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ISBN:0521760933
Author: Jack P. Greene
ISBN13: 978-0521760935
Title: The Constitutional Origins of the American Revolution (New Histories of American Law)
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Language: English
Category: Americas
Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (October 25, 2010)
Pages: 224

The Constitutional Origins of the American Revolution (New Histories of American Law) by Jack P. Greene



Gordon S. Wood, Brown University. Greene agrees with many historians that after the Stamp Act of 1766, and the American uproar against it, a revolution was only a question of when, not if. In this book, the eminent historian Jack P. Greene illustrates that much of the substance and rhetoric of the build up to the American Revolution had the content and style of an litigation. 7 people found this helpful.

Series: New Histories of American Law. File: PDF, . 2 M. New Histories of American Law is a series of bold, synthetic, and path-breaking interpretive books that will address the key topics in the ield of American legal history, written by the leaders of the ield and designed for scholars and students throughout universities, colleges, and law schools. As the title announces, this is a book about the constitutional origins of the American Revolution as they were relected in the unfolding debate over the distribution of authority within the British Empire during the late colonial era and the years of imperial crisis from 1764 to 1776. This subject has been of recurrent interest to me for almost sixty years.

Series Statement: New histories of American law. Bibliography, etc. Note . Challenging those historians who have assumed that the British had the law on their side during the debates that led to the American Revolution, this volume argues that the empire had long exhibited a high degree of constitutional multiplicity, with each colony having its own discrete constitution and the empire as a whole having an uncodified working customary constitution that determined the way.

Challenging those historians who have assumed that the British had the law on their side during the debates that led to the American Revolution, this volume argues that the empire had long exhibited a high degree of constitutional multiplicity, with each colony having its own discrete constitution and the empire as whole having an uncodified working customary constitution that determined the way authority. was distributed within the empire.

The American revolution was not, nor is it today, an obscure moment in history, but rooted in obscure legal disputes between the colonies and mother country, long predating the Stamp Acts and the Boston Massacre. It began as a constitutional dispute between the central government in London and the British colonies in America. Challenging those historians who have assumed that the British had the law on their side during the debates that led to the American Revolution, this volume argues that the empire had long exhibited a high degree of constitutional multiplicity, with each colony having its own discrete constitution and the empire as whole having an uncodified working customary constitution that determined the way authority.

Challenging those historians who have assumed that the British had the law on their side during the debates that led to the American Revolution, this volume argues that the empire had long exhibited a high degree of constitutional multiplicity, with each colony having its own discrete constitution

Jack Phillip Greene, American Historian, educator. Fulbright fellow United Kingdom, 1953-1954; Lilly Foundation fellow Clements Library,1964; Guggenheim fellow, 1964-1965; John Carter Brown Library fellow, 1969; fellow Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, 1974-1975, Center for Advanced Study Behavioral Sciences, 1979-1980, Churchill College, Cambridge . England, 1986, National Humanities Center 1987-1988. The Constitutional Origins of the American Revolution (New Histories of American Law) )

The American revolution was not, nor is it today, an obscure moment in history, but rooted in obscure legal disputes between the colonies and mother country, long predating the Stamp Acts and the Boston Massacre. This was a good book about the Colonies prior to the American Revolutionary War. It discusses the viewpoints and political views of the Colonists as well as the opinions of the British Crown and Parliament. It does a nice job of presenting both sides of the arguments in terms of the Colonists' side as well as the side of the British. I thought it was well-written. It held my interest throughout the entire book. The author did a nice job of discussing both sides of the 'issue' facing the Colonists This was a good book about the Colonies prior to the American Revolutionary War.

Enter The Constitutional Origins of the American Revolution, a timely book by Jack P. Greene and the latest in the New Histories of American Law series published by Cambridge. It’s timely because its topic is perennial: since Lincoln, politicians have endeavored to ground their vision for America’s future in the ideas of her past, particularly in those of her founding. Origins, at a brief 198 pages, is singularly focused and easily read. Nevertheless, a century’s worth of literature, as Origins reveals, firmly places the constitutional origins of America not in abstract principles but in a sound legal tradition, one that separates us not just from the rest of the world but from most of the West. Understanding this tradition gives our culture distinct parameters, by which we can better preserve it. That is the importance of a book like Origins. Origins is an impressive contribution to the study of legal history.

Download list of titles. About New Histories of American Law. Visit. New Histories of American Law is a series of bold, synthetic, and path-breaking interpretive books that will address the key topics in the field of American legal history, written by the leaders of thefield, and designed for scholars and students throughout universities,colleges, and law schools. Elizabeth Dale discusses the changes in criminal law during that period, tracing shifts in policing, law, the courts and punishment. The Constitutional Origins of the American Revolution.

Using the British Empire as a case study, this succinct study argues that the establishment of overseas settlements in America created a problem of constitutional organization that created deep and persistent tensions within the empire during the colonial era and that the failure to resolve it was the principal element in the decision of thirteen continental colonies to secede from the empire in 1776. Challenging those historians who have assumed that the British had the law on their side during the debates that led to the American Revolution, this volume argues that the empire had long exhibited a high degree of constitutional multiplicity, with each colony having its own discrete constitution and the empire as whole having an uncodified working customary constitution that determined the way authority was distributed within the empire. Contending that these constitutions cannot be conflated with the metropolitan British constitution, it argues that British refusal to accept the legitimacy of colonial understandings of the sanctity of the many colonial constitutions and the imperial constitution was the critical element leading to the American Revolution.
Reviews: 3
VizoRRR
The Constitutional Origins of the American Revolution grounds itself in the legal case of Colonies v. George III and Parliament, and convinces this reviewer of the truth of the decision in favor of the plaintiff.

As Greene points out on p. 5, the original British-American colonists took their mother country's common law with them. On p. 35, already in 1649, the colonists of Barbados were decrying 'taxation without representation.' Already in 1765, an anonymous author in England penned "A Vindication of the Rights of the Americans in 1765."

Of course, the American Revolution against the British was not totally a court case, but from early on, the Americans based their complaints against the mother country were phrased in litigious terms, culminating in the Plaintiff's Brief which was the Declaration of Independence.

On p. 88, Greene shows how the American radicals played one parent (the King) off against the other parent, the Parliament. Greene agrees with many historians that after the Stamp Act of 1766, and the American uproar against it, a revolution was only a question of when, not if.

In this book, the eminent historian Jack P. Greene illustrates that much of the substance and rhetoric of the build up to the American Revolution had the content and style of an Anglo-Saxon-American litigation.
Heraly
Time for a segment of "A moment in obscure history." This time, we're looking at the constitutional dispute that resulted in the American Revolution.

Since sometime in 2009, the Tea Party movement has lead a revival of interest in the US Constitution. Senator Mike Lee summed up why the increased interest of late during the release of his new book, "The Freedom Agenda: Why a Balanced Budget Amendment is Necessary to Restore Constitutional Government": many of our problems today stem from when the "federal government started ignoring those Constitutional boundaries about what Congress is supposed to be doing."

Suddenly, propelled by Glenn Beck, books like The 5000 Year Leap , a right-wing conservative's guide to the making of the federal constitution, "leaped" to the Amazon best seller list (it's now listed at 2,615 overall and the top 100 under "Politics"). While it provides only a simple, somewhat white-washed, and superficial vision of the US Constitution, no amount of increased attention in our federal constitution is too little.

"Where does the Constitution," goes the rallying cry, "give the President and Congress the authority for the laws they are passing?"

Neither the revival, however, nor questioning the constitutionality of the federal laws, is unique in history. In fact, it was a dispute over the constitutionality of a central government's actions that lead to another major event in our country's history: the American Revolution.

"The fruit of half a century of research and reflection, Greene's masterly book restores legal pluralism and constitutional controversy to their proper place among the causes, course, and consequences of the American Revolution." - David Armitage, Harvard University
In his short, and dense, review of the century and a half leading up to the American Revolution, "The Constitutional Origins of the American Revolution," Jack P. Greene postulates and examines that evidence that the American revolution did not erupt purely as a simple dispute over "taxation without representation," but rather that such rallying cries emerged after decades of disagreement on who justly had the right to legislate for the American colonies

"Whether the king-in-Parliament, the ultimate source of statute law in Great Britain, could legislate for British colonies overseas was the ostensible question in dispute, but many other related and even deeper legal issues involving the nature of the constitution of the empire and the location of sovereignty within the empire emerged from and were thoroughly canvassed during the debate."

(From Constitutional Origins, p. 1)

It was only after the conflicting opinions of metropolitan Britain and that of the colonists failed to be reconciled that open warfare broke out in 1775, and it was why the decision to broach the topic of and ultimately pursue independence from Great Britain was so cautiously and tentatively pursued. The colonists considered themselves British subjects, citizens, not vassals and secession was not a choice they relished.

They saw themselves as part and partial of the British Empire. Indeed, as one Virginia lawyer at the time phrased it, they might be "subordinate to the Authority of Parliament," but only "in Degree" and "not absolutely so." (p.78). As free men and

"As free-born Britons, the colonists assumed, they could not be subjected to any but what Bland referred to as "a constitutional Subordination" to the parent state."

(From Constitutional Origins p. 78)

The nature of this "constitutional Subordination" was such that the colonists readily accepted the authority of Parliament in certain areas, but balked at the idea of taxation, seeing it as beyond Parliament's authority. "Indeed, considerable evidence suggests that the colonists' strong initial impulse was to exclude Parliament from all jurisdiction over the domestic affairs of the colonies." (p.79) Like our modern idea of the federal government, the states concern themselves with their domestic activities while the federal government's most basic responsibility is national security.

Interestingly, from a historical perspective, we start to see the first signs of federalism in the disputes between the colonies and the home country.

Further,

"[s]o long as Parliament confined its regulations to "restrictions on navigation, commerce, or other external regulations," they reasoned, the '"legislatures of the colonies" would be "left entire"and "the internal government, powers of taxing for its support, and exemption from being taxed without consent, and [all] other immunities which legally belong[ed] to the subjects of each colony agreeable to their own particular constitutions" would thereby, according to the "general principles of the British constitution," remain "secure and untouched.""

Sound familiar? If you hear the foreshadowing of the federalism that would be later inscribed into the US Constitution, there's a reason. It was rooted in the relationship between Great Britain and its far-flung colonies.

If, during the last couple years, you've found yourself at all more interested in the federal constitution and the limitations it places on the federal government, I urge you to look at the role constitutions, and constitutional disputes, played in leading to our own American constitution.

It's a great read, if a bit scholarly, and evidence that whether a law is constitutional is not a new question, but actually may be at the very root of the American experiment and its origins in the American revolution. The American revolution was not, nor is it today, an obscure moment in history, but rooted in obscure legal disputes between the colonies and mother country, long predating the Stamp Acts and the Boston Massacre. It began as a constitutional dispute between the central government in London and the British colonies in America.

Understanding why the colonist went to war, how they got there, and the legal battles that preceded the battlefields can be useful in understanding why the Founders drafted what they did--into the Declaration of Independence and into the federal constitution--and what those words mean to us now, even in the midst of our own constitutional disputes.

Pick up The Constitutional Origins of the American Revolution by Jack P. Greene from Cambridge University Press, 2011.

(h/t Patrick Charles, who introduced the book to me)
Slowly writer
Jack Greene is a brilliant Early American historian. His writing, however, is dense - really designed for use by other historians. His research and footnoting is impressive & a little daunting. All that said, Greene has a lot to say & if you give yourself some time to read this in smaller bites - giving yourself time to think - you will be rewarded with a much broader & deeper understanding of the constitutional (small 'c') foundations of America's revolt against the British Crown.