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Temple University

1. Buehner, Henry Nicholas. Mansfieldism: Law and Politics in Anglo-America, 1700-1865.

Degree: PhD, 2014, Temple University


Lord Mansfield is typically remembered for his influence in common law and commercial law, and his decision in Somerset v. Stewart , which granted a slave, brought to England, habeas corpus to refuse his forced transportation out of that nation by his master. Both conditions allowed observers to praise him for what they viewed as very modern notions about economy and society (capitalism and anti-slavery, respectively). Mansfield's primary position as Chief Justice of King's Bench in England, which contributed most of the only published material from him, shielded him from any scrutiny about his wider influence in general British governance in the period of his public career, roughly 1740-1790. Throughout his career, Mansfield played a large role in the general government of the British Empire. Beginning with his role as Solicitor General in 1742 and continuing after he became Chief Justice in 1756, Mansfield interacted and advised the highest members of the British ruling elite, including the monarch. Because the nature of British governance in the 18th Century was very porous, Mansfield partook in the exercise of legislative (through his seats in the House and Commons and Lords), executive (through a formal seat on the Privy Council and later in the King's Closet), and judicial (through his roles as Solicitor and Attorney General, Chief Justice of King's Bench, and temporary positions as Lord Chancellor) power practically simultaneously throughout his career. In these capacities, Mansfield contributed to imperial policy at a critical moment. He was a champion for the British Empire as the beacon of the most perfect society at that time - a perspective he developed through his education and experiences during the crucial formative years of the British nation. He channeled his support for Britain into a seemingly rigid dogma that saw any threat or challenge to British authority or culture as inherently illegitimate. In this regard, Mansfield favored British domination over the other imperial powers, and he immediately rejected the earliest complaints of the Americans over British rule. Because of the nature of his position within British governance, Mansfield's view remained constant in a government that witnessed continual turnover. The potential of Mansfield's influence was not lost upon the public. Many factions from "true Whigs" such as John Wilkes, and American patriots viewed him as the epitome of the problem with the British government-its seemingly arbitrary, unconstitutional, and tyrannical posture toward everything. Mansfield posed a particular challenge for these groups because he was a Chief Justice, and they believed he was supposed to adhere to a strong notion of justice. Instead, they saw him continually leading their repression, and so they questioned the basis of the whole British system. Through pamphlets, newspapers, and visual prints, these groups identified Mansfield as a key conspirator, which they attributed to an anti-British disposition. In these ways, Mansfield and his…

Advisors/Committee Members: Waldstreicher, David;, Klepp, Susan E., Glasson, Travis, Hadden, Sally E.;.

Subjects/Keywords: American history; European history;

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APA (6th Edition):

Buehner, H. N. (2014). Mansfieldism: Law and Politics in Anglo-America, 1700-1865. (Doctoral Dissertation). Temple University. Retrieved from,258169

Chicago Manual of Style (16th Edition):

Buehner, Henry Nicholas. “Mansfieldism: Law and Politics in Anglo-America, 1700-1865.” 2014. Doctoral Dissertation, Temple University. Accessed April 15, 2021.,258169.

MLA Handbook (7th Edition):

Buehner, Henry Nicholas. “Mansfieldism: Law and Politics in Anglo-America, 1700-1865.” 2014. Web. 15 Apr 2021.


Buehner HN. Mansfieldism: Law and Politics in Anglo-America, 1700-1865. [Internet] [Doctoral dissertation]. Temple University; 2014. [cited 2021 Apr 15]. Available from:,258169.

Council of Science Editors:

Buehner HN. Mansfieldism: Law and Politics in Anglo-America, 1700-1865. [Doctoral Dissertation]. Temple University; 2014. Available from:,258169