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Other titles in the Studies in Legal History series:
Constituting Empire: New York and the Transformation of Constitutionalism in the Atlantic World, 1664-1830by Daniel J. Hulsebosch
Synopses & Reviews
According to the traditional understanding of American constitutional law, the Revolution produced a new conception of the constitution as a set of restrictions on the power of the state rather than a mere description of governmental roles. Daniel J. Hulsebosch complicates this viewpoint by arguing that American ideas of constitutions were based on British ones and that, in New York, those ideas evolved over the long eighteenth century as New York moved from the periphery of the British Atlantic empire to the center of a new continental empire.
Hulsebosch explains how colonists and administrators reconfigured British legal sources to suit their needs in an expanding empire. In this story, familiar characters such as Alexander Hamilton and James Kent appear in a new light as among the nation's most important framers, and forgotten loyalists such as Superintendent of Indian Affairs Sir William Johnson and lawyer William Smith Jr. are rightly returned to places of prominence.
In his paradigm-shifting analysis, Hulsebosch captures the essential paradox at the heart of American constitutional history: the Revolution, which brought political independence and substituted the people for the British crown as the source of legitimate authority, also led to the establishment of a newly powerful constitution and a new postcolonial genre of constitutional law that would have been the envy of the British imperial agents who had struggled to govern the colonies before the Revolution.
"A sophisticated and insightful analysis of American constitutional theory and the development of law as the expression of that theory within a conceptual structure rooted in the understanding of empire."
— Register of the Kentucky Historical Society "As Hulsebosch brilliantly describes, the constitution of the British Empire was rarely settled and almost always hotly contested."
— Harvard Law Review "Provocative. . . . Hulsebosch has successfully placed early American constitutional history in two critical contexts: the social history of mobility as well as the intellectual paradigm of empire. The result deserves to be read by both social historians and legal scholars of this period."
— William and Mary Quarterly "An interesting and important dimension to the old Progressive historical perspective that explains how a divided people became one."
— Journal of the Early Republic A pleasure to read.
--American Historical Review [Hulsebosch] brilliant book will have a profound impact on our understanding of the American Revolution. . . .
--Law and History Review A capacious and beautifully written history.
Christine Desan, Harvard Law School Utterly persuasive. . . . Hulsebosch's handling of the historical evidence is impeccable, and his writing is crisp and clear.
Larry D. Kramer, Stanford Law School
The traditional understanding of American constitutional law is that the Revolution caused a shift in the conception of the constitution from merely a description of governmental roles to a set of restrictions on the power of the state. Hulsebosch complicates this viewpoint by arguing that American ideas of constitutional law were based on British ones and that American colonists and administrators reconfigured British legal sources to suit their needs in their own expanding empire.
About the Author
Daniel J. Hulsebosch is professor of law at New York University School of Law.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Constitutions and Empire
Part I: The Imperial Origins of New York
1. Empire and Liberty
2. Time Immemorial: The Foundations of Common-Law Culture in an Imperial Province
Part II: Imperia in Imperio: Property and Sovereignty in a Frontier Province
3. The Multiple Constitutions of Empire in New York, 1750-1777
4. The Search for Imperial Law in the 1760s
Part III: Imperial Civil War and Reconstitution
5. Provincial Resistance and Garrison Government
6. The State Constitution of 1777
Part IV: Postcolonial Constitutionalism and Transatlantic Legal Culture
7. The Imperial Federalist: Ratification and the Creation of Constitutional Law
8. Empire State: Constitutional Politics and the Convention of 1821
9. An Empire of Law
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History and Social Science » Law » Constitutional Law