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A Judgment for Solomon

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


Part of Cambridge Historical Studies in American Law and Society

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

£ 24.99

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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. In a narrative analysis, it recounts how marital woes led Ellen and Gonzalve d'Hauteville into what Alexis de Tocqueville called the 'shadow of the law'. Their multiple legal experiences culminated in an eagerly followed Philadelphia trial that sparked a national debate over the legal rights and duties of mothers and fathers, and husbands and wives. The story of 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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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 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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