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How Lawyers made AmericaClass Term:
Spring Term 2021-2022Catalog Number:
3 (0 Contact, 0 Field)Graduation Requirements:
General Enrollment CourseFull Year Course:
Four short papers (10 pages each) counting 80%, plus 20% class participation.
This course examines the role of American lawyers as nation‐builders from colonization to the present day. It explores not only how lawyers crafted the domestic legal and constitutional structure, but also how they shaped American settlement, politics, business, letters, education, rhetoric, race relations, immigration, communication, diplomacy, war‐waging and peace‐making over more than four centuries, allowing lawyers (not businessmen, not doctors, not professors, not clergy, not engineers…) to largely define what it means to be an American. It considers how ordinary citizens and members of other professional groups have reacted to lawyers in their many social capacities, and it assesses how embracing and occasionally rejecting their self‐appointed status as “essential Americans” has affected lawyers themselves. It concludes with an investigation of where lawyers stand in today’s America, assessing whether they have succeeded or failed in their larger ambitions to build and to lead, and how they might better serve their country and themselves in uncertain times.