Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Watson on the Duty to Account

The Duty to Account coverIn 2016, James Watson, Banco Chambers, published The Duty to Account: Development and Principles with Irwin Law. The book examines the history of the duty of a trustee to account to beneficiaries for his or her administration of a trust. From the publisher:

This book investigates the history of the modern doctrine of account, and by that history, seeks to identify some of the principles and premises which help explain the application of, and which underlie, the action today. The common law account, and its successor in equity, is over 800 years old. There does not appear to have been any work devoted to an examination of that history published in that time. The focus on the book is on the question 'who is an accountable party'? The area of law focused on is common law and equitable remedies, namely, the account (including the subsidiary principle, the 'account of profits').
You can have a look at the detailed TOC here

Further information is available here.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

New Online: Publications of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts

Our friend David Warrington writes:
An organization to which I belong, the Colonial Society of Massachusetts (whose “chief business is to publish documents related to the early history of Massachusetts”) has just made freely available to the public all eighty-seven volumes of its publications.  These can either be downloaded or consulted through its website (which is fully searchable).

There is much here to interest readers of the Legal History Blog, including:

Volume 2 (1913): Massachusetts Royal Commissions 1681-1774;
Volumes 29 and 30 (1933): Records of the Suffolk County Court 1671-1680;
Volume 62 (1984): Law in Colonial Massachusetts, 1630-1800; and
Volumes 74-78, 85 (2005-09, 2014): Portrait of a Patriot: The Major Political and Legal Papers of Josiah Quincy Junior
 That Law in Colonial Massachusetts volume had an all-star line up.  See after the jump:

Singer on Reconsidering Johnson v. M'Intosh

Joseph William Singer, Harvard Law School, has posted Indian Title: Unraveling the Racial Context of Property Rights, or How to Stop Engaging in Conquest, which appears in the Albany Government Law Review 10 (2017): 1-.48
The case of Johnson v. M'Intosh, 21 US 543 (1823), is taught in many property law classes and is the only information given to new law students about the property rights of Indian nations. However, the case is often misunderstood as denying title to those nations. A close reading of the opinion, in light of three later cases decided in the early 19th century, reveals that the Supreme Court intended to recognize "Indian title" while granting the United States a right of first refusal if tribes sought to sell property on the open market to non-Indians. Far from denying tribal property rights, Justice Marshall's opinion in this case, as explicated by later cases, actually sought to protect tribal title from expropriation by the United States unless the tribes voluntarily consented to the transfer of land.

While it is true that the opinion contains offensive and racist language, assumptions, and arguments, it is important not to ignore the ways in which the opinion sought to criticize, as well as justify, conquest and to put a halt to it in the future. Of course, history did not turn out that way but it did result in our current reality where conquest was incomplete. There are 567 federally-recognized Indian nations in the US and if property law professors teach students that conquest was complete and that tribes have no property rights in their land, those messages have current consequences for tribes trying to exercise sovereignty and property rights today. The truth is that Indian nations have both sovereignty and property rights over their lands and they do not have a mere license or "permission from the whites to occupy" (as the Supreme Court suggested in the 1955 case of Tee-Hit-Ton v. United States).

Both property law professors and scholars of federal Indian law should understand both the offensive racist reasoning in the decision and the ways in which the opinion represents one of the most pro-Indian nation decisions in the history of the Supreme Court. Treating the opinion as simply a racist relic of the past, like the Dred Scott decision, and nothing more, deprives Indian nations of the ability to use the case (and later cases like it) as a bulwark against further non-consensual deprivation of tribal property rights. And such a misreading of the case infects current politics by suggesting that tribes are being unreasonable when they seek to have their property rights be given equal respect to the property rights of non-Indians.

The importance of recognizing that federal law does protect tribal title can be seen easily if one simply considers the Standing Rock Sioux's opposition to a pipeline that threatens their ancient lands—lands that are currently protected both by tribal law, a treaty with the United States, and federal statutes and common law. Understanding Indian title as an estate in land that is every bit as powerful as the fee simple—as equally "sacred" in the words of the Supreme Court—is the message we should be sending to new lawyers, not the opposite.

A Retrospective on the Work of Hendrik Hartog

[We have the following announcement.]

“Relationships in/of Law and History: Retrospective on the Work of Hendrik Hartog.”  Hosted by the IDC Law and Humanities Workshop and the University of Haifa Faculty of Law.  Friday, May 26, 2017, 09:00-13:30.  IDC Herzliya Campus, Kanfei Nesharim Street, Herzliya.  Room SL302, Radzyner-Sustainability Building

For over three decades, Hendrik Hartog has been among the most influential writers in the fields of legal history, law and society, and the cultural study of law. In this symposium, we explore the contributions of Hartog's work to interdisciplinary legal scholarship in a set of discussions structured around four of his seminal texts: Pigs and Positivism (1985), The Constitution of Aspiration (1987), Man and Wife in America (2000), and Someday All This Will be Yours (2012), and his forthcoming book, The Trouble with Minna: Care, Slavery and Emancipation in New Jersey. Discussants will consider the significance of Hartog's scholarship in relation to a range of themes of contemporary interest in legal and historical scholarship. Special emphasis will be given to law's role in constituting and governing social relations, among them parenting, marriage, and slavery, and to methodological questions concerning the relationship between the study of law, social history and cultural studies.

08:40 Gathering

09:00 Welcome: Prof. Amnon Lehavi, Dean, Radzyner Law School, Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya (IDC)

09:05-10:35 Chair and Opening Remarks: Justice Prof. Daphne Barak-Erez (Justice of the Supreme Court of Israel)

Prof. Roy Kreitner (Tel-Aviv University, Law)
Pigs and Positivism: Between Jurisprudence and Politics

Dr. Ely Aaronson and Dr. Arianne Renan Barzilay (University of Haifa, Law)
Rights-Consciousness as an Object of Historical Inquiry: Revisiting The Constitution of Aspiration

10:35 - 10:45 – Coffee & refreshments

Chair: Dr. Alexander (Sandy) Kedar (University of Haifa, Law)

Dr. Galia Schneebaum (IDC Herzliya, Law)
Marital Consciousness and the Criminalization of Spousal Abuse: Man and Wife in America

Dr. Shelly Kreiczer-Levy (College of Law and Business, Ramat-Gan, Law)
Parents and Adult Children: The Elusive Boundaries of the Family, following Someday All This Will Be Yours

12:15-12:30 – Coffee & refreshments

12:30 – 13:30 

Chair: Prof. Milette Shamir (Tel-Aviv University, English & American Studies)

Discussion: Dr. Eli Cook (University of Haifa, History) & Dr. Anat Rosenberg (IDC Herzliya, Law):
Slavery, Contract and Capitalism: The Trouble with Minna

Concluding Remarks
Prof. Hendrik Hartog (Princeton University, History)

Monday, May 22, 2017

Cromwell Dissertation Prize: Deadline Approaching!

[Here’s a reminder for the Cromwell Dissertation Prize, as the deadline of May 30 is rapidly approaching.]

The William Nelson Cromwell Foundation has generously funded a dissertation prize of $5,000. The winning dissertation may focus on any area of American legal history, including constitutional and comparative studies; topics dealing with the colonial and early national periods will receive some preference. Anyone who received a Ph.D. in 2016 will be eligible for this year’s prize. The Foundation awards the prize after a review of the recommendation of the Cromwell Prize Advisory Committee of the American Society for Legal History.

To be considered for this year’s prize, please send one hard-copy of the dissertation and the curriculum vitae of its author to John D. Gordan, III, Chair of the Cromwell Prize Advisory Committee, and each member of the Cromwell Dissertation Prize Advisory Subcommittee with a postmark no later than May 30, 2017.

John D. Gordan, III, Chair, Cromwell Prize Advisory Committee
1133 Park Avenue
New York, NY, 10128

Anders Walker, Chair, Cromwell Dissertation Prize Advisory Subcommittee
Saint Louis University School of Law
100 North Tucker Blvd.
St. Louis, Missouri 63101

H. Robert Baker
Department of History
Georgia State University
20th floor, 25 Park Place
Atlanta, GA 30302

Lisa Ford
Room 344, Morven Brown
School of Humanities & Languages
The University of New South Wales
Sydney, NSW 2052

Laura Weinrib
University of Chicago Law School
1111 E. 60th St., Room

Research Fellowships in Legal History at St. Andrews

[We have the following announcement.  Deadline: June 1.]

Four Research Fellowships in Legal History are available at the University of St Andrews to work with Professor John Hudson on the ERC Advance Grant funded project ‘Civil Law, Common Law, Customary Law: Consonance, Divergence and Transformation in Western Europe from the late eleventh to the thirteenth centuries’. Three are medieval, concerning England, France, and Italy, whilst the fourth is concerned with the eighteenth to twentieth centuries.

[H/t and more: Australian and New Zealand Association for Medieval and Early Modern Studies]

CFP: The Bisbee Deportation Centennial

[We are moving up this call for papers, as the deadline of June 15 is approaching.  Also note the new announcement of the keynoter, my Georgetown colleague Katherine Benton-Cohen.]

Conference to Mark Centennial of Bisbee Deportation

Historians, legal scholars, and independent scholars are being invited to submit proposals for papers examining the circumstances of the Bisbee Deportation, an infamous chapter in Arizona history. Selected papers will be presented this fall during a conference at the James E. Rogers School of Law at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Keynote Speaker for this conference will be esteemed Georgetown University History Professor Katherine Benton-Cohen. Benton-Cohen is a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians and is the author of Borderline Americans: Racial Division and Labor War in the Arizona Borderlands (Harvard University Press, 2009), and of a forthcoming book on the largest study of immigrants in American history, the Dillingham Commission of 1907 to 1911.

This year marks the centennial of the Bisbee Deportation, which occurred on July 12, 1917. The incident involved the forcible removal of more than 1,000 Arizona mine workers. Rounded up by a citizens' posse, the miners were marched to waiting railroad cattle cars and transported to the New Mexico desert, where they were left stranded.  The deportation was unsanctioned by any court order or warrant and all civil and criminal efforts to hold those responsible failed.

Lodged at the intersection of local, national, and international history, the Bisbee Deportation reflected the political dividing lines of Arizona's 1916 elections and engaged Arizona elites, including the state governor and the CEO of the largest mining company in North America.  At the national and international levels, the event exemplified the contentious relationship between industry and labor, particularly the militant International [sic] Workers of the World (IWW), during the early twentieth century; underscored concerns regarding border security, which led to the posting of US Army troops along the US-Mexico border to deter the raids of the Mexican revolutionary Francisco "Pancho" Villa; and spoke to the nation's wartime concerns regarding the Zimmerman Telegram and Germany's influence in Mexico, and the extraction of natural resources from the borderlands during World War I

Historians, legal scholars and others are invited to submit proposals for papers addressing the events surrounding the deportation, with a view toward presentations at the Conference and possible inclusion in Western Legal History, a publication of the NJCHS.  We welcome proposals regarding the Bisbee Deportation itself, the broader economic, social, and political forces that informed the removal campaign, and the consequences of the deportation for borderlands history, labor relations, immigration law and policy, or international history.  We also welcome papers on the topics of deportation and labor relations in the borderlands and American West in the early twentieth century.

Date & Location of Conference: Saturday, October 21, 2017 at the University of Arizona, James E. Rogers College of Law, Tucson, Arizona

Sponsors: The Ninth Judicial Circuit Historical Society (NJCHS); The University of Arizona's College of Law and its Department of History

Submission Details: Written proposals, in Word or PDF format and not to exceed 500 words in length, should be submitted preferably by June 15, 2017, for priority consideration, and should be addressed to: Robyn Lipsky, NJCHS Executive Director at:
Notification: Authors of accepted proposals will be notified before July 12, 2017, and invited to attend and participate in Conference discussion panels. Papers should be completed by October 14, 2017, for distribution to other panelists.

Schonthal on Constitutionalism and Religion in Sri Lanka

Benjamin Schonthal, University of Otago, published Buddhism, Politics and the Limits of Law: The Pyrrhic Constitutionalism of Sri Lanka with Cambridge University Press in 2016. The book takes a historical approach in Part I, especially. From the publisher:
Buddhism, Politics and the Limits of LawIt is widely assumed that a well-designed and well-implemented constitution can help ensure religious harmony in modern states. Yet how correct is this assumption? Drawing on groundbreaking research from Sri Lanka, this book argues persuasively for another possibility: when it comes to religion, relying on constitutional law may not be helpful, but harmful; constitutional practice may give way to pyrrhic constitutionalism. Written in a lucid and direct style, and aimed at both specialists and non-specialists, Buddhism, Politics and the Limits of Law explains why constitutional law has deepened, rather than diminished, conflicts over religion in Sri Lanka. Examining the roles of Buddhist monks, civil society groups, political coalitions and more, the book provides the first extended study of the legal regulation of religion in Sri Lanka as well as the first book-length analysis of the intersections of Buddhism and contemporary constitutional law.
The book provides the first detailed history of the legal regulation of religion in late and postcolonial Sri Lanka, which will be of interest to scholars of religious and legal history in South Asia. It draws upon previously unexamined sources and original ethnography in Sinhala, Tamil and English, offering new data and insights into Sri Lanka's political, legal and religious history.
A review:

"There is nothing the study of law and religion needs more than deeply informed political and religious histories of postcolonial states and societies. This is exactly what this book offers. In an exhaustively researched legal ethnography of the treatment of religion in Sri Lankan constitutionalism, Benjamin Schonthal explores how Sri Lankans have wrestled with the tensions generated by a legal order that guarantees religious rights while also granting to the majority religion of Buddhism its 'rightful place'. Is it possible for the state to protect a tradition without interfering in it? Who speaks for Buddhism in these debates? This sobering story of the limits of law is a must-read for scholars of religion and politics, Buddhist studies, and comparative constitutional law." -Elizabeth Shakman Hurd

TOC after the break.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Sunday Book Review Roundup

Done reading the news?  Enjoy these reviews this weekend.

In the NY Times, check out Timothy Tyson’s review of He Calls Me Lightening: The Life of Caliph Washington and the Forgotten Saga of Jim Crow, Southern Justice, and the Death Penalty by S. Jonathan Bass, who “unearths the heretofore undocumented story of Caliph Washington,” a 17-year old who accidentally shot a policeman after being pursued by cops into the woods near Bessner, AL. His “trek through the depths of Jim Crow justice” involves the history of the civil rights movement, criminal justice, and the death penalty. Jane Kamensky reviews Scars of Independence: America’s Violent Birth, Holger Hoock’s re-telling of the more violent aspects of the Revolutionary War, making, as Kamensky says “lookers-on of us all, forcing readers to confront the visceral realities of a conflict too often bathed in warm, nostalgic light.” Russel Shorto’s review of Mike Rapport’s The Unruly City: Paris, London and New York in the Age of Revolution, which describes the connections between the French and American revolutions and the less well-known stories of “popular unrest,” disturbances, and riots in London, is called Three 18th-Century Revolutions and Why They Matter in 2017, and concludes with Shorto “wondering if we’ve come full circle.”

You can also read Gordon S. Wood’s review of T.H. Breen’s George Washington’s Journey: The President Forges a New Nation, which is a “neat and readable account of Washington’s efforts as president to forge a new nation.”

Elsewhere on the internet, David Roediger reviews Joan C. Williams’s “White Working Class: Overcoming Class Cluelessness in America. He says that the book “suffers under problems with accuracy-in-labeling” (“the book is not about the working class in any meaningful sense. Its treatment of race is, at best, fleeting”), and recommends DuBois.

In the Washington Post, one can read about The Soul of the First Amendment,” written by Floyd Abrams, perhaps “the country’s most prominent First Amendment and media lawyer.” Abrams argues that the First Amendment is a distinctly American vehicle that ensures that “citizens achieve self-fulfillment through speech, expression, publication and the free flow of information.” The book is reviewed by the WSJ as well, which adds (gleefully?), that Abrams made enemies on the left after changing his mind on campaign spending and helping Citizens United win its Supreme Court case. The review is, ironically, behind a paywall.

Also in the Journal, Julia Vitullo-Martin reviews Fear City: New York’s Fiscal Crisis and the Rise of Austerity Politics by Kim Phillips-Fein, which summarizes the political shift Phillips-Fein describes: “Koch was a business-oriented mayor not because he liked “the richies,” but because he needed their taxes to pay for services for the poor.”

The same publication evaluates James Q. Whitman’s Hitler's American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law, which, Jeff Guo argues, “contributes to a growing recognition of American influences on Nazi thought.”

Ready to close your eyes and listen? The New Books Network features interviews with Ralph Young (on his book Dissent: The History of an American Idea, which “provides a fast-paced four hundred years people’s history of dissenters in America.”); Michael Bryant (whose A World History of War Crimes: From Antiquity to the Present is “a reminder that, while expectations about how soldiers (and others) would act during warfare are not new at all, the notion of war crimes is actually quite recent,” and is “derived from religion or from the shape of the political institutions in society,” rather than grander notions of the dignity of the person); William Rankin (who describes, in After the Map: Cartography, Navigation, and the Transformation of Territory in the Twentieth Century (University of Chicago Press, the shift from maps to coordinate systems, and then eventually to GPS, which “produced novel geographical subjectivities, navigational experiences and geopolitical arrangements.”); Julie Gottleib (whose ‘Guilty Women’: Foreign Policy and Appeasement in Inter-War Britain describes the role of “politically engaged women” in negotiating with Nazis, and the gendered notions at play in appeasement efforts); Stanley Corkin (who presents, in Connecting The Wire: Race, Space, and Postindustrial Baltimore, “the first comprehensive, season-by-season analysis of the entire series.”), and David Garland on The Welfare State: A Very Short Introduction.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Vestal on Waterboarding in the Philippine-American War

Allan Vestal, Drake University Law School, has posted The First Wartime Water Torture by Americans, Maine Law Review 69 (2017): 1-66:
The first use of wartime water torture by Americans occurred during the Philippine-American War of 1899 to 1902, when American soldiers and their indigenous minions used the “water cure” to extract information from Filipinos who resisted the occupation of their land, and to punish them. The practice, in which a prisoner was held down and forced to ingest large quantities of water to simulate drowning, was almost universally acknowledged at the time to be a form of torture, illegal under the applicable laws of war.

The Philippine-American War, an early foray into overseas imperialism, was extremely controversial at the time. Cutting across partisan and sectional lines, the conflict divided the nation between imperialists and anti-imperialists. The conduct of the war intensified the controversy. Beyond water torture, the war was marked by the burning of villages and towns, the establishment of re-concentration camps, and reprisals against innocent civilian hostages. The use of water torture divided the Army, the Senators who investigated the practice, and the nation.

It was against this backdrop of controversy that President Theodore Roosevelt delivered an address to veterans of the Great Rebellion on Memorial Day in 1902, in which he promised to discover and acknowledge every instance of cruelty and barbarity, fairly punish those guilty of such crimes, and take strong action to minimize such crimes in the future. The article traces the failure of the Roosevelt Administration to fulfill these three imperatives, and compares the record of that age with our performance as a nation after our recent use of water torture.

Cederlöf, Das Gupta and friends on Subjects and Citizens in India

Subjects, Citizens and Law: Colonial and independent India (Hardback) book coverGunnel Cederlöf (Linnaeus University) and Sanjukta Das Gupta (Sapienza University, Rome) have an edited volume, Subjects, Citizens and Law: Colonial and Independent India, out now with Routledge. From the publisher:

This volume investigates how, where and when subjects and citizens come into being, assert themselves and exercise subjecthood or citizenship in the formation of modern India. It argues for the importance of understanding legal practice – how rights are performed in dispute and negotiation – from the parliament and courts to street corners and field sites. The essays in the book explore themes such as land law and rights, court procedure, freedom of speech, sex workers’ mobilisation, refugee status, adivasi people and non-state actors, and bring together studies from across north India, spanning from early colonial to contemporary times. Representing scholarship in history, anthropology and political science that draws on wide-ranging field and archival research, the volume will immensely benefit scholars, students and researchers of development, history, political science, sociology, anthropology, law and public policy.
Here is the Table of Contents:

  • Becoming and being a subject: an introduction, by Gunnel Cederlöf 
  • 1 The making of subjects on British India’s North-Eastern Frontier, by Gunnel Cederlöf 
  • 2 The temperament of empire: law and conquest in late 19th-century India, by Jon Wilson 
  • 3 Contagious contestations: sex work, medicine and law in colonial and postcolonial Sonagachhi, by Simanti Dasgupta
  • 4 Laws and colonial subjects: the subject–citizen riddle and the making of section 295 (A), by Nishant Kumar 
  • 5 A homeland for ‘tribal’ subjects: revisiting British colonial experimentations in the Kolhan Government Estate, by Sanjukta Das Gupta
  • 6 Conflict and governance: participation and strategic veto in Bihar and Jharkhand, India, by Amit Prakash 
  • 7 Refugees in India: a study into (un)equal status, treatment and prospects, by Anne-Sophie Bentz 
  • 8 Law, agro-ecology and colonialism in mid-Gangetic India, 1770s–1910s, by Nitin Sinha
  • Subjects, citizens and law: a postscript, by Tanika Sarkar 

Further information is available here.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Kochan on Zhang, "Cultural Paradigms in Property Institutions"

Writing for JOTWELL's Property Law section, Donald Kochan has high praise for legal historian Taisu Zhang's "Cultural Paradigms in Property Institutions," which appeared in volume 41 of the Yale Journal of International Law (2016). Here's a taste:
To understand the interplay between culture and the law, it is useful to evaluate historical developments of legal doctrines from a comparative perspective. That is the eminently valuable project undertaken by Professor Taisu Zhang in his article, Cultural Paradigms in Property Institutions.
Zhang exposes the sometimes “muted” perspective regarding the strong cultural influence and sociological concerns in property law’s development and its theoretical understanding. By comparing and contrasting his project against many of the other influential comparative property theory endeavors, Zhang identifies both the alignments his study has with previous literature but also where his richer understanding of culture’s role fills gaps or omissions in the existing body of analysis.
Read on here.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Drawing Justice: The Art of Courtroom Illustrations

The Library of Congress has announced the opening of Drawing Justice: The Art of Courtroom Illustrations, in the South Gallery on the second floor of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C.  It is free and open to the public from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday and runs until Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017.
The 98 illustrations on display will represent court cases dating from 1964 to the present day, including trials for murder, crime and corruption, terrorism, political activism and landmark legal issues.  Among those depicted will be Jack Ruby, James Earl Ray, Charles Manson, David Berkowitz, John Gotti, the Chicago Seven and Bernie Madoff.  Artifacts from the Library’s Manuscript Division and the Law Library will supplement the drawings from a legal perspective.
H/t: Legal Scholarship Blog

Kathryn T. Preyer Scholars: Call for Papers, 2017

[We are moving this up, as the deadline of June 15, 2017 is approaching.]

Named after the late Kathryn T. Preyer, a distinguished historian of the law of early America known for her generosity to young legal historians, the program of Kathryn T. Preyer Scholars is designed to help legal historians at the beginning of their careers. At the annual meeting of the American Society for Legal History two early career legal historians designated Kathryn T. Preyer Scholars will present what would normally be their first papers to the Society. The generosity of Professor Preyer’s friends and family has enabled the Society to offer a small honorarium to the Preyer Scholars and to reimburse, in some measure or entirely, their costs of attending the meeting. The competition for Preyer Scholars is organized by the Society’s Kathryn T. Preyer Memorial Committee.

Submissions are welcome on any topic in legal, institutional and/or constitutional history.  Early career scholars, including those pursuing graduate or law degrees, those who have completed their terminal degree within the previous year, and those independent scholars at a comparable stage, are eligible to apply. Papers already submitted to the ASLH Program Committee–whether or not accepted for an existing panel–and papers never previously submitted are equally eligible. Once selected, Preyer Award winners must present their paper as part of the Preyer panel, and they will be removed from any other panel.

Submissions should be a single MS Word document consisting of a complete curriculum vitae, contact information, and a complete draft of the paper to be presented. Papers must not exceed 40 pages (12 point font, double-spaced) and must contain supporting documentation. In past competitions, the Committee has given preference to draft articles and essays, though the Committee will still consider shorter conference papers, as one of the criteria for selection will be the suitability of the paper for reduction to a twenty-minute oral presentation. The deadline for submission is June 15, 2017.

Kathryn T. Preyer Scholars will receive a $500 cash award and reimbursement of expenses up to $750 for travel, hotels, and meals. Each will present the paper that s/he submitted to the competition at the Society’s annual meeting in Las Vegas, NV in October 2017.  The Society’s journal, Law and History Review, has published several past winners of the Preyer competition, though it is under no obligation to do so.

Please send submissions as Microsoft Word attachments by June 15, 2017 to the chair of the Preyer Committee, H. Timothy Lovelace (  He will forward them to the other committee members.

More information, including a list of past Preyer Scholars, can be found here.

The 2017 Preyer Memorial Committee
H. Timothy Lovelace (2014), Chair, Indiana University
Melissa Hayes (2014), Independent Scholar
Michael Hoeflich (2014), University of Kansas
Rabia Belt (2016), Stanford University
Jed Shugerman (2016), Fordham University

Monson on Crime in early modern Italy

In 2016, Craig A. Monson, Washington University in St. Louis, published Habitual Offenders: A True Tale of Nuns, Prostitutes, and Murderers in Seventeenth-century Italy with the University of Chicago Press. From the publisher:
In April 1644, two nuns fled Bologna’s convent for reformed prostitutes. A perfunctory archiepiscopal investigation went nowhere, and the nuns were quickly forgotten. By June of the next year, however, an overwhelming stench drew a woman to the wine cellar of her Bolognese townhouse, reopened after a two-year absence—where to her horror she discovered the eerily intact, garroted corpses of the two missing women. 
Drawing on over four thousand pages of primary sources, the intrepid Craig A. Monson reconstructs this fascinating history of crime and punishment in seventeenth-century Italy. Along the way, he explores Italy’s back streets and back stairs, giving us access to voices we rarely encounter in conventional histories: prostitutes and maidservants, mercenaries and bandits, along with other “dubious” figures negotiating the boundaries of polite society. Painstakingly researched and breathlessly told, Habitual Offenders will delight historians and true-crime fans alike.
Praise for the book:

"Monson's Habitual Offenders is an enthralling amalgam of sex, violence, and scholarship. At the center of the story are the abduction and murder of two reformed prostitute nuns in Bologna in April of 1644. From this relatively banal event, the ramifications spread ever more widely, involving priests, nobles, cardinals, a king, and finally the pope himself. The most harrowing chapter of the story describes in detail the judicial murder of a prisoner by the illegal use of enhanced interrogation techniques. Plus ça change. . . ." –Frederick Hammond

"A box overflowing with exquisite linens and lace, a faux-marble cupboard with a cat painted on the side, and a red leather, reliquary crucifix whose ‘top’ had to be rescued from the convent sewer: Monson’s latest foray into the archives plunges readers into an early modern world that pullulates with signifying objects. Their meanings unfold in the long series of investigations that follow on the murder of two remarkable women, former prostitutes become nuns whose flirtatious acumen as laundresses kept an admiring clientele crowding the convent gate. In reconstructing their story, Monson delivers cut-to-the-quick truths about survival strategies for individuals and families, both great and small, caught in networks from Bologna, through Venice and papal Rome, reaching as far as Mazarin and the king of France." –Alison K. Frazier

 “Monson is both a careful historian and a compelling narrator, helping us delve deeply into the daily lives of seventeenth-century Italians from all regions and walks of life. What emerges is a page-turner of a whodunit made especially compelling by Monson’s extraordinary and subtle ability to convey the diverse personalities of his many historical subjects and to plunge his reader into the world of early modern Italian culture.” –Andrew Dell’Antonio

Further information is available here.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Goluboff to Discuss Brown v. Board of Education Tomorrow

Risa Goluboff, University of Virginia Law School, will discuss Brown v. Board of Education “on the anniversary of the landmark decision” online via the Miller for Public Affairs, from 2:00 to 2:30 pm on Wednesday, May 17. 

A Symposium on the History of the Rule of Law

Word has reached us of the online publication a series of papers on the history of the Rule of Law in the Hague Journal on the Rule of Law. (They will subsequently appear in hardcopy as a special issue of the Hague Journal on the Rule of Law co-edited by Neil Walker and Paul Burgess.)  Professor Burgess tell us:
The papers are, in the most part, the result of a workshop on the history of the Rule of Law hosted by the Legal Theory Research Group as part of the Legal Theory Festival at the University of Edinburgh last May.  All of the papers can be found here.

Three of the papers (Canevaro, McKnight and Møller) relate directly to the workshop, one (Sempill) was contributed specifically for the special issue of the journal, and the other (Burgess) provides both a justificatory argument for the relevance of the other four papers and an introduction to the special issue generally. 

The paper titles and their authors (with links to the pdfs of the papers) that make up the upcoming special issue are: 

Neglecting the History of the Rule of Law: (Unintended) Conceptual Eugenics - Paul Burgess (Edinburgh) 
The Rule of Law as the Measure of Political Legitimacy in the Greek City States - Mirko Canevaro (Edinburgh) 
Offences Against the Res Publica: The Role of Public Interest Arguments in Cicero’s Forensic Speeches - Elizabeth McKnight (UCL) 
Medieval Origins of the Rule of Law: The Gregorian Reforms as Critical Juncture? - Jørgen Møller (Aarhus)

The Lions and the Greatest Part: the Rule of Law and the Constitution of Employer Power - Julian A. Sempill (Melbourne)

CFP:Constitutional History: Comparative Perspectives

[We have the following call for papers.]

Constitutional History: Comparative Perspectives.  Bologna, Italy. November 13 & 14, 2017.  Sponsored by University of Illinois College of Law, University of Bologna School of Law, Center for Constitutional Studies and Democratic Development

Paper proposals are invited for the Third Annual Illinois-Bologna conference on Constitutional History: Comparative Perspectives.  The conference will be held in Bologna, Italy, on November 13 and 14, 2017.  The conference keynote speaker will be Giuliano Amato, Judge of the Constitutional Court of Italy, former Prime Minister of Italy, and Professor Emeritus of the European University Institute and the University La Sapienza.

Accompanying the spread of constitutional government around the world has been a profound interest in the comparative aspects of constitutional law. Scholars have catalogued the differing features of national constitutions and examined how different constitutional systems resolve common legal issues. So, too, judges faced with legal questions have sought guidance in the decisions of constitutional courts of other nations. While comparative constitutional law is therefore a well-established field, less attention has been paid so far to the comparative dimensions of constitutional history. This international conference aims to address that shortcoming by energizing the study and analysis of constitutional history from comparative perspectives. The conference has several interrelated goals. It will provide a forum for presentation and discussion of current research on issues of constitutional history that crosses national boundaries. Relevant topics in this regard include such things as the origins of constitutional governments in different nations, changes in constitutional structures over time, comparative studies of the shifting roles of constitutional actors, the development of individual rights in different systems, and the legitimacy and longevity of constitutions in various nations. The conference will also bring together scholars who, at present, are working on constitutional histories of single jurisdictions—with the expectation that conversations among these scholars will allow for sharing of methodologies and point also to fresh areas of research that may transcend national boundaries. In addition, the conference has relevance to the task of judging. In some nations, notably the United States, constitutional history plays an important and sometimes decisive role in the resolution by courts of questions of constitutional law. The conference will take up the place of constitutional history in constitutional adjudication. By comparing the practices of courts around the world, the conference will trace the movement (or not) of constitutional history from the academy to the courthouse and examine the risks and benefits of modern practices.

Scholars interested in presenting a paper at the conference should e-mail a title and summary of the proposed paper along with a CV to Professor Jason Mazzone at mazzonej[@] Proposals received by July 1, 2017, will receive priority. After that date, submitted proposals will be considered only if space remains.

Conference participants are responsible for their own travel and accommodation expenses.

Fernandez on Deal, "The Law of the Whale Hunt"

Over at JOTWELL, Angela Fernandez has posted an admiring review of Robert Deal, The Law of the Whale Hunt: Dispute Resolution, Property Law, and American Whalers, 1780-1880 (Cambridge University Press, 2016). Here's a taste:
This book is an excellent read. Given its exploration of the great gulf between law-on-the-ground and law-in-the-courts, it has the potential to become a classic law and society study. It is particularly useful for legal historians interested in the way that history complicates our understanding of economic self-interest. The whalemen were primarily motivated by economic self-interest, there is no question. Yet the tight-knit nature of their group and their hazardous physical surroundings made ethical conduct (at least towards one another if not the whales) essential. That conduct required a certain kind of flexibility that we fail to understand if we continue to insist, as judges and lawyers of the day did, on reducing the norms they followed to a legal rule or custom.
Read on here.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Legal History in May 2017 Journal of Southern History

The May 2017 issue of the Journal of Southern History is out, and there is lots here for legal historians.

The lead article is "Reframing the Fathers' Constitution: The Centralized State and Centrality of Slavery in the Confederate Constitutional Order," by Aaron R. Hall (Ph.D. candidate, University of California, Berkeley).

Reviews include: 
The Legacy of St. George Tucker: College Professors in Virginia Confront Slavery and the Rights of States, 1771-1897 by Chad Vanderford (review)
Jennifer Oast  
Tyler V. Johnson     

Walton on Detectives

Product DetailsBack in 2015, John Walton, UC Davis, published The Legendary Detective: The Private Eye in Fact and Fiction with the University of Chicago Press. From the publisher: 
“I’m in a business where people come to me with troubles. Big troubles, little troubles, but always troubles they don’t want to take to the cops.” That’s Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe, succinctly setting out our image of the private eye. A no-nonsense loner, working on the margins of society, working in the darkness to shine a little light.
The reality is a little different—but no less fascinating. In The Legendary Detective, John Walton offers a sweeping history of the American private detective in reality and myth, from the earliest agencies to the hard-boiled heights of the 1930s and ’40s. Drawing on previously untapped archival accounts of actual detective work, Walton traces both the growth of major private detective agencies like Pinkerton, which became powerful bulwarks against social and labor unrest, and the motley, unglamorous work of small-time operatives. He then goes on to show us how writers like Dashiell Hammett and editors of sensational pulp magazines like Black Mask embellished on actual experiences and fashioned an image of the PI as a compelling, even admirable, necessary evil, doing society’s dirty work while adhering to a self-imposed moral code. Scandals, public investigations, and regulations brought the boom years of private agencies to an end in the late 1930s, Walton explains, in the process fully cementing the shift from reality to fantasy.
Today, as the private detective has long since given way to security services and armed guards, the myth of the lone PI remains as potent as ever. No fan of crime fiction or American history will want to miss The Legendary Detective.
Praise for the book:

"A fascinating account of the intersection of reality and fantasy, The Legendary Detective connects Dashiell Hammett's world of such fictional detectives as the Continental Op and Sam Spade to Samuel Hammett's (the same guy) experience of the real world of Pinkerton and Burns detectives working to break strikes and stir up political strife. It's a penetrating story of the development of a contemporary legend via the interplay of the detective business and the culture industries which has lastingly influenced our understanding of urban life." –Howard Becker

"Over nearly a century, a symbiotic relationship developed between detective practices and the popular culture industry that depicted them. The Legendary Detective is a masterly analysis of private detective work within the context of popular culture, revealing their interweaving and mutual influence. Mass-market literature made detective work look glamorous, which in turn provided a model and an incentive for memoirists like Alan Pinkerton, Charlie Siringo, and William J. Burns. Detectives wrote field and case reports that they and the home office polished and no doubt embellished to impress clients whose expectations were influenced by popular culture; fact and fiction blurred. Walton's analysis is brilliant." –Robert Weiss

"Walton undertakes careful forensic history to piece together the characters and the cases. In doing so, he allows us to see why novelists didn’t want to let the facts stand in the way of a good story. . . . From a historical point of view, The Legendary Detective has much to recommend it, not least Walton's revealing of the agencies' murky practices." –Times Higher Education

Full information is available here.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Sunday Book Review Roundup

As everyone's semesters wind down, this week's roundup offers a sampling of reviews.

The Times Literary Supplement has a review of Susan Scott Parrish's The Flood Year 1927: A Cultural History

Apropos of modern conservatism and the presidency, The New York Times carries a review of Alvin S. Felzenberg's A Man and His Presidents: The Political Odyssey of William F. Buckley Jr.   The Times also reviews Pat Buchanan's memoir of the Nixon presidency, Nixon's White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever (the New Republic's review  rejects the characterization of Buchanan as mere "merry troglodyte"). Finally, the Times reviews Bruce D. Haynes' Down the Up Staircase: Three Generations of a Harlem Family (also reviewed in The Washington Post).

In The Washington Post is a review of John Boles' Jefferson: Architect of American Liberty.  Also reviewed is Lynne Olson's Last Hope Island: Britain, Occupied Europe, and the Brotherhood That Helped Turn the Tide of War.

In The New York Review of Books is an essay reviewing Margot Lee Shetterly's Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race, Dava Sobel's The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars, and Nathalia Holt's Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars.  Frank Trentmann's Empire of Things: How We Became a World of Consumers, from the Fifteenth Century to the Twenty-First is also reviewed in the magazine.

Slate carries a review of Richard Rothstein's The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America.

Jacob Remes' Disaster Citizenship: Survivors, Solidarity, and Power in the Progressive Era is reviewed on H-Net.  Also on the site is a review of Peter M. Beattie's Punishment in Paradise: Race, Slavery, Human Rights, and a Nineteenth-Century Brazilian Penal Colony.

Finally, NPR reviews Bryan Wagner's The Tar Baby, A Global History.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Tweedy Reviews Reséndez, "The Other Slavery"

Catching up on our JOTWELL reading, we see that Anne Tweedy has posted an admiring review of The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America (Mariner Books, 2016), by Andrés Reséndez (University of California, Davis). Here's the first paragraph:
The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America is a devastating encyclopedic account of slavery in the Spanish colonial New World. For me, the ultimate effect was a surprising combination of a renewed sense of the intractability of old problems like racism and slavery and an acute sense of having awoken to a new historical reality that I previously knew next to nothing about.
Tweedy goes on to praise The Other Slavery as "indispensable reading for professors in the U.S. who teach federal Indian law" and recommends Chapter One, in particular, to "everyone who teaches some aspect of New World history at any level."

Read on here.

Weekend Roundup

  • The Chicago-area Legal History Workshop will meet Wednesday, May 17, at 4pm, at the American Bar Foundation, 750 N. Lake Shore Drive, 4th Floor Woods Conference Room.  Kimberley Reilly, Department of Democracy and Justice Studies, UW Green Bay, will present a paper entitled “Valuing Wives’ Service: Housework and Emotional Labor in the Law, 1850-1900.”  For more information, contact Joanna Grisinger, Northwestern University.
  • "Evaluating the Turn to History of International Law," at the European Society of International Law Conference, Naples, September 6, 2017.  ESCLH Blog has the details.
  • Need some good historical images of places for an upcoming Powerpoint or your forthcoming book? Picturing Places is a new free online resource from the British Library. 
Weekend Roundup is a weekly feature compiled by all the Legal History bloggers.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Landmark Cases in Criminal Law

Landmark Cases in Criminal Law, edited by Philip Handler, Henry Mares, and Ian Williams, is just out from Hart, with a 20 percent discount for readers of Legal History Blog.
Criminal cases raise difficult normative and legal questions, and are often a consequence of compelling human drama. In this collection, expert authors place leading cases in criminal law in their historical and legal contexts, highlighting their significance both in the past and for the present.

The cases in this volume range from the fifteenth to the twenty-first century. Many of them are well known to modern criminal lawyers and students; others are overlooked landmarks that deserve reconsideration. The essays, often based on extensive and original archival research, range over a wide spectrum of criminal law, covering procedure and doctrine, statute and common law, individual offences and general principles. Together, the essays explore common themes, including the scope of criminal law and criminalisation, the role of the jury, and the causes of change in criminal law.
TOC after the jump.

Jordan on Ida Platt, an Illinois "First"

Gwen Jordan, University of Illinois at Springfield, has posted “A Woman of Strange, Unfathomable Presence”: Ida Platt's Lived Experience of Race, Gender, and Law, 1863-1939:
"Miss Ida Platt of Chicago" (NYPL)
In 1894, Ida Platt became the first African-American woman lawyer in Illinois. She was one of only five black women lawyers in the country and the only one able to maintain a law practice. Throughout her thirty-three year career, Platt served as head of her household, providing for her mother and sisters, without marrying or having children. She accomplished these feats by employing a fluid racial identity, passing as white in her professional life, and by avoiding the dominant gender roles that excluded women from the masculine legal profession. In 1927, at the age of sixty-four, Ida Platt retired, married Walter Burke, a white man, and moved to England. Twelve years later, Ida Burke died. As is the practice in England, there was no race designation on her death certificate.

Platt’s choice to employ a fluid racial identity allowed her to pursue her career as a lawyer amidst a racist and sexist society that particularly discriminated against black women. She entered the law when Jim Crow was taking root, race lines were hardening, and elite, white, male lawyers were intensifying their opposition to women’s rise within the profession. Platt’s life and career offer insights into how law and the legal profession responded to the complexities of race and tender a new story of the lived experience of race as it intersects with gender. It suggests that Platt’s pragmatic strategy of changing her racial identity both contested and shaped the ways in which race, gender, and identity were constructed and represented in American society, as it exposed both the rigidity and permeability of these constructions. 

A Research Handbook on the History of Copyright Law

Just out from Edward Elgar is Research Handbook on the History of Copyright Law, edited by Isabella Alexander, University of Technology Sydney, and H. Tomás Gómez-Arostegui, Lewis and Clark Law School:
There has been an explosion of interest in recent years regarding the origin and of intellectual property law. The study of copyright history, in particular, has grown remarkably in the last twenty years, with a flurry of activity in the last ten. This Handbook takes stock of the field of copyright history as it stands today, as well as examining potential developments in the future.

The contributions feature copyright and history experts from across the UK, Australia, the United States, France, Spain and Italy. Covering European, US and international copyright history and traversing from the 16th Century to the early 20th century, this book offers a broad survey of the field and a solid foundation for future research.

Students and scholars of copyright law, authorship, art, and the book and music trades will find this book to be an invaluable resource. It will also be of use to practising lawyers and judges with an interest in the doctrinal history of copyright law.
TOC after the jump:

Selden Society David Yale Prize

[We have the following announcement.]

The Selden Society David Yale Prize competition was established in 1998 in honour of Mr D.E.C. Yale, QC, FBA, a past President and Literary Director of the Society.

The prize is for an outstanding contribution to the history of the laws of England and Wales, from scholars who have been engaged in research on the subject for not longer than ten years.

A competition for the prize will be held again in 2017. The value of the prize will be £1000.
Entries must be of work published after 1 January 2014, or of works accepted for publication.

Nominations for the prize should be sent to the Secretary, Selden Society, Queen Mary, University of London, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS, to arrive no later than 31 September 2017 ( Please send two copies of the work to be considered, and a curriculum vitae of the author. In the case of works as yet unpublished, please provide confirmation by the relevant editor or publisher of acceptance for publication.

H/t: H-Law

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Mothers and the Constitution: An ICH Seminar

[We are moving this up because the deadline of May 15, 2017 will soon be upon us.]

The Institute for Constitutional History is pleased to announce another seminar for advanced graduate students and junior faculty, “Mothers and the Constitution”:
The seminar will explore the relationship between the changing practice of motherhood and the law.  Using Supreme Court cases, important state cases, and supplementary historical and statutory materials we will study the many ways that constitutional interpretation and government policy have regulated the lives of different kinds of mothers and occasionally of fathers too. We will organize our discussions around four key issues: Custody and Care, Reproduction, Work, and State Support, focusing on the twentieth century; and taking into account the influence of such factors as race, religion, migration, and sexuality on developing constitutional interpretation. 
Instructors. Alice Kessler-Harris is R. Gordon Hoxie Professor of American History, Emerita, at Columbia University where she was also Professor in the Institute for Research on Women and Gender, and held a faculty affiliate appointment in the Columbia University School of Law. Carol Sanger is the Barbara Aronstein Black Professor of Law at Columbia Law School where she teaches Contracts, Family Law, and research seminars on “Meanings of Motherhood: Legal and Historical Perspectives” (with Alice Kessler-Harris) and “Abortion: Law in Context.”

Logistics.  The dates the seminar will meet are:  October 6, October 13, November 3, and November 10; Fridays from 2-5 p.m.  The seminar will be held at the New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York City.  There is no tuition or other charge for this seminar, though participants will be expected to acquire the assigned books on their own.

Application Process
.  The seminar is designed for graduate students and junior faculty in history, political science, law, and related disciplines.  All participants will be expected to complete the assigned readings and participate in seminar discussions.  Although the Institute cannot offer academic credit directly for the seminar, students may be able to earn graduate credit through their home departments by completing an independent research project in conjunction with the seminar.  Please consult with your advisor and/or director of graduate studies about these possibilities.  Space is limited, so applicants should send a copy of their c.v. and a short statement on how this seminar will be useful to them in their research, teaching, or professional development.  Materials will be accepted only by email at until May 15, 2017.  Successful applicants will be notified soon thereafter.  For further information, please contact Maeva Marcus at (202) 994-6562 or send an email to

About ICH
.  The Institute for Constitutional History (ICH) is the nation’s premier institute dedicated to ensuring that future generations of Americans understand the substance and historical development of the U.S. Constitution. Located at the New York Historical Society and the George Washington University Law School, the Institute is co-sponsored by the American Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians, and the American Political Science Association.  The Association of American Law Schools is a cooperating entity.  ICH prepares junior scholars and college instructors to convey to their readers and students the important role the Constitution has played in shaping American society.  ICH also provides a national forum for the preparation and dissemination of humanistic, interdisciplinary scholarship on American constitutional history.

Official Leaks, the Reporter's Privilege, and the Law

We earlier noted the  timely and important reargument and panel discussion, sponsored by the Historical Society of the DC Circuit, "In re Judith Miller: National Security Privilege."  The video of the event, recorded with the help of the Federal Judicial Center, has now been posted on the Society's website.  The Society's description of the event is here.  The recording is here.

Free Press: An ICH Seminar

[We are moving this up because the deadline of May 15, 2017 is rapidly approaching.]

The Institute for Constitutional History is pleased to announce another seminar for advanced graduate students and junior faculty, “Free Press.”
Historically, the American press has been among the freest in the world-but that freedom has been repeatedly challenged. In 2017, with a President who has repeatedly questioned the very legitimacy of the news media, "the freedom of the press" is likely to be once again in the midst of crisis. This seminar will offer a grounding in the classical ideas and law of press freedom, with an eye toward applying these ideas to the challenges of 21st Century media technology and political change.
InstructorGarrett Epps is Professor of Law at the University of Baltimore and the editor of Freedom of the Press (The First Amendment): Its Constitutional History and the Contemporary Debate (Prometheus, 2008). A former reporter for The Washington Monthly, he is also Supreme Court correspondent for The Atlantic Online.

Logistics.  Tuesday nights, 6:00-8:00 p.m., September 12, 19, October 17, 24, November 14, and 21, 2017. The seminar will meet at The George Washington University Law School, 2000 H Street NW, Washington, DC 20052. There is no tuition or other charge for this seminar, though participants will be expected to acquire the assigned books on their own.

Application Process
.  The seminar is designed for graduate students and junior faculty in history, political science, law, and related disciplines.  All participants will be expected to complete the assigned readings and participate in seminar discussions.  Although the Institute cannot offer academic credit directly for the seminar, students may be able to earn graduate credit through their home departments by completing an independent research project in conjunction with the seminar.  Please consult with your advisor and/or director of graduate studies about these possibilities.  Space is limited, so applicants should send a copy of their c.v. and a short statement on how this seminar will be useful to them in their research, teaching, or professional development.  Materials will be accepted only by email at until May 15, 2017.  Successful applicants will be notified soon thereafter.  For further information, please contact Maeva Marcus at (202) 994-6562 or send an email to

About ICH.  The Institute for Constitutional History (ICH) is the nation's premier institute dedicated to ensuring that future generations of Americans understand the substance and historical development of the U.S. Constitution. Located at the New York Historical Society and the George Washington University Law School, the Institute is co-sponsored by the American Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians, and the American Political Science Association. The Association of American Law Schools is a cooperating entity. ICH prepares junior scholars and college instructors to convey to their readers and students the important role the Constitution has played in shaping American society. ICH also provides a national forum for the preparation and dissemination of humanistic, interdisciplinary scholarship on American constitutional history.

Hunter, "Bound in Wedlock"

New from Harvard University Press: Bound in Wedlock: Slave and Free Black Marriage in the Nineteenth Century (May 2017), by Tera W. Hunter (Princeton University). A description from the Press:
Americans have long viewed marriage between a white man and a white woman as a sacred union. But marriages between African Americans have seldom been treated with the same reverence. This discriminatory legacy traces back to centuries of slavery, when the overwhelming majority of black married couples were bound in servitude as well as wedlock. Though their unions were not legally recognized, slaves commonly married, fully aware that their marital bonds would be sustained or nullified according to the whims of white masters.
Bound in Wedlock is the first comprehensive history of African American marriage in the nineteenth century. Uncovering the experiences of African American spouses in plantation records, legal and court documents, and pension files, Tera W. Hunter reveals the myriad ways couples adopted, adapted, revised, and rejected white Christian ideas of marriage. Setting their own standards for conjugal relationships, enslaved husbands and wives were creative and, of necessity, practical in starting and supporting families under conditions of uncertainty and cruelty.
After emancipation, white racism continued to menace black marriages. Laws passed during Reconstruction, ostensibly to secure the civil rights of newly freed African American citizens, were often coercive and repressive. Informal antebellum traditions of marriage were criminalized, and the new legal regime became a convenient tool for plantation owners to discipline agricultural workers. Recognition of the right of African Americans to enter into wedlock on terms equal to whites would remain a struggle into the Jim Crow era, and its legacy would resonate well into the twentieth century.
A few blurbs:
Tera Hunter’s fascinating and intensive assessment of slave and free marriages in the nineteenth century details powerfully both the supreme importance of kinship relations and the complex ways that the persistence of post–Civil War white supremacy vexed and hampered African American family integrity even more directly than legacies of slavery did.—Nancy F. Cott

Bound in Wedlock demonstrates that the history of African American marriage is far more than a legacy of slavery. Instead, it is a story at once rooted in a distinctive collective experience, intensely personal, and at the same time bound up in the legal, social, and cultural transformations that re-made marriage for all Americans. Wide-ranging, learned, and deeply researched, it is a splendid accomplishment.—Dylan C. Penningroth
More information is available here.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

JFK Speaks (on FDR and Hugo Black)

The Harvard Gazette reports today--with a link--that the Harvard University Archives has made available the earliest known recording of John F. Kennedy, an 88-second clip from his public speaking class in 1937, in which JFK discusses the controversy over Hugo Black’s appointment to the Supreme Court by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Hat tip: David Warrington.

The Digital Return of the Judgment Roll in Pierson v. Post

My Paternal Grandfather's Case Brief (1926)
Those of us who teach Pierson v. Post have long been indebted to Angela Fernandez, University of Toronto, for finding the judgment roll and transcript in that great chestnut of first-year Property classes (see right), as well as for her on-going research and writing on the case.  In 2009 she had arranged for the posting of a digital version of these documents on Law and History Review’s website in conjunction with a forum in the journal, but it was lost in the move of LHR to Cambridge Journals Online.  To make matters worse, the original document has gone missing from the archives.

Fortunately, Professor Fernandez has arranged to have the University of Toronto preserve her photocopies of the original handwritten documents, which are now our best surviving version of them.  The permanent repository for the judgment roll and transcript is here.  A temporary exhibit is here.  She reports that each link comes with an explanation of “the twists and turns for those who are interested.”