I'm a little behind the times on this, but I wanted to talk about Thomas Haskell's passing. He spent most of his career as a professor at Rice University and was a fabulous scholar. Haskell's debate with David Davis and John Ashworth on the emergence of humanitarian, anti-slavery sentiments amidst the growing market from the late 18th to the middle of the 19th century is one of the most important debates among intellectual historians of recent years. I am very interested in the question why antislavery thought grew in conjunction with the market -- because we so often see the market as in conflict with ideas of humanity. Haskell argued that the market led to sentiments of
This is important for legal historians because there are other areas where the (sometimes) conflict of the market and humanitarian sentiments appear. Legal historians will be interested in Morton Horwitz' write-up about this back in 1993. I wrote up a little bit about this at legal history blog a while back. I continue to believe that we should study how the growth of humanitarian sentiments appeared in law alongside the growth of a law that facilitated the market. We can use the framework that Davis and Haskell debated to test what was happening in law. For instance, I'd like to use their framework to look at the growth of trust law in the era of market revolution. Sometimes those changes were driven by a desire to promote (or smooth the functioning of) the market; at other times, the changes were designed to limit the market. For a long time I've thought that we should talk about how the market revolution, which brought so many positives in terms of economic growth while it also left some people behind, drove changes in law. Doug Thie and I talk a little bit about this in the first part of our article on changes in probate in the Shenandoah Valley before the Civil War. But I want to focus a separate piece on this, on the effect of the market revolution on trust law in the pre-Civil War era down the road.