❮KINDLE❯ ❅ The People's Welfare: Law and Regulation in Nineteenth-Century America ❂ Author William J. Novak – Thisbookse.co

The People's Welfare: Law and Regulation in Nineteenth-Century America txt The People's Welfare: Law and Regulation in Nineteenth-Century America, text ebook The People's Welfare: Law and Regulation in Nineteenth-Century America, adobe reader The People's Welfare: Law and Regulation in Nineteenth-Century America, chapter 2 The People's Welfare: Law and Regulation in Nineteenth-Century America, The People's Welfare: Law and Regulation in Nineteenth-Century America 99f3d6 Much Of Today S Political Rhetoric Decries The Welfare State And Our Maze Of Government Regulations Critics Hark Back To A Time Before The State Intervened So Directly In Citizens Lives In The People S Welfare, William Novak Refutes This Vision Of A Stateless Past By Documenting America S Long History Of Government Regulation In The Areas Of Public Safety, Political Economy, Public Property, Morality, And Public Health Challenging The Myth Of American Individualism, Novak Recovers A Distinctive Nineteenth Century Commitment To Shared Obligations And Public Duties In A Well Regulated Society Novak Explores The By Laws, Ordinances, Statutes, And Common Law Restrictions That Regulated Almost Every Aspect Of America S Society And Economy, Including Fire Regulations, Inspection And Licensing Rules, Fair Marketplace Laws, The Moral Policing Of Prostitution And Drunkenness, And Health And Sanitary Codes Based On A Reading Of Than One Thousand Court Cases In Addition To The Leading Legal And Political Texts Of The Nineteenth Century, The People S Welfare Demonstrates The Deep Roots Of Regulation In America And Offers A Startling Reinterpretation Of The History Of American Governance


About the Author: William J. Novak

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10 thoughts on “The People's Welfare: Law and Regulation in Nineteenth-Century America

  1. says:

    There always existed broad police powers to deal with nuisances in America In the early republic citizens and government would destroy private property to protect the general welfare and municipal governments even constructed regulated markets This older tradition is generally missed by historians looking for liberal constitutionalism.


  2. says:

    This 1996 work poses a direct challenge to American historical memory Historians often think an incipient nation founded on principles of laissez faire economics and individualism William J Novak University of Chicago argues otherwise, that nascent American society was not guided by any invisible hand Instead, early America was a well regulated and policed society, one that clearly held public interests over private desires Lawmakers and law enforcers built upon well established precedents that came not from revolutionary zeal, but from commonweal notions built on European precedents Following the ideas of Hobbes, Locke, and other enlightenment thinkers, Americans endorsed a moral philosophy they deemed natural recognizing that the laws of nature applied to their society, Americans acquiesced to police powers to ensure their safety and wellbeing They desired a well regulated society to help prevent disasters and normalize trade Fires posed one particular threat to early America, while a desire for well regulated ports and waterways furthered public concerns for social stability These desires trumped individualism and corporate interests Over time, state and then federal laws gained prominence over local ordinances, ultimately shifting American public focus away from positive notions of public welfare and towards a skepticism of national legal codes as affronts to individual freedoms Public welfare trumped private interests because of two long standing maxims adopted by the early republic First, American common law upheld salus populi suprema lex est, or the welfare of the people is the supreme law, and second, sic utere tuo ut alienum non laedas, or use your own so as not to injure another 42 Novak makes clear that aside from legal precedents, public philosophy itself held these truisms aloft as cornerstones of a stable society To prove his point, Novak utilizes a rich archive of legal documents He also employs the theories of Pierre Bourdieu i.e the linguistic turn , Thomas Kuhn hermeneutics and Michele Foucault post modernism to claim the permeation of such Latin dictums into popular consciousness Novak s arguments about public wellbeing as a cornerstone of nascent American legal systems are provocative, but he is less successful in proving that the American public, and especially their ideology, always agreed with the polity.Despite his heavy use of theory and legal codes, The People s Welfare reads surprisingly well His clear case studies the storing of gunpowder in urban areas, fire s symbolism of chaos and destruction, the regulation of early markets as preferable to laissez faire chaos remind readers that early America was much different back then Novak s work will provoke those with political leanings towards deregulation and free markets The People s Welfare should prompt them to question their own historical memory Certainly, debate will continue regarding Novak s conclusions His arguments hold water with regards to legal codes and decisions, but Novak is less convincing in proving that American ideology always upheld public welfare over private interest A long history of corporate scandal, trust busting, bank and economic failures, and deregulation conjure up a whole host of counter arguments for historians Marxists in particular should have a field day taking Novak s examples not a proof of a well regulated society, but as a society whose legal structure unabashedly increased its scale and scope.


  3. says:

    Novak s well argued thesis is that, contrary to predominant laissez faire myths, early American government was profoundly interventionist in almost all spheres of life, to an extent that would make even the 20th century welfare state look circumspect Novak begins the book, however, with an unnecessary and baffling screed against atomistic individualism and hedonistic consumerism that almost made me close it right then and there, but the majority of the book is actually a fairly even handed review of the legal doctrine of the police power in the 19th century, or the ability of the government to do anything in its power to protect the health, welfare, and morals of the people Novak convincingly shows that this power was constructed much broadly by jurists at the time than subsequently, and that the ability to intervene in the economy and social life of the people was only truly limited in the Gilded Age, when government intervention was supposedly increasing.The main reason historians have missed this, he argues, is that they focused on national regulations, when almost all the laws that influenced daily life in the early 19th century were on a local, or sometimes, state level An 1817 Maryland law on the Inspection of Pickled or Salted Fish was typical It regulated everything from the time of inspection of the product by a state inspector within 48 hours of importation to the size of the staves of the barrel the fish were transported in not less than half on inch thick on the sides, with heading wood of not less than five eighths of an inch thick, with three hoops, and made of oak or comparable wood All carts in New York City had to be licensed since the colonial era, and they limited the minimum dimensions of the cart, required red painted numbers on their side, and had literally pages of regulations about the prices for transporting goods, depending on both type of good and time of day These sort of regulations hold up in complexity next to anything the FTC or OSHA puts out today.Novak traces this interventionist strain to early legal theorists like Charles Goodrich and Zephaniah Swift who countered the Hobbessian view of a brutal state of nature where there was a continuous war of all against all with their own vision of the innate social nature of man, where man was naturally made for government and society and therefore government and society could abridge his rights as it saw fit This is difficult of course to square with Blackstone s views about the absolute rights of individuals and I am suspicious that these writers really had influence than he or Chancellor Kent did, but their beliefs do seem to pop up in numerous antebellum cases.Overall, this is a great book to get an overview of 19th century American government, and the surprising powers it had to control everyday life.


  4. says:

    Novak takes a series of very subtle slights at the conservative libertarian mantra that all rights are absolute, and that the Constitution has always engrossed every individual right since its inception In The People s Welfare, Novak asserts the existence of two long standing principles of law and rights in American history The first is salus populi suprema lex est the people s welfare is the supreme law and sic utere tuo ut alienum non laedes use your own so as not to injure others He explicitly argues that the federal Constitution existed alongside of and recognizes the existence of these This is not to dismiss or limit the Constitution, but to put it in the context of the times as preserving certain political rights and not of reaching to everyone s individual relationship to every level of government Novak moves on from this to argue that prior to the Civil War era, rights and privileges were embedded in state statutes, common law, and community self regulation i.e the police power This police power constituted a much extensive even intrusive regulation of Americans lives than would be tolerated under modern political theory and its regimen of absolute individual rights Novak uses statutes and court records to show that police power was specifically understood to allow, even require, government intervention to maintain a well regulated society on local levels Starting with fire and public safety issues, Novak then discusses markets, roads, morals and health By highlighting the principles of salus populi and sic utero tuo, Novak convincingly argues that the modern classic liberal definition of individual rights and inherent, absolute limits on governments is inapplicable to the pre Civil War era or slightly earlier In addressing classic liberal thought, Novak is really attacking the modern politicians who would wield the Constitution as a club against any regulation or restriction as an attack on individual rights, or who would argue that individual rights are so clear as to be self evident and inviolate At the end, Novak discusses the shift from the organic, well regulated society to the emergence of the modern Constitutional law, positivist state He does not glorify the former, but points out the latter as a revolution in legal theory and politics.


  5. says:

    Though Novak s book actually has a lot in common with Morton Horwitz s The Transformation of American Law 1780 1860, Novak doesn t agree with Horwitz and other new legal historians that laissez faire capitalism made its clear cut debut with the Charles River Bridge case and subsequent economic dominance over both common law and jurisprudence Novak argues that until around 1877, with the formidable thrust of Progressive Era reform and constitutional centralization of power, the political arena as well as the civil arena and the economic arena all functioned beneath the auspices of an intricate and prevalent array of municipal law Legislative authority over commerce and trade kept a much diversified social sphere together what Novak calls a well regulated society that could not be examined as the kind of market economy we know so well today, differentiated as it is from the welfare of the people salus populi There s a great chart toward the end of the book that traces the progression from the colonial period of common law to the well regulated state with its saturation of legislated policing of business to the modern state of the cutthroat laissez faire market.


  6. says:

    A brilliant examination of the intermediate legal period between colonial custom and the modern liberal absolutist state Novak presents much compelling evidence in support of the existence of a local police power, buttressed by the common law, that sustained the well regulated community the salus populi, the people s welfare With the rise of big business and the concomitant need for big administration, this local state apparatus and the localist affiliations of those who participated in it gave way to constitutional law, powerful state and federal administrative agencies, and individual rights Yet another book that challenges and complicates Morton Horwitz s overstated and over cited thesis that the early 19th century was a time of hands off regulation, pro business private law decisions, and little else.


  7. says:

    I really enjoyed this look at the development of laws and regulations in the early United States I know it sounds boring, but it isn t really We see the development from English Common Law to the regulations that create a well regulated society An early example is found in disaster a fire in New York that threatened the entire city The mayor ordered blocks of buildings torn down as a firebreak, and that saved the day Should the people whose buildings were torn down be compensated Or what if the exercising of your freedom impinges on the freedom or pursuit of happiness of another Who has to give That s a conflict that is still the subject of court cases today If you re curious about how our legal judgments evolved, this is a good start.


  8. says:

    This was a tough read SUPER legal and hard for me to understand, but the gist of his argument was pretty interesting although everyone thinks 19th century American economy was completely laissez faire and individualist, the reality is a very strong state and local intervention in the economy from regulation to drastic public health measures, and was most concerned with the welfare of the people over individuals Also I learned some Latin phrases


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