Fall 2022 Course Schedule

U.S. Legal History I (LAW-606-001)
James May

Meets: 10:30 AM - 11:50 AM (MW)

Enrolled: 10 / Limit: 22

Administrator Access


There are no notices at this time.


Explores the interaction of American law and society primarily from the Revolutionary War and New Republic era through post-Civil War reconstruction, with a brief introductory overview of colonial developments. Examines the origins, evolution, and impact of major constitutional, statutory, and private law developments in this period. Specific topics include changes in understanding and operation of basic constitutional rights; the evolving scope of governmental power and relationship between federal and state authority; legal promotion and regulation of American economic life, particularly through the development and application of property, tort, and contract law; the changing legal and social status and activity of women, African-Americans, and industrial workers; evolving ideas and practices regarding crime and criminals; and the history of the legal profession.

Textbooks and Other Materials

The textbook information on this page was provided by the instructor. Students should use this information when considering purchases from the AU Campus Store or other vendors. Students may check to determine if books are currently available for purchase online.

Hall, Kermit and Karsten, Peter, The Magic Mirror, 2d ed., Oxford University Press, 2d Edition (ISBN: 9780195081800; Horwitz, Morton, Transformation of American Law 1780-1860, Harvard University Press (ISBN 9780674903715); Urofsky, Melvin and Finkelman, Paul, A March of Liberty: A Constitutional History of the United States ( V1), Oxford University Press, 3rd Edition ( ISBN 9780195382730); White, G. Edward, Law in American History, Oxford University Press ( ISBN 9780195102475); Wiecek, William, Liberty Under Law, The Johns Hopkins University Press (ISBN 9780801835964) ** NOTE: It is not necessary to buy all of these books. There will be a few copies of each of them available on library reserve throughout the term. In addition, all of these books can be purchased used online at a significant to substantial discount. The Hall/Karsten, Horwitz and Wiecek books can be purchased used at a very great discount off the list price new.

First Class Readings

For our first class session, please read, in addition to the Introduction to the Course and Tentative Course Outline, the following short pieces posted alphabetically by author(s) in the Reserve Readings folder of the MyWCL site for the Course: On Law and Democracy in Ancient Greece-- Cartwright, Athenian Democracy; Kosmos Society, Law and Courts in Ancient Athens: A Brief Overview. On Law and Governance in Ancient Rome-- University of California at Berkeley School of Law, The Robbins Collection, Roman Legal Tradition and the Compilation of Justinian; Constitutional Rights Foundation, When Roman Law Ruled the Western World. On Slavery in the Ancient World-- Bradley and Cartledge, Introduction, The Cambridge World History of Slavery, Volume I, The Ancient Mediterranean World 1-3 (Keith Bradley and Paul Cartledge, eds. 2011); History Press (UK), “Slavery in History” 1-2.


Use your MyAU username and password to access the syllabus in the following format(s):