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The Law of the Whale Hunt
Dispute Resolution, Property Law, and American Whalers, 1780–1880

$99.99 (C)

Part of Cambridge Historical Studies in American Law and Society

  • Author: Robert Deal, Marshall University, West Virginia
  • Date Published: February 2016
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107114630

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  • Whale oil lit the cities and greased the machines of the Industrial Revolution. In light of its importance, competition between whalers was high. Far from courts and law enforcement, competing crews of American whalers not known for their gentility and armed with harpoons tended to resolve disputes at sea over ownership of whales. Left to settle arguments on their own, whalemen created norms and customs to decide ownership of whales pursued by multiple crews. The Law of the Whale Hunt provides an innovative examination of how property law was created in the absence of formal legal institutions regulating the American whaling industry in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Using depositions, court testimony, logbooks, and other previously unused primary sources, Robert Deal tells an exciting story of American whalers hunting in waters from the North Atlantic to the South Pacific and the Sea of Okhotsk.

    • Bridges the divide between practitioners of law and economics and those who favor the law and humanities approach
    • Gives an historically rich account of how whalers settled disputes and a discussion of how these practices fit into the broader models of human behavior
    • Provides a lively narrative drawn from the accounts of whalemen as to how they hunted and went about resolving disputes
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    Product details

    • Date Published: February 2016
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107114630
    • dimensions: 235 x 157 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.4kg
    • contains: 10 b/w illus.
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. The biology, economics, and geography of Anglo-American whaling
    3. Fast-fish, loose-fish
    4. Iron holds the whale
    5. Laws of honor
    6. Halves
    7. The environment of litigation
    8. An untragic commons
    9. Conclusion.

  • Author

    Robert Deal, Marshall University, West Virginia
    Robert Deal is an Assistant Professor of History at Marshall University, West Virginia.

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