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A Companion to American Legal History

Sally E. Hadden (Editor), Alfred L. Brophy (Editor)

ISBN: 978-1-444-33142-4 April 2013 Wiley-Blackwell 596 Pages


A Companion to American Legal History presents a compilation of the most recent writings from leading scholars on American legal history from the colonial era through the late twentieth century.

  • Presents up-to-date research describing the key debates in American legal history
  • Reflects the current state of American legal history research and points readers in the direction of future research
  • Represents an ideal companion for graduate and law students seeking an introduction to the field, the key questions, and future research ideas

Notes on Contributors x

Introduction 1
Sally E. Hadden and Alfred L. Brophy

Part I Chronological Overviews 5

1 Reconsidering the Seventeenth Century: Legal History in the Americas 7
Elizabeth Dale

2 What’s Done and Undone: Colonial American Legal History, 1700−1775 26
Sally E. Hadden

3 1775−1815 46
Ellen Holmes Pearson

4 The Antebellum Era Through Civil War 67
Alfred L. Brophy

5 Beyond Classical Legal Thought: Law and Governance in Postbellum America, 1865−1920 86
Roman J. Hoyos

6 American Legal History, 1920−1970 105
Christopher W. Schmidt

Part II Individuals and Groups 125

7 Native Americans 127
Christian McMillen

8 African Americans in Slavery 152
Thomas J. Davis

9 African Americans in Freedom 171
James Campbell

10 Women’s Legal History 190
Felice Batlan

11 Families 209
David S. Tanenhaus

12 Who Belongs? Immigrants and the Law in American History 228
Allison Brownell Tirres

13 The Legal Profession 247
Mark E. Steiner

Part III Subject Areas 267

14 Law and the Economy of Early America: Markets, Institutions of Exchange, and Labor 269
Christine Desan

15 Law and the Economy in the United States, 1820−2000 289
Harwell Wells

16 Law and Labor in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries 308
Deborah Dinner

17 Siting the Legal History of Poverty: Below, Above, and Amidst 329
Felicia Kornbluh and Karen Tani

18 Taxes 349
Robin L. Einhorn

19 Law and the Administrative State 367
Joanna L. Grisinger

20 Law and Religion 387
Steven K. Green

21 Legal History and the Military 406
Elizabeth L. Hillman

22 Criminal Law and Justice in America 422
Elizabeth Dale

23 Intellectual Property 441
Steven Wilf

Part IV Legal Thought 461

24 Law and Literature 463
Jeannine Marie DeLombard

25 Legal Thought from Blackstone to Kent and Story 484
Steven J. Macias

26 American Jurisprudence in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries 506
James D. Schmidt

27 Critical Legal Studies 524
John Henry Schlegel

28 The International Context: An Imperial Perspective on American Legal History 543
Clara Altman

Index 562

“When a field grows as explosively as American legal history has over the past generation, a volume like this becomes necessary and useful. These essays, collectively and individually, capture the scholarly moment with grace, good humor, and erudition.”  (, 19 November 2014)

"Blackwell is to be commended for commissioning this fine anthology of bibliographical essays on American legal history... Hadden and Brophy have done a superb job of gathering contributors and unifying their efforts."  (Law and History Review, 1 February 2014)

“Whether as an opening portal to the field or as a point of ref­erence for those already active in it, A Com­panion to American Legal History should attract both interest and use..”  (Journal of American History, 1 March 2014)

"It is modelled exactly on the other volumes in the Wiley-Blackwell series: a large well-made octavo, nicely printed, solidly bound. There are no documents or illustrations; just 28 interesting essays and a good index."  (Reference Reviews, 1 March 2014)

“The collection provides the most comprehensive examination of American legal history to date.  Summing Up: Recommended.  Upper-division undergraduate, graduate, research, and professional collections.”  (Choice, 1 January 2014)