Friday, March 28, 2008

The Cambridge History of Law in America

Years in the making, The Cambridge History of Law in America, edited by Christopher Tomlins and Michael Grossberg, is about to be released by Cambridge University Press. A three volume set, with essays by many of your favorite legal luminaries, this work was made possible, according to the press, "by the generous support of the American Bar Foundation." The project is described this way:

Law stands at the center of modern American life. Since the 1950s, American historians have produced an extraordinarily rich and diverse account of law and legal institutions in American history. But even though our knowledge has increased enormously, few attempts have been made to draw its many parts together in some greater whole that summarizes and synthesizes the history of law in America. The Cambridge History of Law in America has been designed for just this purpose. Sixty of the leading historians of law in the United States have been brought together in one enterprise to present the most comprehensive and authoritative account possible of the history of American law.

begins the account of law in America with the very first moments of European colonization and settlement of the North American landmass. It follows those processes across two hundred years to the eventual creation and stabilization of the American republic. The book discusses the place of law in regard to colonization and empire, indigenous peoples, government and jurisdiction, population migrations, economic and commercial activity, religion, the creation of social institutions, and revolutionary politics.
Contents, Volume 1:
1. Law, colonization, legitimation and the European background Anthony Pagden;
2. The law of Native Americans to 1815 Katherine A. Hermes;
3. English settlement and local governance Mary Sarah Bilder;
4. Legal communications and imperial governance: British North America and Spanish America compared Richard J. Ross;
5. Regionalism in early American law David Thomas Konig;
6. Penality and the colonial project: crime, punishment and the regulation of morals in early America Michael Meranze;
7. Law, population, labor Christopher Tomlins;
8. The fragmented laws of slavery in the colonial and revolutionary eras Sally E. Hadden;
9. The transformation of domestic law Holly Brewer;
10. Law and religion in colonial America Mark McGarvie and Elizabeth Mensch;
11. The transformation of law and economy in early America Bruce H. Mann;
12. Law and commerce, 1580–1815 Claire Priest;
13. Law and the origins of the American Revolution Jack P. Greene;
14. Confederation and constitution Jack N. Rakove;
15. The consolidation of the early Federal system, 1791–1812 Saul Cornell and Gerald Leonard;
16. Magistrates, common law lawyers, legislators: the three legal systems of British America James A. Henretta.

You can read an excerpt from Volume I, Law, Colonization, Legitimation, and the European Background by Anthony Pagden

You can order all three volumes (or ask your library to do that) here.