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New Directions in Southern Legal History

Sally E. Hadden

Publication Year: 2013

In Signposts, Sally E. Hadden and Patricia Hagler Minter have assembled seventeen essays, by both established and rising scholars, that showcase new directions in southern legal history across a wide range of topics, time periods, and locales. The essays will inspire today's scholars to dig even more deeply into the southern legal heritage, in much the same way that David Bodenhamer and James Ely's seminal 1984 work, Ambivalent Legacy, inspired an earlier generation to take up the study of southern legal history.

Contributors to Signposts explore a wide range of subjects related to southern constitutional and legal thought, including real and personal property, civil rights, higher education, gender, secession, reapportionment, prohibition, lynching, legal institutions such as the grand jury, and conflicts between bench and bar. A number of the essayists are concerned with transatlantic connections to southern law and with marginalized groups such as women and native peoples. Taken together, the essays in Signposts show us that understanding how law changes over time is essential to understanding the history of the South.

Contributors: Alfred L. Brophy, Lisa Lindquist Dorr, Laura F. Edwards, James W. Ely Jr., Tim Alan Garrison, Sally E. Hadden, Roman J. Hoyos, Thomas N. Ingersoll, Jessica K. Lowe, Patricia Hagler Minter, Cynthia Nicoletti, Susan Richbourg Parker, Christopher W. Schmidt, Jennifer M. Spear, Christopher R. Waldrep, Peter Wallenstein, Charles L. Zelden.

Published by: University of Georgia Press

Series: Studies in the Legal History of the South

Series Page, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-viii


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pp. ix-x

List of Illustrations

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pp. xi-xii


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pp. xiii-xiv

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pp. 1-16

Nearly thirty years ago, James W. Ely Jr. and David Bodenhamer hosted a conference at the University of Southern Mississippi on southern legal history that invigorated a promising yet relatively unexplored subject. Prior to their conference, southern legal history was less visible as a fi eld, appearing only sporadically in history journals. Scholars working in...


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In My Mother’s House: Dowry Property and Female Inheritance Patterns in Spanish Florida

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pp. 19-44

Proverbial Spanish wisdom admonishes betrothed couples in rhythm and rhyme, Antes de casar, ten casa de morar (Before marrying, have a house to live in). The residents of Spanish Florida developed ways to address this universal concern through combining the laws of the Spanish empire with local realities in the colonial period. In St. Augustine, brides,...

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The Law and Order Campaign in New Orleans, 1763–1765: A Comparative View

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pp. 45-64

In the summer of 1763, New Orleans authorities began an unusual crackdown on suspected criminals. The ensuing arrests, torture, convictions, and executions reveal an eighteenth century at its least enlightened and provide a context in which to explore several comparative themes. First, compared with the parish’s immediate past and future, the crackdown was an isolated exception; it did not reflect routine judicial activism in...

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“Using the Faculties Conceded to Her by Law”: Slavery, Law, and Agency in Spanish New Orleans, 1763–1803

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pp. 65-88

In September 1773, Catherina, a thirty- six- year- old slave of the estate of Jean Baptiste Destrehan, petitioned the estate’s executors for freedom for herself and her five-year-old daughter, Felicité. Gabriel Fazende, one of the estate’s two executors, quickly consented, but the second executor, Estevan Boré, who was married to one of Destrehan’s daughters, refused. Asking the court to dismiss Catherina’s petition, Boré declared that...

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South Carolina’s Grand Jury Presentments: The Eighteenth-Century Experience

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pp. 89-110

In the contemporary world, we have grown used to hearing about grand jury indictments. Between media scandals and procedural television programs such as Law and Order that follow the accused from arraignment to trial, individuals in our age are sometimes overly informed about indictments of public figures or fi ctional characters who have run afoul of the law. Indictments are the result of information provided to...

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Guarding Republican Liberty: St. George Tucker and Judging in Federal Virginia

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pp. 111-134

Judge St. George Tucker had just left the bench late in the evening of September 3, 1791, when he scrawled a short message to attorney Charles Lee in the fl ickering candlelight. “In a cooler moment,” he wrote, “it is not improbable you may be convinced that in my offi cial conduct I have neither deserved the Imputation of partiality, nor of blood- thirstyness—if...


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The Shades of Loyalty: Elisha W. Chester and the Cherokee Removal

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pp. 137-170

In 1841, the Advocate of Moral Reform printed an editorial describing how the New York Female Moral Reform Society, the group that published the newspaper, was involved in a bitter dispute with its publishing agent. The society had relieved Charles Yale from his position for certain fi nancial irregularities; Yale, in retaliation, had published a pamphlet condemning...

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The Material Conditions of Dependency: The Hidden History of Free Women’s Control of Property in the Early Nineteenth-Century South

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pp. 171-192

On August 11, 1844, Elizabeth Cooley sat down to write in her diary, which she did regularly from the age of seventeen until her death at age twenty- three. That day, she and her mother had gone “to town a trading” and purchased knives and forks as well as calico to make dresses for Elizabeth and her sister, Amanda. The town was likely Hillsville, tucked into the southwest corner of Carroll County, Virginia, near the point where...

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Democracy, and Lynching, in America

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pp. 193-218

For most of American history, the Constitution has symbolized the nation’s commitment to liberty and the rule of law, a fundamental pledge to make freedom a national principle. Since 1985, though, questions about whether the Constitution should be properly seen as a freedom document have gained momentum.1 Much of this criticism cites the powerful role played by white southerners at the 1787 Constitutional Convention...

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The World Made by Laws and the Laws Made by the World of the Old South

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pp. 219-240

For a generation now, a group of scholars has reinvigorated the study of thought in the Old South. That is a tough task for at least two reasons. First, as the title of Drew Faust’s A Sacred Circle implies, selfidentifi ed intellectuals were relatively few. Second, and this is more a product of our limitation than of their world, we have diffi culty understanding...

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Peaceful Revolution and Popular Sovereignty: Reassessing the Constitutionality of Southern Secession

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pp. 241-264

The debate over the constitutionality of southern secession has long been a question of political morality. To say that secession was or was not constitutional is to say that the Civil War was or was not justified. Thus, two poles have come to defi ne the interpretation of secession’s constitutionality. Beginning shortly aft er the war in works by, among others, Albert Taylor Bledsoe, Alexander Stephens, and Jefferson Davis, former...

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Strategic Litigation and the Death of Reconstruction

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pp. 265-288

Reconstruction offered hope of meaningful change in the American South. With the federal government in control of the states of the former Confederacy, social, political, and even economic relations in southern society could have been profoundly altered. African Americans could have achieved some signifi cant and lasting measure of equality with their former masters if federal legislators had remained committed to a...

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Homestead Exemption and Southern Legal Culture

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pp. 289-314

Scholars have long examined whether and to what extent southern legal culture had unique dimensions.1 Understandably, much attention has been focused on race and caste as a dominant theme in fashioning law in the southern states.2 Yet this emphasis may obscure another characteristic—chronic indebtedness—that profoundly shaped the evolution ...


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A Place for Themselves in the Modern World: Southern Women and Alcohol in the Age of Prohibition, 1912–1933

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pp. 317-344

In 1920, a white woman in Andalusia, Alabama, reported that she had been raped by a black man. When the governor sent two offi cers to investigate, they reported back that the woman involved had been intimate with two white men, one of whom apparently became very angry that he was sharing her aff ections. “It is generally believed that he beat this woman up himself and, in order to protect him from being arrested, she claimed...

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Race, Property, and Negotiated Space in the American South: A Reconsideration of Buchanan v. Warley

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pp. 345-368

In October 1914, Charles Buchanan, a white real estate agent, and William Warley, an African American postal employee, began a real estate transaction that would end at the Supreme Court of the United States. On May 11 of that year, the city of Louisville, Kentucky, located on the Ohio River, the historic border between North and South, enacted an ordinance that prohibited white property owners from selling to African Americans...

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Race, Law, and Southern Public Higher Education, 1860s–1960s

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pp. 369-392

During the century from the 1860s through the 1960s— the hundred years aft er universal emancipation—the law of race and higher education in the U.S. South went through a series of substantial changes. In various confi gurations, three forces or groups lined up to shape the law of race and higher education in the region: (1) black southerners, (2) white policy makers in southern states, and (3) federal authorities (mostly Congress...

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The Southern Roots of the Reapportionment Revolution

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pp. 393-416

In July 1961, only thirteen states had constitutional or statutory rules requiring the apportionment of the upper houses of their legislatures to be based on population alone; for the lower houses, the number stood at just twelve. An additional seven states mandated that their upper houses take population fi gures into account but allowed for “minor” ...

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Defending the Right to Discriminate: The Libertarian Challenge to the Civil Rights Movement

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pp. 417-446

On July 2, 1964, aft er more than a year of national debate, Congress passed and President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The most controversial part of the law was the public accommodations provision (Title II), which prohibited racial discrimination in most of the nation’s restaurants and hotels. One business affected by this new federal antidiscrimination requirement was the Pickrick, an Atlanta ...


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pp. 447-452


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pp. 453-473

E-ISBN-13: 9780820345840
E-ISBN-10: 0820345849
Print-ISBN-13: 9780820340340
Print-ISBN-10: 0820340340

Page Count: 480
Illustrations: 7 b&w photos, 1 table, 4 figures
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Studies in the Legal History of the South