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American Welfare State Topic of Hendricks Law and History Lecture

On Thursday, September 19, Michele Landis Dauber of Stanford Law School will deliver the 2013 Hendricks Lecture in Law and History. The title of Prof. Dauber’s talk is “The Sympathetic State: Disaster Relief and the Origins of the American Welfare State.”

The lecture will begin at 3:00 p.m. in the Stackhouse Theater, Elrod Commons on the campus of Washington and Lee University. The event is free and open to the public.

In “The Sympathetic State,” Prof. Dauber will trace the roots of the modern American welfare state beyond the New Deal and the Progressive Era back to the earliest days of the republic when relief was forthcoming for the victims of wars, fires, floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes. While most accounts of this period presume that the 19th century was dominated by a laissez-faire ideology in which the constitution prevented the federal government from aiding the poor, Prof. Dauber shows that in the case of disaster relief the federal government spent freely. This spending was hotly contested by Washington and Lee’s John Randolph Tucker, and later by his son, who feared the implications of increased federal power on the south.

A law professor and a sociologist, Prof. Dauber has focused her scholarship on aspects of the history of the New Deal and the fate of the legal doctrines and policies it created. She has also written about such varied topics as abortion clinic conflict, social security privatization, affirmative action, and the early history of administrative law during the War of 1812.

In addition to her scholarly work, Prof. Dauber is an officer and director of Building a Better Legal Profession, which was founded by Stanford Law students in 2007. The organization uses innovative data advocacy and Web-based social entrepreneurship strategies to mobilize market pressure for workplace reforms in large law firms, including better working conditions, work-life policies, and increased racial and gender diversity.

Winner of the 2006 Walter J. Gores Award, Prof. Dauber is only the second law professor to receive the highest teaching honor at Stanford University. Before joining the Stanford Law School faculty in 2001, she was a clerk to Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

The Law and History lecture series at W&L was endowed by alumnus Pete Hendricks (’66A, ’69L), who has a private practice in Atlanta specializing in land use zoning and government permitting. A history major himself, Hendricks also endowed the Ollie Crenshaw Prize in History at the University several years ago in honor of his favorite professor.