Jefferson's Louisiana: Politics and the Clash of Legal Traditions

Edition: Revised
Format: Paperback
Pub. Date: 2009-12-01
Publisher(s): Lawbook Exchange Ltd
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Clark, NJ: The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd., 2009. xxxvi, 331 pp. * One of the most vexing problems that confronted the administration of Thomas Jefferson after the purchase of all of Louisiana in 1803: Which system of law would prevail in this volatile corner of the North American continent-Louisiana civil law or Anglo-American common law? That Louisianians would remain committed to their civil law heritage was by no means certain. But the enactment of the Civil Law Digest by the territorial legislature in 1808 was a major event in the evolution of Louisiana's increasingly complex legal regime. Jefferson's Louisiana shows how this important moment came at a time when political forces and outside events joined together to reinforce local determination to resist total Americanization and to preserve Louisiana's established legal culture. The book reconnects a segment of American legal history to the general history of the period. In addition to official records, it also uses archival sources that demonstrate how the struggle between civil law and common law forces affected people who were either outside of, or but marginally connected to, legal and governmental structures. ". . . among the finest volumes I have been associated with. The issues are complex both legally and politically, and Dargo's accomplishment is to recognize that the legal could not (and should not) be disentangled from the political. . . . The book was, and is, a triumph of historical scholarship, just as compelling in this revised edition in 2009 as it was when first published in 1975. . . . His new Introduction is the best guide I know of to the complicated world of late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Louisiana law." Stanley N. Katz, Director, Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies, Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University, Editor in Chief, Oxford International Encyclopedia of Legal History. George Dargo grew up in Brooklyn, New York. A graduate of Erasmus Hall High School and Columbia College, he completed his Doctorate in the Department of History at Columbia University and, later, earned his law degree at Northeastern University. His previous books include Roots of the Republic, Law in the New Republic, and A History of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. He now teaches law at New England Law Boston. Along with his wife Lois, he lives in Brookline, Massachusetts.

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