Robert J. Cottrol

Portrait of Robert J. Cottrol
Harold Paul Green Research Professor of Law
2000 H Street, NW
Washington, District Of Columbia 20052
[email protected]

Robert J. Cottrol joined the law school faculty in 1995 as a visiting professor of law of legal history. Previously, he taught at Rutgers University and Boston College, and had visited at the University of Virginia. As well as specializing in American legal history, Professor Cottrol has also taught torts and criminal law. His writings on law and history have appeared in the Yale Law Journal, Georgetown Law Journal, American Journal of Legal History, Law and Society Review, Slavery and Abolition: A Journal of Slave and Post-Slave Studies and American Quarterly, among others.

He is the author of The Afro-Yankees: Providence’s Black Community in the Antebellum Era (selected by Choice as an outstanding academic book for 1983), editor of Gun Control and the Constitution: Sources and Explorations on the Second Amendment (Book of the Month selection by the History Book Club), and From African to Yankee: Narratives of Slavery and Freedom in Antebellum New England (1998). Professor Cottrol’s book Brown v. Board of Education: Caste, Culture and the Constitution (2003) won the Langum Project Prize for Historical Literature in 2003 and was a “Book-of-the-Month” selection of the History Book Club. Most recently, he has authored The Long, Lingering Shadow: Slavery, Race, and Law in the American Hemisphere (2013).

He is currently doing research contrasting the role of law in the development of systems of slavery and racial hierarchy in the United States and Latin America. He has lectured on American law at the Federal Universities of Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil and the University of Buenos Aires and La Universidad del Museo Social in Argentina.



BA, PhD, Yale University; JD, Georgetown University

In the News

"These ‘Gun Sanctuary States’ Want to Destroy Biden’s Gun Control Plans"

May 05, 2021

Robert J. Cottrol is quoted in Vice News about whether state sanctuary laws involving guns put the U.S. on track for a constitutional crisis.

"Black Americans Flock to Gun Stores and Clubs: 'I Needed to Protect Myself'"

April 05, 2021
Robert J. Cottrol is quoted in The Guardian about why gun ownership among Black Americans has increased dramatically in the last year.

"Multiple Gun Cases Rejected by Supreme Court"

June 15, 2020
Robert J. Cottrol is quoted by Route Fifty about the Supreme Court declining to hear cases involving Second Amendment petitions.

"Conservative Takeover of the Judiciary Will be Trump’s Lasting Legacy"

January 11, 2020

Robert J. Cottrol is quoted by the Las Vegas Sun on how federal court cases can be just as important as cases that reach the Supreme Court.

"SCOTUS Has the 2nd Amendment in Its Sights—And Gun Groups Are Thrilled"

November 20, 2019

Robert J. Cottrol is quoted by Quartz on how a gun case out of New York City could be the most consequential gun rights case in a decade.