Monday, August 15, 2016

AJLH: New Online

The American Journal of Legal History has published a new article and two book reviews online.  The article is Federal Coercion and National Constitutional Identity in the United States 1776-1861, by Pekka Pohjankoski:
This article examines the development of the federal coercion power of the U.S. government during the period from the Declaration of Independence to the Civil War. Although unhappy with the states’ defiance of federal requisitions, the Founders agreed at the Constitutional Convention that the national government should not have the power to coerce individual states militarily to force them into compliance with federal law. Instead, a federal judiciary was created to uphold the supremacy of the Constitution. As part of the new constitutional makeup, the federal government now had the power to coerce individuals, rendering the coercion of states unnecessary. However, in the pre-Civil War era, federal law was frequently disregarded by certain states. The question hence became whether the federal government could de facto coerce states by coercing individuals. These debates intensified during the South Carolina Nullification Crisis, and culminated on the eve of the Civil War, as the southern states declared their intent to secede from the Union. These multiple instances of state defiance and the eventual use of federal coercive force consolidated the new constitutional arrangement. The emergence of a distinctly national constitutional identity thus paralleled the evolution of the federal power of coercion.
The two book reviews are Melvin I. Urofsky, Dissent and the Supreme Court: Its Role in the Court’s History and the Nation’s Constitutional Dialogue, reviewed by Linda Przybyszewski; and Reuel Schiller, Forging Rivals: Race, Class, Law, and the Collapse of Postwar Liberalism, reviewed by Arthur F. McEvoy