Thursday, March 13, 2008

Language And Conflict in History: Early America

Napoleon, after conquering Spain, had transferred the Lousiana Purchase area to France in 1800.  In 1803 America bought the Lousiana Purchase, and Louisiana became a State in 1812. 

The laws of Louisiana were, naturally, not, at that time, the English Common Law which all(?) the rest of the American States shared.  A man who would serve in the US House of Representatives from Louisiana, be one of Andrew Jackson's Secretary of State, and an associate of Aarob Burr, Edward Livingston wrote something which came to be called "The Livingston Code," which earned some popularity in American and Europe.  Unfortunately for my argument, it never became the law of Louisiana.  However, that doesn't mean that there wasn't a de facto bilingual legal system in Louisana at the time, especially in Acadian(Cajun) country.  More research is required. From Wikipedia:
In 1821, by appointment of the legislature, of which he had become a member in the preceding year, Livingston began the preparation of a new code of criminal law and procedure, afterwards known in Europe and America as the "Livingston Code". It was prepared in both French and English, as was required by the necessities of practice in Louisiana, and actually consisted of four sections: crimes and punishments, procedure, evidence in criminal cases, reform and prison discipline. Though substantially completed in 1824, when it was accidentally burned, and again in 1826, it was not printed in its entirety until 1833. It was never adopted by the state. It was at once reprinted in England, France and Germany, attracting wide praise by its remarkable simplicity and vigor, and especially by reason of its philanthropic provisions in the code of reform and prison discipline, which noticeably influenced the penal legislation of various countries. In referring to this code, Sir Henry Maine spoke of Livingston as “the first legal genius of modern times”

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