The Fifth Amendment

An Illustrated History

  • Biblical Sources
  • Christianity and the Middle Ages
  • The Ius Commune and Trial by Compurgation
  • The Inquisition
  • Church Courts in England and Double Jeopardy
  • Henry VIII and the Tudors
  • Legal Arguments Against the Oath
  • Lilburne’s Trial and Legacy
  • The Puritans in America: Anne Hutchinson and the Salem Witches
  • Colonial Governors and Inquisitorial Proceedings
  • Privilege in American Constitutions
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Protection of the Rights to Life, Liberty, and Property

The Fifth Amendment packs a lot of rights into one paragraph; Grand Juries, double jeopardy, self-incrimination, right to due process and forfeiture of private property are all covered. We, as the public, are probably most aware of “Taking the Fifth” beloved of politicians and arch criminals alike. The idea of a person having the right not to be a witness against themselves has a very long history starting with Judaic law. That history is traced here traversing the Middle Ages and oath taking, the Inquisition, church courts and double jeopardy, the contest between common law and ecclesiastical courts, its use and abuse in Tudor and Jacobean England and, finally, its interpretation in Colonial America. All of this history and law informed James Madison when he drafted the Fifth Amendment and Robert McWhirter here recounts that long arc and its influence with verve.

Illuminated with discursions into literature, religion, film, and popular culture here is a book for the interested citizen as well as the student of American politics and history.

45 pages
Illustrated in full color
ISBN: 978-1-945682-05-6