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A Judgment for Solomon

A Judgment for Solomon
The d'Hauteville Case and Legal Experience in Antebellum America

$33.99 (G)

Part of Cambridge Historical Studies in American Law and Society

  • Date Published: February 1996
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521557450

$ 33.99 (G)
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About the Authors
  • A Judgment for Solomon tells the story of the d'Hauteville case, a controversial child custody battle fought in 1840. It uses the story of one couple's bitter fight over their son to explore some timebound and timeless features of American legal culture. This eagerly followed trial sparked a national debate over the legal rights and duties of mothers and fathers, husbands and wives. The d'Hauteville case explains why popular trials become "precedents of legal experience"-- mediums for debates about highly contested social issues. It also demonstrates the ability of individual women and men to contribute to legal change by turning to the law to fight for what they want.

    • An example of how legal history can be told through individual stories
    • A study of how law is used to construct professional and popular ideas, in this case of gender roles and parental duties
    • An interesting story of the failed marriage of the daughter of a Boston Brahmin and a Swiss Count, and the custody fight they waged up and down the east coast of the United States
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "Which parent should get the custody of a small child? In this compelling story of a bitter struggle over a 2-year old boy nearly 150 years ago, Michael Grossberg shows how Americans developed what were then new solutions to the competing claims of mothers and fathers. Everyone interested in the developing law of child custody in our own time--highlighted in the tormented cases of Baby 'M', Baby Jessica, Baby Michael, and many others not widely publicized--will be fascinated by this book." Linda K. Kerber, May Brodbeck Professor in the Liberal Arts and Professor of History, University of Iowa

    "A Judgement for Solomon aims to do more than describe an admittedly fascinating trial...This is a thoughtful work. Grossberg provocatively re-creates one particular legal conflict from a moment of widespread gender upheaval. A Judgement for Solomon deserves the attention of a wide range of readers." The Journal of American History

    "A Judgment for Solomon tells a fascinating story; at the same time, it is also a persuasive and thoughtful reflection on legal storytelling. We follow one couple (and their families) across the terrain of nineteenth century America and Europe, as they fought with each other and with the law for possession of a child. As we do so, Grossberg guides us through the tortured emergence of a particular vision of gendered parental identities that continues even today to dominate the legal imagination and our lives. At the same time, Grossberg's sympathetic and inclusive analysis leads the reader to reflect on how and why major public trials have assumed such obsessive moral weight in American culture. In its sustained use of a case study to study a crucial transition in our legal history, Michael Grossberg's book deserves comparison with E.P. Thompson's Whigs and Hunters." Hendrik Hartog, Class of 1921 Bicentennial Professor of the History of American Law and Liberty

    "A Judgement for Solomon aims to do more than describe an admittedly fascinating trial...This is a thoughtful work. Grossberg provocatively re-creates one particular legal conflict from a moment of widespread gender upheaval. A Judgement for Solomon deserves the attention of a wide range of readers." The Journal of American History

    "Michael Grossberg knows how to build suspense and reader interest in the strategies of both sides and the ways in which the principal players were refashioned by lawyers, judges, and newspaper writers....Grossberg is unusual among authors who devote a book to exploring a single case in that carries his tale beyond the framework of trial records and biography to consider theoretically and analytically what what it meant for propertied whites in antebellum Northeast to enter into what Alexis de Tocqueville called the 'shadow of the law." Cornelia Hughes Dayton, Journal of the Early Republic

    "...an extremely valuable resource for anyone interested in the relation between law and society." Brook Thomas, Law & Social Theory

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    Product details

    • Date Published: February 1996
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521557450
    • length: 296 pages
    • dimensions: 227 x 151 x 21 mm
    • weight: 0.422kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Entering the law's shadows
    2. Bargaining in the shadow of the law
    3. Out of the shadows
    4. Into a court of law
    5. Into the court of public opinion
    6. Back into the shadows.

  • Author

    Michael Grossberg, Indiana University

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