How did American colonists transform British law into their own? What were the colonies' first legal institutions, and who served in them? Did the special issue of gender play a significant role? Why did the early Americans develop a passion for litigation that continues to this day? In Law and People in Colonial America Peter Charles Hoffer tells the story of early American law from its beginnings in the British mainland to its maturation in the crisis of the American Revolution.For the men and women of colonial America, Hoffer explains, law was a pervasive influence in everyday life. Because it was their law, the colonists continually adapted it to fit changing circumstances. They also developed a sense of legalism that influenced virtually all social, economic, and political relationships. This sense of intimacy with the law, Hoffer argues, assumed a transforming power in times of crisis. In the midst of a war for independence, American revolutionaries labored to explain how their rebellion could be lawful, while legislators wrote republican constitutions that would endure for centuries.Today the role of law in American life is more pervasive than ever. And because our system of law involves a continuing dialogue between past and present interpreting the meaning of precedent and of past legislation the study of legal history is a vital part of every citizen's basic education. Law and People in Colonial America provides an essential, rigorous, and lively introduction to the beginnings of American law.Peter Charles Hoffer is professor of history at the University of Georgia. His previous books include The Law's Conscience, Impeachment in America, Revolution and Regeneration, and Murdering Mothers: Infanticide in England and New England, 1558-1803.