“A Distant People”: The History of Slavery and Race in the US Declaration of Independence

Friday Seminar
Steve Sarson, Université Jean Moulin
Mar 24, 2023 at - | Hybrid/Museum of the American Revolution, 101 S. Third Street, Philadelphia

Steve Sarson

Steve Sarson is Professor of American Civilization at Université Jean Moulin in Lyon, France. He did his doctorate at Johns Hopkins University and previously taught at Towson State University in Baltimore and Swansea University in Wales. He has published three books: The Tobacco Plantation South and the Early American Atlantic World; British America: Creating Colonies, Imagining an Empire; and Barack Obama: American Historian, and numerous book chapters and journal articles, including in the Journal of Economic History, the Journal of the Early Republic, and the William and Mary Quarterly. He also co-edited with Jack P. Greene an eight-volume documents collection on The American Colonies and the British Empire. His current book project, from which the paper derives, is entitled ‘When in the Course of Human Events’: History and Historical Consciousness in the US Declaration of Independence and is due to be published by the University of Virginia Press in 2025. He is currently working on that project as a Peter Nicolaison Fellow at the International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello. 

The McNeil Center and our partners are making every effort to offer our seminars in a hybrid format, where participants may attend either in person or virtually. More information on locations and virtual attendance options will be announced shortly.


The McNeil Center sponsors a seminar that meets on Friday afternoons approximately twice a month between September and May, with the paper for each session circulated in advance. Over two hundred people attend at least once a year, with an average attendance of 40 to 50 at meetings held at various sites in the Delaware Valley. While most of the regular attendees are graduate students and faculty from institutions in the Philadelphia area, participants come from as far afield as Long Island, New York City, Princeton, Baltimore, Annapolis, and Washington. 

The McNeil Center will utilize a hybrid format for seminars in which participants may gather together at the McNeil Center building (or occasionally at an MCEAS Consortium institution host in the Philadelphia area) or attend via Zoom. All in-person attendees must comply with the University of Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 policiesMasks are optional in the seminar room. For regular updates about our seminars, please join our mailing list. Please email us at mceas@sas.upenn.edu with any questions.