The Introduction outlines the primary thesis of this book—that prior to 1660 the Chesapeake and New England came into being as strikingly different places and that the law in force in each both reflected and contributed to their differences. It also explains that the choice of 1660 as the terminal date for the volume—the year when Charles II was restored to his throne and the crown launched a longterm effort to fashion England's colonies into a coherent empire with a single common-law based judicial system—is not an arbitrary one. Ending the volume in 1660 highlights the initial differences between Chesapeake and New England law and also suggests that similarities in their early law resulted from the common social and economic realities that colonists faced as they settled and tamed the continental wilderness.
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