• The Spine of American Law: Digital Text Analysis and U.S. Legal Practice

    Author(s):
    Kellen Funk, Lincoln Mullen (see profile)
    Date:
    2018
    Group(s):
    History
    Subject(s):
    19th century, American history, Digital history, Law
    Item Type:
    Article
    Tag(s):
    capitalism, civil procedure, text analysis, text reuse
    Permanent URL:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/M6HJ3F
    Abstract:
    In the second half of the nineteenth century, the majority of U.S. states adopted a novel code of legal practice for their civil courts. Legal scholars have long recognized the influence of the New York lawyer David Dudley Field on American legal codification, but tracing the influence of Field’s code of civil procedure with precision across some 30,000 pages of statutes is a daunting task. By adapting methods of digital text analysis to observe text reuse in legal sources, this article provides a methodological guide to show how the evolution of law can be studied at a macro level—across many codes and jurisdictions—and at a micro level—regulation by regulation. Applying these techniques to the Field Code and its emulators, we show that by a combination of creditors’ remedies the code exchanged the rhythms of agriculture for those of merchant capitalism. Archival research confirmed that the spread of the Field Code united the American South and American West in one Greater Reconstruction. Instead of just a national political development centered in Washington, we show that Reconstruction was also a state-level legal development centered on a procedure code from the Empire State of finance capitalism.
    Notes:
    This is an authors’ original manuscript (pre-print) of an article accepted for publication in The American Historical Review 123, no. 1 (February 2018). The AHR is published by Oxford University Press, and this version of the article is being provided pursuant to the policy of the press. Please cite the forthcoming version.
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    2 months ago
    License:
    All Rights Reserved

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