In a Defiant Stance: The Conditions of Law in Massachusetts Bay, the Irish Comparison, and the Coming of the American Revolution

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Penn State Press, Jan 1, 1977 - History - 236 pages

The minimum of violence accompanying the success of the American Revolution resulted in large part, argues this book, from the conditions of law the British allowed in the American colonies. By contrast, Ireland's struggle for independence was prolonged, bloody, and bitter largely because of the repressive conditions of law imposed by Britain.

Examining the most rebellious American colony, Massachusetts Bay, Professor Reid finds that law was locally controlled while imperial law was almost nonexistent as an influence on the daily lives of individuals. In Ireland the same English common law, because of imperial control of legal machinery, produced an opposite result. The Irish were forced to resort to secret, underground violence.

The author examines various Massachusetts Bay institutions to show the consequences of whig party control, in contrast to the situation in 18th-century Ireland. A general conclusion is that law, the conditions of positive law, and the matter of who controls the law may have more significant effects on the course of events than is generally assumed.

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Contents

In the Very Face of Government The American Comparison
1
It Signifies Little Who Is Governor The Locus of Law
7
Source from Whence the Clamors Flow The Conditions Law
17
Democracy Is Too Prevalent in America The Civil Traverse Jury
27
Juries Lie Open to Management The Uses of the Grand Jury
41
In Defiance of the Threats The Criminal Traverse Jury
55
Unless Laws Are Enforced The Legitimacy of Whig Law
65
By Consent of the Council The Import of Local Control
74
Disjointed and Independent of Each Other The Conditions of Imperial Law
100
The Government They Have Set Up The Emergence of Whig Government
118
The Oppression of Centuries The Irish Comparison
135
A Most Dreadful Ruin The Legal Mind of BritishRuled Ireland
143
To Effect a Revolution The Execution of Imperial Law
150
Enforced by Mobs The Rule of Law
160
Notes
174
Acknowledgments
219

The Seeds of Anarchy The Execution of Whig Law
85
The Same Leaven with the People The Legal Mind of the American Whig
92

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About the author (1977)

John Phillip Reid is the author of two books on early American judges in addition to two on Cherokee law, most recently A Better Kind of Hatchet (Penn State, 1976). Professor of law at New York University, he is a graduate of Georgetown and Harvard Law.

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