Category Archives: Catalogue Search

Moral Contagion: Black Atlantic Sailors, Citizenship, and Diplomacy in Antebellum America

Michael A. Schoeppner. Forthcoming from Cambridge University Press in March 2019. Available to pre-order now via Cambridge University Press and Amazon.

Between 1822 and 1857, eight Southern states barred the ingress of all free black maritime workers. According to lawmakers, they carried a ‘moral contagion’ of abolitionism and black autonomy that could be transmitted to local slaves. Those seamen who arrived in Southern ports in violation of the laws faced incarceration, corporal punishment, an incipient form of convict leasing, and even punitive enslavement. The sailors, their captains, abolitionists, and British diplomatic agents protested this treatment. They wrote letters, published tracts, cajoled elected officials, pleaded with Southern officials, and litigated in state and federal courts. By deploying a progressive and sweeping notion of national citizenship – one that guaranteed a number of rights against state regulation – they exposed the ambiguity and potential power of national citizenship as a legal category. Ultimately, the Fourteenth Amendment recognized the robust understanding of citizenship championed by antebellum free people of color, by people afflicted with ‘moral contagion.’

About the Author:

After taking his Ph.D. in American legal history from the University of Florida in December 2010, Michael Schoeppner accepted a two-year fellowship with the American Council of Learned Societies. In 2013, he joined the faculty at the University of Maine-Farmington, where he currently serves as an assistant professor of history. His research explores the relationship between race, migration, and American constitutional development, especially in the nineteenth century. He has published work in the Journal of American History and Law & History Review. The College of Charleston’s CLAW  (Carolina Lowlands and Atlantic World) program awarded Moral Contagion its 2017 Hines Prize for the best book manuscript by a first-time author.

Murder in the Shenandoah: Making Law Sovereign in Revolutionary Virginia

Jessica K. Lowe. Forthcoming from Cambridge University Press (December 2018). Available to pre-order now via Cambridge University Press and Amazon.

On July 4, 1791, the fifteenth anniversary of American Independence, John Crane, a descendant of prominent Virginian families, killed his neighbor’s harvest worker. Murder in the Shenandoah traces the story of this early murder case as it entangled powerful Virginians and addressed the question that everyone in the state was heatedly debating: what would it mean to have equality before the law – and a world where ‘law is king’? By retelling the story of the case, called Commonwealth v. Crane, through the eyes of its witnesses, families, fighters, victims, judges, and juries, Jessica K. Lowe reveals how revolutionary debates about justice gripped the new nation, transforming ideas about law, punishment, and popular government.

Endorsements:

Advance praise: “In Murder in the Shenandoah, Jessica K. Lowe deftly investigates a deadly brawl to illuminate the legal culture of the new nation’s most influential state, shortly after the American Revolution. Filled with plot twists, surprising revelations, colorful characters, and rich insights, this book will reward anyone interested in the roots of American criminal law.” –Alan Taylor, author of American Revolutions: A Continental History, 1750–1804

Advance praise: “Elegantly written and copiously sourced, Jessica K. Lowe’s book is a must-read for specialists and students alike. Lowe upends the accepted notion that southerners went outside the law to resolve conflicts because of the culture of honor that was inextricably embedded in slavery. She uses criminal law to open a window into social change in postrevolutionary Virginia and to set the stage for antebellum-era conflicts in imaginative and unexpected ways.” –Victoria Saker Woeste, American Bar Foundation

Advance praise: “Jessica K. Lowe’s beautifully crafted account of murder and justice powerfully illuminates the reconstruction of criminal law in the early American republic. Lowe skillfully turns the story of a single Virginia killing into a compelling meditation on how people, high and low, struggled over the meaning of equality and the rule of law in the aftermath of revolution. A formidable piece of scholarship, Murder in the Shenandoah is also a gem of historical narration and analysis, at once tough-minded and humane.” –Sean Wilentz, author of The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln

Advance praise: “Professor Lowe has produced a volume that is both a murder mystery and a mini-treatise on the history of criminal law in colonial Virginia. Hard-nosed legal history has seldom been presented in such fascinating, readable form. Behind the legal story is an equally important story of social change in early Virginia. Lowe knows her Virginia law, and applies to it the questions of a modern historical sensibility. Readers will be surprised and intrigued by this admirable volume.” –Stanley Katz, Princeton University Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies

Advance praise: “In Jessica K. Lowe’s poetic telling of a murder trial in the Shenandoah Valley on Independence Day in 1791, we see how issues of class, violence, and the rule of law came together to lead to the execution of a Virginia patrician. Lowe’s beautifully written book shows the law in motion. Wage workers, slaves, jurors, and the legal and planter elite all cross her stage as the values of democracy made a new American law.” –Alfred L. Brophy, author of University, Court, and Slave: Proslavery Thought in Colleges and Courts and the Coming of Civil War

About the Author: Jessica Lowe specializes in 18th- and 19th-century American legal history. She received her J.D. with honors from Harvard Law School in 2002; after law school, she clerked in the District of Connecticut and on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Lowe also practiced appellate law at Jones Day in Washington, D.C., where she worked on a number of cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. She is admitted to practice in Virginia and the District of Columbia. Lowe received her B.A. (high honors) from the University of Virginia (1998). She then studied at Yale Divinity School (1999-2000), where she was a Marquand Scholar. Lowe received her Ph.D. in American history from Princeton University in 2014.  Her dissertation was awarded the St. George Tucker Society’s Bradford Dissertation Prize for best Southern History dissertation. Murder in the Shenandoah is her first book.

Lowe has held fellowships from, among others, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Princeton University Center for Human Values and the Center of Theological Inquiry (a Templeton Foundation grant), and participated in the 2013 Hurst Institute for Legal History at the University of Wisconsin. In 2011, she received the Association of Princeton Graduate Alumni’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Lowe teaches legal history, constitutional history, and classes in crime and punishment at the University of Virginia School of Law. She is the founder of the interdisciplinary Legal History Writing Group, which brings together scholars from the Law, History, Politics and Religious Studies departments once monthly for informal discussions of works in progress, and co-coordinates the Law School’s Legal History Workshop series. In 2013, she co-organized a conference commemorating the 100th anniversary of Charles Beard’s An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution (1913). Lowe has also served as a fellow at Brown College, the undergraduate residential college, and is a member of the Early American Studies colloquium at the International Center for Jefferson Studies.

Secession on Trial: The Treason Prosecution of Jefferson Davis

Cynthia Nicoletti. Cambridge University Press (October 2017). Available to order via Cambridge University Press or Amazon.

This book focuses on the post-Civil War treason prosecution of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, which was seen as a test case on the major question that animated the Civil War: the constitutionality of secession. The case never went to trial because it threatened to undercut the meaning and significance of Union victory. Cynthia Nicoletti describes the interactions of the lawyers who worked on both sides of the Davis case – who saw its potential to disrupt the verdict of the battlefield against secession. In the aftermath of the Civil War, Americans engaged in a wide-ranging debate over the legitimacy and effectiveness of war as a method of legal adjudication. Instead of risking the ‘wrong’ outcome in the highly volatile Davis case, the Supreme Court took the opportunity to pronounce secession unconstitutional in Texas v. White (1869).

Endorsements:

“The genius of Nicoletti’s work is that the Davis case provides a window into the persistent belief in American minds (even in the North) that secession was possible. That belief made the trial and execution of Davis that much more problematic than scholars have seen. Nicoletti backs up these claims with unsurpassed knowledge of legal proceedings and impressive research.”
–William Blair, Director of Richard Civil War Era Center and Walter L. and Helen P. Ferree Professor, Penn State University, and author of With Malice Toward Some: Treason and Loyalty in the Civil War Era

“Cynthia Nicoletti tackles a hugely important topic: the post-Civil War resolution of the legal status of the Confederacy. The prosecution of Jefferson Davis squarely posed the question whether the Confederacy had become a separate country by seceding. If it had, southerners insisted there could be no treason. If it had not, many of the war powers asserted by the North would be called into question. Nicoletti brilliantly tracks the efforts of jurists and politicians to work through momentous questions about the American constitutional order.”
–John Fabian Witt, Yale Law School, Connecticut, and author of Lincoln’s Code: The Laws of War in American History

“Nicoletti’s beautifully written book studies a crucially important trial that never happened. She situates Davis’s treason case in the wider context of public discussions about how to treat officials of the former Confederacy and what to do about secession. Law, as Nicoletti argues, was not separate from other aspects of life in this period; it was deeply implicated within them and, thus, inseparable from them.”
–Laura Edwards, Peabody Family Professor of History, Duke University, North Carolina and author of A Legal History of the Civil War and Reconstruction: A Nation of Rights

Reviews:

George Rutherglen reviewed Secession on Trial in December 2017 for the Virginia Law Review (v. 103, pp 72-93). You can read the review online here.

D. Schultz reviewed Secession on Trial for Choice Reviews v. 55 no. 7 (March 2018).

Henry Cohen reviewed the book in the May 2018 The Federal Lawyer. 

Peter Charles Hoffer reviewed the book in the Spring 2018 Civil War Book Review. 

Al Trophy reviewed the book for The Journal of the Civil War Era in September 2018.

 

About the Author:

Cynthia Nicoletti is a legal historian and professor of law at the University of Virginia School of Law. She has been the recipient of a number of awards and fellowships, including the William Nelson Cromwell Prize for the best dissertation in legal history, awarded by the American Society for Legal History in 2011. Her book, Secession on Trial: The Treason Prosecution of Jefferson Davis, was published in October 2017. You can read Professor Nicoletti’s faculty profile on the Virginia Law website, accessible here.

Sovereignty, International Law, and the French Revolution

Edward James Kolla. Cambridge University Press, October 2017. Available via Cambridge University Press and Amazon.

The advent of the principle of popular sovereignty during the French Revolution inspired an unintended but momentous change in international law. Edward James Kolla explains that between 1789 and 1799, the idea that peoples ought to determine their fates in international affairs, just as they were taking power domestically in France, inspired a series of new and interconnected claims to territory. Drawing on case studies from Avignon, Belgium, the Rhineland, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Italy, Kolla traces how French revolutionary diplomats and leaders gradually applied principles derived from new domestic political philosophy and law to the international stage. Instead of obtaining land via dynastic inheritance or conquest in war, the will of the people would now determine the title and status of territory. However, the principle of popular sovereignty also opened up new justifications for aggressive conquest, and this history foreshadowed some of the most controversial questions in international relations today.

Endorsements:

“When the right of peoples to self-determination creates an international law immediately to the advantage of the French Revolution and ultimately for our present world, a brilliant paradoxical book explaining how French Revolution was a key experiment for our modernity.”

-Jean-Clément Martin, Université Paris 1 Sorbonne

“Kolla’s bold and thought-provoking study transforms our view of the French Revolution’s importance for international law. Kolla persuasively argues for positive advances, rooted in the doctrine of popularity sovereignty, and for an indirect “ripple” effect which provided an important foundation for the decisive nineteenth-century advance in international law.”
-Professor Hamish Scott, Oxford University

“Kolla makes a major contribution towards the development of modern international law. By combining political narratives with legal analysis he sheds new light on the impact of revolutionary ideas, in particular with relation to popular sovereignty, on international relations and their legal organization.”
-Randall C. H. Lessafer, Tilburg Law School

“In this brilliant and thoughtful study of international law during the French Revolution, Kolla presents a fascinating history of the principle of national self-determination, as it developed over a century before Woodrow Wilson brought this idea to Versailles. Kolla’s book will be of great interest to historians of modern Europe, political theorists, and legal scholars.”
-Dan Edelstein, Stanford University

Reviews:

Joshua Meeks reviewed Kolla’s book for H-Net in February 2018.
Richard Harding reviewed Sovereignty, International Law, and the French Revolution in H-France Review v. 18 (May 2018) no. 116.

About the Author:

Edward J. Kolla is an Associate Professor at Georgetown University Qatar. His areas of expertise are European international relations, political cultural, and intellectual history–and especially the history of international law. Professor Kolla has previously held major fellowships from the Institute for Historical Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, the Camargo Foundation, and the French government. His first book, Sovereignty, International Law, and the French Revolution (Cambridge University Press, 2017) examines the impact and effect of the French Revolution on international law, specifically tracing the emergence of popular sovereignty as a justification for claims to territory. He is currently working on a project that looks at the history of the passport.

You can watch Professor Kolla discuss his book and upcoming project as part of the SLH video series here.

Tax Law and Social Norms in Mandatory Palestine and Israel

Assaf Likhovski (Cambridge University Press, July 2017).  Available to order from Cambridge University Press and Amazon.

This book describes how a social-norms model of taxation rose and fell in British-ruled Palestine and the State of Israel in the mid-twentieth century. Such a model, in which non-legal means were used to foster compliance, appeared in the tax system created by the Jewish community in 1940s Palestine and was later adopted by the new Israeli state in the 1950s. It gradually disappeared in subsequent decades as law and its agents, lawyers and accountants, came to play a larger role in the process of taxation. By describing the historical interplay between formal and informal tools for creating compliance, Tax Law and Social Norms in Mandatory Palestine and Israel sheds new light on our understanding of the relationship between law and other methods of social control, and reveals the complex links between taxation and citizenship.

Endorsements:

“Likhovski has written a fascinating account of the development of taxation in a region that has long struggled with shifting rulers and divided populations. This book is more than just the definitive history of taxation in Israel. It is a case study on the cultural and sociological underpinnings of tax law itself.”

–Steve Bank, University of California, Los Angeles

 “This brilliant book tells the story of how tax law in Mandatory Palestine was transformed from an intimate institution relying on the voluntary cooperation of taxpayers to a formal system enforced by lawyers. It is a must-read for anyone interested in the nature of law and in how to make a legal system that necessarily depends on voluntary cooperation achieve its goals.”
— Reuven Avi-Yonah, Irwin I. Cohn Professor of Law, University of Michigan

“Once more, Assaf Likhovski has demonstrated his keen understanding of law and its social function in Ottoman and mandatory Palestine as well as the state of Israel. This volume solidifies Assaf Likhovski’s position as one of the most formidable and important scholars of the legal history of Israel.”
— Michael Stanislawski, Columbia University, New York

“Assaf Likhovksi has written an absolutely fascinating book. His exploration of the rise and fall of what he aptly calls the ‘intimate fiscal state’ uses taxation to provide a prism on the history of late Ottoman and British-ruled Palestine, as well Israel. Everyone interested in the relationship between law and society, the history of taxation, the subject of tax avoidance, and the history of Israel will want to read this brilliant work.”
–Laura Kalman, University of California, Santa Barbara

Reviews:

Binyamin Blum, On Fiscal Citizenship: A Cultural History of Tax Law, JOTWELL (January 11, 2018) (reviewing Assaf Likhovski, Tax Law and Social Norms in Mandatory Palestine and Israel (2017)). 

Orit Rozin reviewed Likhovski’s book for the Journal of Interdisciplinary History v. 49 no. 1 (Summer 2018).

About the Author:

Assaf Likhovski is a professor of law and legal history at Tel Aviv University Faculty of Law. He is the author of Law and Identity in Mandate Palestine (University of North Carolina Press, 2006), and Tax, Law, and Social Norms in Mandatory Palestine and Israel (Cambridge University Press, 2017), as well as articles on Israeli, American and English legal history. He is co-editor of a number of collections of articles on legal history including “Histories of Legal Transplantations” Theoretical Inquiries in Law (with Ron Harris). He was visiting professor at Yeshiva University, the University of Toronto, UCLA, and Georgetown University. He is a graduate of Tel Aviv University and Harvard Law School, where he was a Fulbright and Rothschild fellow. He was later a Golieb fellow at the NYU School of Law, and a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Jerusalem. He was co-founder of the Israeli Legal History Association, and served as the director of the TAU Cegla Center for Interdisciplinary Research  of the Law, the director of the TAU David Berg Foundation Institute for Law and History, and the Associate Dean for Research at the TAU Faculty of Law.

Watch Professor Likhovski discuss his work as part of the SLH video series here.