Categorizing Zipporah’s Petition

Let me begin by expressing how much I enjoyed reading and hearing Melinde Sanborn’s fascinating essay on Zipporah’s case. I cannot emphasize enough how valuable work like Sanborn’s is to historians such as myself who try to write synthetic histories of colonial American law or colonial society more generally. We need to have access to as much archival material as possible in situations where considerations of time and resources make travel to every extant archive unfeasible. Three months ago I received an e-mail requesting that I “write . . . a few short pages on the context and significance of the case,” as well as “verify the legal statements of the author, who is not a lawyer, and to suggest any relevant historical sources . . . (specifically including your own) that should be cited.” So here goes.

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