Conference Details

The Legal History Consortium and the McNeil Center for Early American Studies, both of the University of Pennsylvania, together with the American Society for Legal History, the University of Michigan Law School, and the Program in Law and History at the University of Minnesota are sponsoring the conference "Ab Initio: Law in Early America." This conference will take place on June 16 – 17, 2010, and will focus on the legal history and historiography of North America to 1820. The conference will be held at the McNeil Center, located at 34th and Sansom Streets in Philadelphia.

"Ab Initio" will feature work by early career scholars, as well as commentary and new work by senior legal historians. Conference panels include: Race, Servitude and Family; Borders and National Interests; Nation Building in the Early Republic; Democracy and Access to Government; and Control of the Courts in the Early Republic. Professor Bruce H. Mann of Harvard Law School will deliver the keynote address.

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Wednesday, June 16
2:30 – 3:00 p.m. Welcome: Sarah Barringer Gordon, University of Pennsylvania Law School
3:00 – 4:30 p.m.

"Race, Servitude and Family"

Chair: Elaine Crane, Fordham University

Greg Ablavsky, Departments of History and Law School, University of Pennsylvania
"Making Indians White: The Judicial Abolition of Native Slavery in Post-Revolutionary Virginia"

Honor Sachs, Department of History, Southern Connecticut State University
"'Freedom By a Judgment': The Legal History of an Afro-Indian Family"

Terri Snyder, Department of American Studies, California State University, Fullerton
"Local Legal Culture, Women and the Margins of Freedom in Early Virginia"

Commentators:
David Waldstreicher, Department of History, Temple University
Martha Jones, Department of History, University of Michigan
5:00 – 6:00 p.m. Keynote: Bruce Mann, Harvard Law School

Thursday, June 17
9:30 – 11:00 am

"Borders and National Interests"

Chair: Richard Ross, University of Illinois College of Law

Kevin Arlyck, Department of History, New York University
"Plaintiffs v. Privateers: Litigation and Foreign Affairs in the Federal Courts, 1816-1825"

Jill Fraley, Yale Law School
"Boundaries, Territory and Jurisdiction: Making Nation-States, Borders and International Law in Eighteenth Century Appalachia"

Vanessa Mongey, Department of History, University of Pennsylvania
"Pirates, Traitors, and Patriots: Redefining National Affilitation in the Early 19th century Atlantic World"

Commentators:
Lauren Benton, Department of History, New York University
Charles McCurdy, Departments of History and Law, University of Virginia
11:15 – 12:45 p.m.

"Nation Building in the Early Republic"

Chair: David Tanenhaus, James E. Rogers Professor of History and Law, William S. Boyd School of Law, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Justin Simard, Departments of History and Law School, University of Pennsylvania
"Law for Lawyers: Legal Training at America's First Law School"

Christopher Tomlins, University of California, Irvine School of Law
"Republican Law, 1770-1820"

Gautham Rao, Rutgers University-Newark and the New Jersey Institute of Technology
"The Founders and Public Healthcare: Marine Hospitals and the Law of Administration in the Early American Republic"

Commentators:
David Konig, Departments of History and Law, Washington University in St. Louis School of Law
Barbara Welke, University of Minnesota Law School
2:15 – 3:45 p.m.

"Democracy and Access to Government"

Chair: Sarah Barringer Gordon, University of Pennsylvania

David Keenan, Department of History, Northwestern University
"Congress as a Court: Legislative Adjudication in the Early Republic, 1789-1801"

Scott King-Owen, Department of History, The Ohio State University
"Rhetoric of Rights in North Carolina Petitions, 1780-1789"

Kirsten Nussbaumer, University of Minnesota Law School
"The Founding Understanding of the U. S. Suffrage as Fixed and Fundamental Law"

Commentators:
William Novak, University of Michigan Law School
Michael Zuckerman, University of Pennsylvania
4:00 – 5:30 p.m.

"Control of the Courts in the Early Republic"

Chair: William Pencak, Department of History & Religious Studies Program, Penn State University

Mark Schmeller, Department of History, Northeastern Illinois University
"Twelve Hungry Men: The Reform of Juries - and Jurors - in the Early Republic"

Alison LaCroix, University of Chicago Law School
"Federalists, Federalism, and Federal Jurisdiction"

Commentators:
Holly Brewer, Department of History, NC State University
William Nelson, NYU School of Law
5:30 – 6:30 p.m. Closing Reception