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The Yale Law School Guide to Research in American Legal History$
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John B Nann and Morris L Cohen

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780300118537

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300118537.001.0001

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The Early Republic, 1790s–1870s

The Early Republic, 1790s–1870s

Chapter:
(p.120) 5 The Early Republic, 1790s–1870s
Source:
The Yale Law School Guide to Research in American Legal History
Author(s):

John B. Nann

Morris L. Cohen

Publisher:
Yale University Press
DOI:10.12987/yale/9780300118537.003.0006

This chapter looks at sources of information about American law during the 1790s–1870s. To “create” a body of law, most states passed “reception statutes,” which generally allowed English law as of a certain date to be considered a part of the state's laws. Even with the reception statutes, however, not a lot of law was yet made in many of the states or in the United States as a whole. Therefore, for several decades, U.S. court decisions continued to rely on English law. In considering nineteenth-century sources, a researcher should keep in mind that legal publishing was not very advanced, even in the largest of the new states. As the court systems developed, a system for case reporting took shape but remained a nongovernmental activity until into the nineteenth century. Other sources of information include case files, court journals, court dockets, session law publications, and private laws.

Keywords:   reception statutes, English law, U.S. court decisions, legal publishing, case reporting, case reports, case files, session law publications, private laws, court journals

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