This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
 Marshall, because Story's Commentaries carried forward the Marshall tradition, we may also justly associate him with James Kent (1763-1847). Both were judges, both also teachers and writers, and by their published works on various fields of American law they gave it coherence, stability, and strength. Though Marshall has undimmed honour as the founder of constitutional law, we look to these two men as the chief influences in building up other branches of American jurisprudence. They began their work when there was practically nothing written on American law, and when there was a feeling of opposition to the English common law, even as it was presented in Coke and Blackstone. The times were critical, and the work of these two men in laying the foundations of American law, in seizing upon the principles of the common law and adapting them to American conditions, and in building up, in general, a coherent and usable system was of great importance. A competent author, attributing much to the influence of these men, asserts that the achievements of the seventy-five years before the Civil War compare favourably with those of any period of growth and adjustment in legal history, and declares that the ‘closest analogy, both in the time taken and the amount and character of the work accomplished, is the classical period in England—the age of Coke.’1 Kent's Commentaries on American law (1826-1830) was of very great effect; it was long read by students of the law and occupied a place of distinction by the side of Blackstone's famous work. Story, in addition to his work as a teacher of law in Harvard and to his duties on the bench of the Federal Supreme Court, wrote a number of volumes which did perhaps even more than those of Kent to standardize and shape the law. His Conflict of laws and Equity jurisprudence were of transcendent value, restating and formulating in convenient form the judge-made law of the past and making it adaptable to American conditions. Of the former treatise it has even been said that ‘It forthwith systematized, one might almost say, created, a whole branch of the law of England.’ Kent's decisions, when he was chancellor of New York, fashioned and made applicable in America the principles of equity, and
1 Roscoe Pound, The Place of Judge-Story in the Making of American Law. Proceedings of the Cambridge historical Society, vol. VII (1914), p. 39.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.