Introduction

This is the first entry in a new website I began designing in the dog days of summer.  The idea is to create a forum of sorts for engaging with work being done by others writing on a mix of legal and historical topics of the day: not exactly “what’s on the front page?” or “what’s happening in the scholarship of the Atlantic revolutions?” but rather something in between these two poles and also (ideally) reflective of their intersection.  Which legal issues?  My main interests are criminal law and procedure and certain fields of constitutional law (primarily religious liberty, but also free speech, equal protection, and constitutional theory to some extent).  What about the “Atlantic revolutionary tradition”?  Each word in that phrase could and probably would give rise to an extended argument in a graduate seminar or scholarly journal.  For the most part, I mean the phrase simply to denote the three revolutions of which I have some knowledge and in which I am most interested: the American, French, and Haitian revolutions of the late eighteenth century.  Certainly the Spanish American revolutions of the early nineteenth century also fall within the definition of the phrase, and on occasion I may write about those events as well, but my overwhelming emphasis is on North Atlantic and Caribbean matters.  The “Atlantic revolutionary tradition” is not the same as the history of the Atlantic revolutions, though these subjects obviously overlap.  And though I use the singular in the subtitle of this website, it is probably more accurate to speak of multiple and competing traditions: American, French, Haitian, etc.  But what is true in all three (and more) cases, I think, is that the history of these events is alive today in too many ways to count, and so it makes sense to think of those histories as giving rise to a tradition (or set of traditions) that survives the events in question.  One dimension of this survival involves the intersection between the events and ideas of the Atlantic revolutions, on the one hand, and contemporary legal and constitutional issues, on the other.  That’s my principal interest here.

Enough of a prospectus.  This is not a manifesto or contract, and I reserve to right (as lawyers if not also historians will do in any event) to write about things that fall within the general parameters of my subjects and themes!  Above all, the purpose is to have fun: to enjoy reading and writing in a forum different from the ones that traditional scholarly life usually affords.  I welcome your thoughts and reactions, whether by way of posting a reply to any of my posts or by using the contact form at the top menu to reach me.

Thanks for visiting.

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