William E. Nelson is Judge Edward Weinfeld Professor of Law, New York University. In 1961, he founded the Legal History Colloquium at NYU Law School, where nearly 100 younger scholars have held fellowships and received post-graduate training, and has presided over the Colloquium since that time. He has been writing and teaching in the field of American legal history for nearly fifty years and is the author of many books, including four volumes of The Common Law in Colonial America (Oxford), The Roots of American Bureaucracy, Americanization of the Common Law, and The Fourteenth Amendment.
William Nelson's masterful study will forever banish the view that English law was transplanted to the American colonies. It shows that colonial courts produced striking legal diversity, and lawyers gradually forged convergence through strategic adaptations of the common law. Original, clear, and grounded in extensive research-this book is required reading for anyone interested in the origins of law and governance in early America. * Lauren Benton, Nelson O. Tyrone, Jr. Professor of History and Professor of Law, Vanderbilt University * Nelson's studyproductivelysynthesizesAmericancolonial and legal history,emphasizing local powerin the colonial era and the gradual evolution of nationalinstitutions andthelegal professionfromlocaland regional roots. This valuablebookwill be important forlawand graduate history students, as well asupper-levelundergraduatesinearly American courses. * Sarah Barringer Gordon, Arlin M. Adams Professor of Law and Professor of History, University of Pennsylvania * William Nelson's 'new narrative' of government and law in British North America is an excellent and much-needed intervention that will broaden our way of thinking about the origins of the American Union and, eventually, the creation of the American nation. * Annette Gordon-Reed, Charles Warren Professor of American Legal History and Harvard Law School Professor of History, Harvard University *