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Final Examination

American Legal History

Spring 2003

Read the Instructions and then pick one of the questions on this page and answer it.

Your answers are due by 3 pm on 12 May.  If you turn in your answers late, you flunk the course.  Instructions for turning in your answers TBA.

1.  Compare and contrast the presentation of American legal history that you find in Chief Justice Taney's opinion in Dred Scott v. Sandford with that of Professor Simkins in Why the Ku Klux?  What do the similarities and differences tell you about American history?

2.  Imagine that a good Puritan like John Winthrop or William Bradford reads the Declaration of Independence; Stanton, Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions; the federal Constitution; the Confederate Constitution; and Bryan, "Cross of Gold."  How would this Puritan react?

3.  Is Joseph Hutcheson's "The Judgment Intuitive" an accurate depiction of how judges have made decisions throughout the history of the United States?

4. 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. 

5.  Discuss how the role of government in structuring social and economic life in society has changed from the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries.  In considering this issue, you may think about the relationship between the government and individual rights and liberties.  At the same time, you should consider what role the government has played with regard to the membership of individuals in groups—families, racial groups, corporations, churches, for example.  As families and people belonging to various groups have gone about living their daily lives in what is now the United States, how has the role of government changed in relationship to daily living?  Do not limit your discussion to the federal government.

 

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© 2009.  Thomas D. Russell
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Last modified:  18 November 2009