University of Nebraska Press

Law in the American West

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Go

Browse Books in Series:

Law in the American West

1

Results 1-4 of 4

:
restricted access This search result is for a Book

Law and Order in Buffalo Bill's Country

Legal Culture and Community on the Great Plains, 1867-1910

Mark R. Ellis

Celebrated accounts of lawless towns that relied on the extra-legal justice of armed citizens and hired gunmen are part of the enduring cultural legacy of the American West. This image of the frontier has been fueled for more than a century by historians—both amateur and academic—and by various popular images. In the twenty-first century, Great Plains communities continue to perpetuate this image with tourist attractions and events that pay homage to their “lawless” past. But these romanticized depictions of the violent frontier do not accurately portray the legal culture of most early Great Plains communities.
 
Law and Order in Buffalo Bill’s Country is a case study of law and legal culture in Lincoln County, Nebraska, during the nineteenth century. Mark R. Ellis argues that nascent nineteenth-century Great Plains communities shared an understanding of the law that allowed for the immediate implementation of legal institutions such as courts, jails, and law enforcement. A common legal culture, imported from New England and the Midwest, influenced frontier communities to uphold traditions of law and order even in the “wild and wooly” frontier community of North Platte, Nebraska. This study is one of the first to examine legal institutions on the Great Plains. By setting aside the issue of a violent frontier West and focusing instead on community building and legal institutions, this study presents a very different image of the frontier-era Great Plains.

restricted access This search result is for a Book

The Nebraska-Kansas Act of 1854

John R. Wunder

The Nebraska-Kansas Act of 1854 turns upside down the traditional way of thinking about one of the most important laws ever passed in American history. The act that created Nebraska and Kansas also, in effect, abolished the Missouri Compromise, which had prohibited slavery in the region since 1820. This bow to local control outraged the nation and led to vicious confrontations, including Kansas’s subsequent mini-civil war. The essays in this volume shift the focus from the violent and influential reaction of “Bleeding Kansas” to the role that Nebraska played in this decisive moment.
 
Essays from both established and new scholars examine the historical context and significance of this statute. They treat American political culture of the 1850s; American territorial history; the roles of Abraham Lincoln, Stephen Douglas, and Frederick Douglass in the creation and implementation of the law; the reactions of African Americans to the act; and the comparative impact on Nebraskans and Kansans. At the 150th anniversary of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, as it came to be known, these scholars reexamine the political, social, and personal contexts of this act and its effect on the course of American history.

restricted access This search result is for a Book

Sunflower Justice

A New History of the Kansas Supreme Court

R. Alton Lee

Until recently, American legal historiography focused almost solely on national government. Although much of Kansas law reflects U.S. law, the state court’s arbitrary powers over labor-management conflicts, yellow dog contracts, civil rights, gender issues, and domestic relations set precedents that reverberated around the country. Sunflower Justice is a pioneering work that presents the history of a state through the use of its supreme court decisions as evidence.

 

R. Alton Lee traces Kansas’s legal history through 150 years of records, shedding light on the state’s political, economic, and social history in this groundbreaking overview of Kansas legal cases and judicial biographies. Beginning with the territorial justices and continuing through the late twentieth century, R. Alton Lee covers the dispossession of Native Americans’ land, the growth and impact of labor unions, antimonopoly cases against railroad and mining companies, a nine-year state ban on the movie Birth of a Nation, and implications and effects of desegregation, as well as the shooting of Dr. George Tiller for performing legal abortions. Because judicial decisions are not made in a vacuum, Lee presents each of the justices in the context of the era and their personal experiences before examining how their decisions shaped Kansas political, economic, social, and legal history.

restricted access This search result is for a Book

Women Who Kill Men

California Courts, Gender, and the Press

Gordon Morris Bakken

The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were a revolutionary period in the lives of women, and the shifting perceptions of women and their role in society were equally apparent in the courtroom. Women Who Kill Men examines eighteen sensational cases of women on trial for murder from 1870 to 1958.
 
The fascinating details of these murder trials, documented in court records and embellished newspaper coverage, mirrored the changing public image of women. Although murder was clearly outside the norm for standard female behavior, most women and their attorneys relied on gendered stereotypes and language to create their defense and sometimes to leverage their status in a patriarchal system. Those who could successfully dress and act the part of the victim were most often able to win the sympathies of the jury. Gender mattered. And though the norms shifted over time, the press, attorneys, and juries were all informed by contemporary gender stereotypes.

1

Results 1-4 of 4

:

Return to Browse All Series on Project MUSE

Series

Law in the American West

Content Type

  • (4)

Access

  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access