Instructions and then pick one of the questions on this page and answer it.
Your answers are due by 9 pm on 17 December. If you turn in your
answers late, you flunk the course.
You may turn in your answers either by sending them directory to my
assistant, Hope Kentnor, at
firstname.lastname@example.org or by using the exam
drop box. Do NOT send it in both ways. If you send it as
e-mail, send yourself a copy and ask for a read-receipt. If you
don't know how to do that, use the drop box.
1. Daniel Day Lewis:
With an eye toward legal
history, watch and review The Last of the Mohicans, Gangs of New
York, and The Age of Innocence. Think carefully about the
legal historical themes illustrated in these movies. Assess the
verisimilitude. Craft an argument for your review that knits together
themes from each of the movies.
2. Build a Lecture:
On your own, find three (or more)
documents that illustrate some aspect of American legal history that Professor
Russell has either neglected or misrepresented. You may pick any topic
from any period between 1607 and 1932. Based on these documents, write
lecture that, if added to the course, would improve the course.
is the importance of equality--the ideal and the practice--in the history
of American law from colonial times to the 1950s?
4. Colonial Legal History:
years ago, a young legal historian interested in the colonial period met
with J. Willard Hurst. (Hurst is, of course, the great giant of American legal history
since World War II; if Hurst has been eclipsed, it is only by Lawrence Friedman,
who was Hurst's student.) The
young historian met with Hurst in order to discuss the young historian's
research and career plans.
Hurst told the young historian--not too subtly--that colonial legal history
was not worth studying. Hurst
suggested instead that if the would-be colonial historian were interested
in the relationship between the present and the American past, he should
limit himself to studying the years after 1870.
Hurst's conversation with the young historian raises the issue that
is the subject of this question:
why study colonial legal history?
should approach this question by taking seriously the issue of whether we
should study colonial legal history at all.
(For the purposes of this question, the colonial period lasts until
1760.) Using material from
the readings and lectures for the colonial period, as well as from other
parts of the course, you should make an argument as to whether the study
of colonial legal history is worthwhile.
Along the way, you should define for yourself what it means for the
study of any history to be "worthwhile."
You should also feel free to use your essay as an opportunity to
argue for either more or less material devoted to the colonial period in
5. Rabbit-Proof Fence.
View the film Rabbit-Proof
Fence, which deals with Australia's policy of removing mixed-blooded
aboriginal children from their families. Analyze the film in
relation to the history of American law, with particular reference to
the history of Native Americans and African-Americans.
6. Fitzhugh, Sociology for the South.
You are an
American lawyer in 1854. You can pick where you live as well as
your political point of view. You have just read Fitzhugh's
Sociology of the South. Using the materials of your
profession, write a letter to Fitzhugh responding to his argument.
7. Friedman on women and African-Americans.
relegates women and African-Americans to two chapters of History of
American Law. (See pp. 202-229, 488-510.) Using material
drawn from the lectures and reading, critique (or support) Friedman's
handling of women and African-Americans.