One striking feature of the American courts is plea bargaining. It produces most criminal convictions today. Where does it come from? Whose interests are served? Often the practice is imagined as a corruption of the courts since #World War II, paradoxically rewarding those claiming guilt rather than the innocent. Yet, as Mary Vogel argues in this pathbreaking book, its roots are deeper than often thought. Plea bargaining arose amidst crime, violence, and stirrings of popular politics in Jacksonian America when courts came forward to promote political stabilization and legitimate self-rule--tasks vital to Whig elites tryhing to restore both order and their power.