Marshall history professor authors book

Updated 5 years ago Special to HNN Provided by Marshall University
Marshall history professor authors book

HUNTINGTON, W.Va.– Dr. Robert Deal, assistant professor of American history at Marshall University, has recently released a new book titled “The Law of the Whale Hunt: Dispute Resolution, Property Law, and American Whalers, 1780-1880.”

Cambridge University Press published the 204-page book in February as part of the Cambridge Historical Studies in American Law and Society series under the editorship of Christopher Tomlins of the University of California Berkeley School of Law.

Whale oil lit the cities and greased the machines of the Industrial Revolution. Left to settle arguments on their own, whalemen created norms and customs to decide ownership of whales pursued by multiple crews. Deal said that in his book he provides an examination of how property law was created in the absence of formal legal institutions regulating the American whaling industry during the time.

“The ability of whalemen to settle disputes over ownership of a valuable commodity without resorting to violence and only rarely, litigation, is an important example of how close-knit communities are able to efficiently govern their own affairs,” said Deal.


Deal received a Ph.D. from Temple University. His research, focused on the laws and customs of the American whaling industry in the 18th and 19th centuries, has also resulted in published articles on the legal history of whaling in “Ecology Law Quarterly” and the “University of Toronto Law Journal.”


“The Law of the Whale Hunt: Dispute Resolution, Property Law, and American Whalers, 1780-1880,” is available through major retailers.