Two FCRH seniors, Tim Derocher and Chris Nolan, were recently selected to participate in the McNeil Center for Early American Studies’ annual Undergraduate Research Workshop at the University of Pennsylvania. Together, Nolan and Derocher will present a panel on two unique libel cases in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, a product of research completed for Dr. Elaine Forman Crane’s “Laws and Outlaws in Early America” seminar. Over the next few months, they will be working with a graduate mentor from Penn to enhance their research and form a more cohesive panel on libel and slander cases in early America, which will be presented in April in Philadelphia. Read on to learn more about their research.
Nolan’s case focuses on William Cobbett, a pro-British pamphleteer living and working in Philadelphia in the 1790s, who faced a libel lawsuit from the Spanish ambassador at the time on behalf of the Spanish crown. Derocher’s research concentrates on a libel case brought about in the midst of the temperance movement of the early 19th century, in which the teetotaler Edward Delavan was sued by a local brewer in Albany.
Together, they hope that the close examination and discussion of these specific legal cases will provide a unique perspective on legal history involving libel and slander in early America. Tim and Chris, who were encouraged to apply by Dr. Crane, are honored and excited to have been selected to share their research by the prestigious McNeil Center, an institution at the University of Pennsylvania that specializes in early American history. They look forward to further refining their research on libel and representing Fordham and the History Department at the workshop in April.