Any student of American history knows of Washington, Jefferson, and the other statesmen who penned the documents that form the legal foundations of our nation, but many other great minds contributed to the development of the young republic's judicial system -- figures such as William Littell, Ben Monroe, and John J. Marshall. These men, some of Kentucky's earliest law reporters, are the forgotten trailblazers who helped establish the foundation of the state's court system.
In Writing the Legal Record: Law Reporters in Nineteenth-Century Kentucky, Kurt X. Metzmeier provides portraits of the men whose important yet understudied contributions helped create a new common law inspired by English legal traditions but fully grounded in the decisions of American judges. He profiles individuals such as James Hughes, a Revolutionary War veteran who worked as a legislator to reform confusing property laws inherited from Virginia. Also featured is George M. Bibb, a prominent U.S. senator and the secretary of the treasury under President John Tyler.
To shed light on the pioneering individuals responsible for collecting and publishing the early opinions of Kentucky's highest court, Metzmeier reviews nearly a century of debate over politics, institutional change, human rights, and war. Embodied in the stories of these early reporters are the rich history of the Commonwealth, the essence of its legal system, and the origins of a legal print culture in America.
The Barrister: James Hughes (d. 1818)
The Reporter Who Was Not: Achilles Sneed (1772-1825)
The Soldier: Martin D. Hardin (1780-1823)
The Jurist: George M. Bibb (1776-1859)
The Brother: Alexander K. Marshall (1770-1825)
The Poet: William Littell (1768-1824)
The Rebel: Thomas Bell Monroe (1791-1865)
The Scion: John James Marshall (1785-1846)
The Editor: James G. Dana (1785-1840)
The Professional: Ben Monroe (1790-1860)
The Banker: James P. Metcalfe (1822-1889)
The Copperhead: Alvin Duvall (1813-1891)
The Last: W.P.D. Bush (1823-1904)
"Metzmeier's juxtaposition of attention to detail, the historical background of these reporters, and the state of the United States throughout the nineteenth century weaves a story that seems to resonate beyond Kentucky." -- Law Library Journal
"Kurt Metzmeier's fine study of the Kentucky court system helps fill in many gaps in our historical knowledge. These carefully researched, tightly written, and nuanced chapters aid anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the legal system in nineteenth-century America." -- Ohio Valley History
"The title of this valuable book may summon the image of scholars scrawling with quills at rolltop desks in a windowless Frankfort warren. But what the reader gets are deft sketches of 13 substantial actors in Kentucky's early history who also happened to have reported appellate cases. They are brought to life by Mr. Metzmeier ." -- Kentucky Bench & Bar
"Metzmeier writes about the important, sometimes mundane writing that doesn't generate gratitude from its readers, yet served an invaluable service at the time. This book is strongly recommended." -- The Southeastern Librarian