The Rule of Law in a Penal Colony: Law and Politics in Early New South Wales

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Cambridge University Press, Apr 30, 2002 - History - 284 pages
This book illuminates the important role played by the concept of the rule of law in the transformation of New South Wales from a penal colony to a free society. The author outlines the interaction between law and politics in early New South Wales, and shows that because there were no official political structures, the courts served as a de facto parliament and a means of political expression. When they sought direct political representation, the colonists used the language they had inherited from the British legal tradition, thus we see none of the abstract universal language used by the French and American revolutionaries. Furthermore, as the home government was dependent on rule of law for its own legitimacy, it could hardly reject pleas from a constituency couched in those terms. "The rule of law in a penal colony" is a history of ideas, analysing the development in New South Wales of legal institutions - such as trial by jury - not in isolation by in the wider context of the social and political ideas of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

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