American Legal Thought and the Transatlantic Turn to History
- Author: David M. Rabban
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This is a study of the central role of history in late-nineteenth century American legal thought. In the decades following the Civil War, the founding generation of professional legal scholars in the United States drew from the evolutionary social thought that pervaded Western intellectual life on both sides of the Atlantic. Their historical analysis of law as an inductive science rejected deductive theories and supported moderate legal reform, conclusions that challenge conventional accounts of legal formalism Unprecedented in its coverage and its innovative conclusions about major American legal thinkers from the Civil War to the present, the book combines transatlantic intellectual history, legal history, the history of legal thought, historiography, jurisprudence, constitutional theory, and the history of higher education.Read more
- A comprehensive intellectual history of American legal thought
- Features detailed discussions of the work of major European and American legal scholars
- Challenges assumptions that have prevailed since the early twentieth century about the deductive formalism and conservatism of late nineteenth-century American legal thought
Reviews & endorsements
“This is a pioneering study of American historical jurisprudence in the late nineteenth century. It is comprehensive, meticulous, and deeply learned. It is cosmopolitan, placing the Americans among their European predecessors and counterparts. And it is eye-opening: the standard picture of this era’s legal scholars as political reactionaries and abstract deductive ‘formalists’ cannot possibly survive this splendid and important book.”
Robert W. Gordon, Stanford Law SchoolSee more reviews
“This accomplished work of intellectual legal history is the first complete account of American legal thought from the rise of Classical Legal Thought in the 1870s to the Sociological Jurisprudence of the pre–World War I era. Though it offers many illuminating challenges to conventional wisdom in the field, the book’s first goal is to overthrow the still dominant Holmesian picture of Classical American legal thinkers as unhistorical prisoners of logic. Rabban shows instead the pervasive influence of historical consciousness on leading American legal thinkers, many of them influenced by Darwinian evolutionary ideas.”
Morton Horwitz, Charles Warren Professor of American Legal History, Harvard Law School
“Law’s History is an important analysis of the historical mentality of late-nineteenth-century legal scholarship and a revealing guide to ways twentieth-century scholars have interpreted it.”
Dorothy Ross, Johns Hopkins University
“A remarkable book. Rabban amply documents the ‘Atlantic crossings’ in legal scholarship at the turn of the twentieth century and unpacks the deep connections between history and law in modern American and continental legal thought. Essential reading for those interested in the intellectual history of law.”
Keith E. Whittington, Princeton University
"David Rabban’s Law’s History: American Legal Thought and the Transatlantic Turn to History is one of the finest works of legal history produced in recent memory and one of the finest works of the branch of legal history that deals with intellectual history of the last several decades."
Alfred L. Brophy, Texas Law Review
"In Law’s History, David Rabban aims to reawaken us to the former prominence of historical jurisprudence and to explain its apparent fall."
Brian Z. Tamanaha, Texas Law Review
"This well-written and expansive book is partly a history of legal histories. More than that, however, it is a history of how European, British, and American legal scholars used history, both when writing legal history and when writing substantively about legal policy."
Herbert Hovenkamp, The Journal of American History
"Law's History is a comprehensive and illuminating study of early American legal scholarship."
Harvard Law Review
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- format: Adobe eBook Reader
- isbn: 9781139785730
- contains: 21 b/w illus.
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Table of Contents
Introduction: the historical study of law in the United States
Part I. The European Background:
1. The historical nineteenth century
2. German legal scholarship
3. English legal scholarship: Sir Henry Maine
Part II. The Historical Turn in American Legal Scholarship:
4. Henry Adams and his students: the origins of professional legal history in America
5. Melville M. Bigelow: from the history of Norman Procedure to protorealism
6. Holmes the historian
7. Thayer on the history of evidence
8. Ames on the history of the common law
9. The history of American constitutional law
10. The historical school of American jurisprudence
Part III. Maitland, Pound, and Pound's Successors:
11. Maitland: the maturity of English legal history
12. Pound: from historical to sociological jurisprudence
13. Pound's successors: twentieth-century interpretations of late nineteenth-century American legal thought.
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