"I highly recommend this book to all members of the bench and bar. . . . [It] would have been of immense value to me as a lawyer, attorney general, and supreme court justice. It historically depicts in flesh-and-blood images the litigators and jurists who participated in formulating the rules of law that govern in Florida today."--Richard W. Ervin, chief justice of the Supreme Court of Florida, 1969-1971
"This major and outstanding work . . . establishes a lofty standard for state high court histories."--Stephen C. O’Connell, chief justice of the Supreme Court of Florida, 1967; president of the University of Florida, 1967-73
"A thoughtful, meticulously researched examination of the Florida judicial system's evolution."--Kenneth W. Starr, solicitor general of the United States, 1989-1993
This is the first in-depth history of the Florida territorial courts, the Supreme Court of Florida, and the judges of both from 1821 to 1917, the golden age of state constitutional law.
The Supreme Court of Florida and its territorial predecessors often were at the center of leading political, social, and economic controversies. By examining the court's opinions on issues such as slavery, internal improvements, and business regulation, the authors reveal the way the court shaped and was shaped by the competing interests that transformed Florida. Court efforts at the same time to define the scope of each branch of government reveal the ways that political power influenced the court's work.
Virtually all jurists on the appellate courts during the era held other prominent positions in business or government. The biographies of these men--usually the most extensive accounts ever written--include their background and accomplishments as well as weaknesses, and demonstrate that their political and legal philosophies often overlapped significantly.
The book presents the facts of such controversial issues as the court's role in Florida's political Redemption after the Civil War and its efforts to ensure access to the court system by African-Americans. At a time when the courts are poised to assume greater responsibilities, this work reveals the challenges faced by an earlier court in arbitrating constitutional struggles over power and liberty.
Walter W. Manley, II, professor of business administration at Florida State University, has been a visiting professor at Oxford and Cambridge universities. He is the author of five books, including Critical Issues in Business Conduct: Legal, Ethical and Social Challenges for the 1990s.
E. Canter Brown, Jr., historian in residence at the Tampa Bay History Center, is the author of numerous books, including Ossian Bingley Hart, Florida’s Loyalist Reconstruction Governor and Florida's Peace River Frontier (UPF, 1991).
Eric W. Rise, assistant professor of criminal justice at the University of Delaware, is the author of several books, including The Martinsville Seven: Race, Rape, and Capital Punishment.
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"Surprisingly, this is not a ho-hum read. . . . Laymen may find the book merely fascinating, but lawyers will see it as an important part of precedent-setting legal history."
"It's a backgrounder about the Florida court system, as well as the movers and shakers who made the court what it is."
--Naples Daily News
"More than just a history of Florida's highest court; it also constitutes the best availabe legal history of the state."
"Packed full of new, previously unpublished material that will inform general readers and lawyers alike. Finally, it also serves as an excellent general history of Florida's first century as an American possession and will be a standard source of reference for Florida's legal, judicial and political development for many years to come." -- Lakeland Ledger
"An important book."
"Essential to serious preservers and pursuers of Florida's past."
-- Florida Times-Union
"What sets this volume apart is its range of coverage -- well beyond a history of the state's appellate judicial system. In addition to profiles of more than 50 judges, it provides a background contest of events going on in Florida when they served." -- Tampa Tribune
"More than just a history of Florida's highest court; it also constitutes the best legal history of the state available. Five neatly crafted sections: Florida Territority, Antebellum Statehood, Civil War and Reconstruction, Redemption and the Bourbons, and Before the Great War, organize 19 chapters which chronicle the story of Florida's highest court to 1917. Carefully woven into each chapter are lengthy biographical sketches of justices noting their previous legal experience, the route each took to the highest court, and the social and cultural milieu in which they operated. The sketches also shed light on members of the court whose contributions to the state's constitutional and political development are practically unknown today. . . . Packed with new, previously unpublished material, it also serves as an excellent general history of Florida's first century as an American possession, and will be a standard source of reference for Florida's legal, judicial, and political development for many years to come." -- Florida Bar Journal
--The Florida Bar Journal
"An important addition to the literature on southern legal history." -- Georgia Historical Quarterly
--Georgia Historical Quarterly
"This beautifully researched work traces the development of Florida's Supreme Court, beginning with the territory's legal struggles during Andrew Jackson's gubenatorial administration and following them through the Progressive era. . . . The court is viewed in the broader context of Florida's social, economic, and demographic growth. . . . The result is a book which ought to interest readers of history, politics, and law." -- Tampa Bay History
--Tampa Bay History
"[A] long-awaited and important book. . . . [T]he first significant history of the Florida Supreme Court, Manley, Brown, and Rise have produced a work that deserves a wide audience. Any professors who teach Florida history, constitutional law, or the history of the judiciary should consider adopting this book for their courses." -- Florida Historical Quarterly
--Florida Historical Quarterly
"The great accomplishment of the book is that it sets forth, in context, the history of the court's growth and changes. In fact, what Manley, Brown and Rise have done is what pioneers do best-to blaze trails for others to widen." - Legal History
"This book's scope is much broader than a history of the Supreme Court of Florida and skillfully presents the judiciary and law within the wider context of historical forces and events. Therefore, it thoroughly addresses the state's overall political, social, economic, legal, and constitutional development, and is a reliable resource for historians, students, and lawyers alike, especially considering the reinvigoration of state constitutional law in America in recent years . . . Undoubtedly the leader in state judicial histories . . . required for any serious Florida history collection and a must for every Florida lawyer."
--H-Net Book Review