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Administration of Justice: America History Research Paper

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Updated: Sep 15th, 2021


History is very much in any particular country since it’s through reviewing of history that a given country can be in a position to re-evaluate its past and how effective are some of the activities which were done in the past. But for our case of America history, it is very much important to know how the country handled criminal justice in those years and how effective were these ways when trying to administer justice. So in this case, you will find that it’s important to review our history since history is very much important in any particular since when one understands the history of his country, and then it means that one will be in a position to make important decisions as far as the administration of justice in that country is concerned. 1840-1860 is one of the great periods in America when the country saw so many political crises leading to so many social problems to the people. One of the social problems in this case is the issue of slaver whereby so many people were taken as slaves which is against the law of the country. There were so many differences between the people from the south and the people from the north about the slaves which were taken to south. So through the paper, we are going to try and analyze the American history from 1840-1860 and try to see the various ways of administering justice which were applicable in those days and also try to see how they were more effective and if they can still be applicable in the modern world. (Baker, 2000)

The history of criminal justice in America

Throughout the history of America that is from the years 1840-1860, there has evolved so many forms of punishments which were imposed on these criminals as a way of deterring their behaviors. During these particular years, most of the traditional forms of punishment could be applied since they were the only ways of administering justice to the members of the society so that they could live upright in the societies in which they belonged. For most of the American countries, you find that crime was seen as one of the most private matters. Let’s have a brief look at the colonial America. We see that when the early colonialists came in to America, we see that they did not come with any trained lawyers or even the law acknowledgeable persons who would help in settling the many disputes which occurred in these communities. So in this case, since there were no known lawyers who would help in administering justice to its people, then the English Common Law System was applicable during this time and other countries that used the same law were countries like the France, India and Holland. (Foner, 2000)

It was in the English common law system that you could find all the rules which were included to help solve the problems which occurred in the societies. These rules were based on the previous decisions which were thought to have been established by the previous judges who had earlier made them rather than law making laws and codes. So in this type of law, you could find that all forms of crimes could be distinguished from the other forms of crimes hence meaning that every particular crime had its own rule which could be applied on the criminal. Two types of crimes could be distinguished in this case and these are the misdemeanors and the felonies types of crimes. For example you could find that most serious crimes required a legal process which was made by the ruling government through the legislative body which was existing during that time. You could find that the most serious crimes would require the involvement of the members of the communities and it is these members of the society who were left to make the final decision through looking on the various evidence which were made on this particular person and if found guilty then could get the punishment which was given in to that particular crime. If this criminal could be found guilty, the he could be prosecuted for the same and this happened for the serious crimes like killing of another person in the society. (Foner, 2000)

During 1840-1860 criminal justice administration, you could find that there were no any public prosecutors or even the district attorneys who could be available to administer these justices. It was the criminal who was most responsible for financing the proceedings of his crimes plus also instigating the prosecutions. These colonialists were pretty much left to their own devices which usually concerned the many details of developing their own criminal justice system. You also find that these new environment which most of the colonialists encountered especially in the new west affected so much the way the law was imposed in to its people in the many societies in which they came from. You could find that this new system of administering justice to the New West was only to benefit the colonialists at the expense of the members of the society. It was moulded in a way which would only fit the colonialists alone as they tried to settle in the west of America.

Religion during this period 1840-1860 did a lot in trying to make the various changes in the law making. This is because the members of the society could suffer a lot from the way the law was administered. The legal codes such as the 1648 Book of the General lawyers and the liberties of the Massachusetts Bay colony are seen to have had strong biblical references. Some of the crimes which could be considered as a crime during this time were crimes like the sexual offenses, idleness, lying, and drunkenness among other types of behaviors which could be associated with crimes. You could find that most of these moralistic crimes could revolve from the relation of the crime to sin and also the relation of sin to crime. (Watson, 2001)

There were so many problems when trying to administer justice since the criminal justice in America was not yet found and it was also small and unspecialized during that time. It was due to this fact that so many problems arose due to the lack of the large law enforcement bodies which would try to help in the administering of social justice in the societies. You also found that the colonies were themselves self policing and also acted as a social control and this was maintained by the omnipresent set of the various informal restrictions which were set by the colonies so that they could administer justice in the society. Also you could find that these social controls could depend so much on the community’s pressure to regulate the various social conducts.

So this system of administering justice which was used during this time was so much insufficient in dealing with most of the crimes since it dealt with crimes partly and this was as a result of lack of sanctioned decision making by these people. It was due to this that so many social problems are seen to have risen since not all the crimes could be represented in this case. (Watson, 2001)

In America, the development of the police force was so much slower than in other countries like say in Europe. This word police are known to have been borrowed from French in to the English language which is now used today by most of the countries. The word police was disliked so much since many people saw it as a symbol of foreign oppression which could lead to so many social problems to the citizens of that country. Some of the social problems included the women in America especially the women workers. Most of the grievances could not be hard simply because they lacked the political power. But in order to try and resolve these problems, a women’s rights movement was established by the year 1840s and this movement was calling for equal justice and rights for women in both employment opportunities and education. It was due to the lack of a proper criminal justice administration that most of the women saw that they had been neglected in most of the activities say in the field of education and employment and this is why it led to the proposal of the women rights movement which would help most of the women to participate fully in most of these activities.

It was also during this period that is 1840-1860 that America developed in to two societies one which was free and the other was a slave. (Watson, 2001)

!840-1841 is a period which saw the rise in number of slaves in America. Most of the constitutional law during this time did not incorporate the human rights. This is because most of the descendants of the slaves which were taken to work in America during the colonial period were also taken as slaves but not citizens of that country. These people are citizens by birth since they have been born in that country and hence the constitution did not include this either. Most of the descendants of these slaves were taken as slaves but this could be seen as interfering with human rights. The law did not take its course hence there were so many problems which were faced by these slaves due to the lack of a proper law which could define the rights of these people. It was not until the year 1856 when there was a proposal for the anti-slavery so that it could eliminate the dangerous influence of the slave power. The slave power was coined by the year 1830s but it was not taken so serious until the year 1850s and it had tow separate meanings. One of the meanings was the conspiracy of the slave holders and the dough faced northern politicians and the second meaning was the political advantages which were conferred on the slave’s states by the then constitution plus the antebellum political system. (Watson, 2001)

1850 was a sectional crisis which pushed the country towards the civil war. It was during this time when chief Justice Roger was seen to justify most of the southerners paranoia which would open the entire nation in to slavery. The issue of slavery had grown so much during this time and hence the need for a political party which would make the nation free from slavery. Slavery is one of the most crimes which a country can ever have. But we see that during this particular time period, many people had been taken in to America so that they could work as slaves in that country. It is against the law for any person to misuse another. Laws should be established to ensure that people are not taken as slavery. It was due to the lack of a criminal justice administration program during this period that so many social problems including the issue of slavery are seen to have happed so much in this country. (Holt, 2004)


The administration of justice is one of the most essential things in any given country. This is because it is through a proper administration of justice that a country can be in a position to protect its people from so many problems which tend to happen in a particular society. So, with this rules should be established to ensure that people’s rights have been respected and if anyone is caught deviating from such rules, the proper procedure should be taken as per those rules. So in any given country, history is important since its where most of the countries have come from. Its through history that we can try to evaluate most of the rules which were used during that time and how effective they are so that we can be in a position to adapt the most important ones. Its also through history that most of the rules can be changed and adapt new rules which would serve the members of the society so well.


Baker, J. (2000): The political culture of the northern democrats in the Middle 19th century. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Foner, E. (2000): Free soil, free men, free labor. The Ideology of the Republican Party before the Civil war; New York Oxford University Press

Holt, M. (2004): The political crisis of the 1850s. New York: Wiley.

Potter, D. (1999): The impending crisis, 1848-1861. New York: Harper.

Watson, H. (2001): Liberty and Power. New York. Oxford University Press

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