The Trials of Allegiance: Treason, Juries, and the American Revolution (Hardback)
  • The Trials of Allegiance: Treason, Juries, and the American Revolution (Hardback)
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The Trials of Allegiance: Treason, Juries, and the American Revolution (Hardback)

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£22.99
Hardback 416 Pages / Published: 14/10/2019
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The Trials of Allegiance examines the law of treason during the American Revolution: a convulsive, violent civil war in which nearly everyone could be considered a traitor, either to Great Britain or to America. Drawing from extensive archival research in Pennsylvania, one of the main centers of the revolution, Carlton Larson provides the most comprehensive analysis yet of the treason prosecutions brought by Americans against British adherents: through committees of safety, military tribunals, and ordinary criminal trials. Although popular rhetoric against traitors was pervasive in Pennsylvania, jurors consistently viewed treason defendants not as incorrigibly evil, but as fellow Americans who had made a political mistake. This book explains the repeated and violently controversial pattern of acquittals. Juries were carefully selected in ways that benefited the defendants, and jurors refused to accept the death penalty as an appropriate punishment for treason. The American Revolution, unlike many others, would not be enforced with the gallows. More broadly, Larson explores how the Revolution's treason trials shaped American national identity and perceptions of national allegiance. He concludes with the adoption of the Treason Clause of the United States Constitution, which was immediately put to use in the early 1790s in response to the Whiskey Rebellion and Fries's Rebellion. In taking a fresh look at these formative events, The Trials of Allegiance reframes how we think about treason in American history, up to and including the present.

Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
ISBN: 9780190932749
Number of pages: 416
Weight: 708 g
Dimensions: 242 x 165 x 34 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
It is hard to imagine a scholar of the Revolution offering something new and original, and even harder to imagine a legal scholar deploying non-printed legal and non-legal materials of such breadth. But Larson has done just that! In this fascinating and researched study, he explores how Pennsylvanians transformed the law of treason and helped create the republic. He surveys English legal inheritance, debates over the nature of treason, the predicaments of loyalism, and the role of juries, which exhibited leniency in a time of civil war. His masterful dissection of nearly two dozen jury trials prosecuted in Philadelphia in 1778 and 1779 - events almost completely ignored by prior historians-lays bare the promises and the perils of Americans' newfound liberty. * David Hancock, Professor of History, University of Michigan *
Larson's account of how the law of treason functioned during the Founding period will be an indispensable guide for anyone studying treason, allegiance, the jury, and the larger political context of this critical period in history.As Larson details in a series of fascinating stories, the complex struggles that informed how the Founding generation thought about such things before and after the American Revolution have important lessons for ongoing debates over these same matters. * Amanda L. Tyler, Professor of Law, University of California at the Berkeley School of Law *
The American Revolution and the formation of the early republic are well-studied, but Larson reveals something new: the central importance of treason law and prosecutions.In the Revolution, nearly every American-whether revolutionary, loyalist, or neutral - could be considered a traitor.Ideas about treason and treason prosecutions were and are fundamental to questions of sovereignty, allegiance, and national identity; Larson observes that the Declaration of Independence itself could be viewed as a clarification of what treason was and was not. Besides this new way of viewing the break with Britain, Larson's research gives us an unprecedented account of a crucial American institution in the eighteenth century: the jury. * Renee Lettow Lerner, Donald Phillip Rothschild Research Professor, George Washington University Law School *
In this marvelous study, Carlton Larson shows how traitors reflected on the meaning of treason and, in the process, forged a new national identity. * Gerard Magliocca, Samuel R. Rosen Professor, the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law *
His book is much like a legal brief, with extensive footnotes (just under one hundred pages) and some charts focused on various cases in the colony of Pennsylvania before, during and just after the war. That it is well researched is obvious, and considering its content the book is quite well written and easy to read. * Ken Daigler, Journal of the American Revolution *

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