Saturday, March 31, 2007

Campbell on the Underground Railroad, and Ricks, Escape on the Pearl

James T. Campbell reviews two new books on the Underground Railroad in this Sunday's Washington Post: I'VE GOT A HOME IN GLORY LAND: A Lost Tale of the Underground Railroad, by Karolyn Smardz Frost (Farrar Straus Giroux), previously noted on the Legal History Blog, and ESCAPE ON THE PEARL: The Heroic Bid for Freedom on the Underground Railroad by Mary Kay Ricks (Morrow). He find the books compelling, but along the way, Campbell also comments on contemporary understandings of the Underground Railroad,
a world in which history and folklore, memory and myth, have become so interwoven as to be inextricable. To be sure, there were covert networks to assist fugitive slaves -- a 'railroad,' in the inevitable metaphor of the era -- but the system was less organized and extensive (and distinctly less white) than most Americans today imagine. The countless white Northerners who point proudly to the basement or the old barn where their forbears sheltered escaped slaves are, more often than not, engaging in wishful thinking.
At its best, the abiding national fascination with the Underground Railroad honors the memory of courageous men and women who challenged a violent and inhumane system. But there are perils here. Focusing on the flight from slavery rather than on slavery itself not only indulges our appetite for celebratory history -- Americans love nothing more than stories of righteous individuals overcoming insuperable odds -- but also contributes to the myth that slavery and racism were exclusively Southern matters. Much as exaggerated tales of the Resistance have long obscured French complicity in the Holocaust, so have stories of the Underground Railroad helped Northerners evade any sense of responsibility for slavery and its abiding legacies.

About Ricks, Campbell writes:
In April 1848, more than 70 enslaved African Americans boarded a schooner, the Pearl, in Washington, D.C., and sailed for freedom. Unfortunately, a storm on Chesapeake Bay forced the Pearl to seek shelter, allowing a posse on a pursuing steamship to apprehend the ship and its passengers.

The sheer scale of the venture made the Pearl episode a cause celebre. While Sen. John C. Calhoun pressed for new fugitive-slave legislation to stem "these atrocities, these piratical attempts" to steal legal property, invigorated abolitionists such as Harriet Beecher Stowe raised money to purchase freedom for some of the fugitives and to provide a legal defense for the ship's captain (who appears to have taken the job chiefly for financial reasons). Ricks devotes the bulk of her engaging book to the aftermath of the escape, focusing in particular on the travails of two teenage girls, Mary and Emily Edmonson, whose passage from the Pearl to the New Orleans slave market to Oberlin College is as dramatic as anything in Stowe's bestselling Uncle Tom's Cabin.

For the rest, click here.

Ellis lauds Brogan, Alexis de Tocqueville: A Life

It's a very good weekend for history book reviews. ALEXIS DE TOCQUEVILLE: A Life (Yale University Press), by Hugh Brogan, is reviewed in the Washington Post by Joseph J. Ellis. Ellis begins:
Alexis de Tocqueville is a towering figure in 19th-century political thought, on a par with Karl Marx and John Stuart Mill and more prophetic than either of them. It is therefore a bit confounding to realize that, despite all the books and essays about Tocqueville's masterpiece, Democracy in America, there was no full-scale biography in English of the man himself.

Now there is. Hugh Brogan's Alexis de Tocqueville is a magisterial account, 50 years in the making, that follows the precocious French nobleman through the swirling history of post-revolutionary France, the rutted roads of backwoods America, the bewildering comings and goings of different royalist and republican French governments, all the way to Tocqueville's somewhat controversial final hours in 1859, when the question of his religious convictions at the end remains blurry. If this is not the definitive life, it is only because no such thing is possible. It is surely the authoritative life for our time.

Wow! Later in the review, Ellis says: "Obligatory caveats aside, Brogan's achievement here is monumental....This is a book virtually certain to win some major prizes."

For the rest, click here.

Watch Schrecker, Lichtenstein, Kessler-Harris and others at the OAH via YouTube

Ellen Schrecker, Nelson Lichtenstein, and Alice Kessler-Harris, on a panel on Political Repression as an Historiographical Issue at this week's Organization of American Historians conference, are now showing on History News Network via YouTube. William Jelani Cobb, Spelman College, is also listed on the program, but he was unfortunately left out of the broadcast.

Also on HNN today are panelists on Florida's new history law, a panel on Evangelical Religion in America, with George Marsden, University of Notre Dame, and Lisa McGirr, Harvard University. Jon Butler, Yale, commenting (I believe only Marsden is on YouTube, but I haven't watched this video). For OAH news and YouTube videos, click here.

The OAH on YouTube

If, like me, you are missing this year's annual meeting of the Organization of American Historians, going on right now in Minneapolis, take heart. You won't miss it entirely, because Rick Shenkman at History News Network is not only posting about the meeting on HNN, he is posting YouTube videos of some presentations. The first installment is here. Look for updates on HNN. The full conference program is here. Now if only we could get Rick to cover our favorite panels....

New way to rank Ph.D. programs

With rankings fever in the air, there is news of a new way to rank Ph.D. programs. Inside Higher Ed reports that allows users to make their own rankings criteria. Thanks to Cliopatria for the tip. According to the report:
The new system — offered by — takes a different approach: It provides free access to information about more than 5,000 programs at more than 400 universities. But the potential applicant has to decide how to weight the information. Are you more concerned about enrolling in a program with many minority or female students than you are in a program with low tuition? Are you more interested in the average time to finish a doctorate or the prestige of the faculty? Do you care more about the proportion of students who receive fellowships or the percentage who find a job after they earn degrees? After ranking the relative importance you place on these and other factors, the database produces a customized ranking of departments, indicating both a total ranking and how departments placed in the various criteria selected.

Geoff Davis, who designed the program, had this to say: “It doesn’t make sense to call any department No. 1. They all have strengths and weaknesses.”

Hutchinson, The Forgotten Memoir of John Knox, on Book TV this Saturday

Dennis Hutchison, Chicago, is on C-Span2 Book TV this weekend to discuss The Forgotten Memoir of John Knox: A Year in the Life of a Supreme Court Clerk in FDR's Washington

This Saturday, March 31, 6:00 p.m. eastern

Description: Dennis Hutchinson sat down in 2002 to discuss the edited memoirs of John Knox (1907-97), the man who clerked for former Supreme Court Justice James C. Reynolds. Justice Reynolds was a conservative judicial activists who tried to overturn New Deal legislation.

Author Bio: Dennis J. Hutchinson is the William Rainey Harper Professor in the College and senior lecturer in law at the University of Chicago. He is the author of "The Man Who Once Was Whizzer White."

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Brennan Papers

Justice William Brennan, like many who donate their papers, placed restrictions on access to his materials. The restrictions on Brennan's papers at the Library of Congress are not posted publicly and the text is not provided to researchers, which has led to confusion. Many believe that the Brennan Papers are largely closed, and access can be gained only with permission. But instead, as I discovered this week, important parts of the papers are open -- no permission needed -- through the 1974 term.

When I inquired this week, here's what I was told: There are three tiers of restrictions: material that is completely open, material that can be viewed only with permission, and material for which requests for access are not currently being accepted.

The following records are unrestricted:

Part I, Boxes 1-364
Part II, Boxes 1, 3, 4, 6

You can find out what's in these boxes through the finding aid. Click here, and then click on Brennan.

Basically, the unrestricted boxes in Part I are case files through the Oct. 1974 term. The boxes in Part II include some of the end-of-the-term memos/case histories. You can read some of these very interesting summaries at, here. Many more are in these open files.

The boxes that are RESTRICTED include later casefiles and Justice Brennan's correspondence. You can ask permission to see Part I, boxes 365-716, and Part II, boxes 2 and 5. To ask permission, you must contact the Manuscripts staff at the Library of Congress. (They give you a form to fill out, and then they pass it on.) The rest of the papers are restricted, and the Library of Congress is not supposed to accept any requests from researchers to see them. I was told that the restrictions change over time, with more materials opening up. So you always need to check with the Library of Congress.

The good news is that many files are easily accessible with no restrictions. The not-so-exciting-news is that I found that Brennan's case files are not particularly revealing. There were printed drafts of opinions, with markings, joining memos and other misc. memos, most of which were circulated to the Conference. There were no notes from oral arguments, no conference notes, no memos from clerks, no private correspondence with colleagues. (I looked only at the files for only two cases -- Milliken v. Bradley and San Antonio Indep. School Dist. v. Rodriguez. It's possible, of course, that the records are richer for other cases -- though the files for those cases are lengthy.)
For more revealing files, at the Library of Congress, try the Papers of Justice Harry Blackmun and Justice William O. Douglas.

The more interesting details in the Brennan Papers come from the end-of-the-term memos. But those do not cover all significant cases from a particular term. And while they refer to particular documents, the underlying sources are not in the file. To read them is to read an account of a history, rather than to encounter it through the primary sources themselves. So they are most valuable, but have their limits.

Desai on the Post Office in First Amendment History

Anuj C. Desai, Wisconsin, has posted an article forthcoming in the Hastings Law Journal, The Transformation of Statutes into Constitutional Law: How Early Post Office Policy Shaped Modern First Amendment Doctrine. Here's the abstract:
We typically think of constitutional law as the product of text, structure, constitutional history, ethical and moral philosophy, or common law doctrine. At times, though, constitutional law comes directly from societal institutions; those institutions in turn are often rooted in legislative, not judicial, choices. In this article, I tell an intriguing story of constitutional lawmaking in which policy choices about an institution developed into constitutional law. I look at two important areas of First Amendment doctrine: First Amendment constraints on government spending, i.e., "unconstitutional conditions"; and what is known in First Amendment jurisprudence as "the right to receive." I argue that the genesis of both doctrines can be found in legislative choices made during the formation of one of the nation's first "administrative agencies," a communications network that was viewed as the internet of its day: the United States Post Office. When the twentieth century Supreme Court held that the First Amendment can constrain government spending and then later, in a separate line of cases, established "the right to receive," the Court initially relied on specific attributes of the post office. Those attributes in turn had been established by choices made by policymakers during the late eighteenth century. In short, the Court incorporated aspects of the early postal statutes into First Amendment doctrine. Legislative choices in effect became constitutional law.

Joseph reviews Asim, The N Word

Everyone from BlackProf to the Daily Show has been discussing THE N WORD: Who Can Say It, Who Shouldn't, and Why, by Jabari Asim (Houghton Mifflin). Peniel E. Joseph's review just appeared in the Washington Post. Joseph writes:
In an era when high-profile rappers, comedians and public intellectuals craft contorted defenses for the use of the word "nigger," Jabari Asim's "The N Word" provides an important, timely and much-needed critical intervention about this enduringly controversial subject. Beyond a simple discussion of the word itself, Asim deftly chronicles the way in which racist ideology went hand-in-hand with racist culture to permanently alter -- and stain -- the character of America's nascent democracy.
Asim's book is an ambitious, sweeping work that surveys four centuries of racist culture and custom in American society. From the outset, the term in question was a convenient, all-purpose condemnation that allowed such architects of American democracy as Thomas Jefferson to claim that blacks lacked the intellectual and emotional capacity to handle full citizenship. In Jefferson's words, blacks were "inferior to the whites in endowments both of body and mind." A veritable industry of scientific and cultural racism would make Jefferson's sentiments seem positively statesmanlike.
At each step of this sprawling, briskly paced history, Asim chronicles the way in which the word not only permeated popular culture through literary classics such as "Huck Finn" but had practical, real-world consequences, especially during the post-Reconstruction period of anti-black lynching, violence and rioting that swept across the nation in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

For the rest, click here.

New Web Resource: Women in Congress

Robert KC Johnson at Cliopatria has this post about a great new web resource:

Women in Congress

A pathbreaking website from the House of Representatives Office of History and Preservation on Women in Congress is now live.

The site contains a comprehensive index of women members of both chambers, plus artifacts, historical essays, and a data set about women who have served. The site complements a 1015-page book edited by OHP's Matt Wasniewski--volumes on African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asians/Pacific Islanders members will follow. Both the book and the website will be invaluable assets for those of us to do congressional history, but they also serve as good examples of how the House and Senate history offices can bring congressional history to the public.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Nash and Hodges on Thomas Jefferson and Tadeuz Kosciuszko: Slavery and Freedom, Honor and Betrayal

Al Brophy at Property Prof Blog has come across a "stunning" new paper by Gary Nash, "about Revolutionary war hero Tadeuz Kosciuszko's pension and the will Jefferson wrote for him to use his pension to free enslaved people." Al recommends that "those interested in the intersection of property, wills, and slavery" and perhaps everyone interested in great legal history "simply must read it."
The paper is Thomas Jefferson and Tadeuz Kosciuszko: Slavery and Freedom, Honor and Betrayal, by Gary Nash, UCLA, and Graham Russell Hodges, Colgate University, presented at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania on March 23. Here's the abstract:
Thaddeus Kosciuszko’s return to the United States in 1797 initiates the narrative we present in this paper. Although crippled by deep wounds, Kosciuszko returned in triumph to reside in Philadelphia as a revolutionary hero. Americans applauded him for his leadership in Poland’s vain uprising from 1792-1794. Americans cherished him in the hearts and memories that linked his glory during the American Revolution with their anxieties over the conservative policies of President John Adams. Kosciuszko had more than adulation in mind; he intended to collect some $12,000 plus interest in overdue pay from the American Revolution. The American Congress, aware of his enormous popular appeal, quickly voted to allot the back pay, which, with interest rose to over $15,000.
Kosciuszko remained in Philadelphia, where he befriended Vice President Thomas Jefferson. The pair talked of Poland, France, liberty and slavery long into the night on numerous occasions in the winter of 1797-1798. International anxieties promoted secret actions. Kosciuszko was worried about the newly passed Alien and Sedition Acts and wanted to travel to Paris to gather support for the revitalization of Poland. Jefferson was distraught over the possibility of war between the United States and France and asked Kosciuszko to act as a covert ambassador.
What to do with Kosciuszko’s pension? He gave Jefferson power of attorney; the two men drafted an extraordinary will that gave the American Patriot the power to use the cash to purchase, manumit, educate and give land and cattle to as many enslaved people as could be afforded. Jefferson even had the right to “buy” his own enslaved people and free them. It was a solemn pact between two noble men.
Our narrative then jumps two decades to the time of Kosciuszko’s death in late 1817 and Jefferson’s realization that his promise was now due. We then discuss at length Jefferson’s decision to relinquish executorship of the estate, now worth in excess of $20,000. Nonetheless, we view Jefferson’s eventual decision to shed his oath of honor to Kosciuszko as a betrayal of a promise rich in potential to shift American attitudes about slavery, While Jefferson’s attitudes about black potentials for American citizenship have long been considered, we consider his inaction in this affair of honor deeply troubling for a man deemed America’s greatest symbol of liberty.

For Al's post, which includes the text of Kosciuszko's will, click here.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

March Madness in History

I have not followed sports in a serious way since the days when my daughter was a Laker fanatic, but I know that some in the academy are obsessed right now, and the Legal History Blog likes to address many kinds of historical needs.'s a link to more Final Four and other NCAA statistics than anyone could ever want (women's and men's) -- official NCAA Record Books -- which I stumbled upon at the New York Times. Enjoy.

The photo is of the first tournament team victor, Indiana in March 1940. That story is here.

Congressional Research Service Restricts Distribution of CRS Data

In rather surprising news, the Congressional Research Service has prohibited all public distribution of CRS products without prior approval, reports Secrecy News, the blog of the Federation of American Scientists Project on Government Secrecy. The Washington Post has a brief story as well. Thanks to Law Librarian Blog for the tip. Here's the Secrecy News report:
In what is being characterized by subordinates as an act of "managerial dementia," the Director of the Congressional Research Service this week prohibited all public distribution of CRS products without prior approval from senior agency officials.
"I have concluded that prior approval should now be required at the division or office level before products are distributed to members of the public," wrote CRS Director Daniel P. Mullohan in a memo to all CRS staff (pdf). "This policy is effective immediately."
While CRS has long refused (with Congressional concurrence) to make its electronic database of reports available to the public online, it has still been possible for members of the press, other researchers, and other government officials to request specific reports from the congressional support agency.
But now, "to avoid inconsistencies and to increase accountability, CRS policy requires prior approval at the division level before products can be disseminated to non-congressionals," Director Mullohan wrote.
The new policy demonstrates that "this is an organization in freefall," according to one CRS analyst. "We are now indeed working for Captain Queeg."
"We're all sort of shaking," another CRS staffer told Secrecy News. "I can't do my work." "There's not a day that goes by that I don't talk to someone in another agency, another organization, or someone else outside of Congress and we share information," the staffer said. "Now I can't do that?"
A copy of the March 20 memorandum from Director Mullohan, entitled "Distribution of CRS Products to Non-Congressionals," was obtained by Secrecy News.
None of the CRS personnel contacted by Secrecy News was able to explain exactly what prompted CRS Director Mulhollan to issue the policy memorandum this week.
While other parts of government strive to eliminate unnecessary obstacles to information sharing, the new CRS policy may be seen as an experiment in what happens when barriers to information sharing are arbitrarily increased. It probably won't be good.
With some frequency, CRS analysts contact FAS with requests for information or documents. (A recent CRS report on Chinese naval modernization (pdf) reprinted a large excerpt of an analysis of Chinese submarine patrols by FAS analyst Hans Kristensen.) We haven't been shy about requesting information or documents in return. And both sides seem to have benefitted.
"More important, Congress has benefitted," a staffer said. But now such working relationships may be jeopardized.

Kent on the Founding Era History of Congress's Power to Define and Punish Offenses Against the Law of Nations

J. Andrew Kent, Harvard, has posted a new article, forthcoming in the Texas Law Review, Congress's Under-Appreciated Power to Define and Punish Offenses Against the Law of Nations. Here's the abstract:
Perhaps no Article I power of Congress is less understood than the power to “define and punish . . . Offences against the Law of Nations.” There are few scholarly works about the Clause; Congress, the Supreme Court, and the Executive Branch have seldom interpreted the Clause, and even then they have done so in a cursory and contradictory manner. Relying on textual analysis and Founding-era history and political theory to read the Clause in a different manner than previous commentators, this Article seeks to rescue the Clause from obscurity and thereby enrich current foreign affairs debates. Not only is the Clause a power to civilly or criminally regulate individuals when their conduct violates customary international law — as previous commentators have assumed — but it is also a power to punish states, both foreign and U.S. states, for violations of international law. This dual meaning of the Clause — operating on both individuals and states — results from the fact that the eighteenth-century law of nations was founded on an analogy between individuals and states. Relations between states in the international system were analogized to relations between individual people in the putative state of nature — made famous by Locke, Hobbes, Rousseau, and others—where mankind allegedly lived before entering civil society. In eighteenth-century thought, not only individuals but also states were capable of committing “offences against the law of nations.” And states, not just individuals, were liable to “punish” and be punished for such offenses. There are important implications of this dual reading of the Constitution's Law of Nations Clause for current debates about the constitutional status of international law and the Constitution's textual division of war and foreign policy powers between Congress and the President.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Heller on the History of Nuremberg and the Contemporary Crime of Aggression

Kevin Jon Heller, University of Auckland, has posted an article forthcoming in the European Journal of International Law, Retreat from Nuremberg: the Leadership Requirement in the Crime of Aggression. The article is a combination of advocacy and legal history. While Americanists see this often in constitutional scholarship, in Heller's project, examining the history and meaning of Nuremberg informs his argument about the contemporary international "crime of aggression." Here's the abstract:

The International Criminal Court's jurisdiction over the crime of aggression is contingent upon the Assembly of States Parties adopting a definition of the crime. To that end, the Special Working Group on the Crime of Aggression (SWG) has been considering a number of proposals for a possible definition. Although different in a number of respects, the proposals all agree on one point: that aggression is a leadership crime that can be committed only by persons who are in a position effectively to exercise control over or to direct the political or military action of a State.
No delegation has ever questioned the leadership requirement itself. There have been suggestions, however, that limiting the category of leader to individuals who can control or direct a State's political or military action might unnecessarily restrict the crime's scope. The SWG has consistently rejected those suggestions, insisting that the control or direct standard is consistent with - and required by - the jurisprudence of the International Military Tribunal (IMT), Nuremberg Military Tribunal (NMT), and International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE).
In fact, that jurisprudence tells a very different story. As this essay demonstrates, the IMT, NMT, and IMTFE not only assumed that the crime of aggression could be committed by two categories of individuals who could rarely if ever satisfy the control or direct requirement - private economic actors such as industrialists, and political or military officials in a State who are complicit in another State's act of aggression - they specifically rejected the control or direct requirement in favor of a much less restrictive shape or influence standard. The SWG's decision to adopt the control or direct requirement thus represents a significant retreat from the Nuremberg principles, not their codification

Sirico on Originalism's Ancient Rome

Louis J. Sirico, Jr., Villanova, has posted an article that appeared recently in the Mississippi Law Journal, The Federalist and the Lessons of Rome. Here's the abstract:
Since the time of the Constitution's framing, our intellectual canon has shifted so that the classical era is no longer central to our learning. This shift may impede our understanding of the Framers and their work. We may fail to grasp a historical analogy and, even more, fail to appreciate the full meaning of a core document in our history.
This Article assists today's reader in gaining the knowledge necessary for an informed understanding of The Federalist's references to ancient Rome. The Article explains each significant reference to Rome by providing a richly textured historical background for the reference. The four primary themes are the need for a national government, the need for a single executive, the best way to structure a government, and the need for a standing army. The Article concludes by discussing three issues: were these classical references persuasive to Publius' readers, what do the references tell us about how the Framers viewed ancient Rome, and in light of our fading familiarity with the classical era, on what political references do modern commentators rely.

Saiman on The Turn to Conceptualism in 19th Century Jewish Law

Chaim Saiman, Villanova, has posted an article on SSRN that appeared in the Journal of Law and Religion, Legal Theology: The Turn to Conceptualism in Nineteenth-Century Jewish Law. Here's the abstract:
This Article is a first-ever attempt to introduce the Briskers - an influential school of late nineteenth century Talmudic interpreters - to the legal academy. The paper describes how at the very moment that secularization and assimilation undermined the traditional legitimizing narratives of Jewish law, the Briskers fused law, theology and science to offer an alternate “scientific” vision of halakha (Jewish law). By recasting the multitude of detailed rules comprising halakha into a system of autonomous legal constructs, the Briskers revolutionized Jewish self-understanding of the halakhic system, and developed a jurisprudence that was able to counteract the social, institutional and intellectual upheavals represented by the haskala and Jewish emancipation. The article first describes the Brisker project on its own terms and then contrasts several prominent features of the Brisker school with analogous trends in nineteenth century German and American legal thought.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Is Genocide Modern? Review of Mann, The Dark Side of Democracy: Explaining Ethnic Cleansing

Michael Mann, THE DARK SIDE OF DEMOCRACY Explaining ethnic cleansing (Cambridge University Press) is reviewed by Azar Gat in the Times Literary Supplement. Gat begins:
Michael Mann is one of the leading historical sociologists of our time, a reputation well earned by the two volumes of his work The Sources of Social Power (From the beginning to AD 1760, 1986; 1760–1914, 1993). The third volume, dealing with the twentieth century, is not yet completed, because Mann was drawn away to develop themes which he encountered during his work on it. The result is two massive tomes, The Fascists and The Dark Side of Democracy, both published in 2004, as well as a critique of American foreign policy in the wake of 9/11, Incoherent Empire (2005). As one may expect from its author’s work, The Dark Side of Democracy: Explaining ethnic cleansing, is replete with brilliant ideas and acute observations, and exhibits masterful handling of overwhelming detail. And yet, one is regrettably obliged to conclude that in his overall framing of the question the author has gone seriously astray.
His main thesis is as follows: murderous ethnic cleansing, which in extreme forms can become genocidal, is predominantly a modern phenomenon. It is the “dark side of democracy”, when the rule of the people, demos, and the people’s ethnicity, ethnos, get “confused”. In premodern times class dominated over ethnicity, in the sense that conquerors and social elites sought to subjugate and exploit people of other ethnic groups, rather than get rid of them. However, with the advent of modernity, popular sovereignty and universal citizenship, ethnic groups laying claim to the same territory occasionally resorted to the use of force and, when frustrated, sometimes escalated into murderous ethnic cleansing and even genocide.

For the full discussion of the book, and Gat's critique, click here.

To the archives...

On the road, on an archives trip this week. Apologies if blogging is erratic this week. The Legal History Blog will be back on schedule next weekend.

Reviewed: Skogan, Police and Community in Chicago, and other books on Chicago History

Something interesting is happening at The Chicago Tribune, which again features history books in its Sunday book section. One thing I like about the Trib is that, rather than reviewing the same books as everyone else, the paper does an especially good job of identifying less high-profile books that will nevertheless be of interest to general readers, including works published by university presses. They also feature interesting pairings of books, and they identify academics who write in a particular area but may not have published breakthrough bestsellers to write reviews. Someone is running a thoughtful operation.

Today's review brings together five books on Chicago. By examining Chicago, the books, and the review, give us a window on 20th century America. The author is Aaron Max Berkowitz, a Univ. of Illinois graduate student in history. The books reviewed are: Chicago in the Sixties: Remembering a Time of Change, by Neal Samors (Chicago's Books); Police and Community in Chicago: A Tale of Three Cities by Wesley G. Skogan (Oxford University Press); Governor Henry Horner, Chicago Politics, and the Great Depression by Charles J. Masters (Southern Illinois University Press); Freedom From Advertising: E.W. Scripps's Chicago Experiment by Duane C.S. Stoltzfus (University of Illinois Press); and Black Writing From Chicago: In the World, Not of It?, edited by Richard R. Guzman (Southern Illinois University Press). Perhaps because of the short space provided, Berkowitz unfortunately does not synthesize these works.

Of particular interest to legal historians is Skogan's book. Berkowitz writes, in part:
In 1993, Chicago began to implement an ambitious new community policing program known as CAPS, the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy. Today, CAPS has revolutionized policing in the city by refocusing officers onto small beats and by creating new institutions that allow for a greater community voice in setting the priorities of the Police Department.
Even before the CAPS program started, Wesley Skogan and his team of researchers from Northwestern University's Institute for Policy Research began to collect data on Chicago's community policing experiment. Drawing on those 13 years of research, Skogan has produced "Police and Community in Chicago," a detailed and generally positive account of the CAPS program's sometimes surprising successes as well as its failure to effectively reach out to all of Chicago's communities.
The study's subtitle, "A Tale of Three Cities," refers to the three main racial groupings in the city: white, black and Latino. The prevailing wisdom when CAPS began was that it might "be a hard sell in Chicago's predominantly African American neighborhoods." Despite widespread dissatisfaction with the police in these areas, however, Skogan's surprising conclusion was that CAPS was actually most successful in black neighborhoods. Unfortunately, those successes can be sharply contrasted with the program's failures in Latino neighborhoods, largely due to their linguistic isolation and fears of deportation within the largely immigrant community.

Of particular interest to historians of the 1960s is Samors, Chicago in the Sixties. As Berkowitz describes:

The book collects interviews and photographs that highlight the memories of 80 Chicago residents from the '60s....One of the highlights of the book is Samors' balanced look at the political protests and violence of the late '60s, which includes not only interviews with radicals and anti-war activists but also people like Richard Elrod, then an assistant corporation counsel for the city whose neck was broken during the Weathermen's "Days of Rage" and who went on to become Cook County sheriff and a circuit judge.

For the rest, click here.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Reviewed: Groebner, Who Are You? Identification, Deception, and Surveillance in Early Modern Europe

WHO ARE YOU? Identification, Deception, and Surveillance In Early Modern Europe, by Valentin Groebner, translated by Mark Kyburz and John Peck (Zone) is reviewed this Sunday in the Washington Post by Michael Dirda. Dirda writes, in part:

Who Are You? finds the origins of our identity-obsessed culture in the Middle Ages and early Renaissance. In quick-moving chapters, Groebner examines how portraits, badges, seals, clothes, tattoos, letters of safe conduct, and paper certificates helped people to recognize others whom they had never seen before. Such insignia would also be used to indicate inclusion or exclusion. Former prisoners and slaves might bear special tattoos, but so did charismatic religious leaders: Crosses branded on foreheads were common. Beggars had to be as identifiable as foreign envoys.
Technology and the culture of identification developed in tandem. When courier services spread throughout Europe, so did the wanted poster. As governments used various badges to distinguish their agents, so, too, the members of robber bands took up their own secret insignia....
During the 16th century -- an age of "dissimulation," according to Montaigne -- governments increasingly strove to "register everyone and everything." But what was the historical outcome? "The rise of the con man and the impostor, together with their official counterparts, the diplomat and the spy equipped with authentic counterfeit papers. Their careers in dissimulation took place not in spite of, but through the expanding systems of bureaucratic control." Before long, "the scribes of early modern Europe produced mountains of paper abounding with forged attestations, false details, and invented names."
Why was such documentation so important to governments? For the same reasons it is today. In 1796, the German philosopher and historian Johann Gottlieb Fichte wrote: "The chief principle of a well-regulated police state is this: That each citizen shall be at all times and places . . . recognized as this or that particular person. No one must remain unknown to the police. This can be attained with certainty only in the following manner. Each one must carry a pass with him, signed by his immediate government official, in which his person is accurately described. . . . No person should be received at any place who cannot thus make known by his pass his last place of residence and his name."

For the rest, click here.

Friday, March 23, 2007

New Searchable Website with U.S. Newspapers, 1900-1910

"Manila has fallen, and so have our prices," is a quote in a January 27, 1900 story on the use of war rhetoric in advertising in The Colored American, a Washington D.C. newspaper. I found this with ease in a simple word search for "remember" and "Maine" on an extraordinary new website. It features newspapers from different parts of the country, from 1900 to 1910, and the site has an outstanding search feature that makes it especially valuable.

Here's the announcement with the details:


This week, the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities unveiled their "Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers" joint venture which debuted on-line with more than 226,000 pages of public-domain newspapers from California, Florida, Kentucky, New York, Utah, Virginia and the District of Columbia published between 1900 and 1910. The fully-searchable site is available here.

"Chronicling America" is produced by the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP), a partnership between the NEH and the Library of Congress created to develop an Internet-based, searchable database of U.S. newspapers with select digitization of historic pages as well as information about newspapers from 1690 to the present. Supported by NEH's "We the People" program and Digital Humanities Initiative, the digital resource will continue to be developed and permanently maintained at the Library of Congress.

Over a period of approximately 20 years, NDNP will create a national, digital resource of historically significant newspapers published between 1836 and 1922 from all U.S. states and territories. Also on the Web site, an accompanying national newspaper directory of bibliographic and holdings information directs users to newspaper titles in all formats. The information in the directory was created through an earlier NEH initiative. The Library of Congress will also digitize and contribute to the NDNP database a significant number of newspaper pages drawn from its own collections during the course of this partnership. For the initial launch the Library of Congress contributed more than 90,000 pages from 14 different newspaper titles published in the District of Columbia between 1900 and 1910.

Jabour reviews Taylor, The Divided Family in Civil War America

Amy Murrell Taylor, The Divided Family in Civil War America (University of North Carolina Press, 2005) is reviewed on HCivWar by Anya Jabour, Department of History, University of Montana. Jabour begins:
Amy Murrell Taylor's study of the image and reality of divided families in Civil War America deals with profound questions: the sources and meaning of "loyalty," the connections between "public" and "private," and the knotty problem of "reconciliation." At the same time, Taylor deals with ordinary people confronting everyday concerns: generational tension, romantic conflict, and uncertain communication. This represents a pathbreaking academic study of the tremendously popular notion of a civil war that pitted "brother against brother." Taylor brings together literary images of "a house divided" and careful case studies of 166 white families in the border region whose gendered, generational, and racial divisions were cast into sharp relief--and often exacerbated--by opposing viewpoints on slavery, secession, and civil war. The end result is an extended meditation on the powerful metaphor--and the painful reality--of divided families during the American Civil War.

The family has long served as a metaphor for the nation. During the American Civil War, the image of the divided family became a metonym for a nation at war. Both in popular rhetoric about "a house divided" and in military policies that restricted the movement of family members (and even their letters) across sectional lines, Unionists and Confederates recognized the intimate connection between family relationships and political questions. The Civil War thus forced nineteenth-century Americans to see the distinction between the "private" sphere of the family and the "public" sphere of politics for what it was: a cultural construction rather than a lived reality. But, at the same time, Taylor argues, the Civil War only increased Americans' need to believe in this artificial dichotomy. Divided families, in particular, tried desperately to reify and reinforce the boundaries that separated private (familial) from public (political) matters. This served both practical and ideological purposes. By denying the connections between familial love and political loyalties, members of divided families defended their desire (and, in the case of "flag of truce" letters, increased their ability) to maintain kinship ties across military borders. In addition, as Taylor shows, casting political differences in "the more familiar lens of family conflict" (p. 5) both eased the divisions of the war years and enabled the reconciliations of the postwar era. By viewing secession and war in terms of generational and gendered conflict, white Americans in the Civil War era managed to contain the explosive political divisions of the age, overlook the importance of race, and ignore both the presence of African Americans and the issue of slavery.
For the rest, click here.

Zetzsche on Religion and Divergence in Corporate Governance in Europe and the U.S.

Dirk A. Zetzsche, Heinrich Heine University, has posted a new paper, An Ethical Theory of Corporate Governance History. Here's the abstract:
The present Anglo-American system of corporate control is said to be a random result of market forces, the strong influence of which resulted from a weak state, and undefined principles in the state's economic policy until the 1930s. In contrast, in Continental Europe, strong states with a tendency to interfere with market forces were established. The events resulting in these two divergent systems must be analysed in order to understand what predominant factors catalyzed the development of the current corporate governance structures. Though values other than religious principles are likely to prevail today, this paper posits that religious foundations provide a sound explanation for the developmental path of corporate governance in Anglo-America and Continental Europe. Further, it assesses the impact of such an ethical theory of corporate governance history on contemporary convergence debate. In particular, it asserts that ethical restraints may explain path dependency, and that such an ethical path dependency is more likely in times of economic decline than in times of economic growth. Finally, it holds that, in homogeneous societies, ethics can in many respects substitute for good law.

Harcourt, From the Asylum to the Prison: Rethinking the Incareration Revolution -- State Level Analysis

Bernard E. Harcourt, Chicago, has posted a new paper, From the Asylum to the Prison: Rethinking the Incarceration Revolution - Part II: State Level Analysis. Here's the abstract:
The United States exhibited wildly erratic behavior regarding the institutionalization of persons deemed deviant during the 20th century. During the first half of the century, the country institutionalized deviants in mental hospitals and asylums at extraordinarily high rates even by modern carceral standards, with peaks of about 634 and 627 persons per 100,000 adults in 1948 and 1955 respectively. Deinstitutionalization brought a radical diminution of that population, but it coincided with a sharp increase in our prison populations, which reached 600 inmates in state and federal prisons per 100,000 adults in 2000.
In previous research, I analyzed these trends at the national level and explored their relationship to homicide rates in the United States. Using a Prais-Winsten regression model, I found a significant statistical relationship between the rate of aggregated institutionalization (asylums and prisons) and homicide over the period 1928 to 2000, holding constant three leading covariates of homicide (youth demographics, poverty, and unemployment). The analysis was based on national-level data and, naturally, raised the question whether the results were the product of an ecological or other error of aggregation.
One key question that emerged from the previous study was whether the findings would hold at the state level. This study collects and tests state-level data and finds that, indeed, the correlations remain strong and robust using state-level panel data regressions, as well as focusing individually on the states. The study reaches the following three conclusions.
First, at the national level, using the new, expanded data on mental institutions (including all institutions for those deemed mentally ill), the contrast between the mid-century and 2001 is even more pronounced: during the 1940s and 50s, the United States consistently institutionalized in mental hospitals and prisons at rates above 700 persons per 100,000 adults, reaching peaks of 778 in 1939 and 786 in 1955. The relationship between the expanded aggregated institutionalization and homicide rates over the period 1934 to 2000 is statistically significant at the national level, holding constant three leading correlates of homicide.

Hupper on the Doctorate in Law and the History of Legal Education

Gail J. Hupper, Boston College, has posted a new paper, The Rise of an Academic Doctorate in Law: Origins Through World War II. Here's the abstract:
The rise of the academic doctorate in law (a degree most U.S. scholars have either ignored or deprecated) is an important chapter in the story of law's coming of age as an academic discipline in the first half of the 20th century. Drawing in part on continental European models, the architects of the degree shaped it into a vehicle for training a new class of law teachers, producing research into the nature and functioning of the legal system, and spreading emerging conceptions of law to a broader national audience. Notable among these conceptions were the “sociological jurisprudence” of Harvard's Roscoe Pound and the Legal Realism of Columbia and Yale. This “missionary” function, however, was in tension with the implication of advanced scholarly work inherent in the degree's name, and ultimately helped set the stage for the doctorate's decline after World War II.
While today it is much more common for U.S. law teachers to have pursued doctoral study in a discipline other than law, a U.S. doctorate in law is an increasingly attractive credential for foreign-trained lawyers who hope to teach in their home countries. This article is the first installment of a larger study that traces how U.S. legal education borrowed practices from overseas to create the degree, digested and modified them to suit the needs of a rapidly evolving legal system, then redirected the flow of ideas elsewhere. As such, the study is a story of the coming of age of U.S. legal education not just at home, but on a world stage.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Atwell reviews Marietta & Rowe, Troubled Experiment: Crime and Justice in Pennsylvania, 1682-1800

TROUBLED EXPERIMENT: CRIME AND JUSTICE IN PENNSYLVANIA, 1682-1800, by Jack D. Marietta and G.S. Rowe (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006) is reviewed by Mary W. Atwell, Department of Criminal Justice, Radford University in the Law and Politics Book Review. Atwell begins:
Jack Marietta and G.S. Rowe make the argument that Pennsylvania, during the colonial and early national periods, failed as an experiment in Enlightenment inspired community. Despite the hopes of William Penn and his fellow Quakers that the colony would be characterized by brotherly love, respect, ample resources, tolerance, and most of all, civil peace, Pennsylvania saw more than its share of violence and crime. Is this explained by a flaw in the original vision, or is it explained by social, economic, and demographic changes unforeseen by the colony’s founders?
Penn and his generation set out to establish a place where good laws would enable people to be good, where exceptional freedom from royal and clerical control could allow the best human qualities to flourish. Up until the 1720s, Pennsylvania had an unusually humane criminal justice “system,” a progressive judiciary, a penal code that seldom prescribed capital punishment, and a focus on the rehabilitation of offenders. As long as the colony comprised a homogeneous population dominated by Quakers, Pennsylvanians experienced little crime and violence. Marietta and Rowe note that unlike the Chesapeake region, Pennsylvania had no staple crop that attracted numbers of young, single, risk-taking men eager to make their fortunes—the sort of people who tended to contribute to disorder. Nor did slavery with its accompanying violence really take hold. During the first decades, Pennsylvania remained peaceful until its professed openness and tolerance were tested by waves of immigrants, many of them Scots-Irish and German, in the years between 1717 and 1730.
Culturally, the Scots-Irish could hardly be more different from the Quakers. They were people with a history of violence at both the political and personal level, placing a high value on manly “honor” and little trust in government to settle disputes. The homicide rate in Pennsylvania increased dramatically after 1717, not because the old pacifist settlers changed their behavior but because a new element entered the population in significant numbers. In 1718 the criminal code was modified in response to this apparent “crime wave.” Reversing the Quaker approach, more crimes were made eligible for the death penalty, and capital sentences and executions became more frequent. The authors comment that this Pennsylvania response, addressing an increase in crime with harsher punishments, was typical both in the eighteenth century and in the contemporary period. “They did not explain the reasons for their confidence in severity. But despite their silence, they believed in deterrence and retributive justice” (p.80). However, [*256] there is no way of knowing that the lawmakers – still strongly influenced by their Quaker heritage – had suddenly completely reversed their beliefs to accept the idea of retribution instead of rehabilitation. They may have been hopeful about deterrence without embracing retribution.
To continue, click here.

Much Clinton, but No Tapes, in Branch's new "Clinton Tapes" Book

"The conversations between President Bill Clinton and the historian Taylor Branch were long and late, sometimes stretching until 2 a.m. For eight years, at Mr. Clinton’s urging, they met in a second-floor office in the family quarters of the White House, Mr. Branch scribbling notes and a tape recorder running.

"Those sessions, nearly 80 in all, are the fodder for a new book by Mr. Branch, tentatively titled 'Wrestling History: The Bill Clinton Tapes,' that Simon & Schuster plans to publish in late 2008, the publisher said yesterday.

So begins today's New York Times article about this intriguing project. Branch, of course, is the celebrated civil rights historian whose book Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-63 won the Pulitzer Prize.

There is just one curiosity about a book with "The Bill Clinton Tapes" in the title. While the taped sessions are the basis for the book, the tapes themselves, apparently, are not.

What's with the tapes? Here's what the Times reports:

"The tapes produced by the recording sessions could be used for another memoir by Mr. Clinton. He kept all of the tapes, squirreling them away in his sock drawer after each session, Mr. Branch said. Mr. Branch will rely on his own notes and recollections of the conversations, which he routinely recorded during his hourlong drive back to Baltimore from Washington."

Oh, I see. Branch recorded (made tapes of?) his recollections of the recorded conversations. So those are the tapes that this new "tapes book" is based on!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Law and Public Affairs Fellows Announced

The Law and Public Affairs Program, Princeton, has announced its new Fellows for 2007-08, on its FABULOUS new website, just launched this week. (More on the website later.) The Fellows are:

Robert B. Ahdieh, Associate Professor of Law at Emory University School of Law

Jeffrey L. Dunoff, Charles Klein Professor of Law & Government and Director, Institute for International Law & Public Policy at Temple University Beasley School of Law

Marci A. Hamilton, Paul R. Verkuil Chair in Public Law at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University

Carol A. Heimer is Professor of Sociology at Northwestern University and Senior Research Fellow at the American Bar Foundation

Peter Lindseth, Professor at the University of Connecticut School of Law

Aidan O’Neill is a Queen’s Counsel (QC) and he will be the inaugural University Center for Human Values (UCHV)/LAPA Fellow in Law and Normative Inquiry

Bios and project descriptions are here. A number of legal history luminaries have had LAPA Fellowships in the past. For a full list, click here. For information about how to apply, click here.

Interviewed: George Nash on The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945

This seems to be the week for conservative reflections, of sorts, at least within the academy. While Kenneth Anderson notes the decline of neoconservatism here, Maxwell Gross interviews George Nash about the 30th Anniversary reissue of his work, The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945, here. Thanks to HNN for the tip. Here's a snippet:
MG: Your book traces the development of three camps, three strands of thought, that coalesced into the post-war conservative movement: libertarians, traditionalists, and anti-communists. At first glance, these groups seem to have little in common. Can you say a bit about what brought them together?

GN: You are quite right: in the beginning (the 1940s) there was not one right- wing renaissance in America but three, each reacting in diverse ways to a perceived challenge from the Left. No rigid barriers separated these groups, but they tended to act independently of one another. What gradually brought the three emerging components of the conservative revival together was a shared antipathy to twentieth century liberalism as well as a deepening sense of being under siege from the forces of leftism and liberal modernity.

As these three independent wings of the conservative revolt against the Left became more self-conscious in the 1950s, many among them felt the need for greater intellectual coherence and for what we might call better networking. Here an event of enormous importance was the founding of National Review in 1955 by William F. Buckley, Jr. Apart from his extraordinary talents as a writer and polemicist, Buckley personified each impulse in the nascent coalition. He was at once a defender of the free market, a traditional Roman Catholic, and a staunch anticommunist (a source of his ecumenical appeal to conservatives). His magazine provided an indispensable forum for the multiplying voices of protest from the Right against liberal orthodoxy. Here was a place where conservatives of many stripes could seek and often common ground. ...

For the rest, click here.

Historians Organizations focus on the Next Generation of Teachers

The Organization of American Historians e-mailed this document to all members today: The Next Generation of History Teachers: A Challenge to Departments of History at American Colleges and Universities. The report focuses particularly on the role of historians in nurturing the next generation of K-12 history teachers. According to the e-mail, the document is "the product of a conference attended by historians from a wide array of institutions last summer." It "asks that each department discuss ways it might help prepare future history teachers at its institution." The report is endorsed by the American Historical Association, Organization of American Historians, National Council for History Education and Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, and sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, The Thomas Jefferson Foundation, University of Virginia College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and Virginia Center for Digital History.

It will be discussed at the upcoming OAH meeting. Every history department is asked "to devote at least one department meeting in 2007 to discussing this message."

Guinn, Constantine's Standard: Religion, Violence, Politics, Law & Faith to Die For

David E. Guinn, De Paul, has posted two chapters of a new book manuscript. The book is CONSTANTINE'S STANDARD: RELIGION, VIOLENCE, POLITICS, LAW & FAITH TO DIE FOR. The chapters are: The Terrors of Christendom (chapter two), and Erecting the Barrier: Creating the New Liberal Compact on Religion (chapter three). Abstracts follow:
Many scholars and activists have argued that the liberal political tradition's development of the concepts of religious freedom and separation of religion and the state arose out of the Enlightenment's effort to address the chaos of the religious wars that had rent their societies. Through what I refer to as the liberal religious compact, these societies sought to avoid religious violence by privatizing religion — walling it off from the secular public square. While the United States and Western Europe can, in large part, claim to bear witness to this position — even in those countries, a number of troubling incidents of religious violence have arisen, including anti-abortion violence, the Muslim riots in the Paris suburbs and the British terror cells and the London bombings.
Of equal concern, a rising tide of religious violence, often identified with religious fundamentalism, is sweeping the world. Many commentators have noted that Western leaders struggle with how to address this type of violence because they operate from a political orientation that views religious participation in public discourse with suspicion if not outright hostility.
In this new book I want to explore the relationship between religion, violence, politics and law — specifically, how the liberal political tradition has approached the problem (the liberal compact), how that approach was historically conditioned by Western culture, and how it can be adapted to address contemporary challenges to peace and stability associated with religion.
Chapter two, The Terrors of Christendom reviews the history of religious violence within the Western European, specifically Christian, tradition which provided the context for the thinkers and politicians responsible for the development of the liberal religious compact. This history primarily shaped by the relationship between the Christian church and the state, evolved through five stages: persecution (64-312 C.E.); adoption (312-425 C.E.); autonomy (440-751 C.E.); the establishment of Christendom (750-1307 CE); and fragmentation (1307-forward). It includes the age of martyrdom, the adoption of Christianity by Constantine, the Crusades and the Inquisition, and the wars of religion surrounding the Protestant Reformation.
Chapter Three, Erecting the Liberal Barrier: Creating the New Liberal Compact on Religion, reviews the work of the Enlightenment in crafting the new liberal compact on religion. Focusing on the work of Hobbes, Locke and Madison, as key representative thinkers, the chapter highlights the political and social context in which these thinkers worked, the problems they were attempting to address, and the contributions they made to the ultimate shape and content of the liberal compact.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

43 Legal History panels at Law and Society Assn. Annual Meeting

Update: Links fixed. Sorry for the inconvenience.

43! The preliminary program for this summer's Law and Society Association meeting is now on-line. The meeting is July 25-28 in Berlin.

Speakers on panels include many legal history luminaries, including Constance Backhouse, Stuart Banner, Robert Cottrol, Adrienne Davis, Donna Dennis, Paul Finkelman, Catherine Fisk, Lawrence Friedman, Risa Goluboff, Robert Gordon, Ariela Gross, Hendrik Hartog, Felicia Kornbluh, Kunal Parker, Wendell Pritchett, Chris Tomlins, and more! I could only scan some panels -- there are so many!

A direct link to my search results for legal history panels doesn't seem to work, so go here to find the preliminary program opening page. You don't need a password to access the site. Just click on "Search the Preliminary Program" in the upper left. Then search by "Sessions" and select "Legal History" as a keyword. Sounds a little cumbersome, but it is easy.

You can register for the meeting here. Registration fees (except for students) increase on May 1. And again on July 10.

Another update: I am wrong about the number. A colleague has pointed out that there are EVEN MORE legal history panels! They don't turn up in my search because they don't have "legal history" in their keywords. An example is a panel on activist lawyers in different nations in the 1960s.

As has been the case in the past, the program, most unfortunately, is hard to view. You can't scroll through it. But it is worth the effort. The LSA international meeting is always exciting.

German reaction to Frankfurter appointment

Eric Muller has the story, at Is That Legal? In Bad Kissingen, Germany, the local paper, Saale-Zeitung, reported:

"The Jew Frankfurter Becomes Top USA Judge"

"As if to accentuate his Jewish politics, President of the United States Roosevelt has named his closest adviser, the Jewish judge Felix Frankfurter, to the Supreme Court."

For Eric's post, with a photo from the paper of Justice Frankfurter, click here. Felix Frankfurter was nominated to the Court in January 1939.

Anarchy U.S.A.: On-line vintage video on civil rights as a Communist plot

"This time it wasn't a foreign country. It was Anarchy U.S.A." This is one of the lines near the beginning of a rather amazing U.S. documentary from 1965, Anarchy U.S.A. According to an on-line description, the film "shows how racial agitation among both blacks and whites is being used by America's enemies to create conflict and violence." It sets U.S. racial violence, and the civil rights movement, in the context of "Communist plans for world conquest." Apparently the producer was G. Edward Griffith.

I tried to upload the film to the Legal History Blog, but it wasn't working, so you'll have to go here to see it.

For Cold War historians, it is interesting to hear the hard-edged rhetoric in this video, which seems more reminiscent of earlier Cold War years.

I found this while doing some on-line research related to 1960s civil rights. I'm still working on tracking down more information about the film, and would be interested in hearing from readers with information and sources. There are additional links at Google Video, to other, more conventional, civil rights-related documentaries. This site and others identify the source of Anarchy U.S.A. as the John Birch Society.

Anderson on Fukuyama and Beinart: A Requiem for Neoconservatism

"Neoconservatism in American foreign policy is over," writes Kenneth Anderson in a new essay, "and Francis Fukuyama has written its obituary. And now that the hoopla attending his book’s release has died down—the charges and counter charges, accusations of betrayal and bad faith, angry denunciations and bitter recriminations, ruptures of friendships and breaking of intellectual alliances—perhaps it is possible to give sober consideration to Fukuyama’s farewell, more-in-sorrow-than-anger, After the Neocons: America at the Crossroads.
, Washington College of Law, American Univ. and the Hoover Institution, has posted his review essay, forthcoming in the American University International Law Review, Goodbye to All that? a Requiem for Neoconservatism, on SSRN. Since he wrote it, Fukuyama's book has been retitled, perhaps for the U.S. market, America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy. Here's the abstract:

The war on terror and the war in Iraq have occasioned a ferocious debate over the Bush administration's commitment to neo-conservatism as the guiding philosophy behind war aiming at democratic transformation. Two recent, widely noticed 2006 books have attacked neo-conservatism - one, by a former neoconservative, Francis Fukuyama (After the Neocons: America at the Crossroads), and a second, by a centrist liberal, Peter Beinart (The Good Fight). Each seeks to anatomize neo-conservatism and what, in each author's view, has gone wrong with it; each seeks to offer an alternative foreign policy.

This review essay examines the two books, considering the respective cases they make against neo-conservatism and the rationales it has provided for the Iraq war and the war on terror. The essay considers the broader intellectual framework of neo-conservatism and its history within American conservatism, and the long-running American foreign policy debate over realism and idealism, setting out a seven point schema of neoconservative doctrines. It is respectful of Fukuyama's critiques, and particularly the internal contradictions that Fukuyama identifies within and among neoconservative premises that have led to what Fukuyama sees as disastrous policies. Still, the essay does not believe - even granting the strength of the critiques - that Fukuyama has decisively knocked down the neoconservative case for the Iraq war or, more broadly and importantly, the neoconservative commitment to democratic transformation as against realist doctrines of the accommodation and stability of corrupt or wicked authoritarian regimes. With respect to Beinart, the essay praises his call for the Democratic Party to recognize that the fight against transnational Islamist terrorism is really a fight against a form of totalitarianism, and hence similar to the Cold War. It rejects, however, Beinart's characterization of neo-conservatism and Bush administration foreign policy as likewise a threat to American values, different in degree but not necessarily in kind. The essay also rejects the new foreign policy proposed by Fukuyama or Beinart - amounting, in each case, to a version of increased realist multilateralism, what Fukuyama calls realistic Wilsonianism - concluding that each is guaranteed from the outset to be merely ineffectual.

(Parts of this essay are drawn from a short review by the author of the Fukuyama book appearing in the Times Literary Supplement.)

Communist Party USA Donates Important Archives to NYU

In an important gift of historically significant archival records, the Communist Party U.S.A. has donated decades of original papers to New York University, the New York Times reports today. Researchers seeking party documents previously turned to a set of microfilmed documents copied by the Library of Congress from records shipped to the Soviet Union 50 years earlier for safekeeping. The new sources offer a wealth of new information about the nature of Party work in the United States.

"It is one of the most exciting collecting opportunities that has ever presented itself here," Michael Nash, director of NYU's Tamiment Library, told the Times. According to today's news story:

Liberal and conservative historians, told by The New York Times about the archives, were enthusiastic about the addition of so many original documents to the historical record. No one yet knows whether they can resolve the die-hard disputes about the extent of the links between American subversives and Moscow since, as Mr. Nash said, “it will take us years to catalog.” But what is most exciting, said Mr. Nash and other scholars, is the new areas it opens up for research beyond the homegrown threat to security during the cold war....

John P. Diggins, a historian at the Graduate Center at the City University of New York... said he expected a lot of new dissertations and books to result from the new archives.
Handwritten lyrics to Pete Seeger, "Turn, Turn, Turn," and the original, handwritten copy of Joe Hill's will, written in verse, to be put to music after his 1915 execution, are in the records.

The cache contains decades of party history including founding documents, secret code words, stacks of personal letters, smuggled directives from Moscow, Lenin buttons, photographs and stern commands about how good party members should behave (no charity work, for instance, to distract them from their revolutionary duties).
Just one account:

Robert Minor, a cartoonist and radical who covered the Russian civil war, has a clear-eyed and lyrical account of an interview with Vladimir Lenin in Moscow, dated December 1918. Lenin was fascinated by America, calling it a “great country in some respects,” and shot question after question at Minor: “‘How soon will the revolution come in America?’ He did not ask me if it would come, but when it would come.” Minor, who had not yet joined the party, found Lenin a bewitching figure. “When he thunders his dogma, one sees the fighting Lenin. He is iron. He is political Calvin,” Minor says in his typewritten notes. “And yet, Calvin has his other side. During all the discussion he had been hitching his chair toward me,” he writes. “I felt myself queerly submerged by his personality. He filled the room.”
For the rest of the story, click here.

Monday, March 19, 2007

McJohn on the way Patents Cloud the History of Technology

Stephen M. McJohn, Suffolk, has posted a new paper, Patents: Hiding from History, which illuminates not only the history of patents, but is a useful cautionary tale for historians about primary sources of many kinds. Here's the abstract:
This essay considers how patent law doctrine clouds the historical record of technological development. The essay first surveys a recent book that relied heavily on patent records to reexamine acutely the role of intellectual property in economic development, "The Democratization of Invention," by B. Zorina Khan. The essay's second part discusses how patent law today likely distorts patents as primary historical sources. The law encourages an inventor not to accurately disclose her invention and its place in technological development, but rather to submit vague and overbroad invention descriptions and claims. In describing the invention, some case results perversely favor what one commentator has called "intentional obscurity." Other aspects of law governing disclosure encourage inventors not to define their terms; or identify the category of invention in the preamble; or limit the claims to the actual invention. Likewise, inventors can be at a disadvantage if they explain the advantages of the claimed invention or submit software code used to implement the invention. Even keeping up on technology in the field may hurt the patent applicant. Reform of such rules could help the patent system today, and, as a byproduct, tomorrow's history.

Losing American History at the Archives

The sorry state of the U.S. National Archives is the subject of an op-ed in today's New York Times by The Codebreakers author David Kahn. He writes,

EVERYBODY knows how to use a library. You look up the card catalogue in the computer, type in the subject, find the Dewey Decimal System number, walk to the
shelf and get the book.

It’s different with an archive, where unpublished memorandums, reports, notes and letters are organized not by topic but by the agency that created them. You have to know which agency did the work you are interested in, and whether more than one was involved. The complexity of government means first-time archive users need help.

Alone among the world’s great archives, the National Archives of the United States has offered such assistance to visitors....Only at the big modern Archives II building in College Park, Md., will an archivist sit down and guide a user through the maze.

I disagree with Kahn about American exceptionalism in research support. While he may have been left on his own in Britain's massive Public Records Office, I began my research trip with a meeting with a wonderfully helpful archivist, who directed me to collections beyond those I had identified in on-line finding aids. The absence of a uniquely American tradition in archival assistance actually strengthens the point Kahn wishes to make. He continues: "But that precious advantage is being lost — and it’s all started to change in the last few months."

The reason is the impact of budget problems which undermine access to the basic sources of the nation's history. The staff faces a backlog of records to process, as well as the needs of researchers. More archivists have been moved to records processing, and the hours the archives are open to researchers have been cut back.

A development of long-term significance: senior archivists who have benefited researchers with their wealth of hands-on experience have taken early retirement. This leaves less experienced archivists on-hand to try their best to aid researchers. Kahn continues:

As a result, the archives have hired less-experienced personnel to organize the records, often resulting in people having to hunt longer for what they need. And although 50 professionals have recently been moved to processing, that has left only 22 archivists to deal with the public — and with records they do not know well.

The impact of these changes was apparent on my last trip to the archives in January. Well-meaning archivists inexperienced with diplomatic records were unable to answer simple questions about the way the finding aids were organized. This was unpleasant for everyone involved. Staff who simply don't know the records were good at giving directions about how to fill out forms, but could provide little assistance beyond that. This means that researchers are on their own.

For new researchers -- this means that it is essential to get thorough advice and direction from someone in your field who has regularly used the archives before you go. Plan to be self-sufficient.

But this is inadequate. Those magic finds in an archive that can lead to new turns in historical scholarship result not just from the dedicated slogging through the records that characterizes serious historical research. It results from the relationship between the historian and the archivist. I have often found valuable material by looking in files suggested by an archivist who knows the records.

Undermining the role of the archivist in the production of American history writing will undermine the way the story of American history itself is told.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

For Eric Muller, the search continues

Eric Muller of the University of North Carolina is known in legal history circles for his important work on Japanese American internment during World War II. At Is That Legal?, Eric continues the heartbreaking story of his search for information about the life of his great-uncle, Leopold Müller, of Bad Kissingen, Germany, who was deported to Poland and his death during the Holocaust. This weekend's story about an unusual find, in Germany this week, is here. Eric's research in Bad Kissingen turns up new details, here, and here. Readers were introduced to Leopold Muller in Eric's earlier posts, here, here and here. If this is new to you, follow the links in reverse order.

McPherson reviews Oakes, The Radical and the Republican: Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and the Triumph of Antislavery Politics

The Radical and the Republican: Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and the Triumph of Antislavery Politics by James Oakes (Norton) is reviewed by James M. McPherson, Princeton, in the March 29 issue of the New York Review of Books. McPherson begins:
Abraham Lincoln was "emphatically, the black man's President," wrote the black abolitionist Frederick Douglass in 1865, "the first to show any respect for their rights as men." A decade later, however, in a speech at the unveiling of an emancipation monument in Washington, Douglass described Lincoln as "preeminently the white man's President." To his largely white audience on this occasion, Douglass declared that "you are the children of Abraham Lincoln. We are at best only his step-children." Later in the same speech, Douglass brought together his Hegelian thesis and antithesis in a final synthesis. Whatever Lincoln's flaws may have been in the eyes of racial egalitarians, he said "in his heart of hearts he loathed and hated slavery." His firm wartime leadership saved the nation and freed it "from the great crime of slavery.... The hour and the man of our redemption had met in the person of Abraham Lincoln."

As James Oakes notes in this astute and polished study, Douglass's speech in 1876 "mimicked his own shifting perspective" on Lincoln over the previous two decades. Born a slave on Maryland's eastern shore, Douglass escaped to the North and freedom in 1838 and soon emerged as one of the nation's leading abolitionists. During the Civil War he spoke out eloquently and repeatedly to urge expansion of the war for the Union into a war for black freedom. Because Lincoln seemed to move too slowly and reluctantly in that direction, Douglass berated him as a proslavery wolf in antislavery sheep's clothing. "Abraham Lincoln is no more fit for the place he holds than was James Buchanan," declared an angry Douglass in July 1862, "and the latter was no more the miserable tool of traitors than the former is allowing himself to be." Lincoln had "steadily refused to proclaim, as he had the constitutional and moral right to proclaim, complete emancipation to all the slaves of rebels.... The country is destined to become sick of...Lincoln, and the sooner the better."[1]

In Douglass's dialectical path toward Lincoln, this was the time of his most outspoken opposition. He could not know that at the very moment he was condemning the President as no better than the proslavery Buchanan, Lincoln had decided to issue an emancipation proclamation that would accomplish most of what Douglass demanded. When Lincoln did precisely that two months later, Douglass was ecstatic. "We shout for joy that we live to record this righteous decree," he announced.[2]

The essay, "What Did He Really Think About Race?" continues here.