Law in American History: Volume 1: From the Colonial Years Through the Civil War

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9780195102475: Law in American History: Volume 1: From the Colonial Years Through the Civil War
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In the first of the three volumes of his projected comprehensive narrative history of the role of law in America from the colonial years through the twentieth century, G. Edward White takes up the central themes of American legal history from the earliest European settlements through the Civil War.

Included in the coverage of this volume are the interactions between European and Amerindian legal systems in the years of colonial settlement; the crucial role of Anglo-American theories of sovereignty and imperial governance in facilitating the separation of the American colonies from the British Empire in the late eighteenth century; the American "experiment" with federated republican constitutionalism in the founding period; the major importance of agricultural householding, in the form of slave plantations as well as farms featuring wage labor, in helping to shape the development of American law in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; the emergence of the Supreme Court of the United States as an authoritative force in American law and politics in the early nineteenth century; the interactions between law, westward expansion, and transformative developments in transportation and communiciation in the antebellum years; the contributions of American legal institutions to the dissolution of the Union of American states in the three decades after 1830; and the often-overlooked legal history of the Confederacy and Union governments during the Civil War.

White incorporates recent scholarship in anthropology, ethnography, and economic, political, intellectual and legal history to produce a narrative that is both revisionist and accessible, taking up the familiar topics of race, gender, slavery, and the treatment of native Americans from fresh perspectives. Along the way he provides a compelling case for why law can be seen as the key to understanding the development of American life as we know it. Law in American History, Volume 1 will be an essential text for both students of law and general readers.

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About the Author:


G. Edward White is David and Mary Harrison Distinguished Professor of Law and University Professor at the University of Virginia. His fifteen books include The American Judicial Tradition and Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. White is also the editor of the John Harvard Library edition of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., The Common Law.

Review:


"G. Edward White's first volume of Law in American History is an outstanding contribution to legal history. The book surveys the history of American law through the end of the Civil War in remarkable detail for a single-volume work." --Journal of American History


"This is a magisterial account of a series of dramatic legal developments. Essential." --CHOICE


"Never before has a work on American legal history engaged so profoundly with the
distinctiveness of America's displacement of Indians and enslavement of Africans. This
fascinating and original book will change the way the category 'American law' is defined."--Noah Feldman, Harvard Law School


"In this ambitious and sweeping narrative of a formative era in American legal and constitutional history, White takes us a large step forward in our thinking about the relationships among law, politics, and culture."--Alison la Croix, University of Chicago Law School


"Ted White is one of the few legal historians whose broad and deep knowledge of
American law from the earliest years to the present might enable him to synthesize the
American legal experience. This magnificent first volume of a multivolume history
takes us up to the Civil War, and provides a compelling, coherent, challenging,
and readable account of the first half of American legal history. Law in American
History is the welcome culmination of a lifetime of scholarship."--Stanley n. Katz, Princeton University


"White embeds American law in our culture and thus links legal doctrine and institutions to the ideas of freedom central to our nation's development. This is an authoritative work of American history, told through the framework of law."--Alfred L. Brophy, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill


"In this wonderful volume, we see a masterful historian at the top of his game. White synthesizes and makes accessible a truly immense amount of material-making coherent evolving developments in (and interactions between) public and private law, courts and politics, and government and society."--Larry D. Kramer, Stanford Law School


"White's first volume is as crisp and elegant a statement of the central themes in the history
of American law as any I know. The pages move seamlessly from the law of everyday
life in the household and the workplace to the great constitutional controversies of the day.
This is a book that proceeds with refreshing candor and good common sense."--John Witt, Yale Law School


"G. Edward White's first volume of Law in American History is an outstanding contribution to legal history. ... White's focus on legal, popular, and elite cultures permeates the entire tale told in this volume. He extends his inquiry to examine lawyers' professional culture, slave culture, their masters' culture, and that of abolitionists, workingmen, and indentured servants. It is these cultural themes that allow even the most seasoned of legal historians reading this book to see events in a new light. That altered vision whets the appetite for White's planned second volume to complete the story." --Journal of American History


"G. Edward White is one of America's most eminent legal historians... [and] we now know more and have a truer understanding of the history of the law in America than we did before White began writing legal history forty years ago." --The New Republic


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