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The People's Property Law: A Step Toward Building a New Legal Order in Revolutionary New York


Like revolutionaries throughout the modern world, Americans built a new, stable legal order on property confiscated from their enemies. Early in the American War for Independence, colonial governments collapsed, British courts closed, and ordinary people took the law into their own hands. They created committees that enforced harsh, revolutionary justice. But remarkably, by the end of the War, they were able to develop the stable legal institutions of new governments.

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Edward P. Thompson , “The Moral Economy of the English Crowd in the Eighteenth Century,” Past & Present, 50 (1971): 73136

Barbara Clark Smith , “Food Rioters and the American Revolution,” The William and Mary Quarterly, 3d Ser., 51 (1994)

Bernard Bailyn , “The Challenge of Modern Historiography,” The American Historical Review, 87 (1982): 124

Lawrence M. Friedman , A History of American Law (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1973)

Elizabeth Dale , Criminal Justice in the United States, 1789–1939 (Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press, 2011)

Beatrice G. Reubens , “Pre-Emptive Rights in the Disposition of a Confiscated Estate, Philipsburgh Manor, New York,” The William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd Ser., 22 (1965): 435–56

Staughton Lynd , “Who Should Rule at Home? Dutchess County, New York in the American Revolution,” The William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd Ser., 18 (1961): 330–59

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Law and History Review
  • ISSN: 0738-2480
  • EISSN: 1939-9022
  • URL: /core/journals/law-and-history-review
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