Electing Members of Congress in the Early Republic

Procedures for electing members of Congress in the early republic greatly differed from the single-district system that is in use today. By Philip LampiHistorian Until 1825, the U.S. government did not require that local election officials formally report the results of their contests to any state or federal officials. Without official sources of election returns,[…]

Political Parties in the Early American Republic

This was a period of great experimentation and change in the development of political parties. The framers of the federal Constitution had not anticipated the development of permanent political parties. Parties were considered “factions,” dangerous and illegitimate alliances that pursued their own self-interest at the expense of the common good. National leaders were expected to[…]

Crime and Punishment in Elizabethan England

Looking at crime in Elizabethan England and the brutal punishments offenders received. Thieves and Pickpockets The crowded nave of St Paul’s Cathedral was a favourite with pickpockets and thieves, where innocent sightseers mixed with prostitutes, and servants looking for work rubbed shoulders with prosperous merchants. A visitor up from the country might be accosted by[…]

Magna Carta: Neutering a King at Runnymede in 1215

During the American Revolution, Magna Carta served to inspire and justify action in liberty’s defense. “The democratic aspiration is no mere recent phase in human history . . . It was written in Magna Carta.” Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1941 Inaugural address Introduction On June 15, 1215, in a field at Runnymede, King John affixed his[…]

Lex Maiestatis: The Law of Treason in Ancient Rome

This refers to any one of several ancient Roman laws (leges maiestatis) dealing with crimes against the Roman people, state, or emperor. Description The very name perduellio, the name of the crime in the older Roman law, is evidence of this. Perduelles were, strictly, public enemies who bore arms against the state; and traitors were[…]