Synopses & Reviews
In 1808 the legislature of the Louisiana territory appointed two men to translate the Digest of the Laws in Force in the Territory of Orleans (or, as it was called at the time, simply the Code) from the original French into English. Those officials, however, did not reveal who received the commission, and the translators never identified themselves. Indeed, the "translators of 1808" guarded their secret so well that their identities have remained unknown for more than two hundred years. Their names, personalities, careers, and credentials, indeed everything about them, have been a missing chapter in Louisiana legal history.
In this volume, Vernon Valentine Palmer, through painstaking research, uncovers the identity of the translators, presents their life stories, and evaluates their translation in the context of the birth of civil law in Louisiana. One consequence of the translators' previous anonymity has been that the translation itself has never been fully examined before this study. To be sure, the translation has been criticized and specific errors have been pointed out, but Palmer's study is the first general evaluation that considers the translation's goals, the Louisiana context, its merits and demerits, its innovations, failures, and successes. It thus allows us to understand how much and in what ways the translators affected the future course of Louisiana law. The Lost Translators, through painstaking research, uncovers the identity of the translators, presents their life stories, and evaluates their translation in the context of the birth of civil law in Louisiana.