I am a historian of the nineteenth-century United States with a focus on slavery, race, and the law. Generally, I am interested in changing understandings of what law is and who it is for. I approach the study of the law and slavery from the bottom up. Rather than focusing on statutes and appellate court decisions as conclusive expressions of law, I examine trial court records, church disciplinary hearings, and other local legal records that emphasize the role ordinary people played in shaping legal processes. The antebellum U.S. South, in particular, offers a fruitful place for thinking broadly about who defines law and rights.