Law for the Elephant: Quote List

Law for the Elephant: Property and Social Behavior on the Overland Trail by John Phillip Reid

The following is a list of quotes I found worth keeping, sharing, processing, writing about, or in general just enjoy.  As is typical, I will attempt to write about these quotes.  Either how they personally effected me, or just a couple interesting observations on it.


“traveling through a country . . . influenced by no law save that which nature’s God has implanted in the heart of every man.” ~Pg 9
– Captain James Craig’s parting address on the Platte River, May 31, 1849

When we search for evidence of legal attitudes and legal behavior on the overland trail, we are looking for what Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson called legal habit. They used the term disparagingly. Alexander Hamilton or John Marshall would have used it with respect. Political theorists of the Jeffersonian persuasion feared that legal behaviorism stifled the free choice of elected assemblies; lawyers of the Hamiltonian tradition praised it as one of the soundest foundations upon which to rest the rule of law. That people behaved according to taught customs of their youths — even in a strange, hostile environment such as the overland trail, where those lessons might seem inapplicable — would to legal theorists of the Hamiltonian school be evidence not only of the strength of custom, but proof of its validity as law. ~Pg 19

In the majority of cases, overland partnerships were so informal they were concluded without reducing the terms to writing. In the typical situation, a man with funds to buy but part of an outfit, or one who was alone and sought company, would join other emigrants to form a “mess,” generally of four or five members. There was no need to draft an instrument of ratification as everyone understood the legal principles involved in private and concurrent ownership. ~Pg 131


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s