Letters Received by the Attorney General , is the story of an adolescent nation_s struggle. Through letters received by the attorney general from U.S. attorneys and marshals, the federal courts and other federal officials, state government officials, and private citizens, scholars can put themselves at the helm. There, conflicting loyalties, shifting allegiances, ill-defined duties, and personal convictions often clouded vision. How the 19th-century lawman made sense of this confusion is also the tale of a nation finding its identity.
Reporting from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia, the federal lawmen of Southern Law and Order, 1809-1870 give rare voice to the beliefs and passions of the 19th century South on issues such as slavery, states' rights, and a plantation-based society, economics, land, and politics.