Catalogue


The common law in colonial America. Volume 1, The Chesapeake and New England, 1607-1660 [electronic resource] /
William E. Nelson.
imprint
Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2008.
description
ix, 198 p.
ISBN
0195327284, 9780195327281
format(s)
Book
More Details
added author
imprint
Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2008.
isbn
0195327284
9780195327281
restrictions
Licensed for access by U. of T. users.
catalogue key
7874923
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2009-07-01:
For decades, Nelson (NYU) has been writing on the connections between law and larger developments in American history, and this appears to be the start of his magnum opus. Nelson shows how the dissimilar purposes of the Chesapeake and New England colonies were reflected in law. Virginia focused on shaping a stable arena for tobacco entrepreneurs who needed to manage debt and a pool of subservient laborers, while Massachusetts focused on sexual and religious controls in order to create a biblical utopia. Both colonies for different reasons developed statutes limiting the flexibility of magistrates: Virginia needed rules to facilitate commerce, while Massachusetts pursued Puritan morality, restraints on elites, and more power for local communities. Nelson also links the neighboring colonies to these two paradigms. He shows that while Maryland began with the common law and a different purpose, by 1660 it adopted a tobacco culture and a legal pattern like Virginia. More flawed is his analysis of other New England colonies, which links Rhode Island too closely to Massachusetts and ignores the important United Colonies of New England organization. But overall, this is an outstanding, useful work at many levels. Summing Up: Essential. All levels/libraries. D. R. Mandell Truman State University
Reviews
Review Quotes
"In a rigorous and original analysis, Nelson's The Common Law in Colonial America brings to life the complex and fascinating origins of American law. As Nelson quite brilliantly reveals, the early colonists struggled to make sense of law, religion, sex, crime, and economics in a harsh,challenging and often forbidding New World."--Geoffrey R. Stone, author of Perilous Times: Free Speech in Wartime: From the Sedition Act of 1798 to the War on Terrorism
"In a rigorous and original analysis, Nelson's The Common Law in Colonial America brings to life the complex and fascinating origins of American law. As Nelson quite brilliantly reveals, the early colonists struggled to make sense of law, religion, sex, crime, and economics in a harsh, challenging and often forbidding New World."--Geoffrey R. Stone, author of Perilous Times: Free Speech in Wartime: From the Sedition Act of 1798 to the War on Terrorism "Nelson's conception of The Common Law in Colonial America is magisterial, and only he has the knowledge and capacity to produce a synthesis at such length and depth. His first volume brilliantly sums up what the first generation of historically trained scholars of early American law have learned, and places it in an analytical context that is easy to comprehend, yet subtle and original."--Stanley N. Katz, coeditor of Colonial America: Essays in Politics and Social Development "Nelson's The Common Law in Colonial America begins a sweeping multi-volume revision of the way we understand our nation's legal foundations. With exhaustive research and the perspective of a master historian and legal scholar, he demonstrates how the earliest years of settlement shaped the future of American law and bequeathed to us a system that accommodates diversity within a common commitment to the basic concepts of the rule of law."--David T. Konig, author of Law and Society in Puritan Massachusetts: Essex County, 1629-1692 "In his innovative analysis of legal culture in the early colonies, Nelson boldly discards the framework of reception in favor of intercolonial comparison. The result is a thoroughly researched compendium of case law that reveals how the rule of law evolved as a check on arbitrary magisterial power. It should prove valuable to both legal and social historians."--Marylynn Salmon, author of Women and the Law of Property in Early America
"In a rigorous and original analysis, Nelson'sThe Common Law in Colonial Americabrings to life the complex and fascinating origins of American law. As Nelson quite brilliantly reveals, the early colonists struggled to make sense of law, religion, sex, crime, and economics in a harsh, challenging and often forbidding New World."--Geoffrey R. Stone, author ofPerilous Times: Free Speech in Wartime: From the Sedition Act of 1798 to the War on Terrorism "Nelson's conception ofThe Common Law in Colonial Americais magisterial, and only he has the knowledge and capacity to produce a synthesis at such length and depth. His first volume brilliantly sums up what the first generation of historically trained scholars of early American law have learned, and places it in an analytical context that is easy to comprehend, yet subtle and original."--Stanley N. Katz, coeditor ofColonial America: Essays in Politics and Social Development "Nelson'sThe Common Law in Colonial Americabegins a sweeping multi-volume revision of the way we understand our nation's legal foundations. With exhaustive research and the perspective of a master historian and legal scholar, he demonstrates how the earliest years of settlement shaped the future of American law and bequeathed to us a system that accommodates diversity within a common commitment to the basic concepts of the rule of law."--David T. Konig, author ofLaw and Society in Puritan Massachusetts: Essex County, 1629-1692 "In his innovative analysis of legal culture in the early colonies, Nelson boldly discards the framework of reception in favor of intercolonial comparison. The result is a thoroughly researched compendium of case law that reveals how the rule of law evolved as a check on arbitrary magisterial power. It should prove valuable to both legal and social historians."--Marylynn Salmon, author ofWomen and the Law of Property in Early America
"In his innovative analysis of legal culture in the early colonies, Nelson boldly discards the framework of reception in favor of intercolonial comparison. The result is a thoroughly researched compendium of case law that reveals how the rule of law evolved as a check on arbitrary magisterialpower. It should prove valuable to both legal and social historians."--Marylynn Salmon, author of Women and the Law of Property in Early America
"Nelson's conception of The Common Law in Colonial America is magisterial, and only he has the knowledge and capacity to produce a synthesis at such length and depth. His first volume brilliantly sums up what the first generation of historically trained scholars of early American law havelearned, and places it in an analytical context that is easy to comprehend, yet subtle and original."--Stanley N. Katz, coeditor of Colonial America: Essays in Politics and Social Development
"Nelson's The Common Law in Colonial America begins a sweeping multi-volume revision of the way we understand our nation's legal foundations. With exhaustive research and the perspective of a master historian and legal scholar, he demonstrates how the earliest years of settlement shaped thefuture of American law and bequeathed to us a system that accommodates diversity within a common commitment to the basic concepts of the rule of law."--David T. Konig, author of Law and Society in Puritan Massachusetts: Essex County, 1629-1692
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, July 2009
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Summaries
Main Description
William E. Nelson here proposes a new beginning in the study of colonial legal history. Examining all archival legal material for the period 1607-1776 and synthesizing existing scholarship in a four-volume series, The Common Law in Colonial America shows how the legal systems of Britain'sthirteen North American colonies--initially established in response to divergent political, economic, and religious initiatives--slowly converged into a common American legal order that differed substantially from English common law. Drawing on groundbreaking and overwhelmingly in-depth research into local court records and statutes, the first volume explores how the law of the Chesapeake colonies--Virginia and Maryland--diverged sharply from the New England colonies--Massachusetts Bay, Connecticut, New Haven, Plymouth, andRhode Island--and traces the roots of these dissimilarities from their initial settlement until approximately 1660. Nelson pointedly examines the disparate motives of the legal systems in the respective colonies as they dealt with religion, price and labor regulations, crimes, public morals, thestatus of women, and the enforcement of contractual obligations. He reveals how Virginians' zeal for profit led to a harsh legal framework that efficiently squeezed payment out of debtors and labor out of servants; whereas the laws of Massachusetts were primarily concerned with the preservation oflocal autonomy and the moral values of family-centered farming communities. The law in the other New England colonies, Nelson argues, gravitated towards the Massachusetts model, while Maryland's law, gravitated toward that of Virginia. Comprehensive, authoritative, and extensively researched, The Common Law in Colonial America, Volume 1: The Chesapeake and New England, 1607-1660 is the definitive resource on the beginnings of the common law and its evolution during this vibrant era in America's history. William E. Nelson hereproposes a new beginning in the study of colonial legal history.
Main Description
William E. Nelson here proposes a new beginning in the study of colonial legal history. Examining all archival legal material for the period 1607-1776 and synthesizing existing scholarship in a four-volume series,The Common Law in Colonial Americashows how the legal systems of Britain's thirteen North American colonies--initially established in response to divergent political, economic, and religious initiatives--slowly converged into a common American legal order that differed substantially from English common law. Drawing on groundbreaking and overwhelmingly in-depth research into local court records and statutes, the first volume explores how the law of the Chesapeake colonies--Virginia and Maryland--diverged sharply from the New England colonies--Massachusetts Bay, Connecticut, New Haven, Plymouth, and Rhode Island--and traces the roots of these dissimilarities from their initial settlement until approximately 1660. Nelson pointedly examines the disparate motives of the legal systems in the respective colonies as they dealt with religion, price and labor regulations, crimes, public morals, the status of women, and the enforcement of contractual obligations. He reveals how Virginians' zeal for profit led to a harsh legal framework that efficiently squeezed payment out of debtors and labor out of servants; whereas the laws of Massachusetts were primarily concerned with the preservation of local autonomy and the moral values of family-centered farming communities. The law in the other New England colonies, Nelson argues, gravitated towards the Massachusetts model, while Maryland's law, gravitated toward that of Virginia. Comprehensive, authoritative, and extensively researched,The Common Law in Colonial America, Volume 1: The Chesapeake and New England, 1607-1660is the definitive resource on the beginnings of the common law and its evolution during this vibrant era in America's history. William E. Nelson here proposes a new beginning in the study of colonial legal history.
Table of Contents
Introduction
Law in the Jamestown Settlement
Capitalism and the Free Market in Virginia, 1619-1660
Puritan Law in the Bay Colony
Popular Power and the Rule of Law in Massachusetts
The New England Satellites
The Battle for Maryland
Conclusion: The Future of American Law
Notes
Index
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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