American Legal History
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
1. Compare and contrast the presentation of American legal
history that you find in Chief Justice Taney's
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.