I've been reading Christopher Curtis' Jefferson's Freeholders and the Politics of Ownership of late and enjoying it a great deal. (This, I guess, comes as no surprise since it's on the legal history of the old South!) Curtis correlates the changes in Virginia law towards property from Revolution through Civil War (such as the focus on landownership as a necessity of voting rights) with changes in attitudes towards slavery. And get this: he begins with one of my favorite antebellum figures, James P. Holcombe! I think Curtis provides an excellent gauge the changes in ideas that took place in Virgina leading into Civil War and thus gives us a very good way of thinking about the growth of the market and about slavery -- two topics of immense importance in thinking about the changes our country and our legal system went through, and of course in thinking about the coming of war. Though he doesn't talk about this so explicitly, I think this is also about the growth of individualism. Whether the changes in the law had an independent power or whether they were just gauges of what was happening is really open to debate, though my strong suspicion is that law is largely a dependent variable.
Cribbing now from Cambridge University Press' website:
Jefferson's Freeholders explores the historical processes by which Virginia was transformed from a British colony into a Southern slave state. It focuses on changing conceptualizations of ownership and emphasizes the persistent influence of the English common law on Virginia's postcolonial political culture. The book explains how the traditional characteristics of land tenure became subverted by the dynamic contractual relations of a commercial economy and assesses the political consequences of the law reforms that were necessitated by these developments. Nineteenth-century reforms seeking to reconcile the common law with modern commercial practices embraced new democratic expressions about the economic and political power of labor, and thereby encouraged the idea that slavery was an essential element in sustaining republican government in Virginia. By the 1850s, the ownership of human property had replaced the ownership of land as the distinguishing basis for political power with tragic consequences for the Old Dominion.
The book is very important and should get a lot of attention in legal history circles as well as among historians of the south and the antebellum period more generally.