HISU 6590 United States Legal History, 1865-1975

In this course, we will study and analyze the development of legal history from the end of the Civil War through the 1970s. Specific issues that we will examine include how law shaped the transition from slavery to freedom, how it participated in creating the modern nation, the ways in which it defined and created citizenship, and how various social movements used the court as part of wider grass root campaigns. We will treat law as both reflecting and shaping politics, society, the economy, and culture, studying not only case law and the specific facts that gave rise to particular court cases but also as a crucial element in shaping how individuals defined themselves. Readings will include a wide range of secondary scholarship and primary documents, including briefs, trial transcripts, newspaper articles, appellate court decisions, and items from popular culture.