "The Bell Affair" (2022) to discuss this important topic.