In a time of rapid growth and development, the judicial system that New York had inherited from the English, with its separate courts of common law and equity, proved frustratingly slow and expensive. A new Constitution adopted in 1846 merged common law and equity jurisdictions into a single court system and instituted a new court of final appeal, the New York Court of Appeals. The mid-19th century saw the continued development of canals and railways and this new infrastructure created new legal issues to be resolved by the courts. The plight of tenant farmers subject to colonial manorial tenure continued to roil the Hudson and Mohawk valleys, and led to two major cases before the Court of Appeals. By mid-century, a decade long court struggle against the State of Virginia had emerged in the form of the Lemmon Slave Case. The courts also dealt with issues arising from the Civil War, including the suspension of habeas corpus and the implementation of the military draft. The status of lands owned by Native Americans was resolved by two cases decided in the New York Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of the United States.
Judges of the Era
Judges of the Court of Appeals
Ex-Officio Judges of the Court of Appeals
Other Notable Judges
New York Attorneys General 1847-1869
Commerce and Technology
Class Tension (Astor Place Riots)
Famous & Sensational Cases
Courts of the Era
The Judges of the New York Court of Appeals: A Biographical History. Edited by Albert M. Rosenblatt. (2007).
The New York Court of Appeals. There Shall Be a Court of Appeals
Francis Bergan. The History of the New York Court of Appeals, 1847-1932. (1985).
Charles Z. Lincoln. The Constitutional History of New York from the Beginning of the Colonial Period to the Year 1905, Showing the Origin, Development, and Judicial Construction of the Constitution: Volume 2, 1822-1894. (1905). Available digitally at the New York State Library.
Alden Chester, E. Melvin Williams. Courts and Lawyers of New York: A History, 1609-1925, 3 volumes (1925). Henry Wilson Scott. The Courts of the State of New York: Their History, Development and Jurisdiction (1909).
American Civil War Digital Collection (New York State Library)