This thoughtful—and thought-provoking—book intertwines the history of settler colonialism and the law in Oregon Territory. Well known for its restrictions on African Americans, the territory’s legal apparatus not only excluded Blacks and dispossessed Native people but also introduced novel conceptions of land ownership and forged specific visions of education and citizenship defined by race and gender.

Leveraging an Empire rightly envisions Oregon’s territorial laws as a complicated settler expression combined with older Anglo legal traditions. But the ultimate significance of the Oregon experience centers on the “transmission of legal influences from a colony to the empire” (p. xxx). Legal formulations invented in the context of the Pacific Northwest borderlands became powerful precursors to the specific forms of exclusion and discrimination to come. Local laws shaped the emergent settler state.

Clear organization and direct prose frames careful intersectional analysis. An overview of Oregon Territory is followed by chapters on Native dispossession,...

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