Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




This dissertation examines the processes that created supreme courts of appeal in Virginia and Louisiana and challenges the traditional view of Louisiana as an anomaly in the American judicial system. Comparison of the development of the Supreme Court of Louisiana to that of Virginia reveals important similarities in judicial practices and procedures, legal theory, and the role the courts played in the early political development of each state. In every area, the two states shared important intellectual and historical experiences.;In order to investigate the creation of these jurisdictions, this dissertation examines the political climate of both states; the background, education, and politics of the judges; the rules of court which they developed; and the jurisprudence that defined the structure and operation of the courts. Accordingly, the judicial history of both states reflects the political changes which governed the era. The study of the development of the jurisdictions, moreover, chronicles the structural changes that influenced a pronounced shift from "moral" or "republican" principles of law to a more pragmatic and activist approach to justice in nineteenth-century America. Finally, the profound influence of the common law and Anglo-American patterns of judicature on Louisiana's legal institutions suggests a reconsideration of the state's place in the mainstream of American legal history.



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