Progress, Stability, and the Struggle for Equality
A Ramble Through the Early Years of Maine Law, 1820-1920.
Every now and then, a book comes along that brings life to an era long past and provides timely lessons for today. Progress, Stability, and the Struggle for Equality: A Ramble Through the Early Years of Maine Law is just such a book.
In an engaging and thoughtful style that makes the law accessible to lawyers and the general public alike, Hugh MacMahon presents the story of the development of early Maine law across a broad range of topics and identifies three themes that stand out most prominently in that history – economic progress, social stability and the struggle for equal rights under the law, especially as regards race, gender and religion.
The author explains how the evolving law in Maine’s early years played out against the backdrop of old rules from the past running up against a society undergoing radical transformation brought on by momentous historical events that included the industrial revolution and the Civil War.
This book presents an empathetic picture of ordinary citizens and judges grappling with the inevitable tensions arising as locomotives eclipsed the horse and buggy, factories replaced the craftsman’s workbench, and emerging views of equal rights clashed with traditional notions of social stability.
Hugh MacMahon’s book is a “must read” not only for lawyers young and old, but for Maine history buffs and anyone interested in the role that courts play in the search for social justice.
A resident of Falmouth, Maine, Hugh MacMahon practiced law for many years with the firm of Drummond Woodsum & MacMahon in Portland. Now retired from active practice, he remains affiliated with the firm in an “of counsel” capacity. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School and has taught courses as a lecturer at the University of Maine School of Law.
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