Legal history

Legal history or the history of law is the study of how law has evolved and why it changed. Legal history is closely connected to the development of civilisations and is set in the wider context of social history. Among certain jurists and historians of legal process, it has been seen as the recording of the evolution of laws and the technical explanation of how these laws have evolved with the view of better understanding the origins of various legal concepts; some consider it a branch of intellectual history. Twentieth century historians have viewed legal history in a more contextualised manner more in line with the thinking of social historians. They have looked at legal institutions as complex systems of rules, players and symbols and have seen these elements interact with society to change, adapt, resist or promote certain aspects of civil society. Such legal historians have tended to analyse case histories from the parameters of social science inquiry, using statistical methods, analysing class distinctions among litigants, petitioners and other players in various legal processes. By analysing case outcomes, transaction costs, number of settled cases they have begun an analysis of legal institutions, practices, procedures and briefs that give us a more complex picture of law and society than the study of jurisprudence, case law and civil codes can achieve.

Ancient world

Ancient Egyptian law, dating as far back as 3000 BC, had a civil code that was probably broken into twelve books. It was based on the concept of Ma'at, characterised by tradition, rhetorical speech, social equality and impartiality.[1] By the 22nd century BC, Ur-Nammu, an ancient Sumerian ruler, formulated the first extant law code, consisting of casuistic statements ("if... then..."). Around 1760 BC, King Hammurabi further developed Babylonian law, by codifying and inscribing it in stone. Hammurabi placed several copies of his law code throughout the kingdom of Babylon as stelae, for the entire public to see; this became known as the Codex Hammurabi. The most intact copy of these stelae was discovered in the 19th century by British Assyriologists, and has since been fully transliterated and translated into various languages, including English, German and French. Ancient Greek has no word for "law" as an abstract concept,[2] retaining instead the distinction between divine law (thémis), human decree (nomos) and custom (díkē).[3] Yet Ancient Greek law contained major constitutional innovations in the development of democracy.[4]

Southern Asia

The Constitution of India is the longest written constitution for a country, containing 444 articles, 12 schedules, numerous amendments and 117,369 words

Ancient India and China represent distinct traditions of law, and had historically independent schools of legal theory and practice. The Arthashastra, dating from the 400 BC, and the Manusmriti from 100 BCE[5] were influential treatises in India, texts that were considered authoritative legal guidance.[6] Manu's central philosophy was tolerance and pluralism, and was cited across South East Asia.[7] But this Hindu tradition, along with Islamic law, was supplanted by the common law when India became part of the British Empire.[8] Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore and Hong Kong also adopted the common law.

Eastern Asia

The eastern Asia legal tradition reflects a unique blend of secular and religious influences.[9] Japan was the first country to begin modernising its legal system along western lines, by importing bits of the French, but mostly the German Civil Code.[10] This partly reflected Germany's status as a rising power in the late nineteenth century. Similarly, traditional Chinese law gave way to westernisation towards the final years of the Qing dynasty in the form of six private law codes based mainly on the Japanese model of German law.[11] Today Taiwanese law retains the closest affinity to the codifications from that period, because of the split between Chiang Kai-shek's nationalists, who fled there, and Mao Zedong's communists who won control of the mainland in 1949. The current legal infrastructure in the People's Republic of China was heavily influenced by soviet Socialist law, which essentially inflates administrative law at the expense of private law rights.[12] Today, however, because of rapid industrialisation China has been reforming, at least in terms of economic (if not social and political) rights. A new contract code in 1999 represented a turn away from administrative domination.[13] Furthermore, after negotiations lasting fifteen years, in 2001 China joined the World Trade Organization.[14]

Canon law

The legal history of the Catholic Church is the history of Catholic canon law, the oldest continuously functioning legal system in the West.[15] Canon law originates much later than Roman law but predates the evolution of modern European civil law traditions. The cultural exchange between the secular (Roman/Barbarian) and ecclesiastical (canon) law produced the jus commune and greatly influenced both civil and common law.

The history of Latin canon law can be divided into four periods: the jus antiquum, the jus novum, the jus novissimum and the Code of Canon Law.[16] In relation to the Code, history can be divided into the jus vetus (all law before the Code) and the jus novum (the law of the Code, or jus codicis).[16] Eastern canon law developed separately.

In the twentieth century, canon law was comprehensively codified. On 27 May 1917, Pope Benedict XV codified the 1917 Code of Canon Law. John XIII, together with his intention to call the Second Vatican Council, announced his intention to reform canon law, which culminated in the 1983 Code of Canon Law, promulgated by John Paul II on 25 January 1983. John Paul II also brought to a close the long process of codifying the legal elements common to all 23 sui juris Eastern Catholic Churches on 18 October 1990 by promulgating the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.

Islamic law

One of the major legal systems developed during the Middle Ages was Islamic law and jurisprudence. A number of important legal institutions were developed by Islamic jurists during the classical period of Islamic law and jurisprudence. One such institution was the Hawala, an early informal value transfer system, which is mentioned in texts of Islamic jurisprudence as early as the 8th century. Hawala itself later influenced the development of the Aval in French civil law and the Avallo in Italian law.[17]

European laws

Roman Empire

Roman law was heavily influenced by Greek teachings.[18] It forms the bridge to the modern legal world, over the centuries between the rise and decline of the Roman Empire.[19] Roman law, in the days of the Roman republic and Empire, was heavily procedural and there was no professional legal class.[20] Instead a lay person, iudex, was chosen to adjudicate. Precedents were not reported, so any case law that developed was disguised and almost unrecognised.[21] Each case was to be decided afresh from the laws of the state, which mirrors the (theoretical) unimportance of judges' decisions for future cases in civil law systems today. During the 6th century AD in the Eastern Roman Empire, the Emperor Justinian codified and consolidated the laws that had existed in Rome so that what remained was one twentieth of the mass of legal texts from before.[22] This became known as the Corpus Juris Civilis. As one legal historian wrote, "Justinian consciously looked back to the golden age of Roman law and aimed to restore it to the peak it had reached three centuries before."[23]

Middle Ages

Joao sem terra assina carta Magna
King John of England signs the Magna Carta

During the Byzantine Empire the Justinian Code was expanded and remained in force until the Empire fell, though it was never officially introduced to the West. Instead, following the fall of the Western Empire and in former Roman countries, the ruling classes relied on the Theodosian Code to govern natives and Germanic customary law for the Germanic incomers - a system known as folk-right - until the two laws blended together. Since the Roman court system had broken down, legal disputes were adjudicated according to Germanic custom by assemblies of learned lawspeakers in rigid ceremonies and in oral proceedings that relied heavily on testimony.

After much of the West was consolidated under Charlemagne, law became centralized so as to strengthen the royal court system, and consequently case law, and abolished folk-right. However, once Charlemagne's kingdom definitively splintered, Europe became feudalistic, and law was generally not governed above the county, municipal or lordship level, thereby creating a highly decentralized legal culture that favored the development of customary law founded on localized case law. However, in the 11th century, crusaders, having pillaged the Byzantine Empire, returned with Byzantine legal texts including the Justinian Code, and scholars at the University of Bologna were the first to use them to interpret their own customary laws.[24] Medieval European legal scholars began researching the Roman law and using its concepts[25] and prepared the way for the partial resurrection of Roman law as the modern civil law in a large part of the world.[26] There was, however, a great deal of resistance so that civil law rivaled customary law for much of the late Middle Ages.

After the Norman conquest of England, which introduced Norman legal concepts into medieval England, the English King's powerful judges developed a body of precedent that became the common law.[27] In particular, Henry II instituted legal reforms and developed a system of royal courts administered by a small number of judges who lived in Westminster and traveled throughout the kingdom.[28] Henry II also instituted the Assize of Clarendon in 1166, which allowed for jury trials and reduced the number of trials by combat. Louis IX of France also undertook major legal reforms and, inspired by ecclesiastical court procedure, extended Canon-law evidence and inquisitorial-trial systems to the royal courts. Also, judges no longer moved on circuits becoming fixed to their jurisdictions, and jurors were nominated by parties to the legal dispute rather than by the sheriff.[28] In addition, by the 10th century, the Law Merchant, first founded on Scandinavian trade customs, then solidified by the Hanseatic League, took shape so that merchants could trade using familiar standards, rather than the many splintered types of local law. A precursor to modern commercial law, the Law Merchant emphasised the freedom of contract and alienability of property.[29]

Modern European law

The two main traditions of modern European law are the codified legal systems of most of continental Europe, and the English tradition based on case law.

As nationalism grew in the 18th and 19th centuries, lex mercatoria was incorporated into countries' local law under new civil codes. Of these, the French Napoleonic Code and the German Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch became the most influential. As opposed to English common law, which consists of massive tomes of case law, codes in small books are easy to export and for judges to apply. However, today there are signs that civil and common law are converging. European Union law is codified in treaties, but develops through the precedent set down by the European Court of Justice.

United States

The United States legal system developed primarily out of the English common law system (with the exception of the state of Louisiana, which continued to follow the French civilian system after being admitted to statehood). Some concepts from Spanish law, such as the prior appropriation doctrine and community property, still persist in some US states, particularly those that were part of the Mexican Cession in 1848.

Under the doctrine of federalism, each state has its own separate court system, and the ability to legislate within areas not reserved to the federal government.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Théodoridés. "law". Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt.
    * VerSteeg, Law in ancient Egypt
  2. ^ Kelly, A Short History of Western Legal Theory, 5-6
  3. ^ J.P. Mallory, "Law", in Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture, 346
  4. ^ Ober, The Nature of Athenian Democracy, 121
  5. ^ "Study reveals origin of India's caste system".
  6. ^ Glenn, Legal Traditions of the World, 255
  7. ^ Glenn, Legal Traditions of the World, 276
  8. ^ Glenn, Legal Traditions of the World, 273
  9. ^ Glenn, Legal Traditions of the World, 287
  10. ^ Glenn, Legal Traditions of the World, 304
  11. ^ Glenn, Legal Traditions of the World, 305
  12. ^ Glenn, Legal Traditions of the World, 307
  13. ^ Glenn, Legal Traditions of the World, 309
  14. ^ Farah, Five Years of China WTO Membership, 263-304
  15. ^ Dr. Edward N. Peters, CanonLaw.info, accessed Jul-1-2013
  16. ^ a b Manual of Canon Law, pg. 13, #8
  17. ^ Badr, Gamal Moursi (Spring 1978). "Islamic Law: Its Relation to Other Legal Systems". The American Journal of Comparative Law. American Society of Comparative Law. 26 (2 [Proceedings of an International Conference on Comparative Law, Salt Lake City, Utah, February 24–25, 1977]): 187–198 [196–8]. doi:10.2307/839667. JSTOR 839667.
  18. ^ Kelly, A Short History of Western Legal Theory, 39
  19. ^ As a legal system, Roman law has affected the development of law in most of Western civilization as well as in parts of the Eastern world. It also forms the basis for the law codes of most countries of continental Europe ("Roman law". Encyclopædia Britannica.).
  20. ^ Gordley-von Mehren, Comparative Study of Private Law, 18
  21. ^ Gordley-von Mehren, Comparative Study of Private Law, 21
  22. ^ Stein, Roman Law in European History, 32
  23. ^ Stein, Roman Law in European History, 35
  24. ^ Stein, Roman Law in European History, 43
  25. ^ Roman and Secular Law in the Middle Ages Archived 2011-09-27 at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ Roman law
  27. ^ Makdisi, John A. (June 1999). "The Islamic Origins of the Common Law". North Carolina Law Review. 77 (5): 1635–1739. suggests that there may have been some importation of Islamic concepts as well, but others have shown that occasional similarities are more likely coincidence than causal.
  28. ^ a b Klerman D, Mahoney PG (2007). "Legal Origins" (PDF). Journal of Comparative Economics. 35 (2): 278–293. doi:10.1016/j.jce.2007.03.007. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-08-26. Retrieved 2009-09-04.
  29. ^ Sealey-Hooley, Commercial Law, 14

References

  • Farah, Paolo (August 2006). "Five Years of China WTO Membership. EU and US Perspectives about China's Compliance with Transparency Commitments and the Transitional Review Mechanism". Legal Issues of Economic Integration. 33 (3): 263–304. SSRN 916768.
  • Barretto, Vicente (2006). Dicionário de Filosofia do Direito. Unisinos Editora. ISBN 85-7431-266-5.
  • Glenn, H. Patrick (2000). Legal Traditions of the World. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-876575-4.
  • Sadakat Kadri, The Trial: A History from Socrates to O.J. Simpson, HarperCollins 2005. ISBN 0-00-711121-5
  • Kelly, J.M. (1992). A Short History of Western Legal Theory. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-876244-5.
  • Gordley, James R.; von Mehren; Arthur Taylor (2006). An Introduction to the Comparative Study of Private Law. ISBN 978-0-521-68185-8.
  • Otto, Martin (2011). "Law". European History Online. Retrieved November 11, 2011.
  • Sealy, L.S.; Hooley, R.J.A. (2003). Commercial Law. LexisNexis Butterworths.
  • Stein, Peter (1999). Roman Law in European History. Cambridge University Press. p. 32. ISBN 0-521-64372-4.
  • Kempin, Jr., Frederick G. (1963). Legal History: Law and Social Change. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.

Further reading

External links

Alabama Claims

The Alabama Claims were a series of demands for damages sought by the government of the United States from the United Kingdom in 1869, for the attacks upon Union merchant ships by Confederate Navy commerce raiders built in British shipyards during the American Civil War. The claims focused chiefly on the most famous of these raiders, the CSS Alabama, which took more than sixty prizes before she was sunk off the French coast in 1864.

After international arbitration endorsed the American position in 1872, Britain settled the matter by paying the United States $15.5 million, ending the dispute and leading to a treaty that restored friendly relations between Britain and the United States. That international arbitration established a precedent, and the case aroused interest in codifying public international law.

Attainder

In English criminal law, attainder or attinctura was the metaphorical "stain" or "corruption of blood" which arose from being condemned for a serious capital crime (felony or treason). It entailed losing not only one's life, property and hereditary titles, but typically also the right to pass them on to one's heirs. Both men and women condemned of capital crimes could be attainted.

Attainder by confession resulted from a guilty plea at the bar before judges or before the coroner in sanctuary. Attainder by verdict resulted from conviction by jury. Attainder by process resulted from a legislative act outlawing a fugitive. The last form is obsolete in England (and prohibited in the United States), and the other forms have been abolished.

English law

English law is the common law legal system of England and Wales, comprising mainly criminal law and civil law, each branch having its own courts and procedures.

Heirloom

In popular usage, an heirloom is something that has been passed down for generations through family members. Examples are antiques or habits or jewelry.

The term originated with the historical principle of an heirloom in English law, a chattel which by immemorial usage was regarded as annexed by inheritance to a family estate. Loom originally meant a tool. Such genuine heirlooms were almost unknown by the beginning of the twentieth century.

Indian Removal Act

The Indian Removal Act was signed into law on May 28, 1830 by United States President Andrew Jackson. The law authorized the president to negotiate with southern Native American tribes for their removal to federal territory west of the Mississippi River in exchange for white settlement of their ancestral lands. The act has been referred to as a unitary act of systematic genocide, because it completely discriminated against an ethnic group, to the point of certain death of vast numbers of its population. The Act was signed by Andrew Jackson and it was strongly enforced under his administration and that of Martin Van Buren, which extended until 1841.The Act was strongly supported by southern and northeast populations, with much resistance, however from native tribes and the Whig Party. The Cherokee worked together to stop this relocation, but were unsuccessful; they were eventually forcibly removed by the United States government in a march to the west that later became known as the Trail of Tears.

Judiciary

The judiciary (also known as the judicial system, judicature, judicial branch or court system) is the system of courts that interprets and applies the law in a country, or an international community. The first legal systems of the world were set up to prevent citizens to settle conflicts without violence.The judiciary mainly interprets and applies the law, but can in some systems create law.

Law of Canada

The Canadian legal system has its foundation in the English common law system, inherited from being a former colony of the United Kingdom and later a Commonwealth Realm member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The legal system is bi-jurisdictional, as the responsibilities of public (includes criminal) and private law are separated and exercised exclusively by Parliament and the provinces respectively. Quebec, however, still retains a civil system for issues of private law (as this domain falls within the exclusive jurisdiction of the provinces).

Both legal systems are subject to the Constitution of Canada. The federal government has jurisdiction over certain exclusive domains which are regulated exclusively by Parliament, as well as all matters and disputes between provinces. These generally include interprovincial transport (rail, air and marine transport) as well as interprovincial trade and commerce (which generally concerns energy, the environment, agriculture). The criminal law is an area of exclusive federal jurisdiction, and has its origins in the English common law. Prosecutions of most criminal offences are conducted by the provincial Attorneys General, acting under the Criminal Code.

Law of the United States

The law of the United States comprises many levels of codified and uncodified forms of law, of which the most important is the United States Constitution, the foundation of the federal government of the United States. The Constitution sets out the boundaries of federal law, which consists of Acts of Congress, treaties ratified by the Senate, regulations promulgated by the executive branch, and case law originating from the federal judiciary. The United States Code is the official compilation and codification of general and permanent federal statutory law.

Federal law and treaties, so long as they are in accordance with the Constitution, preempt conflicting state and territorial laws in the 50 U.S. states and in the territories. However, the scope of federal preemption is limited because the scope of federal power is not universal. In the dual-sovereign system of American federalism (actually tripartite because of the presence of Indian reservations), states are the plenary sovereigns, each with their own constitution, while the federal sovereign possesses only the limited supreme authority enumerated in the Constitution. Indeed, states may grant their citizens broader rights than the federal Constitution as long as they do not infringe on any federal constitutional rights. Thus, most U.S. law (especially the actual "living law" of contract, tort, property, criminal, and family law experienced by the majority of citizens on a day-to-day basis) consists primarily of state law, which can and does vary greatly from one state to the next.At both the federal and state levels, with the exception of the state of Louisiana, the law of the United States is largely derived from the common law system of English law, which was in force at the time of the American Revolutionary War. However, American law has diverged greatly from its English ancestor both in terms of substance and procedure, and has incorporated a number of civil law innovations.

Legal history of cannabis in the United States

The legal history of cannabis in the United States pertains to the regulation of cannabis (legal term marijuana or marihuana) for medical, recreational, and industrial purposes in the United States. Increased restrictions and labeling of cannabis as a poison began in many states from 1906 onward, and outright prohibitions began in the 1920s. By the mid-1930s cannabis was regulated as a drug in every state, including 35 states that adopted the Uniform State Narcotic Drug Act. The first national regulation was the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937.Cannabis was officially outlawed for any use (medical included) with the passage of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) of 1970. Multiple efforts to reschedule cannabis under the CSA have failed, and the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in United States v. Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative and Gonzales v. Raich that the federal government has a right to regulate and criminalize cannabis, even for medical purposes. Despite this, states and other jurisdictions have continued to implement policies that conflict with federal law, beginning with the passage of California's Proposition 215 in 1996. By 2016 a majority of states had legalized medical cannabis, and in 2012 the first states legalized recreational use.

Legal history of the Catholic Church

The legal history of the Catholic Church is the history of the oldest continuously functioning legal system in the West, much later than Roman law but predating the evolution of modern European civil law traditions. The history of Latin canon law can be divided into four periods: the jus antiquum, the jus novum, the jus novissimum and the Code of Canon Law. In relation to the Code, history can be divided into the jus vetus (all law before the Code) and the jus novum (the law of the Code, or jus codicis). Eastern canon law developed separately.

Magdeburg rights

Magdeburg rights (German: Magdeburger Recht; also called Magdeburg Law) were a set of town privileges first developed by Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor (936–973) and based on the Flemish law, which regulated the degree of internal autonomy within cities and villages, granted by the local ruler. Named after the German city of Magdeburg, these town charters were perhaps the most important set of medieval laws in Central Europe thus far. They became the basis for the German town laws developed during many centuries in the Holy Roman Empire. Even more importantly, adopted and modified by numerous monarchs including the rulers of Bohemia, Hungary, and Poland, the laws were a milestone in urbanization of the entire region and prompted the development of thousands of villages and cities.

Marbury v. Madison

Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137 (1803), was a U.S. Supreme Court case that established the principle of judicial review in the United States, meaning that American courts have the power to strike down laws, statutes, and some government actions that contravene the U.S. Constitution. Decided in 1803, Marbury remains the single most important decision in American constitutional law. The Court's landmark decision established that the U.S. Constitution is actual "law", not just a statement of political principles and ideals, and helped define the boundary between the constitutionally separate executive and judicial branches of the American form of government.

The case originated from the political and ideological rivalry between outgoing U.S. President John Adams, who espoused the pro-business and pro-national-government ideals of Alexander Hamilton and the Federalist Party, and incoming President Thomas Jefferson, who led the Democratic-Republican Party and favored agriculture and decentralization. Adams had lost the U.S. presidential election of 1800 to Jefferson, and in March 1801, just two days before his term as president ended, Adams appointed several dozen Federalist Party supporters to new circuit judge and justice of the peace positions in an attempt to frustrate Jefferson and his supporters in the Democratic-Republican Party. The U.S. Senate quickly confirmed Adams's appointments, but upon Jefferson's inauguration two days later, a few of the new judges' commissions still had not been delivered. Jefferson believed the commissions were void because they had not been delivered in time, and instructed his new Secretary of State, James Madison, not to deliver them. One of the men whose commissions had not been delivered in time was William Marbury, a Maryland businessman who had been a strong supporter of Adams and the Federalists. In late 1801, after Madison had repeatedly refused to deliver his commission, Marbury filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court asking the Court to issue a writ of mandamus forcing Madison to deliver his commission.In an opinion written by Chief Justice John Marshall, the Court held firstly that Madison's refusal to deliver Marbury's commission was illegal, and secondly that it was normally proper for a court in such situations to order the government official in question to deliver the commission. However, in Marbury's case, the Court did not order Madison to comply. Examining the law Congress had passed that gave the Supreme Court jurisdiction over types of cases like Marbury's, Marshall found that it had expanded the definition of the Supreme Court's jurisdiction beyond what was originally set down in the U.S. Constitution. Marshall then struck down the law, announcing that American courts have the power to invalidate laws that they find to violate the Constitution. Because this meant the Court had no jurisdiction over the case, it could not issue the writ that Marbury had requested.

Michigan Supreme Court

The Michigan Supreme Court is the highest court in the U.S. state of Michigan. It is Michigan's court of last resort and consists of seven justices. The Court is located in the Michigan Hall of Justice at 925 Ottawa Street in Lansing, the state capital.

Necessary and Proper Clause

The Necessary and Proper Clause, also known as the elastic clause, is a clause in Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution that is as follows:

The Congress shall have Power ... To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

Outlaw

In historical legal systems, an outlaw is declared as outside the protection of the law. In pre-modern societies, the criminal is withdrawn all legal protection, so that anyone is legally empowered to persecute or kill them. Outlawry was thus one of the harshest penalties in the legal system. In early Germanic law, the death penalty is conspicuously absent, and outlawing is the most extreme punishment, presumably amounting to a death sentence in practice. The concept is known from Roman law, as the status of homo sacer, and persisted throughout the Middle Ages.

In the common law of England, a "Writ of Outlawry" made the pronouncement Caput lupinum ("Let his be a wolf's head", literally "May he bear a wolfish head") with respect to its subject, using "head" to refer to the entire person (cf. "per capita") and equating that person with a wolf in the eyes of the law: not only was the subject deprived of all legal rights of the law being outside the "law", but others could kill him on sight as if he were a wolf or other wild animal. Women were declared "waived" rather than outlawed but it was effectively the same punishment.

Reading law

Reading law is the method by which persons in common law countries, particularly the United States, entered the legal profession before the advent of law schools. This usage specifically refers to a means of entering the profession (although in England it is still customary to say that a university undergraduate is "reading" a course, which may be law or any other). Reading the law consists of an extended internship or apprenticeship under the tutelage or mentoring of an experienced lawyer. A small number of U.S. jurisdictions still permit this practice today.

Reconstruction era

The Reconstruction era was the period from 1863 to 1877 in American history. It was a significant chapter in the history of American civil rights.

The term has two applications: the first applies to the complete history of the entire country from 1865 to 1877 following the American Civil War; the second, to the attempted transformation of the 11 ex-Confederate states from 1863 to 1877, as directed by Congress. Reconstruction ended the remnants of Confederate secession and ended slavery, making the newly-free slaves citizens with civil rights ostensibly guaranteed by three new Constitutional amendments.

Three visions of Civil War memory appeared during Reconstruction: the reconciliationist vision, which was rooted in coping with the death and devastation the war had brought; the white supremacist vision, which included segregation and the preservation of the traditional cultural standards of the South; and the emancipationist vision, which sought full freedom, citizenship, and Constitutional equality for African Americans.When President Abraham Lincoln, a Republican, was assassinated at the end of the Civil War, Vice President Andrew Johnson, a Democrat from Tennessee and former slave holder, became President. Johnson favored rapid measures to bring the South back into the Union, allowing the southern states to determine the rights of former slaves. Radical Republicans in Congress sought stronger, federal measures to upgrade the rights of African Americans, including the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, while curtailing the rights of former Confederates, such as through the provisions of the Wade–Davis Bill. Johnson, the most prominent Southerner to oppose the Confederacy, followed a lenient policy toward ex-Confederates. Lincoln's last speeches show that he was leaning toward supporting the enfranchisement of all freedmen, whereas Johnson and the Democratic Party was strongly opposed to this.Johnson's weak Reconstruction policies prevailed until the Congressional elections of 1866. Those elections followed outbreaks of violence against blacks in the former rebel states, including the Memphis riots of 1866 and the New Orleans riot that same year. The subsequent 1866 election gave Republicans a majority in Congress, enabling them to pass the 14th Amendment, federalizing equal rights for freedmen, and dissolve rebel state legislatures until new state constitutions were passed in the south. A Republican coalition came to power in nearly all the southern states and set out to transform the society by setting up a free labor economy, using the U.S. Army and the Freedmen's Bureau. The Bureau protected the legal rights of freedmen, negotiated labor contracts, and set up schools and churches for them. Thousands of Northerners came south as missionaries, teachers, businessmen and politicians. Hostile whites began referring to these politicians as "carpetbaggers". In early 1866, Congress passed the Freedmen's Bureau and Civil Rights Bills and sent them to Johnson for his signature. The first bill extended the life of the bureau, originally established as a temporary organization charged with assisting refugees and freed slaves, while the second defined all persons born in the United States as national citizens with equality before the law. After Johnson vetoed the bills, Congress overrode his vetos, making the Civil Rights Act the first major bill in the history of the United States to become law through an override of a presidential veto. The Radicals in the House of Representatives, frustrated by Johnson's opposition to Congressional Reconstruction, filed impeachment charges. The action failed by one vote in the Senate. The new national Reconstruction laws – in particular laws requiring suffrage (the right to vote) for freedmen – incensed white supremacists in the South, giving rise to the Ku Klux Klan. During 1867-69 the Klan murdered Republicans and outspoken freedmen in the South, including Arkansas Congressman James M. Hinds.

Elected in 1868, Republican President Ulysses S. Grant supported Congressional Reconstruction and enforced the protection of African Americans in the South through the use of the Enforcement Acts passed by Congress. Grant used the Enforcement Acts to effectively combat the Ku Klux Klan, which was essentially wiped out, although a new incarnation of the Klan eventually would again come to national prominence in the 1920s. Nevertheless, President Grant was unable to resolve the escalating tensions inside the Republican Party between the Northerners on the one hand, and those Republicans originally hailing from the South on the other (this latter group would be labelled "scalawags" by those opposing Reconstruction). Meanwhile, "redeemers", self-styled conservatives in close cooperation with a faction of the Democratic Party, strongly opposed Reconstruction. They alleged widespread corruption by the "carpetbaggers", excessive state spending, and ruinous taxes. Meanwhile, public support for Reconstruction policies, requiring continued supervision of the South, faded in the North after the Democrats, who strongly opposed Reconstruction, regained control of the House of Representatives in 1874. In 1877, as part of a Congressional bargain to elect Republican Rutherford B. Hayes as president following the disputed 1876 presidential election, U.S. Army troops were withdrawn from the three states (South Carolina, Louisiana, and Florida) where they still remained. This marked the end of Reconstruction.

Historian Eric Foner argues:

What remains certain is that Reconstruction failed, and that for blacks its failure was a disaster whose magnitude cannot be obscured by the genuine accomplishments that did endure.

Seneschal

The word seneschal () can have several different meanings, all of which reflect certain types of supervising or administering in a historic context. Most commonly, a seneschal was a senior position filled by a court appointment within a royal, ducal, or noble household during the Middle Ages and early Modern period – historically a steward or majordomo of a medieval great house. In a medieval royal household, a seneschal was in charge of domestic arrangements and the administration of servants, which, in the medieval period particularly, meant the seneschal might oversee hundreds of laborers, servants and their associated responsibilities, and have a great deal of power in the community, at a time when the much of the local economy was often based around the wealth and responsibilities of such a household.

A second meaning is more specific, and concerns the late medieval and early modern nation of France, wherein the seneschal (French: sénéchal) was also a royal officer in charge of justice and control of the administration of certain southern provinces called seneschalties, holding a role equivalent to a northern French bailiff (bailli).

Finally, in the United Kingdom primarily, seneschal is an ecclesiastical term, referring to a cathedral official.

Simony

Simony is the act of selling church offices and roles. It is named after Simon Magus, who is described in the Acts of the Apostles as having offered two disciples of Jesus payment in exchange for their empowering him to impart the power of the Holy Spirit to anyone on whom he would place his hands. The term extends to other forms of trafficking for money in "spiritual things."The appointment of ecclesiastical officials, such as bishops and abbots, by a secular authority came to be considered simoniacal and this became a key issue during the Investiture Controversy.

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