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Title: Murder in the Shenandoah: Commonwealth v. John Crane and Law in Federal Virginia
Authors: Lowe, Jessica K.
Advisors: Hartog, Hendrik
Contributors: History Department
Keywords: class
Subjects: American history
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Murder in the Shenandoah is an experiential history of a 1791 murder in Virginia's lower Shenandoah Valley. On July 4, 1791, John Crane, son of a prominent Virginia family, killed his neighbor's harvest worker and later invoked a "lunacy" defense. Using narrative, the dissertation tells the story of the case as it wound its way through the various stages of Virginia's court system, recreating that system as Crane saw it - stage by stage, in the midst of Virginia's battle over law reform. By looking at the law not as case reports and outcomes, but rather as experience, Murder in the Shenandoah uncovers a new Virginia, one that defies the traditional dichotomies that have characterized the history of the region - state and local, east and west, gentry and non-gentry. Instead, it reveals that new nation's most politically and legally influential state was, in the critical early national era, a world in motion. Murder in the Shenandoah is, in both form and content, a popular history. In form, it experiments with rendering a complex subject in a narrative format. In content, it calls into question entrenched scholarly notions of legal pluralism, arguing that the idea has increasingly lost its usefulness - and undercut the very ideas of class and protest that it was originally designed to uncover. In Virginia, people of all classes knew the law, and fought to make it work for them. In both these ways, it links law and law's history with the people, broadly construed.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:History

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