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Author White, G. Edward.
Title American legal history : a very short introduction / G. Edward White.
Publication Info. Oxford : Oxford University Press, [2014]
Location Call No. Status Notes
 Law Library  KF 352 .W478 2014    CHECKED IN
Description xvii, 149 pages : illustrations ; 18 cm.
Series Very short introductions.
Summary "Law has played a central role in American history. From colonial times to the present, law has not just reflected the changing society in which legal decisions have been made-it has played a powerful role in shaping that society, though not always in positive ways. In this Very Short Introduction, eminent legal scholar G. Edward White-author of the ongoing, multi-volume Law in American History-offers a compact overview that sheds light on the impact of law on a number of key social issues. Rather than offer a straight chronological history, the book instead traces important threads woven throughout our nation's past, looking at how law shaped Native American affairs, slavery, business, and home life, as well as how it has dealt with criminal and civil offenses. White shows that law has not always been used to exemplary ends. For instance, a series of decisions by the Marshall court essentially marginalized Amerindians, indigenous people of the Americas, reducing tribes to wards of the government. Likewise, law initially legitimated slavery in the United States, and legal institutions, including the Supreme Court, failed to resolve the tensions stirred up by the westward expansion of slavery, eventually sparking the Civil War. White also looks at the expansion of laws regarding property rights, which were vitally important to the colonists, many of whom left Europe hoping to become land owners; the evolution of criminal punishment from a public display (the stocks, the gallows) to a private prison system; the rise of tort law after the Civil War; and the progress in legal education, moving from informal apprenticeships and lax standards to modern law schools and rigorous bar exams. In this illuminating look at the pivotal role of law in American life, White offers us an excellent first step to a better appreciation of the function of law in our society. About the Series: Oxford's Very Short Introductions series offers concise and original introductions to a wide range of subjects--from Islam to Sociology, Politics to Classics, Literary Theory to History, and Archaeology to the Bible. Not simply a textbook of definitions, each volume in this series provides trenchant and provocative--yet always balanced and complete--discussions of the central issues in a given discipline or field. Every Very Short Introduction gives a readable evolution of the subject in question, demonstrating how the subject has developed and how it has influenced society. Eventually, the series will encompass every major academic discipline, offering all students an accessible and abundant reference library. Whatever the area of study that one deems important or appealing, whatever the topic that fascinates the general reader, the Very Short Introductions series has a handy and affordable guide that will likely prove indispensable"-- Provided by publisher.
""Law," in this book, includes basic common law subjects (such as property, torts, and contracts), as well as statutory and constitutional issues, including issues associated with gender, race, and domestic relations. The domain of law also includes foundational issues of American political and social theory, such as sovereignty, liberty, equality, and criminal justice. It includes the evolving status and roles of members of the legal profession as influential figures in American culture. Understanding the importance of law in American society begins with recognition of the multiple dimensions of "legal" activity. Law, over the course of American history, has reflected the changing cultural settings in which legal decisions have been made, and has helped shape those settings. The Constitution of the United States was drafted in response to a set of political, economic, social, and intellectual concerns held by some late eighteenth-century Americans. Those concerns centered on the structural and functional efficacy of the form of federal government created by the Articles of Confederation in 1781, and were a product of a particular set of historical experiences. But once the Constitution was drafted and ratified, an authoritative legal document had recast the form and structure of American government, providing a framework into which future political, economic, social, and intellectual issues would be set. As the example suggests, law has not been only a cultural artifact in the history of American civilization, but also a causal agent in the unfolding of that history"-- Provided by publisher.
Bibliography Includes bibliographical references (pages 131-134) and index.
Contents The legal history of Indian tribes -- Law and African-American slavery -- Rights of property and their regulation -- Law and entrepreneurship -- Criminal law -- Law and domestic relations -- Civil injuries and the law of torts -- Legal education and the legal profession.
Subject Law -- United States -- History.
Standard No. 837146469
ISBN 9780199766000 (pbk. : alk. paper)
0199766002 (pbk. : alk. paper)
9780199913053
0199913056
9780199354344
0199354340
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