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William M. Wiecek

William M. Wiecek

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William M. Wiecek

Professor Emeritus, History Department

Professor Emeritus, Law, College of Law

Chester Adgate Congdon Professor of Public Law and Legislation

Highest degree earned

Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1968


Legal and constitutional law

Research Interests

Legal history, constitutional law



The Lost World of Classical Legal Thought: Law and Ideology in America, 1886-1937 (Oxford University Press, May 1998)
The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992) (Kermit Hall, general editor; James W. Ely, Jr., Joel B. Grossman, and William M. Wiecek, editors) (includes fifty-three articles by Wiecek).
American Legal History: Cases and Materials, 2nd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press 1996), co-authors Kermit L. Hall and Paul Finkelman (first edition 1991).
Liberty Under Law: The Supreme Court in American Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1988).
Nuclear America: Military and Civilian Nuclear Power in the United States, 1940-1980 (New York: Harper & Row, 1984), co-author Gerard H. Clarfield; paperback reprint 1985.
Equal Justice Under Law: Constitutional Development, 1835-1875 (New York: Harper & Row, 1982), co-author Harold M. Hyman. This is a volume in the "New American Nation" series; paperback reprint 1984.
The Sources of Antislavery Constitutionalism in America, 1760-1848 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1977).
The Guarantee Clause of the U.S. Constitution (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1972).


Teacher's Manual to Accompany American Legal History: Cases and Materials (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991) co-authors Kermit L. Hall and Paul Finkelman (95-page booklet).
Constitutional Development in a Modernizing Society: The United States, 1803-1917 (Washington, DC: American Historical Association, 1985) (80 page booklet).

Articles and Chapters

"Felix Frankfurter," "Supreme Court," "Legal Thought and Jurisprudence," in Peter J. Parish, ed., Reader's Guide to American History (London: Fitzroy Dearborn, 1997).
"The Origins of the Law of Slavery in British North America," 17 Cardozo Law Review 1711-1792 (1996).
"Scott v. Sandford," in Donald C. Bacon et al., The Encyclopedia of the United States Congress (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995), IV, 1770-1772.
"Gladly Wolde He Teche: Students, Canon, and Supreme Court History," Journal of Supreme Court History. 1995 Yearbook of the Supreme Court Historical Society, 11-18.
"The Constitutional Snipe Hunt," 23 Rutgers Law Journal 252-260 (1992).
"Murdock v. Memphis: Section 25 of the 1789 Judiciary Act and Judicial Federalism," in Maeva Marcus, ed., Origins of the Federal Judiciary: Essays on the Judiciary Act of 1789 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), 223-247.
"State Protection of Personal Liberty: Remembering the Future," in Paul Finkelman and Stephen E. Gottlieb, eds., Toward a Usable Past: Liberty Under State Constitutions (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1991), 371-387.
"United States Supreme Court," in Richard S. Kirkendall, ed., The Harry S. Truman Encyclopedia (Boston: G. K. Hall, 1990), 347-350.
"The Liberal Critique of the U.S. Supreme Court," in Hermann Wellenreuther, ed., German and American Constitutional Thought: Contexts, Interaction, and Historical Realities (New York: Berg, 1990), 373-392. German version: "Die liberale Kritik am Obersten Gerichtshof der Vereinigten Staaten," in Wellenreuther und Claudia Schnurmann, Die Amerikanische Verfassung und Deutsch-Amerikanisches Verfassungsdenken (New York: Berg, 1991), 435-459.
"'Old Times There Are Not Forgotten:' The Distinctiveness of the Southern Constitutional Experience," in Kermit L. Hall and James W. Ely, Jr., eds., An Uncertain Tradition: Constitutionalism and the History of the South (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1989), 159-197.
"Slavery and the United States Constitution," Anglistik and Englischunterricht. Band 34: Zweihundert Jahre Amerikanische Verfassung (Heidelberg: Karl Winter Universitatsverlag, 1988), 83-98.
"'The Blessings of Liberty:' Slavery in the American Constitutional Order," in Robert A. Goldwin and Art Kaufman, eds., Slavery and Its Consequences: The Constitution, Equality, and Race (Washington: American Enterprise Institute, 1988), 23-44.
"Clio as Hostage: The United States Supreme Court and the Uses of History," California Western Law Review, 24 (1988), 227-268.
"The Witch at the Christening: Slavery and the Constitution's Origins," in Leonard W. Levy and Dennis J. Mahoney, eds., The Framing and Ratification of the Constitution (New York: Macmillan, 1987), 167-184.
"Preface" to Historical Race Relations Symposium, 17 Rutgers L. J. 407-414 (1986).
forty-eight articles in Leonard M. Levy et al., eds., Encyclopedia of the American Constitution (New York: Macmillan, 1986).
"Chief Justice Taney and His Court," in this Constitution (Spring 1985), 19-24.
"The 'Imperial Judiciary' in Historical Perspective," in Yearbook 1984 Supreme Court Historical Society (Washington, DC, 1985), 61-89.
"Judicial Systems," in Jack P. Greene, ed., Encyclopedia of American Political History (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1984), II, 680-708.
"Latimer: Lawyers, Abolitionists, and the Problem of Unjust Law," in Lewis Perry and Michael Fellman, eds., Antislavery Reconsidered: New Perspectives on the Abolitionists (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1979), 219-237; paperback reprint, 1981.
"Dred Scott Case" and "Ex parte Merryman," in David C. Roller and Robert W. Twyman, eds., Encyclopedia of Southern History, (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1979), 370, 814.
"'A Peculiar Conservatism' and the Dorr Rebellion: Constitutional Clash in Jacksonian America," American Journal of Legal History, 22 (1978), 237-253.
"Slavery and Abolition before the United States Supreme Court, 1820-1860," Journal of American History, 65 (1978), 34-59.
"The Statutory Law of Slavery and Race in the Thirteen Mainland Colonies of British America," William and Mary Quarterly, 34 (1977), 258-280.
"Somerset: Lord Mansfield and the Legitimacy of Slavery in the Anglo-American World," University of Chicago Law Review, 42 (1974), 86-146.
"Popular Sovereignty in the Dorr War: Conservative Counterblast," Rhode Island History, 32 (1973), 35-51.
"Irving Lehman," Dictionary of American Biography, Supplement Three: 1941-1945 (NY: Scribners, 1973), 451-452.
"The Place of Chief Judge Irving Lehman in American Constitutional Development," American Jewish Historical Quarterly, 60 (1971), 280-303.
"The Great Writ and Reconstruction: The Habeas Corpus Act of 1867," Journal of Southern History, 36 (1970), 530-548.
"The Reconstruction of Federal Judicial Power, 1863-1876," American Journal of Legal History, 13 (1969), 333-359. Reprinted in Bobbs-Merril reprint series; also reprinted in Lawrence M. Friedman and Harry N. Scheiber, eds., American Law and the Constitutional Order (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1977).
"Voice for Troubled Intellectuals," Saturday Review, January 3, 1970, 23-25.
"The Nation and the State: 1868," Wisconsin Law Review (1968), 312-320.
"The Origin of the United States Court of Claims," Administrative Law Review, 20 (1968), 387-406.  

Previous Teaching Appointments

Professor of Law and Professor of History, Syracuse University, 1985-present
(Chester A. Congdon Chair in Public Law and Legislation)
Professor of History, University of Missouri-Columbia, 1977-84
(Associate Professor, 1971-77; Assistant Professor, 1968-71)
legal editor, Equity Publishing Corp., Orford, New Hampshire, 1964-65
Associate attorney, Snierson and Chandler, Laconia, New Hampshire, 1962-64  
History Department
145 Eggers Hall