Everyone knows that lawyers and courts play a uniquely large part in American political life. But exactly what difference has this made? How have bar and bench shaped our most important national conflicts, our ways of government, and our political culture? The seminar will explore these questions throughout U.S. history, from the early republic to the present. Topics will include: the role of lawyer-statesmen like Daniel Webster in the early republic; the bar and bench on the frontier of Westward expansion; the coming of Civil War as a constitutional crisis; the birth of the large corporate law firm and the transformation of elite lawyers from trial advocates to "office lawyers"; the elite corporate lawyer in government, foreign policy, and international affairs; lawyers and judges as social reformers; courts and the contemporary culture wars; lawyers, courts and globalization. Writing will consist of several short papers and one longer essay.