Tuesday, July 31, 2012

CFP: Conference on the Québec Act of 1774

Thanks to an alert reader, we have word of the following Call for Papers from the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec.
Logo: Groupe d’histoire de l’Atlantique français
Logo: Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture
Conference – 1774 : l’Acte de Québec – Contextes transnationaux, interprétations et héritages

A scandal for some, a pragmatic solution for others, the Québec Act of 1774 has been interpreted quite differently by the Americans, Canadians, Amerindians and British. In order to take these diverse points of view into consideration and clarify their contexts, the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture and the Groupe d’histoire de l'Atlantique français, in partnership with Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, are organizing a conference where various historical approaches will intersect.

This conference on the Quebec Act, its transnational contexts, interpretations and heritage will take place October 3-5, at the Auditorium of the Grande Bibliothèque.
More information is available here.

The All-Female Texas Supreme Court of 1925

Apropos of Dan's post a couple weeks back on John Frank, I was reading Frank's early (and impressive) article on judicial disqualification.  In a footnote, I stumbled across the following:
With a little ingenuity, a situation of "necessity" can occasionally be avoided. Thus in a case in which all the members of the Teas Supreme Court were Woodmen of the World and hence the entire court vas disqualified in a case involving that group, the Governor appointed a special court of three women. For the resultant three opinions see Johnson v. Darr, 144 Tex. 516, 272 S. W. 1098 (1925).
Hortense Sparks Ward.
First Woman Admitted to the Texas Bar
& Chief Justice in Johnson v. Darr
Photo Courtesy of Texas Bar Blog.

A quick Google search revealed that Frank was not the only one to have noticed this case.  Alice G. McAfee published an article on the subject in the St. Mary's Law Journal in 2008, arguing that the sitting was more than simply a "bizarre" one-off, as most commenters had depicted it, and fit with broader trends of women's movement in Texas and the legal profession at the time.  There's also a post on the case on the online handbook of Texas history.  One fact that underscores the case's early date: the temporary Chief Justice in the case, Hortense Ward, was the first woman ever to be admitted to the bar in Texas--in 1910.

This is well outside my area of expertise, so I'm not quite sure what to make of the case.  Although it is one of those odd anecdotes that make for entertaining but not very serious historical works, I agree with McAfee that there are likely significant legal historical implications here--depictions of female lawyers as more "disinterested" than their male counterparts, a moment of opening at the end of suffrage era before women's roles became more circumscribed (as McAfee stresses), etc.  I suspect there may be still more to mine from this incident, and I hope someone more qualified than I can further redeem the case from the bin of assorted historical oddities.

Strange Doings in Pike Creek: The Resique War and the Walking Cornfield

[This is the second in a series of posts, which starts here.  The following originally appeared in the appendix to Wisconsin's Assembly Journal (1858), 2: 378-81, 382-83.]

[T]he Western Emigration Company fixed upon its location at Pike Creek (Kenosha), in June 1835. As soon as news reached Oswego county of the selection of this place immediate preparations began to be made by stock-holders to emigrate to the newly chosen home. About fifteen families, mostly from the town of Hannibal, came on during the summer and fall of 1835. A part of these, however, were not members of the Emigration Company, and on their arrival made claims on lands in the vicinity of Pike Creek, for the purpose of pursuing the business of farming. Eight families, members of the Company, settled at Pike Creek. . . .   These, with the members of their households, thirty-two persons in all, comprised the population of Pike Creek during the first winter of its settlement. Their habitations were rude shanties built of logs, and covered with bark. N.R. Allen and John Bullen erected a frame building in the fall of 1835, being the first frame building erected in the place; this building, however, was not completed until the following year…

The early inhabitants of Pike Creek were not indifferent to religious and educational privileges. Through the efforts of Rev. Jason Lothrop, a school was established in December, 1835, and maintained through the winter. A number of families residing on the prairies in the vicinity availed themselves of this opportunity to send their children to school. About this time also meetings for religious worship began to be held occasionally; Rev. Abner Barlow preached the first sermon in the house of Waters Towslee, near the place now known as Beard’s brick-kiln. The inhabitants at this period also organized a Temperance Society, and nearly the entire adult population of the place and the surrounding country became members of it.

The residents at Pike Creek were not, however, permitted to enjoy quiet in their wilderness home; scarcely were the first settlers comfortably lodged in their cabins before they were annoyed by intruders upon their rights. The country at that period was traversed in almost every direction by adventurers and speculators some seeking homes for their families, others intent only on money making. Only a few of the many exciting incidents of those times can now be related. The controversy known as the “Resique war,” which began in August, 1835, and ended in the summer of 1836, was a source of much disturbance. The origin of the Resique war was as follows:

In the month of July 1835, two adventurers, Samuel Resique and John Noble, left Chicago on an expedition to make claims in advantageous locations, with the view of selling them on speculation. They followed the Lake shore north from Chicago until they unexpectedly came upon the settlement of the Emigration Company at Pike Creek. The usual marks, such as furrows made through the woods and openings by plough, indicated that the lands in the vicinity of Pike Creek were already claimed. The prospect for making any speculation here at first appeared rather dubious; still the place had many natural attractions, and they lingered around a couple of days to enjoy the quiet scenery. Washington Island was then in its primitive glory; the groves of young oak upon it had never yet been disturbed by the woodman’s axe. Attracted by its inviting beauty, they passed over to spend an hour in this primeval forest. Resique and Noble were experienced squatters; their quick perceptions soon discovered that if the Island had a reputed claimant, he was not in fact a legal one according to the squatter code; several important particulars had evidently not been complied with.  There was no shanty on the land, and no resident squatter on the Island. Resique and Noble at once came to the conclusion to lay claim to the entire Island, and for this purpose immediately proceeded, by the help of a hatchet, to erect an encampment, and otherwise make a proper claim demonstration. Having completed their cabin, Resique returned to Chicago to procure a supply of provisions and other necessaries, while Noble remained to keep possession of the Island.

As soon as it was ascertained by the Pike Creek squatters that the two strangers seriously intended to take possession of the Island, Noble was ordered to leave the premises without delay; this he resolutely refused to do. It was next proposed to eject him forcibly; but the more discreet rejected this proposition, as not being compatible with squatter law. It was finally concluded to proceed against Noble by a sort of technical movement. Accordingly, on the morning of the 25th of July, six men, armed with axes, were seen crossing over in a boat towards the Island. Noble saw this formidable force advance, and was overwhelmed in conjecture as to its probable intent. Upon landing on the Island, instead of offering him any molestation, the men immediately began cutting down trees and brush, and commenced building a fence; they continued their labors, until they entirely enclosed one acre or more, leaving Noble and his domicile in the center thereof…

[Noble held his ground until Resique arrived with more men. The two took down the fence and kept possession of the island with only minor skirmishing until the summer of 1836, “when the contest was renewed with manifestations of hostility which for a time threatened the most serious consequences.” Confronted by a Pike Creek town father, Judge William Bullen, who claimed the land through the Western Emigration Company, the two speculators permitted Bullen to occupy a portion of the island.]

An early settler held a claim on a piece of land, now included within the limits of the third ward of Kenosha. One morning this claimant, while passing over his claim… was overwhelmed with astonishment to find a piece of his land enclosed with a fence, and within the enclosure cultivated corn growing upon the ground. The matter was inexplicable; the possible loss of his claim made him feel extremely uncomfortable. His supposed possession by virtue of his claim had, to all human appearances, passed into the hands of some more successful squatter. The unhappy man immediately notified the Committee of Arbitration of the state of the case, and solicited their attention forthwith to this strange affair. The Arbitrators came, and sure enough, there was the fence, the cultivated ground, and the young corn some four inches in height, apparently growing luxuriantly. The claimant made his statement, alleging that he had within the past week walked over this very place of ground and saw no fence or signs of improvement. The Arbitrators were greatly perplexed, and sat down on a log to deliberate. The case was discussed for some time, but no satisfactory conclusion being arrived at, the conversation lapsed into silence – each seemed involved in his own contemplations as to the instability of human affairs, especially in the matter of claim titles. At length one of the Arbitrators sprang suddenly upon his feet [and] proceeded to take down a portion of the fence so as to remove the bottom rail; this being done, he burst forth into an exultant laugh – the revealment of the mystery now flashed across the minds of all present. The grass, which had been pressed down by the bottom rail, was still fresh and green, demonstrating that the fence had not been built more than twenty-four hours, and disclosing furthermore the probability that the corn had within the like period been transplanted to its present location…. This ingenious contrivance to jump the claim of a Pike Creek squatter was unanimously declared by the Arbitrators to be a piece of outlawry, and the complainant was adjudged to be the rightful possessor of the ground.


Monday, July 30, 2012

My Annual Hommage to Hurst

Every summer I teach a ten-hour course on the common-law method to entering LL.M. students.  The main goal of the course is to help law graduates from Civil Law countries get a feel for how legal rules can be said to emerge from a series of appellate decisions, the kind of Law 101 stuff we all do in our first-year courses.  Mostly I use some cases from the start of my Property course, but I also include some legal history, so that students from common-law countries have something to do.  I devote the morning of the second day to readings on the settlement of the upper Midwest.  They start with a selection from Benjamin Horace Hibbard’s History of the Public Land Policies (1924).  Toward the end come excerpts from John Locke, Second Treatise of Government (1690) (Chapter V, Of Property), and William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, vol 2 (1766), *2-5.  (I preface Blackstone with an excerpt from Stanley Katz’s sparkling introduction to volume 1 of the University of Chicago Press’s facsimile reproduction of the Commentaries.)  But for me the highlight are two documents on the settlers of Kenosha, Wisconsin, which originally appeared in an appendix to the state’s Assembly Journal for 1858.  These folks are, or course, none other than Willard Hurst’s Pike Creek squatters; I made my way to the documents via the footnotes to Hurst’s Law and Conditions of Freedom in the Nineteenth-Century United States (1956).

As I tell the students, I include the materials in part as an hommage to Hurst but also to advance the theme for the day, which is how the nineteenth-century American state had to come to terms with and work through the norms and associations of groups within civil society.  (In the afternoon I make Pierson v. Post stand for this.  Devotees of the case will readily see the connection if they consider Livingston’s reference to “the arbitration of sportsmen” and how his “reasonable prospect” standard would function in the hands of a jury in a justice of the peace court. )  I argue, with Hibbard, that the squatters’ actions, “while not legal, were extra-legal rather than illegal.”  That is, they felt themselves to be constrained by law, just not the official law of the federal statute books.  That, it seems, to me is the moral of the two stories that I’ll reproduce in the next post.  Although I don’t know exactly why Wisconsin’s legislators decided to reproduce the stories in 1858, I like to think that, in the midst of the uproar over their opposition to the Fugitive Slave Law, which culminated in Ableman v. Booth (1858), they felt the need for an origins myth demonstrating that Wisconsites had always been a law-abiding people, even when they resisted official law.


Sunday, July 29, 2012

This Week in the Book Pages: How to Dream Big, Make Enemies, and Write About It Later

This week in the New York Times book pages: a series of essays on "how to write" (here's the first). Writing blurbs, of course, is a special art. This essay by A.J. Jacobs may not be "wildly creative," to use one of his blurbing phrases, but it is amusing. 

You'll also find reviews of Samuel L. Popkin, The Candidate: What It Takes to Win — and Hold — the White House (Oxford University Press) ("a kind of management bible for the business of presidential campaigning) (here), and Paul Thomas Murphy, Shooting Victoria: Madness, Mayhem, and the Rebirth of the British Monarchy (Pegasus Books) ("rambles uninhibitedly and learnedly through 19th-century history into literature, penology, constitutional theory and even ballistics) (here). 

The New York Review of Books is chock full of good stuff this week. To start, Sean Wilentz reviews American Dreamers: How the Left Changed a Nation (Knopf), by Michael Kazin:
As a historian, Kazin, despite his sober judgments, exaggerates the importance of some radicals even as he ignores others’ genuine achievements—and does so at liberalism’s expense. His view of history acknowledges but diminishes the debt radicals have owed to liberals—just as it blinds him to the damage some leftists have willfully done over the last thirty years to liberal ideals and, ironically, to their own.
I've pulled the last paragraph, which is a bit unfair to Kazin. Read the review in full here (open access). 

Also in this issue: Joseph Lelyveld reviews two books on Obama (open access, here); Russell Baker reviews Enemies: A History of the FBI (Random House), by Tim Weiner (subscribers only, here); Rory Stewart reviews The Dark Defile: Britain’s Catastrophic Invasion of Afghanistan, 1838–1842 (Walker), by Diana Preston (subscribers only, here); and more.

*To all those young children out there who read this blog*: please close your eyes and scroll down: The New Republic reviews (here) Ascent of the A-Word: Assholism, the First Sixty Years (Public Affairs), by Geoffrey Nunberg. The book is "most valuable as an exploration of what the word means and why it came along when it did," according to reviewer John McWhorter. "[I]t is hard to confirm" the author's thesis that "a peculiarly vehement assholism [is] on the march." Also reviewed (here): The End of the Chinese Dream: Why Chinese People Fear the Future (Yale University Press), by Gerard Lemos.

In the Nation, historian Kim Phillips-Fein reviews Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power (Penguin Press HC), by Steve Coll. Here's a taste:
[Coll] documents the political, economic and global power of ExxonMobil, the largest privately owned oil and gas company in the world. Coll frames his story as a narrative of corporate life in the post–cold war era. The choice may feel odd at first: despite the company’s wealth—it has quadrupled its profits in the years since the cold war’s end—oil seems old-fashioned, mired in the physical world. Coll compares it with Walmart and Google, those denizens of the postindustrial economy. In contrast to these, ExxonMobil drills “holes in the ground,” and so its operations are inevitably “linked to the control of physical territory.” In this way, he suggests a different view of the contemporary economy: beneath the glitz and seductions of the service sector runs a river of oil, sluicing through the bright weightlessness of our online dreams.

National Public Radio has its own book pages, of sorts. Listen here to an interview with Ben MacIntyre, author of Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies (Crown). The Wall Street Journal also covers the book this week, here.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Readers Thank Mary Dudziak

Our comment feed is a bit obscure, so I want to spotlight some of your responses to Mary's recent "signing off" post:
Gautham Rao: All students of legal history owe you a tremendous debt, Mary. Thank you for founding this great forum!

Tom Gallanis: Many, many thanks to you, Mary, for founding the Legal History Blog and making it such a success. Very best wishes on your new endeavors at Emory!

Alfred Brophy: We're going to miss you, Mary. On a happier note, welcome to the South!

Josh Stein: You have a built an enduring community. For that, we owe you our appreciation and gratitude. Thanks!

Paul Harvey: All our best, Mary, you helped inspire me to form the Religion in American History blog. Congratulations on what you have achieved here.

Patrick S. O'Donnell: I can only second the chorus of above comments. Wishing you all the best in your academic and other pursuits, Patrick
Serena Mayeri: Thank you for everything, Mary! You have transformed legal history online, and this remains the first and only blog to which I (enthusiastically) subscribe!

Dan Ernst: Thank you, Mary, for creating and perfecting this resource for the field and for others interested in legal history. We'll soldier on somehow without you.

Malick Ghachem: Congratulations Mary on a fantastic accomplishment/creation in the legal history blog and on your new role in Atlanta Much good wishes and we will look forward to continuing to read you.

Dean C. Rowan: Aside from stimulating my inherent interest in the subject, LHB has helped me with day-to-day professional work as a librarian on many, many occasions. Thank you, Mary, and thank all of the LHB contributors, for producing one of the most interesting and informative legal blogs around.
We miss you already, Mary, and we are looking forward to seeing what your garden grows.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Legal History Highlights at SHEAR

Last weekend, I was fortunate enough to have a chance to attend some of the numerous panels related to legal history on offer at this year's conference.  For the readers who couldn't make it, I thought I might summarize a couple of the panels that might particularly interest them.

On Saturday morning, Gary Gerstle (Vanderbilt) presented a precirculated paper based on a chapter from a book project on the history of the American state.  He emphasized the federal state's strengths and weaknesses, focusing particularly on issues of western expansion, settlement, and warfare in the antebellum era, and challenged the notion that the state was weak merely because it had few personnel and little centralized bureacuracy.  There were several commentators, and they focused on Gerstle's use of counterfactuals, his definition of the antebellum state as "liberal," and questions of whether one can speak of a central state in the antebellum United States at all.  The paper was provocative and intriguing, and I look forward to reading the final manuscript.

Later that day, Kevin Arlyck (NYU), Daniel Hulsebosch (NYU), and Timothy Milford (St. John's) presented papers in a session entitled "The Law and Post-Colonial America: Structures and Misadventures."  Kevin's paper described the attitudes of French consular officials toward federal courts in the 1790s, as the courts arbitrated ownership disputes over ships seized by French privateers.  Moving away from diplomatic discourse toward what he terms a more "work-a-day" approach to the law, he demonstrated that the French were upset at the courts' intrusion into what they regarded as a diplomatic concern for the executive, even while they pursued aggressive litigation strategies.  Dan's paper, part of a larger book project, addressed the international dimensions of the Constitution, describing it as a project to satisfy the United States's obligation under the law of nations and achieve the Enlightenment goal of peace through commerce embraced by Vattel and other writers.  He noted the existence of a substantial foreign audience for the Constitution, including a detailed examination of the document by the British Board of Trade, and outlined what he termed a "foreign ratification debate" that occurred in the 1790s.  Finally, Timothy's paper focused on two political trials in New York in 1806, U.S. v. Smith and U.S. v. Ogden, that grew out of the failed Miranda invasion of Venezuela.  The defendants, charged with violation of the Neutrality Laws, argued the expedition had been sanctioned by the Jefferson administration, and the jury evidently agreed, clearing the men in what Timothy described as an instance of jury nullification.  The cases raised some significant issues that we still grapple with, including problems of undeclared war, executive privilege, and inequity (since many of those roped into the expedition were Bowery Boys).

Finally, in the coveted Sunday morning slot were Jessica Lowe (who just finished at Princeton and will start teaching at UVa), Peter Wallenstein (Va. Tech.), and myself.  Jessica presented a portion of her dissertation on the criminal trial of John Crane, which began with a fight among reapers that turned deadly and ended in a special verdict by a jury torn between murder and manslaughter.  She used the incident to suggest that the divide between local and state/national law was not as sharp as historians have argued, and that local juries were concerned with the law, including the technicalities that supposedly only lawyers cared about.  As for Crane, he was ultimately hanged, a result Jessica suggests resulted because the law was both "too republican and not republican enough"--that is, Crane was hanged for the murder of a common laborer despite his social standing, but he did not benefit from the later reform when Virginia created second-degree murder, with prison instead of hanging as punishment.  Peter presented an overview on freedom suits from the Massachusetts suits in the 1780s that effectively abolished slavery in the commonwealth through Dred Scott, and beyond.   The paper surveyed the historical and historiographical landscape, noting the shifting circumstances--and declining availability--of suits throughout the antebellum South, but concluded by arguing for a broader definition of freedom suits, one that would encompass suits over segregation such as Roberts and thus link the antebellum suits with later efforts to secure black rights.  Finally, I presented work I've been doing on Natives and the Constitution, arguing for the important role that struggles over Indian affairs and anxieties over the power of Native nations on the frontier helped shape provisions of the Constitution and the struggle over ratification.

All in all, it was an enjoyable conference, and all these papers provided much food for thought. I look forward to reading the multiple projects that promise to emerge from them.

Law and Gender in Nineteenth-Century England

Issue 8:2 (Summer 2012) of Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies is devoted to the topic Law and Gender in Nineteenth-Century England.  The guest editors are Julia McCord Chavez and Katherine Gilbert.  Among the contributions are Policing Sexual Morality: Percy Shelley and the Expansive Scope of the Parens Patriae in the Law of Custody of Children, by Danaya C. Wright, University of Florida Law.

Ferguson Reviews Green, "Pauper Capital"

Via H-Law, we have a review (commissioned by H-Albion) of David R. Green, Pauper Capital: London and the Poor Law, 1790-1870 (Ashgate). Reviewer Christopher Ferguson (Auburn University) introduces the book as follows:
The Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834, more commonly known as the New Poor Law, is arguably the most notorious piece of legislation in British history. Deeply controversial in its day, it has unsurprisingly generated a dense and diverse scholarly literature ever since, yet one in which the national capital has played a remarkably minor role. Indeed, David R. Green’s study is the first to attempt to explore the history of the Poor Law in nineteenth-century London in its geographic and administrative entirety. One need not read far to understand why, for the history of the Poor Law in London prior to and post 1834 is enormously complex. Green is to be commended both for undertaking a difficult task and for producing a study that is remarkably easy to read, despite the intricacies of its subject matter. His study makes the arcane history of poor relief in nineteenth-century London accessible to the non-specialist, while simultaneously yielding significant insights about this history for specialist scholars of poverty, policy, and the nineteenth-century British state.
Read on here.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Gamber's "Notorious Mrs. Clem" (and More in JGHAPE 11:3)

Now, and for the next twenty-nine days, Cambridge Journals is providing ungated access to volume 11:3 of the Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. It includes "'The Notorious Mrs. Clem': Gender, Class, and Criminality in Gilded Age America,” by Wendy Gamber, Indiana History:
This essay explores the story of Nancy Clem, an outwardly respectable Indianapolis confidence woman and alleged murderess, in the context of changing constructions of class, gender, and criminality. It examines various ways in which lawyers, newspaper reporters, and ordinary citizens struggled to understand a woman who did not fit preexisting conceptions of gender and crime. A series of high-profile cases involving bourgeois criminals and (more than likely) Clem's own social aspirations allowed cultural commentators to portray her as a “genteel murderess.” Upon her release from prison after an abortive fifth trial, Clem could not sustain her newly acquired social identity, in part because her erstwhile refinement was a journalistic creation and in part because the changing nature of class, gender, and space in Gilded Age Indianapolis provided her with fewer opportunities for self-fashioning. Clem's social odyssey from half-literate “Butternut” to genteel murderess to uncultured “capitalist” reflects slippery, yet significant, transitions between social fluidity and relative rigidity, antebellum respectability and Gilded Age gentility.
Also in the issue is a review essay that takes up Christopher Waldrep’s Jury Discrimination: The Supreme Court, Public Opinion, and a Grassroots Fight for Racial Equality in Mississippi (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2010).

The New Legal Realism and the Old

I recently noted that New Legal Realism has had some posts on what legal scholars who march under that banner borrow from the original legal realists.  I particularly like John Henry Schlegel’s post, which draws upon his American Legal Realism and Empirical Social Science (available in paper!)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Vermuele and Lanni on Precautionary Constitutionalism in Ancient Athens

Adrian Vermeule and Adriaan Lanni, Harvard Law School, have posted Precautionary Constitutionalism in Ancient Athens, which is forthcoming in the Cardozo Law Review.  Here is the abstract:    
The Athenian democracy developed striking institutions that, taken together and separately, have long engaged the attention of theorists in law, politics, and history. We will offer a unifying account of the major institutions of the Athenian constitutional order, attempting both to put them in their best light and to provide criteria for evaluating their successes and failures. Our account is that Athenian institutions are best understood as an illustration of precautionary constitutionalism: roughly, the idea that institutions should be designed to safeguard against political risks, limiting the downside and barring worst-case political scenarios, even at the price of limiting the upside potential of the constitutional order. We use this framework to illuminate some of the distinctive features of the Athenian democracy: selection of officials by lot, rotation of office, collegiality, ostracism, and the graphe paranomon (the procedure for overturning an unconstitutional decree).

Under some circumstances, precautionary constitutionalism is a useful strategy of institutional design. Under other circumstances, however, precautionary constitutionalism can go wrong in characteristic ways – by perversely exacerbating the very risks it seeks to prevent, by jeopardizing other values and thereby imposing excessive costs, or simply by creating futile precautions that fail the test of incentive-compatibility. We evaluate the precautionary institutions of the Athenian democracy in this light, and suggest that some failed while others succeeded. While selection by lot, rotation, and collegiality proved to be enduring and incentive-compatible institutions, ostracism perversely exacerbated the risks of tyranny and political domination it was intended to prevent, and the graphe paronomon collapsed into futility

Australasian Colonial Legal History Library Launched

Check out the just launched Australasian Colonial Legal History Library, on which see Digitising and Searching Australasian Colonial Legal History, by Graham Greenleaf et al., New South Wales Law:
Australasia has a rich and complex legal history since the first European settlement, and our knowledge of legal practice and precedent in the colonies of Australasia is still developing. The Australasian Colonial Legal History Library project is an ARC-funded project being carried out by the Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII) since January 2012 with input from 18 legal historians from Universities across Australia. Cooperation with other parties who have already built invaluable and pioneering online resources for Australasian colonial law is an essential part of the project.

AustLII is a free access online service which has operated since 1995 as a joint facility provided by UNSW and UTS Law Faculties , and now provides over 500 databases, with usage of over 700,000 page accesses per day. The Colonial Legal History Library project is therefore being built within a large and mature research infrastructure, and this presents challenges as well as advantages. In particular, many of the AustLII databases cover the whole period from the formation of a colony to the present, so the databases for this Library have to be ‘virtual’ databases extracted from this larger corpus.

The paper explains the construction, content and features of the first version of the Library, which as of July 2012 contains 12 databases including one case law database from each of the seven colonies (including New Zealand), some of which are ‘recovered’ cases from newspaper reports, the complete annual legislation to 1900 from three of the colonies, plus legal scholarship concerning the colonial era. These databases provide over 20,000 documents so far, and the Victorian Government Gazette 1851-1900 another 200,000. The Library also includes the LawCite citator, which allows the subsequent citation history of any colonial case to be tracked, including if cited by courts outside Australasia.

The medium term aim of this part of the ARC project (which extends to 1950 in its full scope) is to include all legislation, reported cases, and cases which can be ‘recovered’, from the inception of each colony to 1900. Scholarship (old and new) and key source materials are also being added, as budgets permit. We hope that the Library will be a leader in the creation of legal history resources from the colonial era.
See also this helpful comment by a law librarian at the University of Otago and this one on comparable Canadian efforts.

More on Applied Legal History

Readers intrigued by the idea of "applied legal history," which Al Brophy introduced here and I addressed here, will want to head over to the Faculty Lounge to read the additional thoughts that Al has posted.

Here's Al on how we might define "applied legal history":
I think applied legal history is a way of describing what a number of us are already doing -- that is, it's a way of talking about what has motivated a number of legal histories of late and of also explaining what we are doing to our colleagues.  . . . [It] is scholarship that is inspired by contemporary issues or seeks to address some contemporary issue. 
Al then identifies four categories of "applied legal history" and offers examples. Much legal historical scholarship fits somewhere in here, which raises the question of what, if anything, is excluded. (To be fair, Al characterizes some of the categories as further from "the core," and he does not presume that the authors he lists would place their work under the "applied legal history" umbrella.)

Further down Al responds to my concern about the perils of "applied legal history":
. . . Karen also raises the possibility that a focus on applied legal history will make (shall we call it) "pure" legal history look descriptive rather than normative.  I'd go beyond Karen on this.  I'm worried that focus on "applied legal history" may highlight that "pure" legal history doesn't relate much to the issues that our law school colleagues care about most. . . .
. . . We should continue to write on "pure" legal history -- but I think we need to be prepared to defend why we are doing it.  Talk of applied legal history may be a relatively easy way of demonstrating to colleagues the importance of our work; there are other ways of demonstrating that as well. 
Here Al and I agree more than we disagree. As Mary has written on this blog, all legal historians -- all historians -- ought to be able to articulate the "cash out value" of their work. Perhaps tagging our work as "applied legal history" is, as Al suggests, one convenient way of establishing value.

But I think that's also why the term makes me a bit uncomfortable. When discussing my work with non-historians, I know that I can reach common ground by making a connection to a contemporary issue or current legal debate. It's like the academic version of talking about the weather, with the added hint that I might be able to predict the next drought or explain last night's big storm. And for something like a hallway conversation or a first-round AALS interview, that may not be a bad way to go. But personally, when I make my scholarship "useable" in this way, I'm not necessarily expressing why I consider my work worthwhile and important -- and that, I believe, is what most of my non-historian colleagues really want to understand. That conversation is harder -- maybe it takes a few tries -- but it seems worthwhile, both for building an intellectually diverse community and developing one's own scholarship.

My snippets of Al's post do not do it justice. Read the rest here. And, of course, please use the comments function to chime in.

The image comes from a progressive-era series of pamphlets on "Applied History" published by the State Historical Society of Iowa. (image credit)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Gerber on William Penn and the Good Behavior Tenure for Judges

Scott D. Gerber, Ohio Northern University Law, has posted William Penn and the Origins of Judicial Tenure During Good Behavior, which also appears in Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 136 (July 2012): 233.  Here is the abstract:
Credit: Library of Congress
Scholars typically trace the origins of judicial tenure during good behavior to the 1701 British Act of Settlement. This article, published as the lead article in the July 2012 issue of the Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, maintains that William Penn anticipated by two decades, in organic laws in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania, the 1701 Act on the importance of this most famous of all institutional solutions to the political theory of an independent judiciary. The article concludes that Penn’s call for judicial tenure during good behavior owes much to his celebrated commitment to liberty.

Symposium: Union and States' Rights

image credit
The Akron Law Review has published a symposium on "Union and States' Rights: Secession, 150 Years After Sumter." Here's the TOC:
Symposium: Union and States' Rights: Secession, 150 Years After Sumter
Neil H. Cogan 

Still Too Close to Call?  Rethinking Stampp's "The Concept of a Perpetual Union"
Daniel W. Hamilton

Secession and Breach of Compact:  The Law of Nature Meets the United States Constitution
Stephen C. Neff

James Madison and the Constitution's "Convention for Proposing Amendments"
Robert G. Natelson

States' Rights, Southern Hypocrisy, and the Crisis of the Union
Paul Finkelman

The Fourteenth Amendment and the Unconstitutionality of Secession
Daniel A. Farber

Judging in a Vacuum, Or, Once More, Without Feeling:
How Justice Scalia's Jurisprudential Approach Repeats errors Made in Plessy V. Ferguson
Chris Edelson

Monday, July 23, 2012

Signing off

Dear readers,

Over 5 ½ years ago, I began the Legal History Blog at my kitchen table. Over 5000 posts (collectively) and well over 1 million visits later, I am now signing off. The blog will continue, and as with all on-line ventures, its future depends in part on you. From the beginning, what has kept the blog going is its readership.

I began the Legal History Blog in part because I thought that the field needed more of an on-line presence than it had at the time. As colleagues joined me, first as guests and then as on-going bloggers, LHB has achieved the goals I had at the beginning. I continue to think that bringing the work of legal historians to an on-line readership is essential. I am moving on nonetheless because the blog can continue in one form or another without me, and because – with a new position and new program to launch – it is time for me to create something new.

For now, you can find me on occasion at Balkinization, and also at War Time. Whether my new project will lead to a blog or some other online form I don’t yet know. A while ago I blogged about the relationship between intellectual work and work in the garden. A garden is more than a respite from work, or a place where ideas find themselves. It is also an apt metaphor for my current state, especially as I wander around my very new garden in Atlanta. Sometimes in the garden you simply have to wait quietly, and see what will grow.

"Attachments": New Immigration Exhibit at the National Archives

image credit
Via National Public Radio, we have word of a new exhibit at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.  Titled "Attachments: Faces and Stories from America's Gates," the exhibit uses the documents and photographs "attached" to government immigration case files to "tell[] the stories of men, women, and children who found themselves at the gateways to America between 1880 and the end of World War II."

Readers might recognize some of these stories from historian Erika Lee's At America's Gates: Chinese Immigration during the Exclusion Era, 1882-1943 (University of North Carolina Press). Here's more on that connection, from NPR:
When she was in graduate school at the University of California, Berkeley, in the mid-1990s, [Lee] was researching the Exclusion Era, a period in which Chinese immigration to the U.S. was severely restricted.
Lee called library after library looking for primary source material but came up empty. Then she called the National Archives in San Bruno, Calif.
"I was expecting the usual 'No, I'm sorry,' and to my surprise, the archivist there said, 'Yeah! We have about 70,000 individual immigrant case files that have just been released to the public'," Lee said.
There were boxes and boxes of files. Too many to count. The first file she asked to see was her own family's. When she opened it, her grandmother's wedding photograph fell out.
Read on (or listen) here.

The exhibit is free and open to the public. It runs from June 15, 2012 to September 4, 2012.

Oral History in the States: Idaho and Tennessee

As a sometime interviewer in the oral history program of the Historical Society of the District of Columbia Circuit, I try to follow comparable programs in other jurisdictions.  Recently, the oral history programs of the Idaho Legal History Society and the Tennessee Bar Foundation have been in the news. 

The Idaho Legal History Society’s program dates from the founding of the Society in 2005, by Chief U.S. District Judge Lynn Winmill and U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald Bush.  According to an account, the “collection now contains more than 50 oral histories. They include the tales of judges and lawyers, but also a law professor, reporters and a courtroom artist.”

As I learned here and here, The Tennessee bar’s program dates from 1998 and includes “video oral histories from 76 of the top lawyers and judges in the state.”  The entire collection has been opened to researchers, who may consult it at the Tennessee State Library and Archives.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Deadline extended: Paul Murphy Prize in the History of Civil Liberties

Deadline extended: Paul Murphy Prize

It recently came to our attention that the Paul Murphy Prize deadline information was not fully accessible to all who wished to apply.  Because of this, for fairness reasons, the deadline has been extended for two weeks, until August 5, 2012.

The committee has received an ample number of submissions, and this announcement should not be taken as a reflection on the current pool.  Those who previously submitted a proposal do not need to do anything.  However, if you previously submitted and would like to revise your proposal, you may do so by the deadline.  The committee will not review proposals until the August 5 deadline.

If you have questions or concerns about this announcement, please contact me at my new email address.

The call for proposals is below. 

Mary L. Dudziak
Chair, Paul Murphy Prize Committee

The American Society for Legal History announces the Paul Murphy Prize to support the completion of a book on the history of civil liberties that addresses any topic or any time in American history. The award will be given out two times only, in 2012 and 2013. Recipients will receive $5000 to support their work. Nominees at all levels of seniority will be considered, however the award is not for the completion of a dissertation.

The award honors Paul L. Murphy (1923-1997), who spent much of his career at the University of Minnesota where he rose to the rank of Regent’s Professor of History and American Studies. At the time of his death, he was in the second year of his term as president of the ASLH. During his tenure at Minnesota he became one of the nation’s leading constitutional historians and a mentor to generations of undergraduate and graduate students. Among his most important books were: The Meaning of Freedom of Speech: First Amendment Freedoms from Wilson to FDR (1972); World War I and the Origin of Civil Liberties in the United States (1979); and Historic Background of the Bill of Rights, Vol. 1 (1990). In addition, civil liberties played a fundamental role in the argument he developed in what was likely his most influential book, The Constitution in Crisis Times 1918-1969 (The New American Nation Series, 1972). Murphy’s commitment to civil liberties and his passion for the subject was evident in his deeds as well as his words. He was an ardent and committed member of the American Civil Liberties Union throughout his life. For additional information on Murphy please see the tribute to him in the Law and History Review, 16 (Spring 1998), ix-xi.

To be considered for this award, authors or nominators should send a book proposal with chapter descriptions, a discussion of the book’s contributions, and a time-line for completion; a sample chapter; and a c.v. to committee chair Mary L. Dudziak (email here). Submissions via e-mail are preferred, and attachments can be in Word or PDF. Please put “Murphy Prize” in the subject line. If you must submit by hardcopy, please send four copies of these materials to arrive by the deadline to this address: Professor Mary L. Dudziak, Emory School of Law, 1301 Clifton Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30322. The deadline for receipt of proposals for this year’s award is August 5, 2012. 

Members of the Murphy Prize Committee are:
Mary L. Dudziak, Chair, Emory University
Robert Kaczorowski, Fordham University
Serena Mayeri, University of Pennsylvania
David M. Rabban, University of Texas

Politics, Healthcare, and the Seven Deadlies, This Week in the Book Pages

Presidential politics are everywhere these days, including the book pages. The Wall Street Journal reviews, here, The Eighteen-Day Running Mate: McGovern, Eagleton, and a Campaign in Crisis (Yale University Press), by Joshua M. Glasser, and Call Me Tom: The Life of Thomas F. Eagleton (University of Missouri Press), by James N. Giglio.

The New York Times covers (here) The New Religious Intolerance: Overcoming the Politics of Fear in an Anxious Age (the Belknap Press/Harvard University Press), by law professor Martha C. Nussbaum. According to reviewer Damon Linker, the book "could serve as Exhibit A in liberalism’s defense against [the] charge" "that liberals in general, and Barack Obama in particular, prefer other forms of democracy ­(especially those that prevail in Europe) to the American way of life."

Also reviewed: Island of Vice: Theodore Roosevelt’s Doomed Quest to Clean Up Sin-Loving New York (Doubleday), by Richard Zacks (here); and two books about "the Tea Party Class of 2010" (here).

Politics of a different sort: the readers of the History News Network have cast their votes, and the “the least credible history book in print”is . . . . find out here.

The New Republic: The Book is full of good stuff this week: Saul Austerlitz reviews, here, The Chinatown War: Chinese Los Angeles and the Massacre of 1871 (Oxford University Press), by Scott Zesch; Todd Gitlin reviews, here, After Broadcast News: Media Regimes, Democracy, and the New Information Environment (Cambridge University Press), by Bruce A. Williams and Michael X. Delli Carpini; and Michael Gorra reviews, here, Mrs. Robinson's Disgrace: The Private Diary of a Victorian Lady (Bloomsbury), by Kate Summerscale (also reviewed this week here, in the WSJ).

"Greed, lust, and the other seven deadlies never go out of fashion . . . ." Subscribers to the Chronicle of Higher Ed may read on here, where Peter Monaghan reviews Sin: The Early History of an Idea (Princeton University Press), Paula Fredriksen.

In the latest issue of the New York Review of Books, Ronald Dworkin reflects, here, on the Supreme Court's Affordable Care Act decision. Here's a taste:
For centuries the most powerful and influential argument for social justice has been essentially an insurance-based argument. Justice within a political community requires that the most catastrophic risks of economic and social life be pooled. Everyone should be required to acquit his moral responsibilities to fellow citizens, as well as to guard against his own misfortune, by paying into a fund from which those who are in the end unlucky may draw. This conception of social insurance has been the rationale of the great social democracies of Europe and Canada, and taxation has been the traditional—indeed the only effective—means of pooling those risks. Insurance has been the rationale, in this country, of all our great welfare programs: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, federal disaster relief, among many others.

The Affordable Care Act, out of assumed political necessity, is different—but only on the surface.
Read on here.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Towards a New History of European Law

[I'm moving this post up, as I've recently learned that Cambridge Journals is granting free access to this issue until November 30, 2012.  Try accessing it here.]

Contemporary European History is out with a special issue (Volume 21, Issue 03, August 2012), entitled Towards a New History of European Law.  Here is the table of contents:

Towards a New History of European Law

The Debate about a European Institutional Order among International Legal Scholars in the 1920s and its Legacy

Negotiating the Foundations of European Law, 1950–57: The Legal History of the Treaties of Paris and Rome

On Democratic Concerns and Legal Traditions: The Dutch 1953 and 1956 Constitutional Reforms ‘Towards’ Europe

Establishing a Constitutional Practice of European Law: The History of the Legal Service of the European Executive, 1952–65

Constructing and Legitimating: Transnational Jurist Networks and the Making of a Constitutional Practice of European Law, 1950–70

Pushing Back: What Happens When Member States Resist the European Court of Justice? A Multi-Modal Approach to the History of European Law

The Difficult Path to an Economic Rule of Law: European Competition Policy, 1950–91

The Critical Promise of the New History of European Law

We Are The State We Seek: Everyday Life in Czechoslovakia and East Germany, 1945–89

Remembering Communism During and After Communism (review article)

Weekend Roundup

  • Yale Law School has announced a Ph.D. program in law.
  • From the Chronicle of Higher Ed: Why the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act still matters.
The Weekend Roundup is a weekly feature compiled by all the Legal History bloggers.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Judt on the 20th Century and the Meaning of War

I was scrounging around in the bowels of the blog, deleting long-forgotten draft posts, when I ran across a fragment, never finished, from 2008. It seemed better to post this one than delete it.

Tony Judt had an essay on the twentieth century in NYRB: What Have We Learned, If Anything?  Along the way, he asks:
What, then, is it that we have misplaced in our haste to put the twentieth century behind us? In the US, at least, we have forgotten the meaning of war. There is a reason for this. In much of continental Europe, Asia, and Africa the twentieth century was experienced as a cycle of wars. War in the last century signified invasion, occupation, displacement, deprivation, destruction, and mass murder. Countries that lost wars often lost population, territory, resources, security, and independence. But even those countries that emerged formally victorious had comparable experiences and usually remembered war much as the losers did. Italy after World War I, China after World War II, and France after both wars might be cases in point: all were "winners" and all were devastated. And then there are those countries that won a war but "lost the peace," squandering the opportunities afforded them by their victory. The Western Allies at Versailles and Israel in the decades following its June 1967 victory remain the most telling examples....
War was not just a catastrophe in its own right; it brought other horrors in its wake. World War I led to an unprecedented militarization of society, the worship of violence, and a cult of death that long outlasted the war itself and prepared the ground for the political disasters that followed. States and societies seized during and after World War II by Hitler or Stalin (or by both, in sequence) experienced not just occupation and exploitation but degradation and corrosion of the laws and norms of civil society. The very structures of civilized life—regulations, laws, teachers, policemen, judges— disappeared or else took on sinister significance: far from guaranteeing security, the state itself became the leading source of insecurity....
The United States avoided almost all of that...
The difference in civilian casualties was especially stark:  in World War II 67,000 British, 270,000 French, over 500,000 Yugoslavians, 1.8 million Germans, 5.5 million Polish, an estimated 11.4 million Soviets, over 16 million Chinese, and 2000 American civilians in both World Wars combined.

"As a consequence," Judt wrote,
the United States today is the only advanced democracy where public figures glorify and exalt the military, a sentiment familiar in Europe before 1945 but quite unknown today....For many American commentators and policymakers the message of the twentieth century is that war works....For Washington, war remains an option.... For the rest of the developed world it has become a last resort.
Judt's antidote was that "Far from escaping the twentieth century, we need, I think, to go back and look a bit more carefully. We need to learn again—or perhaps for the first time—how war brutalizes and degrades winners and losers alike..."

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Konig on John Adams, Constitution Monger

David Konig, Washington University in Saint Louis - School of Law, has just posted John Adams, Constitution Monger.  Here's the abstract:
Library of Congress
John Adams never ceased defending his work as “Constitution monger.” As author of the Massachusetts constitution of 1780, he had successfully devised a governmental structure of separated powers and fixed, express limitations that became an enduring model for modern American constitutionalism. Even so, he continued to believe this structure – resting on a bicameral legislature, a strong executive, and an independent judiciary – to be in constant danger. The threat, he feared, began with human nature itself, which he viewed as prone to irrationality and disorder. Men in the abstract might be trusted and their sovereignty acknowledged, but in reality it was necessary to create a “government of laws, and not of men.” This essay examines his experience in the tumultuous world of Massachusetts politics and his efforts to embody the will of the people and simultaneously to protect it from itself.

Amann on Politics and Prosecutions, from Katherine Fite to Fatou Bensouda

Diane Marie Amann, University of Georgia School of Law, begins a recent essay this way:
Katherine Fite with Robert Jackson via IntLawGrrls
“Certainly mankind has been befouled with a stain that won’t be removed in a week or a month.” So wrote Nuremberg lawyer Katherine Fite while preparing for the post-World War II trial of nearly two dozen Nazi leaders. In that single sentence Fite not only remarked that memory of atrocity may shred human ties for generations, but also admitted that prosecution alone cannot bind war-torn societies. Essential, her letters made clear, is politics – robust political support for social recovery as well as criminal accountability.
Politics and Prosecutions, from Katherine Fite to Fatou Bensouda appears in Proceedings of the Fifth International Humanitarian Law Dialogs, Elizabeth Andersen and David M. Crane, eds., 2012, Forthcoming. Here's the abstract:
Based on the Katherine B. Fite Lecture delivered at the 5th Annual International Humanitarian Law Dialogs in Chautauqua, New York, this essay examines the role that politics has played in the evolution of international criminal justice. It first establishes the frame of the lecture series and its relation to IntLawGrrls blog, a cosponsor of the IHL Dialogs. It then discusses the career of the series' namesake, Katherine B. Fite, a State Department lawyer who helped draft the Charter of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg and who was, in her own words, a "political observer" of the proceedings. The essay then turns to the the International Criminal Court, in which the first Prosecutor insisted that his was a "judicial" mandate wholly separate from politics. With an eye to transition this year, when a new Prosecutor will assume office, it considers how the ICC might work more effectively within the context of policy choices its officers make.
More of Amann's Women at Nuremberg project can be found in these two papers and these posts from IntLawGrrls.

Sharfstein on Atrocity, Entitlement, and Personhood in Property

Daniel J. Sharfstein, Vanderbilt Law School, has posted his brilliant essay, Atrocity, Entitlement, and Personhood in Property, which I had the good fortune to hear him deliver at last year’s ASLH meeting, It is forthcoming in the Virginia Law Review 98 (2012).  Here is the abstract:
For a generation since Margaret Jane Radin’s classic article Property and Personhood, scholars have viewed personhood as a conception of property that affirms autonomy, dignity, and basic civil rights, a progressive alternative to traditional, more economically focused property theories. This article presents a fundamental challenge to personhood as a progressive approach to property. It shows that personhood claims often derive from violent and other harmful acts committed in the course of acquiring and owning property. This persistent and pervasive connection between personhood and violence — the “atrocity value” in property — upends core assumptions about the American property tradition and complicates the progressive social function of property law. This article explains why atrocity creates entitlement, drawing from social psychology and accounts of law and violence to show how violence can foster personhood. The article then explores the deep historical roots of atrocity within the American property tradition, which helped establish an abiding cultural value that encouraged personal identification with property. Finally, the article surveys how atrocity continues to foster personhood in an array of contexts involving common ownership, exclusion, and use. Ultimately, personhood emerges less as a progressive value in property than as a challenge that the law has had to negotiate. Property law is often successful in promoting progressive and cooperative goals because courts do not attempt to decide cases on the basis of a personhood value in property.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

UC Berkeley JSP Program Seeks Legal Historian

I'm excited to pass along the following job announcement:
Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program, School of Law`
University of California at Berkeley
Position Announcement
The Jurisprudence and Social Policy (JSP) Program in the School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley seeks applicants for a tenure-track or tenured faculty position in U.S. legal history.   Candidates must hold a Ph.D. or equivalent degree in history or a closely related field; and must have an excellent record of historical scholarship related to law, as appropriate to career stage.  Candidates with ABD status will be considered, but the successful candidate must have finished the Ph.D. within 6 months of appointment.   The position is not restricted to any particular period of U.S. history, area of legal historical research or methodological approach.  An ideal candidate should undertake research of interest both to the historical profession generally and to legal historians within the law school community.  Given the multi-disciplinary character of the JSP Program, faculty members are expected to help support students across a range of socio-legal fields, as well as within their own area of disciplinary training.  A JD is not required, though we welcome candidates who would enrich scholarship and teaching within the broadest community at Berkeley Law, including contributions to the professional J.D. program.  
We are interested in candidates who have demonstrated excellence in research, teaching and service, and a commitment to building an equitable and diverse scholarly environment.  The candidate may be appointed at the tenure-track or tenured level, depending upon his/her qualifications and experience.  The candidate will be expected to teach both graduate and undergraduate courses, and to supervise graduate student research.  The appointment is expected to begin on July 1, 2013.  For further details of the JSP Program, see http://www.law.berkeley.edu/jsp/.  
Early applications are encouraged.  Review of applications will begin on September 4, 2012.  The final deadline for applications is October 8, 2012.
To apply please go to the following link: http://aprecruit.berkeley.edu/apply/JPF00006. Applications should include in pdf format a letter of interest, a vita, a description of current research and teaching interests, a writing sample, and a list of 3 reference names with email addresses.  Letters of reference do not need to be sent at this time, but references may be contacted later with prior consent.  All letters will be treated as confidential per University of California policy and California state law. Please refer potential referees, including when letters are provided via a third party (i.e., dossier service or career center), to the UC Berkeley statement of confidentiality: http://apo.chance.berkeley.edu/evalltr.html.

Legal History at SHEAR

The annual conference of the Society of Historians of the Early American Republic starts this Thursday in Baltimore.  The full program of the conference can be found here.  A number of panels may be of particular interest to blog readers:

Friday, July 20

10:30-11:45: Citizens: Membership and Political Identity in the American Republics
PRESIDING: Christopher Tomlins, University of California, Irvine 
Erika Pani, El Colegio de México
Nancy Isenberg, Louisiana State University
Douglas Bradburn, SUNY-Binghamton University
Holly Brewer, University of Maryland
Louise Pubols, Oakland Museum of California 
COMMENT: the Audience
2:00-3:45: The Revolution in Religion: Loyalism, Disestablishment, and Politics
PRESIDING: Ruth Alden Doan, Hollins University
The Landscape of Belief: Disestablishment and Property
Sarah Barringer Gordon, Univ. of Pennsylvania

Politics of Faith: The Loyalism of Rev. John Stuart
Stephanie Corrigan, University of Delaware  
Spiritualism and Social Action: Alliances for Social Change in the Early Republic
Mark McGarvie, University of Richmond 
COMMENT: Peter C. Hoffer, University of Georgia
Saturday, July 21

9:00-10:45: Land, Labor, and War: The Emergence of America’s Central State, 1780-1840
(pre-circulated paper available at conference website)
PRESIDING: Harry Watson, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill 
Land, Labor, and War: The Emergence of America’s Central State, 1780-1840 
Gary Gerstle, Vanderbilt University 
COMMENT: Elizabeth Blackmar, Columbia University
Adam Rothman, Georgetown University 

11:00-12:45:  The Law and Post-Colonial America: Structures and Misadventures
PRESIDING: Annette Gordon-Reed, Harvard University

“The Means of Preventing Disputes with Foreign Nations”: The Federal Courts and Foreign Relations in the 1790s
Kevin Arlyck, New York University

Being Seen Like a State: The Constitution and Its Foreign Audiences at the FoundingDaniel Hulsebosch, New York University

The Liberal Filibuster: Anglo-Mirandistas and Atlantic Imperialism on TrialTimothy A. Milford, St. John’s University

COMMENT: Deborah Rosen, Lafayette College

11:00-12:45: Slavery, Movement, and the Law: New Approaches to Gradual Abolition
(hopefully close to the session above)
PRESIDING: Daniel Hamilton, University of Illinois 
“Not very Fanatical on the Subject of Slavery:” Fugitive Slaves and the Persistence of Slavery in New Jersey, 1804-1846 
James Gigantino, University of Arkansas 
The Conflict of Laws in the Crossing of Borders: Slavery and Antislavery Movement in Early Republican New York 
Sarah Levine-Gronningsater, University of Chicago 
Gradual Immediatism: The Abolition of Baltimore’s Transatlantic Slave Trade Craig Hollander, Johns Hopkins University 
COMMENT: Gautham Rao, American University
Daniel Hamilton
2:00-3:45:  Nationalism and Partisanship in the Antebellum Era
PRESIDING: Michael Birkner, Gettysburg College 
“Fidelity and Firmness”: Northern Democrats and the Crises of 1850
Michael Landis, Sacred Heart University 
Republican Brotherhood
Martin Herschock, Univ. of Michigan-Dearborn 
Proslavery Nationalism and Antislavery States' Rights Activities: Why the South was Really Opposed to States' Rights on the Eve of the Civil War
Paul Finkelman, Albany Law School 
COMMENT: Chandra Manning, Georgetown University
Sunday, July 22

9:00-10:45: Law in the Early Republic
Presiding:  Ben Brown, University of California, Berkeley 
Murder in the Shenandoah:  The Case of Commonwealth v. John Crane, the Younger
Jessica K. Lowe, Princeton University 
A Slave’s Only Legal Right: Freedom Suits in the American States
Peter Wallenstein, Virginia Polytechnic Institute 
The Indians’ Constitution: Uncovering the Native History of the Framing
Gregory Ablavsky, University of Pennsylvania 
COMMENT:   Alfred Brophy, University of North Carolina,
Chapel Hill 
(As you can see, I'm hoping a few of you can tough it out until Sunday morning, so there are at least as many people in the audience as on the panel).  There are many other great papers, and I hope to bring some of the highlights from the panels in subsequent posts.  Hope to see many of you there!)