Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Author's Query: Melvyn Weiss

[We have the following author's query.]

For a study of Melvyn Weiss, formerly of Milberg, Weiss, Bershad & Schulman, I'm looking for anyone familiar with Mr. Weiss; his career; his firm; his most important cases; his role in the development of class action law; his impact on corporate behavior, including on the insurance industry and accounting profession; and his prosecution.  Please contact:
David Margolick
Contributing Editor, Vanity Fair
60 West 68th St., Apt. 9C
New York, NY 10023
(212) 721-3328

Giuliani on Civilian Treatises on Presumptions

Adolfo Giuliani, Facoltà di Giurisprudenza, University of Perugia, has posted Civilian Treatises on Presumptions, 1580-1620, which appeared in The Law of Presumptions: Essays in Comparative Legal History, ed. R. H. Helmholz and W. David H. Sellar (Comparative Studies in Continental & Anglo-American Legal History) (Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, 2009),  21-71
The theory of presumptions is one of the most obscure branches of medieval and early-modern law. Collected in long and tedious lists, presumptions knew a time of glory between the 16th and 17th centuries with the publication of a great number of treatises among which those by J. Menochio, F. Mantica and J. Mascardo are the most popular.

This essay shows that such practice-oriented works had a place in the formation of high-level legal theory. They were functional to a new vision of judicial procedure which has come to be embodied in a number of basic ideas, such as (i) the separation between law and fact, (ii) the judge’s subjection to principles of reasoning, and (iii) the centrality of will as an autonomous source of contractual obligation. The aim of this paper is to sketch the contribution made by such treatises to the genesis of those three ideas.

Opportunities for Law's Intellectual History

We recently realized that papers from the conference Opportunities for Law's Intellectual History, held at the Baldy Center at the SUNY Buffalo Law School, are out as 64:1 of the Buffalo Law Review.  Here they are:

Mark Fenster & John Henry Schlegel, Introduction Opportunities for Law’s Intellectual History, 64 Buff. L. Rev. i (2016) 
Ajay K. Mehrotra, A Bridge Between: Law and the New Intellectual Histories of Capitalism , 64 Buff. L. Rev. 1 (2016) 
Edward A. Purcell, Jr., Capitalism and Risk: Concepts, Consequences, and Ideologies, 64 Buff. L. Rev. 23 (2016) 
Christopher Tomlins, Organic Poise? Capitalism as Law, 64 Buff. L. Rev. 61 (2016) 
Charles Barzun, Causation, Legal History, and Legal Doctrine, 64 Buff. L. Rev. 81 (2016) 
Mark Fenster, Mr. Peabody’s Improbable Legal Intellectual History, 64 Buff. L. Rev. 101 (2016) 
Cynthia Nicoletti, Writing the Social History of Legal Doctrine, 64 Buff. L. Rev. 121 (2016) 
John Henry Schlegel, On Absences as Material for Intellectual Historical Study, 64 Buff. L. Rev. 141 (2016) 
Susanna Blumenthal, Humbug: Toward a Legal History, 64 Buff. L. Rev. 161 (2016) 
Laura F. Edwards, Textiles: Popular Culture and the Law, 64 Buff. L. Rev. 193 (2016) 
Robert W. Gordon, Some Final Observations on Legal Intellectual History, 64 Buff. L. Rev. 215 (2016)

Call for Applications: ASLH Kathryn T. Preyer Scholars

We have the following announcement from the ASLH:
Kathryn T. Preyer Scholars (American Society for Legal History)

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 Society 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 (new, extended) deadline for submission is July 8, 2016.

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. 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 July 8, 2016, to the chair of the Preyer Committee, Serena Mayeri, University of Pennsylvania <email>. She will forward them to the other committee members.

The 2016 Preyer Memorial Committee

Serena Mayeri, (2013), Chair, University of Pennsylvania <email>

Sam Erman (2013), University of Southern California <email>

Melissa Hayes (2014), Independent Scholar <email>

Michael Hoeflich (2014), University of Kansas <email
H. Timothy Lovelace (2014), Indiana University <email>

Monday, May 23, 2016

Cromwell Research Fellowships in American Legal History

[We have the following announcement.]  Call to early-career scholars to apply for a Cromwell research grant; Note that the deadline is July 11, 2016.

In 2016, the William Nelson Cromwell Foundation will make available a number of $5,000 fellowship awards to support research and writing in American legal history by early-career scholars. Early career generally includes those researching or writing a PhD dissertation (or equivalent project) and recent recipients of a graduate degree working on their first major monograph or research project. The number of awards made is at the discretion of the Foundation. In the past several years, the trustees of the Foundation have made five to nine awards. The Committee for Research Fellowships and Awards of the American Society for Legal History (ASLH) reviews the applications and makes recommendations to the Foundation. (The Cromwell Foundation was established in 1930 to promote and encourage scholarship in legal history, particularly in the colonial and early national periods of the United States. The Foundation has supported the publication of legal records as well as historical monographs. Scholars who are not at the early stages of their careers may seek research grants directly from the Foundation.  For more information, see the Grants page [here].

Application Process for 2016.  Applicants should submit a description of their proposed project (double-spaced, maximum 6 pages including notes; include a working title), a budget, a timeline, and a short c.v. (no longer than 3 pages). The budget and timeline can be part of the Project Description or separate. (There is no application form.) Two letters of recommendation from academic referees should be sent directly to the Committee Chair via email attachment, preferably as pdf files.

Applications must be submitted electronically (preferably in one .pdf file) no later than midnight July 11, 2015. Please send all materials to the chair of the Committee: . Successful applicants will be notified by early November. An announcement of the awards will also be made at the annual meeting of the American Society of Legal History.

This year, the ASLH’s Committee on Research Fellowships and Awards consists of: Cornelia H. Dayton, University of Connecticut, chair; Joanna Grisinger, Northwestern University; Yvonne Pitts, Purdue University; Rebecca Scott (ex officio, ASLH President), University of Michigan; Sandra VanBurkleo, Wayne State University; and Michael Vorenberg, Brown University.

On Federalism (Tani, States of Dependency, Post 4)

Ah, grading season is upon us – thus my lapse in blogging about States of Dependency. (My earlier posts are here, here, and here.) But I’m jumping back in now, lest I lose whatever momentum I still have! My last post was on rights, a topic that I always considered central to my project. This post is about a theme in my work that I've claimed more gingerly, and only in the last few years: federalism.

* * *

Historians who write about American poor relief often have a sense of déjà vu when reading the news. Around this time last year, the Washington Post covered a new Kansas law that bans welfare recipients from using their income support payments to visit swimming pools, see movies, or get tattoos. The mayor of Lewiston, Maine, recently proposed publishing the names and home addresses of everyone in the state who receives public assistance benefits. At a campaign event last fall, presidential hopeful and former governor Jeb Bush responded to a question about how to connect with black voters with a rambling comment about not giving out “free stuff.”

Such stories support a sad refrain in academic writing on poverty policy – a refrain of 'the more things change, the more they stay the same.' And, indeed, there are themes here that demand attention: an enduring impulse to separate the poor into racially coded categories of deserving and undeserving; an insistence that people who receive public support never be better off, or more free, than people who derive their income from paid labor; a suspicion that recipients will take advantage of public generosity unless constantly monitored and disciplined. Little wonder that so many people writing in this area describe an unbroken chain from the Elizabethan Poor Law to today.

I worry, though, that when we focus so much on continuity, we lose sight of change. American poor relief changed dramatically over the course of the twentieth century, in ways that mattered to American governance writ large. One change that I emphasize in States of Dependency is the shift in power from the local level to the state and federal levels, and a corresponding change in the nature of federal-state relationships. In other words, there is a federalism story here that is big and important -- one that might even change how we think about the "New Deal order."

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Sunday Book Roundup

Some legal history related book reviews from the past week:

In the Times Literary Supplement, T.H. Breen reviews two books on Benjamin Franklin (by Carla Mulford and George Goodwin) and suggests a continuity between his thoughts on income inequality and his equally unpopular conception of an “empire of equal subjects.”

In the New York Times, Alan Wolfe reviews Sean Wilentz’s The Politicians and the Egalitarians, which “propounds relentlessly” the argument that politicians need to excel at compromise-building as well as idealistic egalitarianism.  If you want a few more takes on the book, it’s also reviewed in The Christian Science Monitor, The Boston Globe and NPR.

From the Wall Street Journal: John Fabian Witt (Yale Law School) reviews Court Martial by Chris Bray. The "central argument," Witt writes, "is that the court-martial and its cousin, the military commission, have been central participants in the main storylines of American history, from emancipation and civil rights to whistleblowing and sexual assault. . . . He also argues, far more contentiously, that military justice 'is neither better nor worse than civilian justice. It’s just different, in good ways and bad.'"
The Times also published a review of  Daniel Czitrom’s New York Exposed: The Gilded Age Police Scandal That Launched the Progressive Era, an “evocative account” of a 1892 investigation of police corruption that “reveals that the nexus between politics, policing and biblical trespasses in the late 19th century, introduced the term “organized crime,” spawned the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, demonstrated the power of mass media and even presaged reality television shows”.
In the L.A. Times, David Treuer reviews "The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America,” Andrés Reséndez’s study of the “set of kaleidoscopic practices”--including convict leasing and vagrancy-type laws--that settlers used to control native  Americans even after the Thirteenth Amendment.

The ABA Journal’s Lee Rawles speaks with Risa Goluboff about her new book, Vagrant Nation: Police Power, Constitutional Change, and the Making of the 1960s, in the Modern Law Library Podcast.

The New Books Network features reviews of Nicole Rudolph‘s At Home in Postwar France: Modern Mass Housing and the Right to Comfort (which sees the government’s interest in “guaranteeing its citizens the right to safe, hygienic, and comfortable homes” as essential to state building), The Bus Kids (which counts the experiences of small children participating in an inter-district transfer program designed to allow students living in a low-income community to attend better-resourced schools in other nearby towns)  and a new collection called Genocide and Gender in the Twentieth Century: A Comparative Survey.

In Dissent, Linda Gordon reviews two books on abortion rights, including Mary Ziegler’s legal history, which “shows us that it is the failure of the most radical anti-abortion agenda that put us where we are today.” The same issue includes Theda Skocpol’s Who Owns the GOP?, but this is dated Feb. 3.  

Finally, in The Nation, Scott Sherman reviews Benedict Anderson’s memoir, A Life Beyond Boundaries, which he recently published in English.  Anderson’s “neat and tidy” book, Sherman says, is a “primer for cosmopolitanism.” The book elides much of Anderson’s assessment of the coup d’etat in Indonesia that resulted in the detention of the left-leaning Sukarno as well a series of catastrophic massacres (Anderson and colleagues at Cornell published the “Cornell Paper” in 1966, which argued that the coup and resulting violence were “internal army affairs” rather than a Communist power grab by the PKI).  
Instead, Anderson focuses on his own intellectual development, rich descriptions of his academic mentors (including one whose anti-colonialism would result in the revocation of his passport--an affair that sounds right out of Sam Lebovic’s ASLH presentation last year) and--my personal favorite--reflections on the solemnity of academic life (chastised for his lack of seriousness, Anderson reflects, “now I understand what traditional Chinese foot-binding must have felt like”).
I also wanted to point readers to a website called Dissertation Reviews, which publishes non-critical reviews of recently published dissertations.  Some of the reviews might be of interest to legal historians. For example, this February, Faisal Chaudhry reviewed Jean-Philippe Dequen’s "Evolution of the Place of Islamic Law within the Indian Legal Order, 1600-2014".

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Weekend Roundup

  • We’ve noted the Swinburne Law School’s re-launch of Legal History, but the school’s press release is here.
image credit
  • A workshop with a good dose of Islamic legal history took place at Yale on April 9-10, 2016. "Sharia in Motion: Islam, Law, and Mobility in Asia" was organized by Julia Stephens (Yale History). Here is the workshop description, some abstracts, and a list of participants.
Weekend Roundup is a weekly feature compiled by all the Legal History bloggers.

Friday, May 20, 2016

LLMC Launches Open Access Collection

[We have the following announcement.]

LLMC is proud to announce its new Open Access initiative! In addition to the subscription services LLMC offers to members of our consortium, we are proud to provide unrestricted access to select titles. The LLMC Open Access Collection has been made available through partnerships and grants designed to give the world access to specific content.

Our first contributions to the Open Access Collection include these impressive materials:

  • The Documentary History of the Supreme Court of the United States, 1789-1800, ed. by Maeva Marcus et al, Vol. 1-8 in 9 books.
  • More than 70 titles from the LLMC Digital Hawaiian Kingdom Collection (original documents are located in the Hawaiian State Archives/Honolulu). This unique Collection was digitized in collaboration with the Hawaiian State Archives and the Ka Huli Ao Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law at the William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawaii.  Public access to this content is also available through the Library of Congress’ noteworthy Indigenous Law Portal | Law Library of Congress.  Much appreciation to Dr. Jolande E. Goldberg Policy & Standard Division Acquisitions & Bibliographic Access Directorate for orchestrating this initiative.

PhD Positions at the ASSER Institute

The ASSER Institute for European and International Law in The Hague is recruiting two PhDs with a focus on legal history in the framework of a research project on "The Global City: Challenges, Trust and the Role of Law."  The two PhD researchers will explore seventeenth-century Amsterdam’s intellectual history, that is, the early modern Portuguese Jewish body of social-political and legal thought on diversity, identity, and global trade relations as found in the holdings of Ets Haim/Livraria Montezinos.

For more information please visit our website.  Deadline: 5 June 2016.

Grisinger on Sabin on Environmental Lawyers and the New Deal Order

Over at Jotwell, Joanna Grisinger, Northwestern University, has posted Did Public Interest Lawyers Undermine the New Deal Order?, a review of an article by Paul Sabin, "Environmental Law and the End of the New Deal Order," 33 Law & Hist. Rev. 965 (2015). Here’s a taste:
Paul Sabin’s recent article puts elite liberal lawyers at the center of the story of the demise of the “New Deal order” – that “period of time between the 1930s and 1970s when the federal government, in close partnership with business and labor organizations, greatly expanded its coordination of the national economy and individual industries, as well as its development of natural resources and public infrastructure projects.” (P. 969.) Sabin draws on a wealth of oral histories, interviews, and archival materials to provide an engaging history of public interest environmental lawyers and organizations – including the Environmental Defense Fund, the Center for Law and Social Policy, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund. These lawyers and law firms challenged New Deal assumptions; in doing so, Sabin argues, they were as key to the fracturing of New Deal-style liberalism as its conservative critics.

CFP: “150 Years of Jurisprudence”

[Via Legal Theory Blog, we have the following announcement.]

Colleagues:  You are invited to submit a paper for possible inclusion in a special issue of the Washington University Jurisprudence Review (Volume 9, Issue 2) entitled: “150 Years of Jurisprudence”. This journal is sponsored by Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, MO. The journal welcomes articles and notes to be considered for this special issue.  “150 years of Jurisprudence” is meant to be an opportunity for the journal to commemorate the sesquicentennial anniversary of the law school, while simultaneously celebrating the contributions that jurisprudential thought has made to legal scholarship as a whole.

Areas of interest for this special journal issue include, but are not limited to, the following topics:

- Jurisprudence “Then and Now”
- A discussion on the jurisprudential work of any prominent legal scholar in the past 150 years
- An analysis of the evolution of jurisprudential thought over the past 150 years
- The potential for further development of jurisprudence looking forward

The full manuscript of your paper, as a PDF file, should be emailed directly to the journal at jurisprudence@wulaw.wustl.edu along with your CV or resume by September 30th, 2016 at 11:59 PM. You will receive notification as to whether your article has been selected for publication on a rolling basis, but no later than November 11th, 2016 at 11:59 PM.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

CFP: First Nations & James Douglas

Credit: Songhees Nation
[We have the following Call for Proposals from Pooja Parmar of the University of Victoria. She is co-organizer of the Law and Society Association's CRN 15: British Colonial Legalities. Note the deadline of June 21, 2016.]

First Nations, Land, and James Douglas:
Indigenous and Treaty Rights in the
Colonies of Vancouver Island and British Columbia, 1849-1864

The Songhees Nation and the University of Victoria Faculty of Law and History Department
invite your participation in a conference on this theme
at the Songhees Wellness Centre, Victoria, B.C. February 24-26th 2017.

We anticipate that there will be tours of Songhees traditional territory by land and sea on
Friday the 24th before the first presentations and that the conference will include
a mix of academic and community presentations.

We welcome individual and panel proposals for presentations from researchers, legal
professionals, and community members, on topics including, but not limited to, the following:

1) Relations between First Nations and James Douglas
2) Indigenous and Colonial Concepts of Land, Law and Territory
3) Hunting and Fishing Rights
4) The End of Treaty-Making
5) The Roles of the HBC and the Colonial Office
6) The History of Douglas Era Reserves
7) Current relevance of these historical events.

Please send a 250-500 word description of the proposed presentation and a one page resume
or cv to any of: Cheryl Bryce <Cheryl.Bryce@songheesnation.com>; John Rice Jr.
<John.Rice@songheesnation.com>; or John Lutz jlutz@uvic.ca.
Deadline for proposals is: June 21st, 2016.

Breen and Strang on the Golden Age of US Catholic Law Schools

John M. Breen, Loyola University Chicago School of Law, and Lee J. Strang, University of Toledo College of Law, have posted The Golden Age that Never Was: Catholic Law Schools from 1930-1960 and the Question of Identity, Catholic Social Thought 7 (2010): 489-522:
This essay reviews part of the history of Catholic legal education and shows that, while the promise of a distinctively Catholic form of legal education was never fulfilled, the idea to provide students at Catholic law schools with such an experience was proposed and widely publicized by a number of leading Catholic academics. Yet the proposal was never realized. The call for reform of Catholic legal education went unanswered. We argue that a variety of causes account for the failure of the proposal. These factors made the vision of Catholic law schools as centers of Thomistic natural law theory seem an unnecessary distraction that might jeopardize the success these schools had already managed to achieve. We lastly offer some initial thoughts on the significance of this history with respect to the current debate concerning the identity of Catholic law schools.

Goodspeed, "Legislating Instability Adam Smith, Free Banking, and the Financial Crisis of 1772"

New from Harvard University Press: Legislating Instability: Adam Smith, Free Banking, and the Financial Crisis of 1772 (2016), by Tyler Beck Goodspeed (University of Oxford). A description from the Press:
From 1716 to 1845, Scotland’s banks were among the most dynamic and resilient in Europe, effectively absorbing a series of adverse economic shocks that rocked financial markets in London and on the continent. Legislating Instability explains the seeming paradox that the Scottish banking system achieved this success without the government controls usually considered necessary for economic stability.
Eighteenth-century Scottish banks operated in a regulatory vacuum: no central bank to act as lender of last resort, no monopoly on issuing currency, no legal requirements for maintaining capital reserves, and no formal limits on bank size. These conditions produced a remarkably robust banking system, one that was intensely competitive and served as a prime engine of Scottish economic growth. Despite indicators that might have seemed red flags—large speculative capital flows, a fixed exchange rate, and substantial external debt—Scotland successfully navigated two severe financial crises during the Seven Years’ War.
The exception was a severe financial crisis in 1772, seven years after the imposition of the first regulations on Scottish banking—the result of aggressive lobbying by large banks seeking to weed out competition. While these restrictions did not cause the 1772 crisis, Tyler Beck Goodspeed argues, they critically undermined the flexibility and resilience previously exhibited by Scottish finance, thereby elevating the risk that another adverse economic shock, such as occurred in 1772, might threaten financial stability more broadly. Far from revealing the shortcomings of unregulated banking, as Adam Smith claimed, the 1772 crisis exposed the risks of ill-conceived bank regulation.
A few blurbs:
Tyler Goodspeed has written a marvelous account of a Scottish bank failure in 1772 that ramified from Edinburgh to London and to American plantations, where it helped to transform threatened Virginia debtors into the rebels of 1776. Goodspeed brilliantly upends the lessons that Adam Smith and subsequent analysts drew from their near-death experience: precisely the unregulated profusion of small banks and the unlimited liability assumed by bankers cushioned against systemic crisis. What a delightfully written challenge to the conventional wisdom after our own near financial shipwreck!—Charles S. Maier
This is an original, scholarly, and important contribution to financial history, to the political economy of monetary institutions, and to Adam Smith studies. The prose is vivid, and it is a pleasure to read.—Lawrence H. White
More information, including the TOC, is available here.

British Legal History 2017: Networks and Connections

[We have the following call for papers.]

British Legal History Conference 2017 – Networks and Connections
Wednesday 5 July 2017 – Saturday 8 July 2017
Call for Papers for the 26th British Legal History Conference

In tracing the way that legal ideas emerge and expand, historians have become increasingly interested in exploring the way that networks are developed and connections made. Legal history is full of connections – between people and places, jurisdictions and ideas. The way that the law develops may be influenced by particular social, professional or political groups, or by wider national, imperial or transnational networks. The law may change direction because of new connections made, whether in the form of the transplantation of legal concepts from one forum to another, or in the form of the influence of new ways of thinking or acting. These connections or networks may be simple or complex, transitory or enduring, ad hoc or accidental. The aim of this conference is to explore the wide range of networks and connections which influence the development of law and legal ideas over time, in a variety of different scholarly contexts. We welcome proposals from historians interested in exploring these themes in all fields of legal history, whether doctrinal or contextual, domestic or transnational.  Proposals concerning any epoch or part of the world are welcome and proposals from postgraduate and early career researchers are encouraged.

About the Conference
The Conference will be held from the 5th to the 8th of July 2017. Registration will be on the 5th of July. Delegates will be able to find accommodation in the wide range of nearby hotels.

Conference Organisers
Dr Ian Williams, Faculty of Laws, UCL
Professor Michael Lobban, LSE Law

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Cronin, ed., "An Indispensable Liberty: The Fight for Free Speech in Nineteenth-Century America"

New from the Southern Illinois University Press: An Indispensable Liberty: The Fight for Free Speech in Nineteenth-Century America Paperback (March 2016), by Mary M. Cronin (New Mexico State University). A description from the Press:
Most Americans today view freedom of speech as a bedrock of all other liberties, a defining feature of American citizenship. During the nineteenth century, the popular concept of American freedom of speech was still being formed. In An Indispensable Liberty: The Fight for Free Speech in Nineteenth-Century America, contributors examine attempts to restrict freedom of speech and the press during and after the Civil War.

The eleven essays that make up this collection show how, despite judicial, political, and public proclamations of support for freedom of expression, factors like tradition, gender stereotypes, religion, and fear of social unrest often led to narrow judicial and political protection for freedom of expression by people whose views upset the status quo. These views, expressed by abolitionists, suffragists, and labor leaders, challenged rigid cultural mores of the day, and many political and cultural leaders feared that extending freedom of expression to agitators would undermine society. The Civil War intensified questions about the duties and privileges of citizenship. After the war, key conflicts over freedom of expression were triggered by Reconstruction, suffrage, the Comstock Act, and questions about libel.

The volume’s contributors blend social, cultural, and intellectual history to untangle the complicated strands of nineteenth-century legal thought. By chronicling the development of modern-day notions of free speech, this timely collection offers both a valuable exploration of the First Amendment in nineteenth-century America and a useful perspective on the challenges we face today.
A few blurbs:
“As An Indispensable Liberty so clearly demonstrates, freedom of speech is one of the signal pillars of a healthy democracy. And yet, though this freedom is proclaimed by the First Amendment, many judicial, political, and sociocultural issues had to be addressed in the nineteenth century before it could be reified as legal right. In sum, this worthy volume’s underlying narrative is the ongoing challenges to the voices of a nation yearning to be truly free.”— David Abrahamson

An Indispensable Liberty’s strong contribution to our knowledge of the fight for freedom of expression in the nineteenth century and the quality of its scholarship will be welcomed by a number of audiences.”— David B. Sachsman
More information is available here.

Cohn and Tarr on a Criminal Conspiracy Case in the 19th-Century Insurance Industry

Henry S. Cohn, Connecticut Superior Court, and Adam Tarr has posted The Prosecutor Called Them "Insurance Company Wreckers": The Charter Oak Trial of 1878, which appeared in the Quinnipiac Law Review 34 (2015):
Charter Oak Life Insurance Building, Hartford, CT (credit)
On January 7, 1894, the New York Times declared that Connecticut Governor Luzon B. Morris's appointment of Superior Court Judge William Hamersley to the Connecticut Supreme Court ensured that the Court "will become Democratic for the first time in thirty years ...." The article related that both Democrats and Republicans hastened to support Hamersley as one of Hartford's finest citizens and a brilliant lawyer as well. "For twenty years," the author wrote, "Judge Hamersley was State's Attorney here, and was pitted against the ablest lawyers in the country in the great Charter Oak Life conspiracy case in 1878....The energy which he displayed as a Public Prosecutor was phenomenal."

For a case that the New York Times deemed "great," there has been hardly anything written about the "Great Charter Oak Life" criminal conspiracy. The only record of the whole affair appeared in 1897 as a chapter in P. Henry Woodward's Insurance in Connecticut. It is striking that the history books are virtually silent on a trial in Hartford Superior Court, reported on by national newspapers and lasting over twenty days. The trial pitted Hamersley as prosecutor against Leonard Swett-a world-renowned attorney and one of Abraham Lincoln's closest friends.
This article traces the history of that trial and the surrounding events from its origins in 1877 to its conclusion in January 1879. The trial is important not only for its personalities, but for its influence on the regulation of the insurance industry in the "city of insurance."

ASLH Student Research Colloquium

[We have the following announcement from Ananda V. Burra, a PhD candidate in history (and the recipient of a JD from Michigan Law) at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.  Note the deadline of July 15, 2016.]

I write on behalf of the Graduate Student Outreach Committee of the American Society for Legal History (ASLH).  The ASLH is organizing its third annual Student Research Colloquium in late October, to be held in conjunction with the Society's annual meeting in Toronto, Canada.
We seek graduate students in history, in law, and in related disciplines whose research interests touch on legal history. Our colloquium provides a wonderful opportunity for students to build professional friendships with established academics and each other, as they workshop drafts of dissertation chapters, law review articles, and other in-progress works under the guidance of leading scholars in the field.  The ASLH will provide funding (up to a generous limit) for students to travel to Toronto to participate in both the student event and the Society's annual meeting.   

The ASLH meeting is one of the world’s largest conferences in the field of legal history and provides an invaluable opportunity for junior scholars to meet people and learn about the field.

We are particularly hoping to attract applicants who have not had an opportunity to attend the Society's annual meeting in the past.  Students who might not define themselves as legal historians but whose work engages legal-historical themes are encouraged to apply.  All chronological periods and geographical fields are welcome.  The application is due on July 15, 2016, to srcproposals@aslh.net.

The ASLH is committed to broadening the world of legal history and we count on your assistance to do so.  If you have any questions about the program, please contact me at aburra@umich.edu or the director of the program, Professor John Wertheimer, at jowertheimer@davidson.edu.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Oxford Handbook of the Indian Constitution

The Oxford Handbook of the Indian Constitution (ed. Sujit Choudhry, Madhav Khosla, and Pratap Bhanu Mehta) is just out. From the publisher:
CoverThe Indian Constitution is one of the world's longest and most important political texts. Its birth, over six decades ago, signalled the arrival of the first major post-colonial constitution and the world's largest and arguably most daring democratic experiment. Apart from greater domestic focus on the Constitution and the institutional role of the Supreme Court within India's democratic framework, recent years have also witnessed enormous comparative interest in India's constitutional experiment.  
The Oxford Handbook of the Indian Constitution is a wide-ranging, analytical reflection on the major themes and debates that surround India's Constitution. The Handbook provides a comprehensive account of the developments and doctrinal features of India's Constitution, as well as articulating frameworks and methodological approaches through which studies of Indian constitutionalism, and constitutionalism more generally, might proceed. Its contributions range from rigorous, legal studies of provisions within the text to reflections upon historical trends and social practices. As such the Handbook is an essential reference point not merely for Indian and comparative constitutional scholars, but for students of Indian democracy more generally.
This volume covers a dizzying array of topics, with a section on legal history. Here is the Table of Contents: 

Ely on the Contract Clause during the Civil War and Reconstruction

James W. Ely Jr., Vanderbilt University Law School, has posted a pre-publication draft of The Contract Clause during the Civil War and Reconstruction, which appeared in the Journal of Supreme Court History 41(2016):
This essay examines the important role of the contract clause in constitutional law during the Civil War and Reconstruction. Although scholars have given little attention to the contract clause during this pivotal era, these years witnessed a torrent of litigation involving this provision of the Constitution. The paper surveys a wide range of topics, including the status of contracts calling for payment in Confederate currency, the legality of state laws barring enforcement of contracts for the purchase of slaves, and the validity of the Legal Tender Act of 1862. Debt relief measures in the Reconstruction South were a fertile source of contract clause litigation. Highly controversial moves by state legislatures to enlarge the amount of homestead exemptions and to apply such exemptions retroactively to prior contacts were blocked by the Supreme Court as violations of the contract clause. The essay also treats the interplay between the Supreme Court and the state courts in the interpretation and application of the provision. It concludes that Supreme Court was stalwart in upholding the contract clause during the Civil War and Reconstruction, but notes that the provision gradually declined in significance after 1880.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Schiller on Pearson on the Birth of the Birth Certificate

Writing for JOTWELL's Legal History Section, Reuel Schiller (UC Hastings) has posted an admiring review of an article by Susan J. Pearson (Northwestern University): "'Age Ought to be a Fact': The Campaign Against Child Labor and the Rise of the Birth Certificate,'" Journal of American History 101 (2015). Here's a taste of Schiller's review:
[A]s Susan J. Pearson’s richly detailed article demonstrates, before the political impulse to protect children from the dangers of industrial labor could succeed, the administrative state had to assert its power in another way. The most fundamental obstacle to abolishing child labor was not political resistance from business interests or immigrant families in need of income. Nor was it hostile courts with their concerns about federalism and freedom of contract. The most intransigent barrier to abolishing child labor was the fact that well into the twentieth century, the state had no way of knowing how old somebody was. In a world without state-issued birth certificates, enforcing age-based prohibitions on work was impossible.
This, then, is the story that Pearson tells: how the states and the federal government created the bureaucratic infrastructure to ensure that every child born in the United States had a government-issued birth certificate to verify their age. . . .
Read on here.