Monday, December 27, 2010

Samito's Reader on the Legal History of Civil War and Reconstruction

Only recently did I spot Christian G. Samito’s Changes in Law and Society during the Civil War and Reconstruction: A Legal History Documentary Reader (Southern Illinois University Press, 2009). It’s a terrific selection across an usually broad range of topics, appearing in time for the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, next April. The publisher’s abstract follows:
The first comprehensive collection of legal history documents from the Civil War and Reconstruction, this volume shows the profound legal changes that occurred during the Civil War era and highlights how law, society, and politics inextricably mixed and set American legal development on particular paths that were not predetermined. Editor Christian G. Samito has carefully selected excerpts from legislation, public and legislative debates, court cases, investigations of white supremacist violence in the South, and rare court-martial records, added his expert analysis, and illustrated the selections with telling period artwork to create an outstanding resource that demonstrates the rich and important legal history of the era.
Michael A. Ross, University of Maryland Department of History and a biographer of Samuel Freeman Miller, opined: “The documents in this skillfully edited reader demonstrate with startling clarity the dramatic change the Civil War wrought in American law and society. This is one of the finest compendiums ever assembled of the legal cases, speeches, essays, and legislative acts from this period.”