Catalogue


Jefferson's freeholders and the politics of ownership in the Old Dominion /
Christopher Michael Curtis.
imprint
Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2012.
description
xiii, 255 p. ; 24 cm.
ISBN
1107017408 (hardback), 9781107017405 (hardback)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2012.
isbn
1107017408 (hardback)
9781107017405 (hardback)
catalogue key
8504328
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. 241-248) and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2012-12-01:
In this well-researched work, Curtis (Claflin Univ.) explores and analyzes how Virginia's legal system both reflected and influenced the economic and political changes that occurred in the Old Dominion as it moved from a colony to a state. Paying particular attention to property law, the author describes how an increasingly commercial economy, aided and abetted by the political and philosophical ideas of Thomas Jefferson and others, altered the nature of the original basis of political power in Virginia, the freehold, and gradually replaced it with a system based on slave ownership and individual rights. Curtis also elucidates the evolution of the state's legal system from one based in the common law and local control to an increasingly codified, professionalized, and centralized structure that, ironically, left many yearning for an older, less democratic, and capitalistic time of entail and primogeniture. This is a groundbreaking study, but not one to be tackled by casual readers. It contains large sections of dense legal argument and assumes a level of familiarity with legal jargon few people have. Still, it should definitely be purchased by libraries with scholarly collections in colonial and southern history. Summing Up: Essential. Upper-division undergraduates and above. D. Butts Gordon College (GA)
Reviews
Review Quotes
Christopher Michael Curtis's Jefferson's Freeholders and the Politics of Ownership in the Old Dominion is nothing short of seminal. It will compel the re-study of development of slave society not only in Virginia, but, with appropriate adjustments, for the Old South. Rarely do we find legal, intellectual, and economic history so well integrated and graced by such penetrating insight. The implications of the shif in the nature of property relations illuminate the evolution of the yeomanry as readily as they do that of the planters." -Eugene D. Genovese, co-author with Elizabeth Fox-Genovese of The Mind of the Master Class, Slavery in White and Black, and Fatal Self-Deception
"Christopher Curtis's provocative new book is a welcome addition to the literature on Revolutionary and antebellum Virginia. Focusing on land law, Jefferson's Freeholders charts the Old Dominion's progress from the agrarian commonwealth Jefferson envisioned in 1776 to the slave-based democracy of the 1851 state constitution. White manhood suffrage marked both the triumph of democracy in Virginia and Virginia's emergence as a slave state committed to the peculiar institution's perpetuation. Curtis's smart and original study deserves a wide readership." -Peter S. Onuf, University of Virginia, author of Jefferson's Empire: The Language of American Nationhood
"Christopher Curtis's book is a remarkable and welcome hybrid, its research meticulous and exhaustive. Curtis's judgments about the evidence are judicious and balanced. His arguments and conclusions are important and portable, for he demonstrates how the cultural and legal effects of commercial developments remapped Virginians' understanding of the justification of popular political participation, and even of political legitimacy. The concluding chapter on a 'new jurisprudence' is a tour de force. Jefferson's Freeholders is a book for many seasons." -Gerard V. Bradley, Unviersity of Notre Dame Law School
"In recent decades a number of talented scholars have greatly enriched our understanding of both the political and the legal history of the antebellum South. Most of these scholars, however, have concentrated on either the political or the legal rather than weaving together developments in both realms. Chris Curtis's new book, Jefferson's Freeholders and the Politics of Ownership in the Old Dominion, is the exception to the rule. In this rigorously argued study, Curtis details the manner in which changing conceptions of property and changes in the legal system at once underpinned and reinforced changes in politics and the political order in one key southern state. Curtis's estimable scholarship will compel all students of southern history to rethink the material and moral bases upon which the region was grounded." -Peter A. Coclanis, Albert R. Newsome Distinguished Professor of History, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
"This book is impressive from various perspectives. Chris Curtis has written an engaging historical treatise on Virginian property relations and law from colonial days to the ante-bellum era. He adroitly demonstrates how local legal history provides a window into law and legal change regionally, nationally and internationally, in the Common Law world. Moreover, by tapping political, economic and social records he has produced a rich narrative of the changing imperatives of political thought and action and economic realities that influenced the development of local law in this slave holding jurisdiction, and explain its inner contradictions. This book merits a broad readership." -John McLaren, Emeritus Professor of Law, University of Victoria
"The great strength of this book derives from its interwoven analysis of statutes, litigation, politics, and political theory." Turk McCleskey, Virginia Magazine
Essential. --"Choice"
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, December 2012
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
Jefferson's Freeholders and the Politics of Ownership in the Old Dominion explores the historical processes by which Virginia was transformed from a British colony into a Southern slave state. It focuses on changing conceptualizations of ownership and emphasizes the persistent influence of the English common law on Virginia's postcolonial political culture. The book explains how the traditional characteristics of land tenure became subverted by the dynamic contractual relations of a commercial economy and assesses the political consequences of the law reforms that were necessitated by these developments. Nineteenth-century reforms seeking to reconcile the common law with modern commercial practices embraced new democratic expressions about the economic and political power of labor, and thereby encouraged the idea that slavery was an essential element in sustaining republican government in Virginia. By the 1850s, the ownership of human property had replaced the ownership of land as the distinguishing basis for political power, with tragic consequences for the Old Dominion.
Description for Bookstore
This book explores how Virginia was transformed from a British colony into a Southern slave state. It details how the traditional principles of land tenure were subverted by economic and political changes, and how they fostered law reforms where slavery replaced land ownership as the distinguishing basis for political power.
Description for Bookstore
Jefferson's Freeholders explores how Virginia was transformed from a British colony into a Southern slave state. It details how the traditional principles of land tenure were subverted by economic and political changes, and how they fostered law reforms where slavery replaced land ownership as the distinguishing basis for political power.
Description for Bookstore
Jefferson's Freeholders explores the processes by which Virginia was transformed from a British colony into a Southern slave state. Focusing on ideas of ownership, the book emphasizes the persistent influence of English common law on the state's political culture. It uniquely details how the traditional principles of land tenure were subverted by the economic and political changes of the nineteenth century and how they fostered law reforms that encouraged the idea that slavery should replace land ownership as the distinguishing basis for political power.
Main Description
Jefferson's Freeholders explores the historical processes by which Virginia was transformed from a British colony into a Southern slave state. It focuses on changing conceptualizations of ownership and emphasizes the persistent influence of the English common law on Virginia's postcolonial political culture. The book explains how the traditional characteristics of land tenure became subverted by the dynamic contractual relations of a commercial economy and assesses the political consequences of the law reforms that were necessitated by these developments. Nineteenth-century reforms seeking to reconcile the common law with modern commercial practices embraced new democratic expressions about the economic and political power of labor, and thereby encouraged the idea that slavery was an essential element in sustaining republican government in Virginia. By the 1850s, the ownership of human property had replaced the ownership of land as the distinguishing basis for political power, with tragic consequences for the Old Dominion.
Bowker Data Service Summary
This work explores the processes by which Virginia was transformed from a British colony into a Southern slave state.
Table of Contents
Introduction: the tragedy of ownership
Renovatio
Taking notice of an error
The chosen people of God
Reformatio
An invidious and anti-Republican test
Can these be the sons of their fathers?
Doubt seems to have arisen
A new system of jurisprudence
Conclusion: Reaction
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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