Crime and Law Enforcement in the Colony of New York, 1691–1776
The winner of the first New York State Historical Association Manuscript Award, this book is a fascinating attempt to show how criminal behavior fits into the society in which it occurs. Through a computer-assisted analysis of some 5,300 eighteenth-century court cases, Douglas Greenberg explores larger problems of social change and development in what was considered the most fractious of all Britain's North American colonies: New York.
Greenberg describes the court system in New York and considers such issues at the demography of criminal prosecution and judgment, the character and social position of accused criminals, the social forces that led people into criminal behavior, crime rates, and the effectiveness of the court system. He concludes by placing his findings in a comparative framework and relating them to the coming of the American Revolution. "Crime and law enforcement were central experiences for early Americans," he writes, "and the ways in which they dealt with these problems have much to tell us about their view of the world in which they lived."