Cover: Jefferson's Louisiana: Politics and the Clash of Legal Traditions, from Harvard University PressCover: Jefferson's Louisiana in E-DITION

Jefferson's Louisiana

Politics and the Clash of Legal Traditions

Available from De Gruyter »

Product Details


$65.00 • £54.95 • €60.00

ISBN 9780674331174

Publication Date: 01/01/1975

260 pages


Harvard University Press has partnered with De Gruyter to make available for sale worldwide virtually all in-copyright HUP books that had become unavailable since their original publication. The 2,800 titles in the “e-ditions” program can be purchased individually as PDF eBooks or as hardcover reprint (“print-on-demand”) editions via the “Available from De Gruyter” link above. They are also available to institutions in ten separate subject-area packages that reflect the entire spectrum of the Press’s catalog. More about the E-ditions Program »

The acquisition of Louisiana in 1803 brought the new American nation into contact with the largely French population of the lower Mississippi basin. Thomas Jefferson, reflecting contemporary American opinion, did not believe that the United States could incorporate Lower Louisiana into the Union as an independent state until the very character of the people and the institutional foundation of their culture had been thoroughly Americanized. The pivotal issue that came to symbolize this conflict was the struggle between Louisiana civil law and Anglo-American common law.

Which system of law would prevail in a distant and strategically vulnerable territory of the United States? George Dargo shows how this important question was partially resolved by events outside the strict confines of legal controversy. The book attempts to reconnect legal history and general history, for its major contention is that the Louisiana Digest of 1808 was as much a political effort to forestall wholesale cultural transformation as it was a decision responsive to legal problems.

The preservation of major civil-law institutions in Louisiana was not inevitable, the author argues, but was the result of a special concatenation of historical events which reinforced local determination to resist Jeffersonian efforts to alter Louisiana’s established civilization.

Recent News

Black lives matter. Black voices matter. A statement from HUP »

From Our Blog

Cover: A Theory of Justice: Original Edition, by John Rawls, from Harvard University Press

John Rawls: Speaking in a Shared Political Language

On the occasion of the anniversary of the publication of A Theory of Justice, Andrius Gališanka, author of John Rawls: The Path to a Theory of Justice, reflects on some of Rawls’s ideas on moral and political reasoning