Friends in All the Right Places: The Newest Legal History

Today’s post accompanies “American Legal History and the Bill of Rights,” episode 259 of Ben Franklin’s World and part of Doing History 4: Understanding the Fourth Amendment. By Gautham Rao In 1965 a lawyer named Malcolm S. Mason wrote an article for the Journal of Legal Education with a simple problem: legal history was boring. Read More

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OI Books: The Book That Launched a Cross-Country Move

Today’s post is part of our series marking the 75th anniversary of the Omohundro Institute by exploring the OI books that have had an impact on a scholar’s life. By Michael S. Hindus Winthrop D. Jordan’s White Over Black was published on March 8, 1968. Over the course of the next six weeks, both the world and my life changed. I quickly devoured the book (at over 600 pages!) for my senior seminar on slavery at Columbia University. I was already determined to seek a Ph.D. in American History and assumed I would stay within the comfortable confines of the Ivy League. White Over Black was an eye-opener. I had not realized that writing history could be so far-reaching, so incredibly original, so interdisciplinary, and so elegant. Read More

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OI Books: Shifting the Conversation on Slavery

Today’s post is part of our series marking the 75th anniversary of the Omohundro Institute by exploring the OI books that have had an impact on a scholar’s life. by Abigail Swingen The pages of my copy of Richard S. Dunn’s Sugar and Slaves: The Rise of the Planter Class in the English West Indies are dog-eared thirty-one times. I referred to it repeatedly while I wrote my dissertation and my book. I first encountered the book in a class on colonial America in graduate school, but I did not really delve into it until I started to research my dissertation on unfree labor in the early English empire. I remember taking it with me practically everywhere I went on my first trip to the UK archives in the summer of 2002, reading it while on the Tube down to Kew, in coffee shops around London, and in the garden behind the dorm where I stayed at the University of Bristol. I’m sure many of the dog-ears date from that summer. In many ways the book remains indispensable to our understanding of the early English Caribbean colonies and how and why slavery played such an important role in their social and economic evolution. Read More

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OI Books: The Invasion of America and Me

Today’s post is part of our series marking the 75th anniversary of the Omohundro Institute by exploring the OI books that have had an impact on a scholar’s life. by Daniel Mandell I first encountered Francis Jennings’s The Invasion of America early in graduate studies at the University of Virginia. Unlike Christine DeLucia, I cannot remember that precise date (sometime in mid-1981), nor why I picked it up, but there is no forgetting its effect. In the first half of the book, Jennings broadly examined how first European rulers and then American intellectuals created a deceitful and destructive depiction of Native Americans, and then used that false construction to justify their subordination, dispossession, and near-extermination. In the second half, he applied those lessons in a slashing, no-holds-barred reexamination of New England’s origins from first English settlement to King Philip’s War, including a scorching scornful takedown of puritan saint John Eliot. In college I had been involved in Native American studies, and at Virginia had become interested in colonial social history and the newish New England town studies. It was not surprising that I was captivated by Jennings’s passionate, revisionist view, and went on to other recent works on early New England encounters. It now seems strange that there were so few: a handful of articles, Alden Vaughan’s New England Frontier (1965), and James Axtell’s The European and the Indian (1981). Read More

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