Changes in the legal profession, changes in the law : slavery and legal culture in Illinois, 1818-1848

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Although Illinois was considered a "free" state when it attained statehood in 1818, slavery was not extinguished under Illinois law until the Supreme Court of Illinois decided the case of Jarrot v. Jarrot in 1845. The interpretation Illinois adhered to in construing its foundational documents, although contrary to the plain meaning of those texts and federal policy, survived for nearly thirty years, favored by some Illinoisans and acquiesced in by others until the Supreme Court of Illinois declared it invalid. This project follows the changing status of slavery and the culture of law and the legal profession in Illinois from 1818 to 1848 to elucidate connections between legal culture and the expression of law in Illinois during the period. In the years between Illinois' first and second constitutions, the legal profession in the United States underwent a dramatic transformation in culture and practices. In the absence of standards of professional competency, early-nineteenth-century legal practitioners ranged broadly in general education and specialized training. But whether one was a classically trained attorney or a relatively unschooled country lawyer, in the earliest decades of the nineteenth century legal practice was characterized by generalism. Lawyers positioned themselves as knowledgeable public men by drawing on wide-ranging information and embodying leadership through public performance and community involvement. In the years when legal practice was characterized by generalism, law embraced localism. In Illinois during its early statehood, as elsewhere in the United States at that time, localism sanctioned policies and practices seemingly incongruent with the formal requirements of law. As early as the 1820s, however, changes were underway within the legal profession that would affect the conceptualization of law itself. As legal practitioners shared an increasing amount of specialized information across wide expanses and as an ideal of scientific jurisprudence spread among elite lawyers, localism gave way to formalism in law. Because slavery in Illinois was inextricably linked to localism in law, changes within the practice of law, unconnected with particular policy preferences, resulted in the ultimate extinction of legally sanctioned slavery in Illinois. Examining the changes in legal culture that resulted in the elimination of slavery in Illinois reveals how ideas and practices within the legal profession, typically seen as separate from the content of law, informed jurisprudence such that law itself changed, somewhat independently of the intentions or desires of lawyers or the communities in which they practiced.


Type of resource text
Form electronic resource; remote; computer; online resource
Extent 1 online resource.
Place California
Place [Stanford, California]
Publisher [Stanford University]
Copyright date 2020; ©2020
Publication date 2020; 2020
Issuance monographic
Language English


Author Deisinger, Valerie Ann
Degree supervisor Griffiths, Fiona J
Degree supervisor Rakove, Jack N, 1947-
Thesis advisor Griffiths, Fiona J
Thesis advisor Rakove, Jack N, 1947-
Thesis advisor Gordon, Robert W. (Robert Watson), 1941-
Thesis advisor White, Richard, 1947-
Degree committee member Gordon, Robert W. (Robert Watson), 1941-
Degree committee member White, Richard, 1947-
Associated with Stanford University, Department of History.


Genre Theses
Genre Text

Bibliographic information

Statement of responsibility Valerie Ann Deisinger.
Note Submitted to the Department of History.
Thesis Thesis Ph.D. Stanford University 2020.
Location electronic resource

Access conditions

© 2020 by Valerie Ann Deisinger

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