David Rabban ’71 is the author of Law’s History: American Legal Thought and the Transatlantic Turn to History (Cambridge University Press), concentrating on the central role of history in late 19th-century American legal thought. In the decades following the Civil War, the founding generation of professional legal scholars in the United States drew from the evolutionary social thought that pervaded Western intellectual life on both sides of the Atlantic. Their historical analysis of law as an inductive science rejected deductive theories and supported moderate legal reform, conclusions that challenge conventional accounts of legal formalism.
The book is unprecedented in its coverage and its illuminating conclusions about major American legal thinkers from the Civil War to the present. It considers transatlantic intellectual history, legal history, the history of legal thought, historiography, jurisprudence, constitutional theory, and the history of higher education. American scholars who are the primary focus of this book include Henry Adams, James Barr Ames, Melville M. Bigelow, James Coolidge Carter, Thomas McIntyre Cooley, William Gardiner Hammond, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., John Norton Pomeroy, Roscoe Pound, James Bradley Thayer, Christopher G. Tiderman and Francis Wharton.
Rabban is Dahr Jamail, Randall Hage Jamail, and the Robert Lee Jamail Regents Chair in Law and University Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of Texas School of Law. He also is the author of Free Speech in Its Forgotten Years (1997).