H. Robert Baker studies the place of law and constitution in the many struggles that make up North American history. Primarily interested in civil rights and dissent of all stripes, he examines legal concepts and how they permeate popular culture.
Baker's interest in legal history stems from my year as a Fulbright scholar in Canada. Studying the western fur trade colony at Red River (the site of modern day Winnipeg, Manitoba), he was struck by the power of the colony's only law court to unite a fractious, polyglot community of Scots, French, English, and Motis settlers. For a colony that began with the Battle of Seven Oaks and ended with the Riel Rebellion, the court seemingly held the peace in between.
He has published The Rescue of Joshua Glover: A Fugitive Slave, the Constitution, and the Coming of the Civil War in 2006 with Ohio University Press. the latter won the Gambrinus Book Prize from the Milwaukee County Historical Society. A paperback edition was released in January of 2008. His current work continues to look at the question of fugitive slaves in the early republic.