Amalia Kessler’s book, The Invention of American Exceptionalism, is a rich history of American procedural development. The book, which is meticulously researched, sets procedural developments in their political context, and is an excellent example of a social history of law. She describes the relationship between 19th-century procedural developments and struggles over both capitalism and race. She traces English influences on our history, such as the development of equity practice, and French influences, such as the Freedmen Bureau Courts, which were inspired by French conciliation courts. Among other things, Kessler unearths the American equity tradition and with it fights over judicial power versus lawyer (and jury) power, as well as the development of lawyering as we know it today. There is too much in the book for me to adequately summarize it, so instead I will offer two vignettes from the book, the first conceptual and the second a narrative, both focused on the antebellum history of equity.Read on here.
Monday, July 24, 2017
Lahav on Kessler, "The Invention of American Exceptionalism"
Writing for JOTWELL's Courts Law Section, Alexandra D. Lahav (University of Connecticut) has posted an admiring review of Amalia Kessler's The Invention of American Exceptionalism: The Origins of American Adversarial Legal Culture, 1800-1877 (2017). Here's the first paragraph: