From Cambridge University Press comes news of a very exciting book that I hope to read soon -- Matthew Crow's Thomas Jefferson, Legal History, and the Art of Recollection. Cribbing now from the CUP website:
In this innovative book, historian Matthew Crow unpacks the legal and political thought of Thomas Jefferson as a tool for thinking about constitutional transformation, settler colonialism, and race and civic identity in the era of the American Revolution. Thomas Jefferson's practices of reading, writing, and collecting legal history grew out of broader histories of early modern empire and political thought. As a result of the peculiar ways in which he theorized and experienced the imperial crisis and revolutionary constitutionalism, Jefferson came to understand a republican constitution as requiring a textual, material culture of law shared by citizens with the cultivated capacity to participate in such a culture. At the center of the story in Thomas Jefferson, Legal History, and the Art of Recollection, Crow concludes, we find legal history as a mode of organizing and governing collective memory, and as a way of instituting a particular form of legal subjectivity.
I am deeply interested in how enlightenment-era thinkers -- like Jefferson and Joseph Priestly -- understood law and its implications for their political theory. Can't wait to read this and perhaps apply this methodology to the people I study, the Romantic-era proslavery thinkers who also thought about law and political theory (like Thomas Dew, Albert Taylor Bledsoe, and James Holcombe).