Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group



Melville could complain after writing Moby-Dick that he swam through libraries in pursuit of the white whale. The research for the background of this study has led of necessity to libraries and rare book collections, to musty shelves of digests and alma­nacs, old law journals and magazines, mouldering diaries, private notes and correspondence, through tattered pamphlets, tomes of congressional records, census reports, annals of towns and states, of bar associations and historical societies, and of course to some of the studies by social-intellectual historians, legal philosophers, and literary critics. The selection of material which appears in the bibliography appended to this work repre­sents only that portion of the above which I found occasion to cite in the text, although I have included a few items which I consider indispensable to the context of the study.

Wherever possible the notes follow the style recommended by the Modern Language Association. Exceptions are the cases cited, all of which are to be found in the Massachusetts Reports. The documentation for these items follows the practice generally accepted by present day legal historians, of which the model is as follows: volume number, name of the reporter, (date) page number; e.g. 10 Metcalf (1845) 93.

In presenting my conclusions about the relationship between Melville and the law it was necessary at times to summarize some very complex matters of law and of legal history. To omit these sections, tedious though they may be to those readers whose primary interest is literary, would be to suppose a great deal of technical knowledge on the part of scholars who are not lawyers. Moreover, some explanations---that of "codification" (Chapter V)---are diffi­cult to come by anywhere else, at least in succinct form. I must therefore beg the indulgence of the reader for bearing with me through these necessary digressions from our primary concern with Melville and his work.

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