The Transformation of American Law, 1780-1860

The Transformation of American Law, 1780-1860

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by Morton J. Horwitz
     
 

Awarded the Bancroft Prize in American History in 1978, Morton J. Horwitz's The Transformation of American Law, 1780-1860 is considered one of the most significant works ever published in American legal history. Since its publication in 1977, it has become the standard source on early nineteenth-century American law. In this monumental book, Morton J. Horwitz offers a… See more details below

Overview

Awarded the Bancroft Prize in American History in 1978, Morton J. Horwitz's The Transformation of American Law, 1780-1860 is considered one of the most significant works ever published in American legal history. Since its publication in 1977, it has become the standard source on early nineteenth-century American law. In this monumental book, Morton J. Horwitz offers a sweeping overview of the emergence of our national (and modern) legal system from English and colonial antecedents. He begins with the common law, which emerged during the eighteenth century as the standard doctrine with which to solve disputes in an egalitarian manner. He shows that the turning point in the use of common law came after 1790, when the law was slowly transformed to favor economic growth and development, and the courts began to spur economic competition rather than circumscribe it. This new instrumental law would flourish during the nineteenth century as the legal profession and the mercantile elite forged a mutually beneficial alliance to gain wealth and power. Horwitz also demonstrates how the emergence of contract law corresponded to the development of economic and legal institutions of exchange. And he discusses how the rise of the market economy influenced legal practices, how contracts became ways to negate preexisting common law duties, and how (to the benefit of entrepreneurs and commercial groups) the courts were able to overthrow earlier anticommercial legal rules. Previous historical studies have viewed law and policy as an accurate reflection of the needs of an undifferentiated society. In The Transformation of American Law, Horwitz successfully challenges this misconception and shows how, in the eighty years after the American Revolution, a major change in law took place in which aspects of social struggle turned to legal channels for resolution. Looking into the distribution of wealth and power during this time, Horwitz finds indeed that the change in legal ideology en

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780674903708
Publisher:
Harvard University Press
Publication date:
01/28/1976
Series:
Studies in Legal History Ser.
Pages:
384
Product dimensions:
6.31(w) x 9.50(h) x (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction
IThe Emergence of an Instrumental Conception of Law1
IIThe Transformation in the Conception of Property31
IIISubsidization of Economic Growth through the Legal System63
IVCompetition and Economic Development109
VThe Relation between the Bar and Commercial Interests140
VIThe Triumph of Contract160
The Equitable Conception of Contract in the Eighteenth Century
The Rise of a Market Economy and the Development of the Will Theory of Contract
Custom and Contract
Tort and Contract
VIIThe Development of Commercial Law211
The Rise of Negotiability
The Law of Insurance: The Development of Actuarial Conceptions of Risk
Usury
Swift v. Tyson: The Rise of a General Commercial Law
VIIIThe Rise of Legal Formalism253
Notes269
Index349

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