March 25, 2013

The Spanish Legal Influence In West Florida

Sean Patrick Donlan, University of Limerick, is publishing Entangled Up in Red, White, and Blue: Spanish West Florida and the American Territory of Orleans, 1803-1810, in Entanglements in Legal History: Conceptual Approches To Legal History, I Global Perspective on Legal History -- (Thomas Duve ed.; Max Planck Institute for European Legal History 2013). Forthcoming.

This article is a preliminary case study of legal and normative entanglement in Spanish West Florida — which stretched across the Gulf Coast of present-day Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida — between 1803-1810. Between the time of the Louisiana Purchase (1803) and the annexation of Westernmost part of West Florida by the United States (1810), the laws and norms of the Territory criss-crossed in various ways those of Spain and the United States. Indeed, the territory was, in turn, French, British, and Spanish before being annexed, in part, by the Americans. For the period under study here, and decades before, its settlers were largely Anglophone, while its laws were a variant of the Spanish colonial ius commune. West Florida had an especially close relationship with the area that would become the new American Territory of Orleans (1805), especially the city of New Orleans. Carved out of the vast Louisiana Territory purchased from France, the Territory of Orleans had its own complex history. Its population was still largely Francophone. In its first decade, its laws were already a gumbo of continental and Anglo-American ingredients. Together, the two territories sat at the precipice of the modern nation-state, of nationalism and popular sovereignty, of legal positivism and legal formalism. In both territories, the diffusion — direct and indirect, formal and informal, ongoing and sporadic — of the various laws and norms of natives and newcomers created intricate legal and normative hybrids.

Download the essay from SSRN at the link.

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