The Common Law in Colonial America: Volume II: The Middle Colonies and the Carolinas, 1660-1730

Overview

William E. Nelson's first volume of the four-volume The Common Law of Colonial America (2008) established a new benchmark for study of colonial era legal history. Drawing from both a rich archival base and existing scholarship on the topic, the first volume demonstrated how the legal systems of Britain's thirteen North American colonies-each of which had unique economies, political structures, and religious institutions -slowly converged into a common law order that differed ...

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Overview

William E. Nelson's first volume of the four-volume The Common Law of Colonial America (2008) established a new benchmark for study of colonial era legal history. Drawing from both a rich archival base and existing scholarship on the topic, the first volume demonstrated how the legal systems of Britain's thirteen North American colonies-each of which had unique economies, political structures, and religious institutions -slowly converged into a common law order that differed substantially from English common law.

The first volume focused on how the legal systems of the Chesapeake colonies—Virginia and Maryland—contrasted with those of the New England colonies and traced these dissimilarities from the initial settlement of America until approximately 1660. In this new volume, Nelson brings the discussion forward, covering the years from 1660, which saw the Restoration of the British monarchy, to 1730. In particular, he analyzes the impact that an increasingly powerful British government had on the evolution of the common law in the New World. As the reach of the Crown extended, Britain imposed far more restrictions than before on the new colonies it had chartered in the Carolinas and the middle Atlantic region. The government's intent was to ensure that colonies' laws would align more tightly with British law. Nelson examines how the newfound coherence in British colonial policy led these new colonies to develop common law systems that corresponded more closely with one another, eliminating much of the variation that socio-economic differences had created in the earliest colonies. As this volume reveals, these trends in governance ultimately resulted in a tension between top-down pressures from Britain for a more uniform system of laws and bottom-up pressures from colonists to develop their own common law norms and preserve their own distinctive societies. Authoritative and deeply researched, the volumes in The Common Law of Colonial America will become the foundational resource for anyone interested the history of American law before the Revolution.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199937752
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 12/6/2012
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 806,356
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Edward Weinfeld Professor of Law and Professor of History, New York University

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Table of Contents

TABLE OF CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION
I. DUTCH AND PURITAN LAW IN NEW NETHERLAND
A. The Dutch Legal System of New
B. "Rude, Untechnical" Law in the Early English Settlements

II. NEW YORK: THE PERSISTENCE OF DUTCH AND PURITAN
A. The Persistence of Dutch Law along the Upper Hudson
B. New England Law on the Islands and in Westchester

III. NEW YORK: THE TRIUMPH OF THE COMMON LAW
A. The Emergence of Common Law in New York City
B. The Triumph of Common Law in the Colony at Large

IV. COMMON LAW IN THE CITY-STATE OF CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA .
A. The Success and Failure of Ashley's Plans
B. Creating Law
C. The End of the Proprietary Regime and the Beginning of Royal Government
V. POLITICIZING THE COURTS AND UNDERMINING THE LAW IN NORTH CAROLINA
A. The Colony on the Albemarle Sound
B. The Judicial System's Collapse

VI. PENNSYLVANIA: GOVERNMENT BY JUDICIARY
A. The Immediate Adoption of the Common Law
B. The Disempowerment of Juries
C. Law, Order, and Stability
D. Explaining Hegemony

VII. DELAWARE AND NEW JERSEY: A MICROCOSM OF THE COLONIAL NORTH
A. Delaware
B. East Jersey
C. West Jersey
D. New Jersey
VIII. CONCLUSION: THE COMMON LAW AS MECHANISM OF GOVERNANCE

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