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Law's Imagined Republic
Popular Politics and Criminal Justice in Revolutionary America

$95.00 (P)

Part of Cambridge Historical Studies in American Law and Society

  • Author: Steven Wilf, University of Connecticut School of Law
  • Date Published: April 2010
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521196901

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About the Authors
  • Law’s Imagined Republic shows how the American Revolution was marked by the rapid proliferation of law talk across the colonies. This legal language was both elite and popular, spanned different forms of expression from words to rituals, and included simultaneously real and imagined law. Since it was employed to mobilize resistance against England, the proliferation of revolutionary legal language became intimately intertwined with politics. Drawing on a wealth of material from criminal cases, Steven Wilf reconstructs the intertextual ways Americans from the 1760s through the 1790s read law: reading one case against another and often self-consciously comparing transatlantic legal systems as they thought about how they might construct their own legal system in a new republic. What transformed extraordinary tales of crime into a political forum? How did different ways of reading or speaking about law shape our legal origins? And, ultimately, how might excavating innovative approaches to law in this formative period, which were constructed in the street as well as in the courtroom, alter our usual understanding of contemporary American legal institutions? Law’s Imagined Republic tells the story of the untidy beginnings of American law.

    • Adds to the growing scholarly work that focuses on the popular origins of the legal order
    • Tells the story of the untidy beginnings of American law
    • Informs our understanding of contemporary American law
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "...remarkable essay on the role of criminal trials in the framing of American legalism." -Peter Hoffer, H-Law

    "This is a fine book that can profitably be read by a variety of readers. Recommended." -Choice

    "Wilf has written an important book about an evolving intellectual concept that should continue to inform the field of legal history for years to come." -Thomas H. Cox, The Journal of American History

    ".., Wilf illuminates how everyday people filtered and refashioned a discourse of power into entertainment, satire, political protest, and popular reform movements."
    -- Jodi Schorb, University of Florida Punishment's Prisms

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2010
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521196901
    • length: 254 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 158 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.46kg
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. Criminal law out-of-doors
    2. 'The language of law is a vulgar tongue'
    3. Local justice, transatlantic justice
    4. The problem of punishment in an age of revolution
    5. The statute imagined

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • Growth of American Nation
    • Revolutionary America
  • Author

    Steven Wilf, University of Connecticut School of Law
    Steven Wilf is Joel Barlow Professor of Law at the University of Connecticut. He is the author of The Law Before the Law (2008), which examines how legal systems address the problem of existing law prior to a law-giving moment, and numerous articles in law and history. Professor Wilf's research focuses on intellectual property law, historical jurisprudence, and legal history.

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