Accidental Republic / Edition 1

Paperback (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from BN.com
$25.50
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $26.52
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (7) from $26.52   
  • New (6) from $26.52   
  • Used (1) from $36.89   

Overview

In the five decades after the Civil War, the United States witnessed a profusion of legal institutions designed to cope with the nation's exceptionally acute industrial accident crisis. Jurists elaborated the common law of torts. Workingmen's organizations founded a widespread system of cooperative insurance. Leading employers instituted welfare-capitalist accident relief funds. And social reformers advocated compulsory insurance such as workmen's compensation.

John Fabian Witt argues that experiments in accident law at the turn of the twentieth century arose out of competing views of the loose network of ideas and institutions that historians call the ideology of free labor. These experiments a century ago shaped twentieth- and twenty-first-century American accident law; they laid the foundations of the American administrative state; and they occasioned a still hotly contested legal transformation from the principles of free labor to the categories of insurance and risk. In this eclectic moment at the beginnings of the modern state, Witt describes American accident law as a contingent set of institutions that might plausibly have developed along a number of historical paths. In turn, he suggests, the making of American accident law is the story of the equally contingent remaking of our accidental republic.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Business History Review

Emerging from legal history, Accidental Republic offers a broad political narrative that explores how Americans confronted the hazards and insecurities of industrialization...A very fine book that is consistently engaging to read.
— Jennifer Klein

Journal of American History

Witt carefully reconstructs the uncertain path that ultimately led to the adoption of workmen's compensation...Witt's narrative is brimming with rich insights...Workmen's compensation, as he persuasively argues, represented a dramatic, although deeply contested, paradigm shift from free labor to risk and insurance that extended beyond the workplace to the building of the twentieth-century social welfare state.
— Barbara Y. Welke

Labor History

Witt offers compelling evidence of the dangers workers faced as the United States rapidly industrialized after the Civil War...The book describes the numerous experiments in social, institutional, and legal reform that attempted to craft some form of protection for workers and, in the case of accidental death, their survivors...The book traces how the sheer number of industrial accidents and the attendant destitution of families deprived of their breadwinner challenged the societal notion that injuries were individual problems between employers and workers...Witt's superb efforts will hopefully stimulate other historical examinations of dangerous work in America.
— Robert Forrant

Georgetown Law Journal

The Accidental Republic is a book about the origins of workmen's compensation, and it is probably the best book we will ever get on the subject. But it is also about much more. It is about the relationship between risk and industrial capitalism, about whether fingers are worth thirty dollars or sixty dollars, and about the political representation of pain—how it has been measured, commodified, expressed, and silenced. It is also about democratic institutions that distinguished brave soldiers and helpless trainmen from unworthy scoundrels...It is about the relationship between sympathy and citizenship and about finding a place for unfortunate people in a fortunate society. It is a book about risks, not only about why we foolishly attempt to control them, but why, even then, we still need to take them. It is, at bottom, a profound examination of how we value our fellow gamblers in the two riskiest collective enterprises of American life: capitalism and democracy...The Accidental Republic is a masterful work of legal history that will leave scholars in numerous fields arguing for years to come.
— Christopher Capozzola

Peter H. Schuck
John Witt paints his portrait of industrializing America with the subtlety of a master and on an immense canvas. His magisterial history is much more than an account of the rise of workers compensation, still one of our greatest social reforms. Witt vividly recreates the social context of the late 19th century industrial world - workers' appalling injury and death rates, their mutual help and insurance associations, mass immigration, the rise of Taylorist management, the struggles to give new meaning to the free labor ideal, the encounter between European social engineering and American anti-statism and individualism, and the politics and economics of labor relations in the Progressive era. Out of these materials, Witt shows, the law helped fashion a new social order. His analysis has great contemporary significance, revealing both the alluring possibilities and the enduring limits of legal reform in America. It is destined to become a classic of social and legal history.
Viviana Zelizer
John Witt shows us the power of perceptive legal history at work. Within the tangle of compensation for industrial accidents, he discovers not only a legal struggle whose outcome set the pattern for many 20th century interventions of government in economic life, but also a momentous confrontation between contract and collective responsibility. Anyone who finds American history absorbing will gain pleasure and insight from this book.
William Novak
In 1940 Willard Hurst and Lloyd Garrison inaugurated modern socio-legal studies in the United States with their history of workers' injuries and legal process in Wisconsin. Two generations later, John Fabian Witt's The Accidental Republic marks the full maturation of that field of inquiry. Deftly integrating a legal analysis of tort doctrine, a history of industrial accidents, and a fresh political-economic understanding of statecraft, Witt demonstrates the significance of turn-of-the-century struggles over work, injury, risk, reparation, and regulation in the making of our modern world. Sophisticated, comprehensive, and interdisciplinary, The Accidental Republic is legal history as Hurst and Garrison imagined it could be.
Business History Review - Jennifer Klein
Emerging from legal history, Accidental Republic offers a broad political narrative that explores how Americans confronted the hazards and insecurities of industrialization...A very fine book that is consistently engaging to read.
Journal of American History - Barbara Y. Welke
Witt carefully reconstructs the uncertain path that ultimately led to the adoption of workmen's compensation...Witt's narrative is brimming with rich insights...Workmen's compensation, as he persuasively argues, represented a dramatic, although deeply contested, paradigm shift from free labor to risk and insurance that extended beyond the workplace to the building of the twentieth-century social welfare state.
Labor History - Robert Forrant
Witt offers compelling evidence of the dangers workers faced as the United States rapidly industrialized after the Civil War...The book describes the numerous experiments in social, institutional, and legal reform that attempted to craft some form of protection for workers and, in the case of accidental death, their survivors...The book traces how the sheer number of industrial accidents and the attendant destitution of families deprived of their breadwinner challenged the societal notion that injuries were individual problems between employers and workers...Witt's superb efforts will hopefully stimulate other historical examinations of dangerous work in America.
Georgetown Law Journal - Christopher Capozzola
The Accidental Republic is a book about the origins of workmen's compensation, and it is probably the best book we will ever get on the subject. But it is also about much more. It is about the relationship between risk and industrial capitalism, about whether fingers are worth thirty dollars or sixty dollars, and about the political representation of pain--how it has been measured, commodified, expressed, and silenced. It is also about democratic institutions that distinguished brave soldiers and helpless trainmen from unworthy scoundrels...It is about the relationship between sympathy and citizenship and about finding a place for unfortunate people in a fortunate society. It is a book about risks, not only about why we foolishly attempt to control them, but why, even then, we still need to take them. It is, at bottom, a profound examination of how we value our fellow gamblers in the two riskiest collective enterprises of American life: capitalism and democracy...The Accidental Republic is a masterful work of legal history that will leave scholars in numerous fields arguing for years to come.
Labor History
Witt offers compelling evidence of the dangers workers faced as the United States rapidly industrialized after the Civil War...The book describes the numerous experiments in social, institutional, and legal reform that attempted to craft some form of protection for workers and, in the case of accidental death, their survivors...The book traces how the sheer number of industrial accidents and the attendant destitution of families deprived of their breadwinner challenged the societal notion that injuries were individual problems between employers and workers...Witt's superb efforts will hopefully stimulate other historical examinations of dangerous work in America.
— Robert Forrant
Journal of American History
Witt carefully reconstructs the uncertain path that ultimately led to the adoption of workmen's compensation...Witt's narrative is brimming with rich insights...Workmen's compensation, as he persuasively argues, represented a dramatic, although deeply contested, paradigm shift from free labor to risk and insurance that extended beyond the workplace to the building of the twentieth-century social welfare state.
— Barbara Y. Welke
Business History Review
Emerging from legal history, Accidental Republic offers a broad political narrative that explores how Americans confronted the hazards and insecurities of industrialization...A very fine book that is consistently engaging to read.
— Jennifer Klein
Georgetown Law Journal
The Accidental Republic is a book about the origins of workmen's compensation, and it is probably the best book we will ever get on the subject. But it is also about much more. It is about the relationship between risk and industrial capitalism, about whether fingers are worth thirty dollars or sixty dollars, and about the political representation of pain--how it has been measured, commodified, expressed, and silenced. It is also about democratic institutions that distinguished brave soldiers and helpless trainmen from unworthy scoundrels...It is about the relationship between sympathy and citizenship and about finding a place for unfortunate people in a fortunate society. It is a book about risks, not only about why we foolishly attempt to control them, but why, even then, we still need to take them. It is, at bottom, a profound examination of how we value our fellow gamblers in the two riskiest collective enterprises of American life: capitalism and democracy...The Accidental Republic is a masterful work of legal history that will leave scholars in numerous fields arguing for years to come.
— Christopher Capozzola
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674022614
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 324
  • Product dimensions: 0.68 (w) x 6.14 (h) x 9.21 (d)

Meet the Author

John Fabian Witt is Professor of Law and History, Columbia University.
Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Introduction

1. Crippled Workingmen, Destitute Widows, and the Crisis of Free Labor

2. The Dilemmas of Classical Tort Law

3. The Cooperative Insurance Movement

4. From Markets to Managers

5. Widows, Actuaries, and the Logics of Social Insurance

6. The Passion of William Werner

7. The Accidental Republic

Conclusion

Notes

Acknowledgments

Index

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)