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The Common Law of Colonial AmericaVolume I: The Chesapeake and New England 1607-1660$
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William E. Nelson

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195327281

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195327281.001.0001

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The Common Law of Colonial America

William E. Nelson (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

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.

Keywords:   Chesapeake, colonial America, common law, empire, New England

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