The Magic Mirror: Law in American History / Edition 1

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Chronicling American law from its English origins to the present, and offering for the first time comprehensive treatment of twentieth-century developments, this book sets American law and legal institutions in the broad context of social, economic, and political events, weaving together themes from the history of both constitutional and private law. The Magic Mirror treats law in society, and the legal implications of social change in areas such as criminal justice, the rights of women, blacks, the family, and children. It further examines regional differences in American legal culture, the creation of the administrative and security states, the development of American federalism, and the rise of the legal profession. Hall pays close attention to the evolution of substantive law categories--such as contracts, torts, negotiable instruments, real property, trusts and estates, and civil procedure--and addresses the intellectual evolution of American law, surveying movements such as legal realism and critical legal studies. Hall concludes that over its history American law has been remarkably fluid, adapting in form and substance to each successive generation without ever fully resolving the underlying social and economic conflicts that first provoke demands for legal change.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"How to make an excellent book even better? Oxford University Press and Peter Karsten have found the prefect way. Karsten has improved upon Kermit Hall's fine American legal history textbook, The Magic Mirror (1989), by adding to the second edition mini-essays on customary and local law, new materials about alternative dispute resolution, and the latest scholarship on Native American law, immigration law, and popular resistance to law enforcement. Now fully up to date, but still as readable and teachable as ever, the second edition of The Magic Mirror will please both teachers and students."--Peter Charles Hoffer, University of Georgia

"Peter Karsten has added depth of explanation, new scholarship, and expert editorial crafting to the superb work of Kermit Hall. This new edition gives students far more understandable insights into American legal history and grounds historical interpretation in primary sources and thoughtful scholarship."--Gordon Morris Bakken, California State University, Fullerton

"Peter Karsten has judiciously revised the late Kermit Hall's Magic Mirror to incorporate the best scholarship of the past two decades and to bring the book's coverage up to date, without sacrificing the brevity or the lucidity of the original. This new edition will be welcomed by teachers of undergraduate and graduate courses, and indeed by anyone who wants to read a short survey of American legal history."--Stuart Benner, UCLA

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195044607
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 2/28/1989
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 6.13 (w) x 9.19 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

The late Kermit L Hall was President of SUNY Albany.

Peter Karsten is Professor of History and Sociology at the University of Pittsburgh.

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Table of Contents

1 Social and Institutional Foundations of Early American Law 7

2 Law, Society, and Economy in Colonial America 28

3 The Law in Revolution and Revolution in the Law 51

4 Law, Politics, and the Rise of the American Legal System 70

5 The Active State and the Mixed Economy: 1789-1861 92

6 Common Law, Jurists, and American Values: Continuity and Change, 1780-1880 113

7 Race and the Nineteenth-Century Law of Personal Status 142

8 The Nineteenth-Century Law of Domestic Relations 168

9 The Dangerous Classes and the Nineteenth-Century Criminal Justice System 187

10 Law, Industrialization, and the Beginnings of the Regulatory State: 1860-1920 208

11 The Professionalization of the Legal Culture: Bench and Bar, 1860-1920 231

12 The Judicial Response to Industrialization: 1860-1920 247

13 Cultural Pluralism, Total War, and the Formation of Modern Legal Culture: 1917-1945 268

14 The Great Depression and the Emergence of Liberal Legal Culture 290

15 Law and Society in the Cold War Years, 1946-1990 310

16 The Imperial Judiciary and Contemporary Social and Cultural Change 341

Epilogue: More Like a River than a Rock 379

Notes 384

Glossary 415

Bibliographical Essay 419

Table of Cases 437

Index 445

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