Author: Mary Sarah Bilder
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Release Date: 2008-03-31
Departing from traditional approaches to colonial legal history, Mary Sarah Bilder argues that American law and legal culture developed within the framework of an evolving, unwritten transatlantic constitution that lawyers, legislators, and litigants on both sides of the Atlantic understood. The central tenet of this constitution--that colonial laws and customs could not be repugnant to the laws of England but could diverge for local circumstances--shaped the legal development of the colonial world.
Author: Ellen Holmes Pearson
Publisher: University of Virginia Press
Release Date: 2011-03-22
History has largely forgotten the writings, both public and private, of early nineteenth-century America’s legal scholars. However, Ellen Holmes Pearson argues that the observers from this era had a unique perspective on the young nation and the directions in which its legal culture might go. Remaking Custom draws on the law lectures, treatises, speeches, and papers of the early republic’s legal scholars to examine the critical role that they played in the formation of American identities. As intermediaries between the founders of America’s newly independent polities and the next generation of legal practitioners and political leaders, the nation’s law educators expressed pride in the retention of the "republican parts" of England’s common law while at the same time identifying some of the central features that distinguished American law from that of Britain. From their perspective, the new nation’s blending of tradition and innovation produced a superior national character. Because American law educators interpreted both local and national legal trends, Remaking Custom reveals how national identities developed through Americans’ articulation of their local customs and identities. Pearson examines the innovations that legists could celebrate, such as constitutional changes that placed the people at the center of their governments and more egalitarian property laws that accompanied America’s abundant supply of land. The book also deals with innovations that presented uncomfortable challenges to law educators as they sought creative ways to justify the legal cultures that grew up around slavery and Anglo-Americans’ hunger for land occupied by Native Americans.
Author: Craig Yirush
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Release Date: 2011-02-28
Traces the emergence of a revolutionary conception of political authority on the far shores of the eighteenth-century Atlantic world. Based on the equal natural right of English subjects to leave the realm, claim indigenous territory and establish new governments by consent, this radical set of ideas culminated in revolution and republicanism. But unlike most scholarship on early American political theory, Craig Yirush does not focus solely on the revolutionary era of the late eighteenth century. Instead, he examines how the political ideas of settler elites in British North America emerged in the often-forgotten years between the Glorious Revolution in America and the American Revolution against Britain. By taking seriously an imperial world characterized by constitutional uncertainty, geo-political rivalry and the ongoing presence of powerful Native American peoples, Yirush provides a long-term explanation for the distinctive ideas of the American Revolution.
Author: Warren M. Billings
Publisher: University of Virginia Press
Release Date: 2017-02-24
Virginia men of law constituted one of the first learned professions in colonial America, and Virginia legal culture had an important and lasting impact on American political institutions and jurisprudence. Exploring the book collections of these Virginians therefore offers insight into the history of the book and the intellectual history of early America. It also addresses essential questions of how English culture migrated to the American colonies and was transformed into a distinctive American culture. Focusing on the law books that colonial Virginians acquired, how they used them, and how they eventually produced a native-grown legal literature, this collection explores the law and intellectual culture of the Commonwealth and reveals the origins of a distinctively Virginian legal literature. The contributors argue that understanding the development of early Virginia legal history—as shown through these book collections—not only illuminates important aspects of Virginia’s history and culture; it also underlies a thorough understanding of colonial and revolutionary American history and culture.
Author: Vicki Hsueh
Publisher: Duke University Press
Release Date: 2010-01-06
Genre: Political Science
In Hybrid Constitutions, Vicki Hsueh contests the idea that early-modern colonial constitutions were part of a uniform process of modernization, conquest, and assimilation. Through detailed analyses of the founding of several seventeenth-century English proprietary colonies in North America, she reveals how diverse constitutional thought and practice were at the time, and how colonial ambitions were advanced through cruelty toward indigenous peoples as well as accommodation of them. Proprietary colonies were governed by individuals (or small groups of individuals) granted colonial charters by the Crown. These proprietors had quasi-sovereign status over their colonies; they were able to draw on and transform English legal and political instruments as they developed constitutions. Hsueh demonstrates that the proprietors cobbled together constitutions based on the terms of their charters and the needs of their settlements. The “hybrid constitutions” they created were often altered based on interactions among the English settlers, other European settlers, and indigenous peoples. Hsueh traces the historical development and theoretical implications of proprietary constitutionalism by examining the founding of the colonies of Maryland, Carolina, and Pennsylvania. She provides close readings of colonial proclamations, executive orders, and assembly statutes, as well as the charter granting Cecilius Calvert the colony of Maryland in 1632; the Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina, adopted in 1669; and the treaties brokered by William Penn and various Lenni Lenape and Susquehannock tribes during the 1680s and 1690s. These founding documents were shaped by ambition, contingency, and limited resources; they reflected an ambiguous and unwieldy colonialism rather than a purposeful, uniform march to modernity. Hsueh concludes by reflecting on hybridity as a rubric for analyzing the historical origins of colonialism and reconsidering contemporary indigenous claims in former settler colonies such as Australia, New Zealand, and the United States.
Author: David J. Bodenhamer
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Release Date: 2012-08-15
The framers of the Constitution chose their words carefully when they wrote of a more perfect union--not absolutely perfect, but with room for improvement. Indeed, we no longer operate under the same Constitution as that ratified in 1788, or even the one completed by the Bill of Rights in 1791--because we are no longer the same nation. In The Revolutionary Constitution, David J. Bodenhamer provides a comprehensive new look at America's basic law, integrating the latest legal scholarship with historical context to highlight how it has evolved over time. The Constitution, he notes, was the product of the first modern revolution, and revolutions are, by definition, moments when the past shifts toward an unfamiliar future, one radically different from what was foreseen only a brief time earlier. In seeking to balance power and liberty, the framers established a structure that would allow future generations to continually readjust the scale. Bodenhamer explores this dynamic through seven major constitutional themes: federalism, balance of powers, property, representation, equality, rights, and security. With each, he takes a historical approach, following their changes over time. For example, the framers wrote multiple protections for property rights into the Constitution in response to actions by state governments after the Revolution. But twentieth-century courts--and Congress--redefined property rights through measures such as zoning and the designation of historical landmarks (diminishing their commercial value) in response to the needs of a modern economy. The framers anticipated just such a future reworking of their own compromises between liberty and power. With up-to-the-minute legal expertise and a broad grasp of the social and political context, this book is a tour de force of Constitutional history and analysis.
While the study of "indigenous intermediaries" is today the focus of some of the most interesting research in the historiography of colonialism, its roots extend back to at least the 1970s. The contributions to this volume revisit Ronald E. Robinson's theory of collaboration in a range of historical contexts by melding it with theoretical perspectives derived from postcolonial studies and transnational history. In case studies ranging globally over the course of four centuries, these essays offer nuanced explorations of the varied, complex interactions between imperial and local actors, with particular attention to those shifting and ambivalent roles that transcend simple binaries of colonizer and colonized.
Author: Lauren Benton
Publisher: NYU Press
Release Date: 2013-07-22
Historians used to imagine empire as an imperial power extending total domination over its colonies. Now, however, they understand empire as a site in which colonies and their constitutions were regulated by legal pluralism: layered and multicentric systems of law, which incorporated or preserved the law of conquered subjects. By placing the study of law in diverse early modern empires under the rubric of legal pluralism, Legal Pluralism and Empires, 1500-1850 offers both legal scholars and historians a much-needed framework for analyzing the complex and fluid legal politics of empires. Contributors analyze how ideas about law moved across vast empires, how imperial agents and imperial subjects used law, and how relationships between local legal practices and global ones played themselves out in the early modern world. The book's tremendous geographical breadth, including the British, French, Spanish, Ottoman, and Russian empires, gives readers the most comparative examination of legal pluralism to date. Lauren Benton is Professor of History, Affiliated Professor of Law, and Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Science at New York University. Her books include A Search for Sovereignty: Law and Geography in European Empires, 1400-1900 and Law and Colonial Cultures: Legal Regimes in World History, 1400-1900. Richard J. Ross is Professor of Law and History at the University of Illinois (Urbana/Champaign) and Director of the Symposium on Comparative Early Modern Legal History. With Steven Wilf, he is currently working on a book, entitled: The Beginnings of American Law: A Comparative Study.
Author: Mark G. Hanna
Publisher: UNC Press Books
Release Date: 2015-10-22
Analyzing the rise and subsequent fall of international piracy from the perspective of colonial hinterlands, Mark G. Hanna explores the often overt support of sea marauders in maritime communities from the inception of England's burgeoning empire in the 1570s to its administrative consolidation by the 1740s. Although traditionally depicted as swashbuckling adventurers on the high seas, pirates played a crucial role on land. Far from a hindrance to trade, their enterprises contributed to commercial development and to the economic infrastructure of port towns. English piracy and unregulated privateering flourished in the Pacific, the Caribbean, and the Indian Ocean because of merchant elites' active support in the North American colonies. Sea marauders represented a real as well as a symbolic challenge to legal and commercial policies formulated by distant and ineffectual administrative bodies that undermined the financial prosperity and defense of the colonies. Departing from previous understandings of deep-sea marauding, this study reveals the full scope of pirates' activities in relation to the landed communities that they serviced and their impact on patterns of development that formed early America and the British Empire.
Author: Matthew Crow
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Release Date: 2017-03-31
In this innovative book, historian Matthew Crow unpacks the legal and political thought of Thomas Jefferson as a tool for thinking about constitutional transformation, settler colonialism, and race and civic identity in the era of the American Revolution. Thomas Jefferson's practices of reading, writing, and collecting legal history grew out of broader histories of early modern empire and political thought. As a result of the peculiar ways in which he theorized and experienced the imperial crisis and revolutionary constitutionalism, Jefferson came to understand a republican constitution as requiring a textual, material culture of law shared by citizens with the cultivated capacity to participate in such a culture. At the center of the story in Thomas Jefferson, Legal History, and the Art of Recollection, Crow concludes, we find legal history as a mode of organizing and governing collective memory, and as a way of instituting a particular form of legal subjectivity.
Author: Mary Sarah Bilder
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Release Date: 2015-10-19
No document depicts the Constitutional Convention’s charismatic figures, crushing disappointments, and miraculous triumphs with the force of Madison’s Notes. But how reliable is this account? Drawing on digital technologies and textual analysis, Mary Sarah Bilder reveals that Madison revised to a far greater extent than previously recognized.
Author: Peter J. Galie
Publisher: Oxford University Press on Demand
Release Date: 2012-05-24
The New York State Constitution is the first comprehensive analysis of the New York Constitution and its individual provisions. In this fully updated new edition, Peter J. Galie and Christopher Bopst provide a brief constitutional history, the full text of the current constitution with commentary on an article-by-article basis, a bibliographic essay, a table of cases, and a full general index. It provides ready access to material that will help scholars, judges, lawyers, students and the general public to understand the historical background to the New York Constitution, the intent of the framers, and the evolution and current meaning of its provisions. Those concerned about the current crises in state governments in general, and New York in particular, will find much helpful information on the role the constitution plays in enabling the state to respond more effectively to the problems of 21st century governance.
Author: Sally E. Hadden
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
Release Date: 2013-02-22
A Companion to American Legal History presents a compilation of the most recent writings from leading scholars on American legal history from the colonial era through the late twentieth century. Presents up-to-date research describing the key debates in American legal history Reflects the current state of American legal history research and points readers in the direction of future research Represents an ideal companion for graduate and law students seeking an introduction to the field, the key questions, and future research ideas
This collection of original essays by leading historians of political thought examines modern European thinkers' writings about conquest, colonization and empire. The creation of vast transcontinental empires and imperial trading networks played a key role in the development of modern European political thought. The rise of modern empires raised fundamental questions about virtually the entire contested set of concepts that lay at the heart of modern political philosophy, such as property, sovereignty, international justice, war, trade, rights, transnational duties, civilization and progress. From Renaissance republican writings about conquest and liberty to sixteenth-century writings about the Spanish conquest of the Americas through Enlightenment perspectives about conquest and global commerce and nineteenth-century writings about imperial activities both within and outside of Europe, these essays survey the central moral and political questions occasioned by the development of overseas empires and European encounters with the non-European world among theologians, historians, philosophers, diplomats and merchants.