"Esteemed Bookes of Lawe" and the Legal Culture of Early Virginia

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Warren M. Billings, Brent Tarter
University of Virginia Press, 2017 - Law - 231 pages
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Virginia men of law constituted one of the first learned professions in colonial America, and Virginia legal culture had an important and lasting impact on American political institutions and jurisprudence. Exploring the book collections of these Virginians therefore offers insight into the history of the book and the intellectual history of early America. It also addresses essential questions of how English culture migrated to the American colonies and was transformed into a distinctive American culture.

Focusing on the law books that colonial Virginians acquired, how they used them, and how they eventually produced a native-grown legal literature, this collection explores the law and intellectual culture of the Commonwealth and reveals the origins of a distinctively Virginian legal literature. The contributors argue that understanding the development of early Virginia legal history--as shown through these book collections--not only illuminates important aspects of Virginia's history and culture; it also underlies a thorough understanding of colonial and revolutionary American history and culture.

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About the author (2017)

Warren M. Billings, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History at the University of New Orleans, is author of Magistrates and Pioneers: Essays in the History of American Law. Brent Tarter is author of A Saga of the New South: Race, Law, and Public Debt in Virginia and Daydreams and Nightmares: A Virginia Family Faces Secession and War (both Virginia).

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