American Legal History Survey

This course examines the tension between individual liberty and governmental authority from the seventeenth century to contemporary debates among modern political and legal conservatives, liberals and moderates.  The specific issues and details of the conflict between liberty and authority have changed over time, but they have involved questions regarding the proper role of law and government in defining the specific rights in which freedom consists, the manner in which personal liberties should be enjoyed and exercised, who should enjoy them, and how law and government can best facilitate, protect, and regulate the exercise of personal freedom.  The political theories and actions of the Founders, slavery, abolitionism, the Civil War and Reconstruction, the industrialization and urbanization of American life, the rise of big business, Progressivism, the Great Depression, the New Deal, the dominance of consumerism, and liberal and conservative movements from World War II to the turn of the twenty-first century have produced different ideas of what constitutes personal liberty and what is the proper role of law and government in securing individual freedom.  These ideas involve different and often conflicting approaches to and opinions concerning the proper role of law and government in the regulation of self-determination, economic activity, race relations, gender equality, sexual freedom, and personal morality.  This course explores how the events and ideas referred to above have influence the evolution of law relating to these subjects over the course of American history.
Credits: 3

Type: LEC