Cambridge Legal History

One of the most exciting recent trends in the history of American law has been the spread of jurisprudence to early America. Volume I of the Cambridge History of Law in America benefits from this spread and begins the representation of law in America with the earliest moments of European colonization and colonization of the North American landmass. He followed these processes for more than two hundred years until the eventual creation and stabilization of the American Republic. The book deals with the place of law in relation to colonization and empire, indigenous peoples, government and jurisdiction, population migration, economic and commercial activities, religion, the creation of social institutions, and revolutionary politics. American legal history has long treated the era of the founding of the Republic and the early nineteenth century as the beginning of American law. Volume I denies this trend and corrects it. Lisa Ford is a history professor at UNSW, Sydney. An award-winning legal historian whose work focused on jurisdictional politics in the United States and the British Empire until 1850, she is the author of The King`s Peace (2021) and settler Sovereignty (2010) and co-author (with L. Benton) of Rage for Order (2016). She is a member of the Australian Academy of Humanities. In order to achieve an adequate understanding of the meaning of these debates, we need a history of the concept of law itself.

In collaboration with the Centre for International and World Law at the University of Edinburgh, the Academy of European Law will be an institutional home for this ambitious project in the history of a fundamental legal and political concept. „Rights” have now become a centerpiece of the legal systems of the majority of the world`s peoples and the foundations on which most of today`s international institutions were built. The pervasiveness of the political and legal weight of „rights” has made it a central concern of contemporary legal and political philosophy, but also of contemporary historiography: questions of how to grasp the history of the term and the associated practices and vocabularies have become increasingly important in contemporary historical science. Peter Cane has written extensively in the fields of public law, private law and legal theory. He is co-editor (with H. Kumarasingham) of The Cambridge Constitutional History of the United Kingdom and author of Controlling Administrative Power: An Historical Comparison (2016). He is a corresponding member of the British Academy and a member of the Australian Academy of Social Sciences. Volume II of the Cambridge History of Law in America focuses on the „long” nineteenth century, from the founding of the Republic to the immediate aftermath of world War I – the century of continental expansion, urban growth, capitalist innovation, industrialization and war. The crystallization and then, after the Civil War, the reinvention of a clearly American state system are examined, as well as the establishment and growth of systematic legal education, the spread of the legal profession, and the increasing density of legal institutions.

During this century, law becomes a technique of first instance, wherever a person, institution or government tries to organize human activities. In this volume, we see how law is closely related to religion, how it is rooted in popular culture, and how it intersects with the different worlds of the U.S. military and international relations. The result of the project will be a 5-volume series produced under the general edition of Nehal Bhuta (University of Edinburgh), Anthony Pagden (UCLA) and Mira Siegelberg (University of Cambridge) and published by Cambridge University Press. It will be a story not only of the ever-increasing importance of what we consider „rights” for all major legal and political claims, but also of how our understanding of what rights are has changed. Together, the volumes of the collection will explore this history from antiquity to modernity. The Cambridge History of Rights project will be the first systematic attempt to do so. The law is at the heart of modern American life.

Since the 1950s, American historians have presented an extraordinarily rich and diverse account of the law and legal institutions of American history. But although our knowledge has increased enormously, few attempts have been made to summarize its many parts in a summary and synthesis of the history of law in America. The history of Cambridge law in America was conceived precisely for this purpose. Sixty of the leading legal historians in the United States have come together in a single venture to present the most comprehensive and authoritative account in the history of American law. In most modern conceptions of the term, a right is understood as the means by which the individual can claim protection from forms of injustice. Today`s rights encompass almost every aspect of human social and political existence, from the rights that every individual possesses under the specific legal system to which he or she belongs – so-called positive or objective or simply „legal” rights – to the rights, the most controversial of all, which are supposed to belong to each individual as a human being: „subjective” or „natural” or now more often simply „human rights”. During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, this perception of rights led to a great philosophical conflict between those who follow Marx and believe that „rights” are essentially „bourgeois” and „selfish,” the refuge of the isolated individual who is „withdrawn behind his private interests and whims and separated from the community,” and those who are part of the largely liberal political tradition from Locke to Rousseau. to Kant, Mill, Dworkin and Nozick, who see rights as the foundations of political morality.

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