Michael Les Benedict
This chapter examines constitutional developments during the period from the inauguration of President Andrew Jackson through Reconstruction. It begins with an overview of the tension between constitutional politics and constitutional law before turning to a discussion of constitutional issues in the Jacksonian Era, with particular emphasis on the constitutional politics of state rights, Jackson’s increased power, equal rights and democracy, how the Supreme Court addressed constitutional issues of the period, and constitutional issues of slavery. It then explores constitutional issues during the Civil War by tackling ones related to secession, civil liberties and emancipation under the administration of Abraham Lincoln, and the accretion of federal power. The chapter concludes with an analysis of the constitutional issues during Reconstruction, focusing on efforts to restore the Southern states to normal relations in the Union, instability in the South and federal protection of rights, and the role of the Supreme Court.
Many indigenous peoples now practice their own laws, their own cultural traditions and customs. In doing so, they draw on history, reconstructing their legal pasts, recreating—or even creating—their identities. At the same time, historical research has increasingly pointed out the intense interaction between indigenous peoples and European invaders during colonial period. Thus, it has become clear that many of the so-called ‘indigenous’ or ‘colonial’ legal traditions are more properly seen as hybridizations of indigenous and colonial laws and legal practices. This chapter introduces this historiography and its relevance to law and presents some methodological challenges in writing the history of indigenous rights in Latin America resulting from this fairly recent shift in (legal) historiography.
Seymour Drescher and Paul Finkelman
This chapter discusses the international law elements of slavery; anti-slavery and abolitionism; abolition and international law; civilization; international law and anti-slavery; and postwar events. Over the course of the past five centuries, slavery and the slave trade have played a major role in the formation and transformation of international law. Identified in antiquity as a consensual institution of the law of nations, slavery’s standing in legal discourse was slowly modified. During four centuries after 1450, some of Europe’s metropolises began to identify themselves as lands where the ius gentium’s generic verdict on slavery no longer applied. Within a century after the outbreak of the Atlantic revolutions, the empires of slavery had become empires of anti-slavery. In international law, anti-slavery was now the gold standard of civilization. In the wake of the First World War, slavery seemed to be a vanishing institution.