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Recasting American Liberty: Gender, Race, Law, and the Railroad Revolution, 1865-1920 (Cambridge Historical Studies in American Law and Society) Hardcover – August 27, 2001

ISBN-13: 978-0521640206 ISBN-10: 0521640202

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Recasting American Liberty: Gender, Race, Law, and the Railroad Revolution, 1865-1920 (Cambridge Historical Studies in American Law and Society) + A Judgment for Solomon: The d'Hauteville Case and Legal Experience in Antebellum America (Cambridge Historical Studies in American Law and Society) + The Hollow Hope: Can Courts Bring About Social Change? Second Edition (American Politics and Political Economy Series)
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Product Details

  • Series: Cambridge Historical Studies in American Law and Society
  • Hardcover: 426 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (August 27, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521640202
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521640206
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,138,271 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"In this well-written book, Barbara Young Welke offers a thoughtful and comprehensive analysis...[her] book should appeal to scholars in many fields, especially those interested in law..." American Journal of Sociology

"Welke has written a perceptive and intriguing analysis that not only sheds light on the social and communal effects of rail traffic but also provide a glimpse of the personal consequences of technological change, safety regulations, and policy decisions....This well-organized and extensively documented work considers the significance of such issues as physical and psychological injuries associated with rail traffic as well as the role that gendered policies and racial segregation played in the meaning of individual liberty in industrializing the US." Choice

"[An] outstanding work of social and legal history..." Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"Welke's study...is a welcome addition to the growing literature on how railroading shaped legal culture. Based upon meticulous research in legal records, it will stimulate debate and deserves a large audience." H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online

Book Description

Through courtroom dramas from 1865 to 1920, Recasting American Liberty offers a dramatic reconsideration of the critical role railroads, and their urban counterpart, streetcars, played in transforming the conditions of individual liberty at the dawn of the 20th century. The three-part narrative, focusing on the law of accidental injury, nervous shock, and racial segregation in public transit, captures Americans' journey from a cultural and legal ethos celebrating manly independence and autonomy to one that recognized and sought to protect the individual against the corporate power, modern technology and modern urban space.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By E. J. Chaput on January 23, 2007
Format: Paperback
With the keen judgment for which she is so well known within law and society circles, Barbara Young Welke has produced a compelling and engaging work centering on the restructuring of the notions of liberty in the American polity from the end of the Civil War to the Progressive Era that will attract a wide audience. "The era of steadfast commitment to American ingenuity and independence," according to Welke, "was replaced by the era of ordered liberty, liberty assured through restraint" (4). It was through the injuries that women often suffered alighting from trains and streetcars that "the transition from an outmoded ethos of a nation of free men to one that recognized the reality of human vulnerability" occurred (124). Those familiar with her seminal articles, "When All the Women Were White, and All the Blacks Were Men: Gender, Class, Race, and the Road to Plessy, 1855-1914" (winner of the ASLH Surrency Prize) and "Unreasonable Women: Gender and the Law of Accidental Injury, 1870-1920" will be deeply satisfied with this monograph that couples her earlier analysis of gender, race, and class with the development of the modern regulatory movement. Thoughtfully argued and gracefully written, Recasting American Liberty is a valuable contribution to the Cambridge University Press Historical Studies in American Law and Society series which includes works from many outstanding scholars such as Tony Freyer, Andrew Cohen, Michael Grossberg, and David Rabban. Welke's analysis forces the historical community to reconsider the ordering of social relations, institutions, individual identity, and power arrangements within American society.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Dr. Welke looks at how the specter of death and serious injury-filtered through the courts view of gender-transformed American's view of liberty from positive (I am free to risk life and limb jumping from a train) to partly negative (I am free from being forced to risk life and limb jumping off a train).

Creative and impressive!
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Recasting American Liberty explores the changing concepts of freedom through the lens of the history of the railroads and streetcars. Once, trains did not stop to pick up or let off their passengers who were required to jump aboard or off the train, resulting in many deaths and maimings. Now, people are more confined and there are more safety protocols, saving lives. Welke shows how this transformation happened. Freedom is a word that is too often abused, by being overused or used vaguely to rally support for all kinds of projects and policies. Perhaps freedom should be replaced by a dozen words because currently confusion of its many meanings is a source of many of the world's problems. Welke has thought deeply about concepts of freedom and there is a lot to learn from this work that can contribute to a necessary rethinking.
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