I'm pleased to report that the June 2016 issue of the American Journal of Legal History is up on the web and on its way to the printer soon. Our first issue of the re-launched journal (March 2016) was composed of essays that we commissioned about the future of legal history. This issue, thus, is the first to reflect the structure of AJLH going forward. We have several articles and a selection of book reviews.
The two articles in the June issue deal with perennially popular topics in legal history. The first is Michael Lazerwitz’ study of moots in late colonial and early national New York. Lazerwitz, a senior counsel at Clearly, Gottlieb, deals with a topic of long-term interest: the nature of legal thought in early America. These are the kinds of issues legal historians have been discussing for decades. It is also asks fresh questions, such as how the content of those moots reflect questions about a trans-national legal culture and an imperial legal culture, and how oratory – another topic of perennial and growing interest to historians – reveals key values and is useful in transmitting those values. And in that way it fits well with recent work on New York, constitutionalism, and empire like Daniel J. Hulsebosch’s Constituting Empire: New York and the Transformation of Constitutionalism in the Atlantic World, 1664-1830..
Similarly, Fordham Law Professor Andrew Kent’s article on Justice White’s service during the Civil War – for the Confederacy – also draws in many ways on traditional themes and methods. It invites comparison to early biographies of Justice Holmes like The Yankee from Mount Olympus and more recently biographies like G. Edward White’s Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes: Law and the Inner Self, not just because White served with Holmes in both the Civil War (though on opposite sides) and on the United States Supreme Court. Kent delves how White’s experience during the Civil War was a formative experience for White. This long-neglected topic helps us see hidden connections between the Confederacy and early twentieth century legal thought. And in that regard, Kent’s article intervenes in a vibrant question of US historiography: the role of the Supreme Court in the reconciliation between Union and Confederacy. We have heard much of late about the legacy of the Civil War during Jim Crow; Justice White opens up new and important perspective on the role of constitutional law in reconciliation. These two articles, thus, reflect the journal's commitment to traditional topics and to exploring new questions about those topics.
We also have reviews of three books: Felice Batlan's Women and Justice for the Poor: A History of Legal Aid, 1863-1945 is reviewed by David S. Tanenhaus of UNLV; Laura F. Edwards' A Legal History of the Civil War and Reconstruction: A Nation of Rights is reviewed by
2016 is already shaping up to be a really great year. The third issue will be going into the production process later this month. We have a lot of exciting pieces in various stages of the editorial process, from articles out with referees now to pieces undergoing revision, to those awaiting entry into production.