The Law from The Lawbook Exchange
Law books from The Lawbook Exchange.
The Lawbook Exchange has issued Catalogue 69, Recently Acquired Books, Manuscripts and Ephemera. Anything pertaining to the law may be found here. Works range from early treatises on the law dating back to the 16th century, to statements of basic human rights held by American colonists objecting to British rule, to sensational murder trials, to basic texts meant for use by legal practitioners. If, as someone said a long time ago (John Adams?), we are a nation of laws, then this catalogue is a summary of the history of western nations. These are a few samples of what is offered.
Item 3 is one of the earliest enunciations of the sovereign rights of American colonists vis-à-vis their rulers in England. In 1721, Parliament's Board of Trade was seeking to revoke the charters of the New England colonies. The charge was the colonies were not doing enough to defend themselves from the French in Canada. This spirited defense was published by Jeremiah Dummer: A Defence of the New England Charters. Dummer was an American who settled in London as representative for the colonies of Massachusetts and Connecticut. His argument for the colonists won the day and the charters were not revoked. Offered is a 1721 first edition of a book that would be reprinted in 1765 when Britain and her colonies again bumped heads, this time with far more serious consequences. Priced at $6,000.
The issue of colonial rights would arise again shortly after the French and Indian War when the British would again seek to make the colonists pay more for military needs. James Otis responded with The Rights of the British Colonies Asserted and Proved. It was a forerunner of arguments to be made later and enforced through revolution. Otis was responding to one of the first indignities, the sugar tax. Otis argues on the basis of the colonists' natural rights, including the right to a voice in Parliament. He has been credited with the quote "taxation without representation is tyranny." Item 7 is a first English edition, published in 1764 (same year as the first American). $3,500.
Item 99 is John W. Pitts' Eleven Numbers Against Legislation and Fees at the Bar, published in 1843. Pitts was an unhappy Georgian. He published the first six of his numbers in The Southern Reporter, but that publication refused to print any more. Pitts responded by publishing all 11 essays in this pamphlet. Pitts believed lawyers, who dominated legislatures, made laws unnecessarily complex, thereby forcing people to hire lawyers and pay their fees in order to exercise the rights created. Of course, we now know such charges to be entirely baseless. $850.
The Law from The Lawbook Exchange
Federal order excludes Japanese from the west coast during World War II.
Item 37 is a broadside from one of the worst episodes in American history. It is Civilian Exclusion Order No. 41, published from San Francisco on May 5, 1942. This ordered "all persons of Japanese descent, both alien and non-alien," out of all of California and most of Oregon and Washington. The result was most Japanese from these areas were sent off to internment camps, in effect imprisoned in shoddy camps for much of the remainder of the war. The government formally apologized and offered reparations to survivors and descendants in 1988. $1,500.
Item 153 is headed Anno Vicesimo Secundo Henrici Octavi. It is an accounting of 16 acts adopted during the 22nd year of the reign in England of King Henry VIII. It was published circa 1547, though it would pertain to 1531, just about the time Henry was starting to slip off the deep end. Among the acts of that year were "An Acte Ageynst Poysonnyng" and "An Acte Concernyng Outlandishe People Callyng Themselves Egiptians." The latter referred to Gypsies. $4,500.
Item 36 is a broadside for a law upon a law, A Law in Addition to a Law, Entitled "Of the Public Market Houses." Passed February 1, 1836, this law sets down regulations for the public markets in Albany, New York. It sets out regulations for the handling of meat and poultry as well as other food at the Centre Market, one of three in the city. Other rules set the hours, cost of permits, and allocation of stalls. It contains the printed name of Mayor Erastus Corning at the bottom. I don't know whether Albany still has these public markets, but when I was young, well over a hundred years after the date of this broadside, I accompanied my grandfather to the Albany Public Market while he would pick out (live) chickens. And the mayor was still Erastus Corning. No, Erastus didn't live that long. Erastus, great American railroad tycoon, served but one term as mayor in the 1830s. His great-grandson, Erastus Corning II, served over 40 years in the 20th century. $1,500.
Item 11 is a collection of letters and other material pertaining to the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal after the Second World War. It includes 300 letters from defense attorney John G. Brannan to his brother Sonny, also an attorney. Brannan had been assigned to help defend Admiral Osami Nagano. Nagano, leader of the Japanese Navy, had been reluctant to attack America, but was overridden on this call. He would later be kicked upstairs as the war effort went poorly. Nonetheless, as one letter here indicates, he was aware of the planned attack on Pearl Harbor. At a dinner with Nagano's wife, after his death, Brannan overheard her say to another Japanese officer that her husband had expressed regret at not being able to inform him in advance of the attack. Nagano suffered a heart attack and died during the trial. $15,000.
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