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Wertheimer Presenting on October 21

John Wertheimer of Davidson College -- and one of our nation's premier legal historians -- will be presenting with some of his students to the Triangle Legal History Seminar on October 21 at UNC Law School.  John has for many years taught an innovative seminar for advanced history students in which the class picks a single case to study intensely.  They have a competitive process at the beginning of the semester where each student searches the appellate reports (often from the nineteenth century and from the Carolinas) and then presents the case to the class.  The class then picks what they want to study and they break the case into parts for groups of the, to further investigate.  Students research the background of the parties, the record below, the context in the community, how the case relates to prior -- and subsequent -- judicial decisions.  They write an article, collectively, over the course of the semester.  And towards the end they paper with a legal historian from another school.  Back in 2011 I had the pleasure of seeing the class' project.  It was a heck of a lot of fun and a very impressive presentation.  Then, after the semester is over John continues to work with the paper to publish it.  He collected a number of them together into a book back in 2006, Law and Society in the South.  You can see why David Tanenhaus said matter of factly to me some years ago, John is the best teacher of undergraduates in legal history in the country.

Over the years I've had the pleasure of teaching several of John's students who've come to Carolina Law.  Heidi Rickes, who wrote a terrific paper on graduation addresses at Davidson before the Civil War, was in his seminar.

John and his most recent set of seminar students will be presenting on  "State  v.  Posey: Criminal  Bargains  between  the  Enslaved  and  their Enslavers." And after us they're taking the show on the road, to Toronto, to the annual meeting of the American Society of Legal History, where they'll be presenting in early November.

We will be circulating the paper in October.  We hope you can join us.

The image is one of the Davidson College Literary Society Buildings.  It goes back to before the Civil War.

We'll be meeting at UNC law school for John's presentation.  Please let me know if you are going to join us so I can arrange for parking.


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