David T. Konig

Professor of Law; Professor of History


B.A. 1968, New York University   
M.A. 1969, Harvard University
Ph.D 1973, Harvard University

Curriculum Vitae




Nancy Cummings - (314) 935-7967

Phone / Email

Phone: (314) 935-9113
E-mail: konig@wustl.edu 


Anheuser-Busch Hall, Room 589

Courses Taught

American Legal History


Professor David Thomas Konig is a nationally and internationally recognized expert in Anglo-American legal history, with a focus on property law, the Second Amendment, and the law of freedom and slavery. He is a leading authority on Thomas Jefferson and the development of law in colonial, Revolutionary, and early national America. The author or editor of several books and numerous articles, Professor Konig has served as expert witness or consultant in cases concerning property rights before the Supreme Court of the United States, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, and the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. A former Senior Research Fellow for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, he co-directed the restoration of a colonial-era courthouse and developed curatorial and educational materials for programs that are seen by thousands yearly.  Prof. Konig has consulted on editorial projects to preserve and edit papers of the Salem witchcraft trials as well as student notebooks at the nation's first law school in Litchfield, Connecticut. He is currently editing the legal papers of Thomas Jefferson for The Papers of Thomas Jefferson and writing a book on Jefferson’s legal thought and practice, Thomas Jefferson and the Republic of Law. Professor Konig also is the co-editor and author of a book on the Dred Scott case, which originated here in St. Louis. The book examines race and the law from historical and contemporary perspectives. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the William Nelson Cromwell Fund, and the International Center for Jefferson Studies. Professor Konig is the recipient of several teaching awards, including Washington University’s Distinguished Faculty Award.

[view] Professor Konig's History Department Profile

Representative Publications

Recent Books

  • The Dred Scott Case: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives on Race and Law (contributor and co-editor with P. Finkelman & C.A. Bracey), Ohio University Press (2010)

Recent Articles and Essays

  • Americanization of the Common Law: The Great Migration Meets the Intellectual Migration” 89 Chicago-Kent Law Review 917 (2014)
  • “John Adams, Constitution Monger” in Constitutions and Classics, ed. Denis Galligan (2015)
  • Heller, History, and Norms: The Judicial Invention of Tradition,” 53 Northeastern University Law Journal 175 (2011)
  • “James Madison and Common-Law Constitutionalism,” 28 Law and History Review 507 (2010)
  • “Thomas Jefferson and Whig Lawyering,” in John Adams and Thomas Jefferson: Libraries, Leadership, and Legacy (eds. C.E. Wright and R. Baron), Massachusetts Historical Society/Fulcrum (2010)
  • “Why the Second Amendment Has a Preamble: Original Public Meaning and the Political Culture of Revolutionary America,” 56 UCLA Law Review 1295 (2009)

Forthcoming Scholarship

  • The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, series 2: The Legal Commonplace Book of Thomas Jefferson  
  • Thomas Jefferson and the Republic of Law  

Representative Scholarship

  • 'Dale's Laws' and the Non-Common Law Origins of Criminal Justice in Virginia,"26 American Journal of Legal History 354 (1982)
  • "The Theory and Practice of Constitutionalism in Prerevolutionary Massachusetts: James Otis on Writs of Assistance, 1761," 8 Dalhousie Law Journal 25 (1984)
  • "Colonization and the Common Law in Ireland and Virginia, 1569-1634," in The Transformation of Early American History, ed. James Henretta, Michael Kammen and Stanley N. Katz (1991)
  • "A Summary View of the Law of British America," 50 William and Mary Quarterly 42 (1993)
  • "The Second Amendment: A Missing Transatlantic Context for the Historical Meaning of “the right of the people to keep and bear arms’,” 22 Law and History Review 119 119 (2004)
  • “Influence and Emulation in the Constitutional Republic of Letters,” 22 Law and History Review 179 (2004)
  • "The Persistence of Resistance: Civic Rights, Natural Rights, and Property Rights in the Historical Debate Over the “right of the people to keep and bear arms,’” 53 Fordham Law Review 539 (2004)
  • “Virginia and the Imperial State: Law, Enlightenment, and the ‘Crooked Cord of Discretion,” in The British And Their Laws in the Eighteenth Century, ed. David Lemmings (2005)
  • "St. George Tucker and the Limits of States’ Rights Constitutionalism: Understanding the Federal Compact in the Early Republic,” 47 William and Mary Law Review 1279. (2006)
  • “Arms and the Man: What Did the Right to `Keep’ Arms Mean in the Early Republic?” 25 Law and History Review 177 (2007)
  • "Thomas Jefferson’s Armed Citizenry and the Republican Militia” 1 Albany Government Law Review 251 (2008)
  • “James Madison and Common-Law Constitutionalism,” 28 Law and History Review 507 (2010)
  • “Whig Lawyering in the Legal Education of Thomas Jefferson,” The Libraries, Leadership, and Legacy of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, ed. Robert C. Baron and Conrad Edick Wright (2010)
  • “Heller, Guns, and History: The Judicial Invention of Tradition,” 3 Northeastern University Law Journal 175 
  • Devising Liberty: Creating and Preserving Freedom in the New American Republic (ed. and co-author, D. Konig) Stanford University Press (1995)
  • Law and Society in Puritan Massachusetts. Essex County, 1626-1693, University of North Carolina Press (1979) (Nominated for the Merle Curti Prize in American Social History, of the Organization of American Historians)
  • The Plymouth Court Records, 1686-1859: The Records of the Inferior Court of Common Pleas and the Court of General Sessions of the Peace. Introduction and Volumes I-III: General Sessions, 1686-1781; Common Pleas, 1688-1702 (ed. D. Konig; 16 vols.) Michael Glazier (1978–81)