Creation american common law by Howard Schweber

By Howard Schweber

The USA built its personal process of the "common legislation" (the identify for felony rules constructed by way of judges) within the mid-nineteenth century, leaving behind the criminal method inherited from England. This comparative examine of the improvement of yank legislation contrasts the reports of North and South via a learn of Illinois and Virginia, supported via observations from six states. It has an unique comparative concentration highlighting the connections among felony improvement, American political idea, and American political and fiscal improvement.

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Furthermore, life in urban areas exposed slaves to the pernicious influences of European immigrants, who were widely believed to be closet abolitionists or, at a minimum, disloyal to the southern cause (Berlin and Gutman, 1983: 1199–1200). There were fears, too, that urban blacks engaged in miscegenation with northerners and foreigners (Ashworth, 1995: 108, n. 45; Genovese, 1974: 423–9). Despite conservative concerns, urban manufacturers made extensive use of slave labor, creating tensions between industry and the slaveowning elite (Starobin, 1970b: 204–14).

The combination of transportation and communication created whole new forms of related commercial and industrial activities. Trains brought large amounts of grain to cities, so steam-powered grain elevators were invented to store it, and these, too, were often built and operated by the railroad companies. A single grain elevator, operated by the Illinois Central Railroad, could empty twelve railroad cars at a time and load ships at the mind-boggling rate of twenty-four thousand bushels per hour.

In 1847, the writers of the (northern, Whig) Scientific American heralded the promise of a plan to bring American railroad construction to Russia: “Who knows but in a few years the now Russian serf, may stand a freeman at his own cottage door, and as he beholds the locomotive fleeting past, will take off his cap . . ”18 16 17 18 Quoted in Marx, 1964: 152–3, 159. Quoted in Licht, 1995: 14. “American Genius and Enterprise,” Scientific American II (Sept. 1847). 0521824621c01 28 0 521 824621 October 9, 2003 8:20 The Creation of American Common Law, 1850–1880 There were skeptical voices, to be sure, both from an emerging industrial laboring class (Kozol, 1995; Wilentz, 1984b; Salvatore, 1984), and from agrarian traditionalists resistant to the rise of corporate elites (Piott, 1985; Hirschfield, 1952), but they did not often appear in the political discourse of the two main political parties in the North.

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