Law in American History, Vol. I
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Law in American History, Vol. I : From the Colonial Years Through the Civil War

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In speaking about the law, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. once said, "To know what it is, we must know what it has been, and what it tends to become." G. Edward White, a leading legal historian, presents Law in American History, a two-volume, comprehensive narrative history of American law from the colonial period to the present. In this first volume, White explores the key turning points in roughly the first half of the American legal system, from the development of order in the colonies, to the signing of the Constitution, to the dissolution of the Union just before the Civil War. In addition to these events, White analyzes issues like race, gender, and slavery that undergird the development of American jurisprudence. Along the way, he provides a compelling case for why law can be seen as the key to understanding the development of American life as we know it, shaping virtually every aspect of the American experience from the way we handle international relations to the food we choose to eat and drink. Thought-provoking and artfully written, Law in American History, Vol. 1 is an essential text for both students of law and general readers alike.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 584 pages
  • 162.56 x 243.84 x 53.34mm | 635.03g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195102479
  • 9780195102475
  • 1,343,130

Review quote

"G. Edward White's first volume of Law in American History is an outstanding contribution to legal history. The book surveys the history of American law through the end of the Civil War in remarkable detail for a single-volume work." --Journal of American History "This is a magisterial account of a series of dramatic legal developments. Essential." --CHOICE "Never before has a work on American legal history engaged so profoundly with the distinctiveness of America's displacement of Indians and enslavement of Africans. This fascinating and original book will change the way the category 'American law' is defined."--Noah Feldman, Harvard Law School "In this ambitious and sweeping narrative of a formative era in American legal and constitutional history, White takes us a large step forward in our thinking about the relationships among law, politics, and culture."--Alison la Croix, University of Chicago Law School "Ted White is one of the few legal historians whose broad and deep knowledge of American law from the earliest years to the present might enable him to synthesize the American legal experience. This magnificent first volume of a multivolume history takes us up to the Civil War, and provides a compelling, coherent, challenging, and readable account of the first half of American legal history. Law in American History is the welcome culmination of a lifetime of scholarship."--Stanley n. Katz, Princeton University "White embeds American law in our culture and thus links legal doctrine and institutions to the ideas of freedom central to our nation's development. This is an authoritative work of American history, told through the framework of law."--Alfred L. Brophy, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill "In this wonderful volume, we see a masterful historian at the top of his game. White synthesizes and makes accessible a truly immense amount of material-making coherent evolving developments in (and interactions between) public and private law, courts and politics, and government and society."--Larry D. Kramer, Stanford Law School "White's first volume is as crisp and elegant a statement of the central themes in the history of American law as any I know. The pages move seamlessly from the law of everyday life in the household and the workplace to the great constitutional controversies of the day. This is a book that proceeds with refreshing candor and good common sense."--John Witt, Yale Law School "G. Edward White's first volume of Law in American History is an outstanding contribution to legal history. ... White's focus on legal, popular, and elite cultures permeates the entire tale told in this volume. He extends his inquiry to examine lawyers' professional culture, slave culture, their masters' culture, and that of abolitionists, workingmen, and indentured servants. It is these cultural themes that allow even the most seasoned of legal historians reading this book to see events in a new light. That altered vision whets the appetite for White's planned second volume to complete the story." --Journal of American History "G. Edward White is one of America's most eminent legal historians... [and] we now know more and have a truer understanding of the history of the law in America than we did before White began writing legal history forty years ago." --The New Republic "G. Edward White's first volume of Law in American History is an outstanding contribution to legal history. The book surveys the history of American law through the end of the Civil War in remarkable detail for a single-volume work." --Journal of American History "This is a magisterial account of a series of dramatic legal developments. Essential." --CHOICE "Never before has a work on American legal history engaged so profoundly with the distinctiveness of America's displacement of Indians and enslavement of Africans. This fascinating and original book will change the way the category 'American law' is defined."--Noah Feldman, Harvard Law School "In this ambitious and sweeping narrative of a formative era in American legal and constitutional history, White takes us a large step forward in our thinking about the relationships among law, politics, and culture."--Alison la Croix, University of Chicago Law School "Ted White is one of the few legal historians whose broad and deep knowledge of American law from the earliest years to the present might enable him to synthesize the American legal experience. This magnificent first volume of a multivolume history takes us up to the Civil War, and provides a compelling, coherent, challenging, and readable account of the first half of American legal history. Law in American History is the welcome culmination of a lifetime of scholarship."--Stanley n. Katz, Princeton University "White embeds American law in our culture and thus links legal doctrine and institutions to the ideas of freedom central to our nation's development. This is an authoritative work of American history, told through the framework of law."--Alfred L. Brophy, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill "In this wonderful volume, we see a masterful historian at the top of his game. White synthesizes and makes accessible a truly immense amount of material-making coherent evolving developments in (and interactions between) public and private law, courts and politics, and government and society."--Larry D. Kramer, Stanford Law School "White's first volume is as crisp and elegant a statement of the central themes in the history of American law as any I know. The pages move seamlessly from the law of everyday life in the household and the workplace to the great constitutional controversies of the day. This is a book that proceeds with refreshing candor and good common sense."--John Witt, Yale Law School "G. Edward White's first volume of Law in American History is an outstanding contribution to legal history. ... White's focus on legal, popular, and elite cultures permeates the entire tale told in this volume. He extends his inquiry to examine lawyers' professional culture, slave culture, their masters' culture, and that of abolitionists, workingmen, and indentured servants. It is these cultural themes that allow even the most seasoned of legal historians reading this book to see events in a new light. That altered vision whets the appetite for White's planned second volume to complete the story." --Journal of American History "G. Edward White is one of America's most eminent legal historians... [and] we now know more and have a truer understanding of the history of the law in America than we did before White began writing legal history forty years ago." --The New Republic "This is a magisterial account of a series of dramatic legal developments. Essential." --CHOICE"Never before has a work on American legal history engaged so profoundly with the distinctiveness of America's displacement of Indians and enslavement of Africans. This fascinating and original book will change the way the category 'American law' is defined."--Noah Feldman, Harvard Law School "In this ambitious and sweeping narrative of a formative era in American legal and constitutional history, White takes us a large step forward in our thinking about the relationships among law, politics, and culture."--Alison la Croix, University of Chicago Law School "Ted White is one of the few legal historians whose broad and deep knowledge of American law from the earliest years to the present might enable him to synthesize the American legal experience. This magnificent first volume of a multivolume history takes us up to the Civil War, and provides a compelling, coherent, challenging, and readable account of the first half of American legal history. Law in American History is the welcome culmination of a lifetime of scholarship."--Stanley n. Katz, Princeton University "White embeds American law in our culture and thus links legal doctrine and institutions to the ideas of freedom central to our nation's development. This is an authoritative work of American history, told through the framework of law."--Alfred L. Brophy, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill "In this wonderful volume, we see a masterful historian at the top of his game. White synthesizes and makes accessible a truly immense amount of material-making coherent evolving developments in (and interactions between) public and private law, courts and politics, and government and society."--Larry D. Kramer, Stanford Law School "White's first volume is as crisp and elegant a statement of the central themes in the history o "Never before has a work on American legal history engaged so profoundly with the distinctiveness of America's displacement of Indians and enslavement of Africans. This fascinating and original book will change the way the category 'American law' is defined."--Noah Feldman, Harvard Law School "In this ambitious and sweeping narrative of a formative era in American legal and constitutional history, White takes us a large step forward in our thinking about the relationships among law, politics, and culture."--Alison la Croix, University of Chicago Law School "Ted White is one of the few legal historians whose broad and deep knowledge of American law from the earliest years to the present might enable him to synthesize the American legal experience. This magnificent first volume of a multivolume history takes us up to the Civil War, and provides a compelling, coherent, challenging, and readable account of the first half of American legal history. Law in American History is the welcome culmination of a lifetime of scholarship."--Stanley n. Katz, Princeton University "White embeds American law in our culture and thus links legal doctrine and institutions to the ideas of freedom central to our nation's development. This is an authoritative work of American history, told through the framework of law."--Alfred L. Brophy, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill "In this wonderful volume, we see a masterful historian at the top of his game. White synthesizes and makes accessible a truly immense amount of material-making coherent evolving developments in (and interactions between) public and private law, courts and politics, and government and society."--Larry D. Kramer, Stanford Law School "White's first volume is as crisp and elegant a statement of the central themes in the history of American law as any I know. The pages move seamlessly from the law of everyday life in the houseshow more

About G. Edward White

G. Edward White is David and Mary Harrison Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Virginia Law School. His books include Oliver Wendell Holmes (OUP 1999), Alger Hiss's Looking Glass Wars (OUP 2005), and several other works of biography and law.show more

Table of contents

Introduction ; 1. The Colonial Years ; 2. Law and the Conditions of Agricultural Household Life, 1750-1800 ; 3. Law and the Founding of the American Republic I: Toward Independence and Republican Government ; 4. Law and the Founding of the American Republic II: From the Articles of Confederation to the Constitution ; 5. The Supreme Court Emerges ; 6. Law and Entrepreneurship, 1800-1850 ; 7. Law and the Dissolution of the Union I: The Political Parties, Congress, and Slavery ; 8. Law and the Dissolution of the Union II: Slavery, the Constitution, and the Supreme Court ; 9. The Civil War: Setting the Stage ; 10. The Civil War: Legal Issuesshow more

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