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Settlers And Immigrants In The Formation Of American Law, Aziz Rana Aug 2011

Settlers And Immigrants In The Formation Of American Law, Aziz Rana

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

This paper argues that the early American republic is best understood as a constitutional experiment in “settler empire,” and that related migration policies played a central role in shaping collective identity and structures of authority. Initial colonists, along with their 19th century descendants, viewed society as grounded in an ideal of freedom that emphasized continuous popular mobilization and direct economic and political decision-making. However, many settlers believed that this ideal required Indian dispossession and the coercive use of dependent groups, most prominently slaves, in order to ensure that they themselves had access to property and did not have to engage ...