Borderline Crime: Fugitive Criminals and the Challenge of the Border, 1819-1914

By Bradley Miller

© 2016

From 1819 to 1914, governments in northern North America struggled to deal with crime and criminals migrating across the Canadian-American border. Limited by the power of territorial sovereignty, officials were unable to simply retrieve fugitives and refugees from foreign territory.

Borderline Crime examines how law reacted to the challenge of the border in British North America and post-Confederation Canada. For nearly a century, officials ranging from high court judges to local police officers embraced the ethos of transnational enforcement of criminal law. By focusing on common criminals, escaped slaves, and political refugees, Miller reveals a period of legal genesis where both formal and informal legal regimes were established across northern North America and around the world to extradite and abduct fugitives. Miller also reveals how the law remained confused, amorphous, and often ineffectual at confronting the threat of the border to the rule of law. This engrossing history will be of interest to legal, political, and intellectual historians alike.

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Product Details

  • Series: Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History
  • Division: Scholarly Publishing
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 304 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.4in x 1.0in x 9.3in
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SKU# SP004504

  • PUBLISHED OCT 2016

    From: $49.50

    Regular Price: $66.00

    ISBN 9781487501273
  • PUBLISHED OCT 2016

    From: $49.50

    Regular Price: $66.00

Quick Overview

Borderline Crime examines how law reacted to the challenge of the border in British North America and post-Confederation Canada.Miller also reveals how the law remained confused, amorphous, and often ineffectual at confronting the threat of the border to the rule of law.

Borderline Crime: Fugitive Criminals and the Challenge of the Border, 1819-1914

By Bradley Miller

© 2016

From 1819 to 1914, governments in northern North America struggled to deal with crime and criminals migrating across the Canadian-American border. Limited by the power of territorial sovereignty, officials were unable to simply retrieve fugitives and refugees from foreign territory.

Borderline Crime examines how law reacted to the challenge of the border in British North America and post-Confederation Canada. For nearly a century, officials ranging from high court judges to local police officers embraced the ethos of transnational enforcement of criminal law. By focusing on common criminals, escaped slaves, and political refugees, Miller reveals a period of legal genesis where both formal and informal legal regimes were established across northern North America and around the world to extradite and abduct fugitives. Miller also reveals how the law remained confused, amorphous, and often ineffectual at confronting the threat of the border to the rule of law. This engrossing history will be of interest to legal, political, and intellectual historians alike.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Series: Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History
  • Division: Scholarly Publishing
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 304 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.4in x 1.0in x 9.3in
  • Reviews

    ‘Miller’s excellent book is a welcome addition to work on extradition examining everyday legal practices and their underlying jurisprudence foundations… It provides an important study into the intersection between international, British imperial and Canadian law.’


    Emily Whewell
    Legal History vol 25:2017

    "This is a scholarly, closely argued book, but it will have appeal to a wide audience. Bradley Miller illustrates his themes with engaging and entertaining examples and writes clearly and concisely…Borderline Crime should become required reading in colonial, early Canadian, and North American international and diplomatic history."


    Lori Chambers, Lakehead University
    University of Toronto Quarterly, vol 87 3, Summer 2018

    "An important and helpful book for legal historians of the Canada-US border, [Borderline Crime] lays a framework for examining how the border was interpreted as a legal and political entity during its most formative years in the nineteenth century. "


    Brandon Dimmel
    BC Studies no. 198, Summer 2018

    "Professor Miller’s fascinating book makes a valuable contribution to international legal history and to our understanding of the relationships between international, British imperial and Canadian law at the high and low levels – which turn out to look remarkably different from one another – and of circuits of law within the British Empire."


    Karen Knop, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto

    "Miller is not only intimately familiar with but also extensively and very appropriately uses the internal literature on extradition, asylum, and related issues as the foundation of his study. Borderline Crime is an intriguing and illuminating study."


    Jane Errington, Department of History, Queen’s University
  • Author Information

    Bradley Miller is an assistant professor in the Department History at the University of British Columbia, where he holds the Keenleyside Chair in Canada and the World.
  • Table of contents

    Chapter 1: Introduction 

    Part I: Sovereign Borders and Criminal Law in Northern North America

    Chapter 2: The Everyday Challenge of Sovereignty     

    Chapter 3: The Low and High Law of Abduction in the Border Zone 

    Part II: Uncertainty, Amorphousness, and Non-Law

    Chapter 4: International Law and Supranational Justice in Northern North America     

    Chapter 5: The Non-Law of Refugees in British North America

    Part III: Law Formation in the Treaty Era

    Chapter 6: Civilization on the Continent: Law Reform and Imperial Power     

    Chapter 7: Law Formation in the Common Law World 

    Chapter 8: Conclusion  

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