In the five decades after the Civil War, the United States witnessed a profusion of legal institutions designed to cope with the nation's exceptionally acute industrial accident crisis. Jurists elaborated the common law of torts. Workingmen's organizations founded a widespread system of cooperative insurance. Leading employers instituted welfare-capitalist accident relief funds. And social reformers advocated compulsory insurance such as workmen's compensation.
John Fabian Witt argues that experiments in accident law at the turn of the twentieth century arose out of competing views of the loose network of ideas and institutions that historians call the ideology of free labor. These experiments a century ago shaped twentieth- and twenty-first-century American accident law; they laid the foundations of the American administrative state; and they occasioned a still hotly contested legal transformation from the principles of free labor to the categories of insurance and risk. In this eclectic moment at the beginnings of the modern state, Witt describes American accident law as a contingent set of institutions that might plausibly have developed along a number of historical paths. In turn, he suggests, the making of American accident law is the story of the equally contingent remaking of our accidental republic.
Table of Contents:
1. Crippled Workingmen, Destitute Widows, and the Crisis of Free Labor 2. The Dilemmas of Classical Tort Law 3. The Cooperative Insurance Movement 4. From Markets to Managers 5. Widows, Actuaries, and the Logics of Social Insurance 6. The Passion of William Werner 7. The Accidental Republic
Notes Acknowledgments Index
John Witt paints his portrait of industrializing America with the subtlety of a master and on an immense canvas. His magisterial history is much more than an account of the rise of workers compensation, still one of our greatest social reforms. Witt vividly recreates the social context of the late 19th century industrial world - workers' appalling injury and death rates, their mutual help and insurance associations, mass immigration, the rise of Taylorist management, the struggles to give new meaning to the free labor ideal, the encounter between European social engineering and American anti-statism and individualism, and the politics and economics of labor relations in the Progressive era. Out of these materials, Witt shows, the law helped fashion a new social order. His analysis has great contemporary significance, revealing both the alluring possibilities and the enduring limits of legal reform in America. It is destined to become a classic of social and legal history. --Peter H. Schuck, author of Diversity in America: Keeping Government at a Safe Distance
John Witt shows us the power of perceptive legal history at work. Within the tangle of compensation for industrial accidents, he discovers not only a legal struggle whose outcome set the pattern for many 20th century interventions of government in economic life, but also a momentous confrontation between contract and collective responsibility. Anyone who finds American history absorbing will gain pleasure and insight from this book. --Viviana Zelizer, Princeton University, author of The Social Meaning of Money: Pin Money, Paychecks, Poor Relief, and Other Currencies
In 1940 Willard Hurst and Lloyd Garrison inaugurated modern socio-legal studies in the United States with their history of workers' injuries and legal process in Wisconsin. Two generations later, John Fabian Witt's The Accidental Republic marks the full maturation of that field of inquiry. Deftly integrating a legal analysis of tort doctrine, a history of industrial accidents, and a fresh political-economic understanding of statecraft, Witt demonstrates the significance of turn-of-the-century struggles over work, injury, risk, reparation, and regulation in the making of our modern world. Sophisticated, comprehensive, and interdisciplinary, The Accidental Republic is legal history as Hurst and Garrison imagined it could be. --William Novak, The University of Chicago, author of The People's Welfare: Law and Regulation in Nineteenth-Century America
In 1914 the British-built and Japanese-owned steamship Komagata Maru left Hong Kong for Vancouver carrying 376 Punjabi migrants. Chartered by railway contractor and purported rubber planter Gurdit Singh, the ship and its passengers were denied entry into Canada and two months later were deported to Calcutta. In Across Oceans of Law Renisa Mawani retells this well-known story of the Komagata Maru. Drawing on "oceans as method"—a mode of thinking and writing that repositions land and sea—Mawani examines the historical and conceptual stakes of situating histories of Indian migration within maritime worlds. Through close readings of the ship, the manifest, the trial, and the anticolonial writings of Singh and others, Mawani argues that the Komagata Maru's landing raised urgent questions regarding the jurisdictional tensions between the common law and admiralty law, and, ultimately, the legal status of the sea. By following the movements of a single ship and bringing oceans into sharper view, Mawani traces British imperial power through racial, temporal, and legal contests and offers a novel method of writing colonial legal history.
Despite declining prohibitions on sexual relationships, Americans are nearly unanimous in condemning marital infidelity. Deborah Rhode explores why. She exposes the harms that criminalizing adultery inflicts—including civil lawsuits, job termination, and loss of child custody—and makes a case for repealing laws against adultery and polygamy.
In the decade after the 1973 Supreme Court decision on abortion, advocates on both sides sought common ground. But as pro-abortion and anti-abortion positions hardened over time into pro-choice and pro-life, the myth was born that Roe v. Wade was a ruling on a woman’s right to choose. Mary Ziegler’s account offers a corrective.
WINNER OF THE ANNE B. & JAMES B. MCMILLAN PRIZE IN SOUTHERN HISTORY
Examines the legacies of eight momentous US Supreme Court decisions that have their origins in Alabama legal disputes
Unknown to many, Alabama has played a remarkable role in a number of Supreme Court rulings that continue to touch the lives of every American. In Alabama Justice: The Cases and Faces That Changed a Nation, Steven P. Brown has identified eight landmark cases that deal with religion, voting rights, libel, gender discrimination, and other issues, all originating from legal disputes in Alabama.
Written in a concise and accessible manner, each case law chapter begins with the circumstances that created the dispute. Brown then provides historical and constitutional background for the issue followed by a review of the path of litigation. Excerpts from the Court’s ruling in the case are also presented, along with a brief account of the aftermath and significance of the decision. The First Amendment (New York Times v. Sullivan), racial redistricting (Gomillion v. Lightfoot), the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment (Frontiero v. Richardson), and prayer in public schools (Wallace v. Jaffree) are among the pivotal issues stamped indelibly by disputes with their origins in Alabama legal, political, and cultural landscapes. By examining such landmark twentieth-century milestones and eras such as the Scottsboro Boys trial, the Civil Rights movement, and the fight for women’s rights through a legal lens, Brown sheds new and unexpected light on the ways that events in Alabama have shaped the nation.
In addition to his analysis of cases, Brown discusses the three associate Supreme Court justices from Alabama to the Supreme Court: John McKinley, John Archibald Campbell, and Hugo Black. Their cumulative influence on constitutional interpretation, the institution of the Court, and the day-to-day rights and liberties enjoyed by every American is impossible to measure. A closing chapter examines the careers and contributions of these three Alabamians.
“Citizenship is salvation,” preached Noble Drew Ali, leader of the Moorish Science Temple of America in the early twentieth century. Ali’s message was an aspirational call for black Americans to undertake a struggle for recognition from the state, one that would both ensure protection for all Americans through rights guaranteed by the law and correct the unjust implementation of law that prevailed in the racially segregated United States. Ali and his followers took on this mission of citizenship as a religious calling, working to carve out a place for themselves in American democracy and to bring about a society that lived up to what they considered the sacred purpose of the law.
In The Aliites, Spencer Dew traces the history and impact of Ali’s radical fusion of law and faith. Dew uncovers the influence of Ali’s teachings, including the many movements they inspired. As Dew shows, Ali’s teachings demonstrate an implicit yet critical component of the American approach to law: that it should express our highest ideals for society, even if it is rarely perfect in practice. Examining this robustly creative yet largely overlooked lineage of African American religious thought, Dew provides a window onto religion, race, citizenship, and law in America.
In 1955 the Supreme Court ruled that veterans of the U.S. armed forces could not be court-martialed for overseas crimes that were not detected until after they had left military service. Territorial limitations placed such acts beyond the jurisdiction of civilian courts, and there was no other American court in which they could be adjudicated. As a result, a jurisdictional gap emerged that for decades exempted former troops from prosecution for war crimes. "This was not merely a theoretical possibility," Patrick Hagopian writes. Over a dozen former soldiers who participated in the My Lai massacre did in fact "get away with murder." Further court rulings expanded the gap to cover civilian employees and contractors that accompanied the armed forces.
In American Immunity, Hagopian places what he calls the "superpower exemption" in the context of a long-standing tension between international law and U.S. sovereignty. He shows that despite the U.S. role in promulgating universal standards of international law and forming institutions where those standards can be enforced, the United States has repeatedly refused to submit its own citizens and troops to the jurisdiction of international tribunals and failed to uphold international standards of justice in its own courts.
In 2000 Congress attempted to close the jurisdictional gap with passage of the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act. The effectiveness of that legislation is still in question, however, since it remains unclear how willing civilian American juries will be to convict veterans for conduct in foreign war zones.
What is property? Stuart Banner here offers a guided tour through the many manifestations, and innumerable uses, of property throughout American history. From indigenous culture to our genes, from one’s celebrity to Internet content, American Property reveals how our ideas of ownership evolve to suit our ever-changing needs.
For more than fifty years, Robert G. McCloskey’s classic work on the Supreme Court’s role in constructing the US Constitution has introduced generations of students to the workings of our nation’s highest court.
As in prior editions, McCloskey’s original text remains unchanged. In his historical interpretation, he argues that the strength of the Court has always been its sensitivity to the changing political scene, as well as its reluctance to stray too far from the main currents of public sentiment. In this new edition, Sanford Levinson extends McCloskey’s magisterial treatment to address developments since the 2010 election, including the Supreme Court’s decisions regarding the Defense of Marriage Act, the Affordable Care Act, and gay marriage.
The best and most concise account of the Supreme Court and its place in American politics, McCloskey's wonderfully readable book is an essential guide to the past, present, and future prospects of this institution.
Robert Tsai's history invites readers into the circle of defiant groups who refused to accept the Constitution's definition of who "We the People" are and how their authority should be exercised. It is the story of America as told by dissenters: squatters, Native Americans, abolitionists, socialists, internationalists, and racial nationalists.
The Revolution’s aspiration was summed up by the phrase “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Yet the American founding was also a bid for inclusion in the community of nations. According to Eliga Gould, America aspired to diplomatic recognition under international law and the authority to become an Atlantic colonizing power itself.
The ancient Greeks invented written law. Yet, in contrast to later societies in which law became a professional discipline, the Greeks treated laws as components of social and political history, reflecting the daily realities of managing society. To understand Greek law, then, requires looking into extant legal, forensic, and historical texts for evidence of the law in action. From such study has arisen the field of ancient Greek law as a scholarly discipline within classical studies, a field that has come into its own since the 1970s. This edited volume charts new directions for the study of Greek law in the twenty-first century through contributions from eleven leading scholars. The essays in the book’s first section reassess some of the central debates in the field by looking at questions about the role of law in society, the notion of “contracts,” feuding and revenge in the court system, and legal protections for slaves engaged in commerce. The second section breaks new ground by redefining substantive areas of law such as administrative law and sacred law, as well as by examining sources such as Hellenistic inscriptions that have been comparatively neglected in recent scholarship. The third section evaluates the potential of methodological approaches to the study of Greek law, including comparative studies with other cultures and with modern legal theory. The volume ends with an essay that explores pedagogy and the relevance of teaching Greek law in the twenty-first century.
Animal law has become a topic of growing importance internationally, with animal welfare and animal rights often assuming center stage in contemporary debates about the legal status of animals. While nonspecialists routinely decontextualize ancient texts to support or deny rights to animals, experts in fields such as classics, biblical studies, Assyriology, Egyptology, rabbinics, and late antique Christianity have only just begun to engage the topic of animals and the law in their respective areas. This volume consists of original studies by scholars from a range of Mediterranean and West Asian fields on a variety of topics at the intersection of animals and the law in antiquity. Contributors include Rozenn Bailleul-LeSuer, Beth Berkowitz, Andrew McGowan, F. S. Naiden, Saul M. Olyan, Seth Richardson, Jordan D. Rosenblum, Andreas Schüle, Miira Tuominen, and Daniel Ullucci. The volume is essential reading for scholars and students of both the ancient world and contemporary law.
At a time when tech giants have amassed vast market power, Jonathan Baker shows how laws and regulations can be updated to ensure more competition. The sooner courts and antitrust enforcement agencies stop listening to the Chicago school and start paying attention to modern economics, the sooner Americans will reap the benefits of competition.
Slavery appears as a figurative construct during the English revolution of the mid-seventeenth century, and again in the American and French revolutions, when radicals represent their treatment as a form of political slavery. What, if anything, does figurative, political slavery have to do with transatlantic slavery? In Arbitrary Rule, Mary Nyquist explores connections between political and chattel slavery by excavating the tradition of Western political thought that justifies actively opposing tyranny. She argues that as powerful rhetorical and conceptual constructs, Greco-Roman political liberty and slavery reemerge at the time of early modern Eurocolonial expansion; they help to create racialized “free” national identities and their “unfree” counterparts in non-European nations represented as inhabiting an earlier, privative age.
Arbitrary Rule is the first book to tackle political slavery’s discursive complexity, engaging Eurocolonialism, political philosophy, and literary studies, areas of study too often kept apart. Nyquist proceeds through analyses not only of texts that are canonical in political thought—by Aristotle, Cicero, Hobbes, and Locke—but also of literary works by Euripides, Buchanan, Vondel, Montaigne, and Milton, together with a variety of colonialist and political writings, with special emphasis on tracts written during the English revolution. She illustrates how “antityranny discourse,” which originated in democratic Athens, was adopted by republican Rome, and revived in early modern Western Europe, provided members of a “free” community with a means of protesting a threatened reduction of privileges or of consolidating a collective, political identity. Its semantic complexity, however, also enabled it to legitimize racialized enslavement and imperial expansion.
Throughout, Nyquist demonstrates how principles relating to political slavery and tyranny are bound up with a Roman jurisprudential doctrine that sanctions the power of life and death held by the slaveholder over slaves and, by extension, the state, its representatives, or its laws over its citizenry.
The posthumous publication of The Argument and the Action of Plato's "Laws" was compiled shortly before the death of Leo Strauss in 1973. Strauss offers an insightful and instructive reading through careful probing of Plato's classic text.
"Strauss's The Argument and the Action of Plato's 'Laws' reflects his interest in political thought, his dogged method of following the argument of the Laws step by step, and his vigorous defense of this dialogue's integrity in respect to the ideals of the Republic."—Cross Currents
"The unique characteristics of this commentary on the Laws reflect the care and precision which were the marks of Professor Strauss's efforts to understand the complex thoughts of other men."—Allan D. Nelson, Canadian Journal of Political Science
"Thorough and provocative, an important addition to Plato scholarship."—Library Journal
"The major purpose of the commentary is to provide a reading of the dialogue which displays its structural arrangement and the continuity of the argument."—J. W. Dy, Bibliographical Bulletin of Philosophy
"The reader of Strauss's book is indeed guided closely through the whole text."— M. J. Silverthorne, The Humanities Association Review
Leo Strauss (1899-1973) was the Robert Maynard Hutchins Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of political science at the University of Chicago.
Underscores the importance of “little people” in affecting the US government
Armed with the Constitution stresses the courage of a black man, Rosco Jones, and a white woman, Grace Marsh, who dared to challenge the status quo in Alabama in the early 1940s. These two Jehovah’s Witnesses helped to lay a foundation for testing the constitutionality of state and local laws, establishing precedents that the Civil Rights movement, the feminist movement, and similar forces could follow. Newton has prepared a finely woven tale of oral, legal, and social history that opens a window on the world of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Alabama.
More than a legal study, this book is also a dramatic history of two powerful personalities whose total commitment to their faith enabled them to carry the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ battle from rural Alabama to the halls of the U.S. Supreme Court.
The first account of the August Trials, in which postwar Poland confronted the betrayal of Jewish citizens under Nazi rule but ended up fashioning an alibi for the past.
When six years of ferocious resistance to Nazi occupation came to an end in 1945, a devastated Poland could agree with its new Soviet rulers on little else beyond the need to punish German war criminals and their collaborators. Determined to root out the “many Cains among us,” as a Poznań newspaper editorial put it, Poland’s judicial reckoning spawned 32,000 trials and spanned more than a decade before being largely forgotten.
Andrew Kornbluth reconstructs the story of the August Trials, long dismissed as a Stalinist travesty, and discovers that they were in fact a scrupulous search for the truth. But as the process of retribution began to unearth evidence of enthusiastic local participation in the Holocaust, the hated government, traumatized populace, and fiercely independent judiciary all struggled to salvage a purely heroic vision of the past that could unify a nation recovering from massive upheaval. The trials became the crucible in which the Communist state and an unyielding society forged a foundational myth of modern Poland but left a lasting open wound in Polish-Jewish relations.
The August Trials draws striking parallels with incomplete postwar reckonings on both sides of the Iron Curtain, suggesting the extent to which ethnic cleansing and its abortive judicial accounting are part of a common European heritage. From Paris and The Hague to Warsaw and Kyiv, the law was made to serve many different purposes, even as it failed to secure the goal with which it is most closely associated: justice.
A sitting justice reflects upon the authority of the Supreme Court—how that authority was gained and how measures to restructure the Court could undermine both the Court and the constitutional system of checks and balances that depends on it.
A growing chorus of officials and commentators argues that the Supreme Court has become too political. On this view the confirmation process is just an exercise in partisan agenda-setting, and the jurists are no more than “politicians in robes”—their ostensibly neutral judicial philosophies mere camouflage for conservative or liberal convictions.
Stephen Breyer, drawing upon his experience as a Supreme Court justice, sounds a cautionary note. Mindful of the Court’s history, he suggests that the judiciary’s hard-won authority could be marred by reforms premised on the assumption of ideological bias. Having, as Hamilton observed, “no influence over either the sword or the purse,” the Court earned its authority by making decisions that have, over time, increased the public’s trust. If public trust is now in decline, one part of the solution is to promote better understandings of how the judiciary actually works: how judges adhere to their oaths and how they try to avoid considerations of politics and popularity.
Breyer warns that political intervention could itself further erode public trust. Without the public’s trust, the Court would no longer be able to act as a check on the other branches of government or as a guarantor of the rule of law, risking serious harm to our constitutional system.
Through a series of vivid case studies, Authors in Court charts the 300-year-long dance between authorship and copyright that has shaped each institution’s response to changing social norms of identity, privacy, and celebrity.
“A literary historian by training, Rose is completely at home in the world of law, as well as the history of photography and art. This is the work of an interdisciplinary scholar at the height of his powers. The arguments are sophisticated and the elegant text is a work of real craftsmanship. It is superb.”
—Lionel Bently, University of Cambridge
“Authors in Court is well-written, erudite, informative, and engaging throughout. As the chapters go along, we see the way that personalities inflect the supposedly impartial law; we see the role of gender in authorial self-fashioning; we see some of the fault lines which produce litigation; and we get a nice history of the evolution of the fair use doctrine. This is a book that should at least be on reserve for any IP–related course. Going forward, no one writing about any of the cases Rose discusses can afford to ignore his contribution.”
—Lewis Hyde, Kenyon College