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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

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

John B. Nann

Morris L. Cohen

Yale University Press

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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