Skip to main content

30% Off New Releases: Explore the List

Harvard University Press - home
Legal Papers of John Adams

Legal Papers of John Adams

John Adams

Edited by L. Kinvin Wroth and Hiller B. Zobel

ISBN 9780674522503

Publication date: 01/01/1965

Like many another statesman, John Adams entered the political arena by way of the legal profession. Here, gathered together in three volumes, is an inclusive presentation of the important legal cases in which he was involved. Student notes and Commonplace Book, which show the influences on the young law student in 1758 and 1759 are followed by Adams' Pleadings Book, a collection of forms providing a cross-section of the law in eighteenth-century Massachusetts and showing his work as teacher as well as student.

The sixty-four cases documented are divided into sixteen legal categories such as Torts, Property, Domestic Relations, Town Government, Conservation, Religion, Slavery, and Admiralty. They are preceded by editorial headnotes which discuss the background, significance, and importance of each category and case. Careful and thorough footnotes explain textual and legal problems; a register of John Adams' contemporaries furnishes sketches of his colleagues on the bench and bar; and an exhaustive chronology records his growing practice. But the bulk of the material consists of Adams' own notes and minutes, supplemented by court records, letters, depositions of witnesses, and the minutes of other lawyers, as well as extracts from Adams' correspondence and diary to make the record of each case as full as possible. Many of the cases concern events, personalities, and legal struggles directly related to the American Revolution.

The entire third volume of this imposing collection is devoted to the so-called "Boston Massacre." Confronted by a fascinating mass of conflicting evidence, charges and countercharges, and confused and confusing witnesses, many Americans will be surprised to discover that they must revise their notions about what actually happened on that March evening in 1770, why it did, and what ensued.

These three books comprise the first segment of Series III of The Adams Papers. The William Nelson Cromwell Foundation has made possible the editing of these volumes by means of a generous grant to the Harvard Law School.

Authors

  • L. Kinvin Wroth taught at the University of Maine School of Law and is a graduate of the Law School of Harvard University.
  • Hiller B. Zobel was an associate in the admiralty department of the Boston law firm of Bingham, Dana & Gould and is a graduate of the Law School of Harvard University.

Book Details

  • 434 pages
  • 6-1/2 x 9-3/4 inches
  • Belknap Press

From this author

Recommendations