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The Ages of American Law

The Ages of American Law

Grant Gilmore
Copyright Date: 1977
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 154
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  • Book Info
    The Ages of American Law
    Book Description:

    "[Gilmore's book is] an expanded version of lectures on the development of American law delivered at Yale Law School, where he teaches. The lectures (now essays) convey a highly original, and personal, view of that development, and like the personality who set them down they are sharp, opinionated, and as pungent as cheddar."-The New Republic"Gilmore offers us, in readily digestible form, the benefits of a lifetime of legal scholarship, with an insight here, a hypothesis there, and balanced judgment throughout. … [This book is] an exciting and lively little intellectual history of American law. Blessed with a clean and lean style, Gilmore condenses the sweep of centuries, putting movements and individual heroes into perspective."-New YorkLaw Journal"Grant Gilmore's newest book is a joy to read. It is written in a beautiful style, it is intellectually challenging, and it relates the fascinating story of the history of American law…. [It] is a classic and will be read in the next twenty years both in the law schools and in the universities."-Perspective"Gilmore's penchant for the idiosyncratic and his willingness to challenge widely held generalizations give this book a special character. Throughout, the book is lucidly written and possesses a disarming combination of wit and erudition.The Ages of American Lawis a notable addition to the legal literature spawned by the Storrs Foundation."-American Historical ReviewGrant Gilmoreis Sterling Professor Emeritus of Law at Yale Law School.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-16156-4
    Subjects: Law

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Grant Gilmore
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)

    Ever since the remote day when human beings began to live together in society, official organs of the state have been charged with the responsbility of deciding disputes between individuals who belong to the community (or are at all events temporarily within it) as well as disputes between individuals and the state. From the beginning of social time there have been institutions like courts which have generated or excreted law or something like law. In all societies beyond the most primitive a professional class of lawyers and judges has emerged and maintained itself. In most societies at most periods the...

  6. 2 The Age of Discovery
    (pp. 19-40)

    English law was the only law that post-Revolutionary American lawyers knew anything about. A few had studied law in England. Most had received whatever training they had in this country—by serving as apprentices in law offices or by studying at the law schools which began to spring up toward the end of the eighteenth century. But the only available sources were English sources—from the crabbed and incomprehensible pages of Coke on Littleton to the elegant superficialities of Blackstone. Collections of English cases enjoyed a wide sale—either imported from London or republished here with (as time went on)...

  7. 3 The Age of Faith
    (pp. 41-67)

    My description of American law before the Civil War sounded like a romp through the Garden of Eden. Wherever we went we paused to admire the happy sight of great judges deciding great cases greatly, aware of the lessons of the past but conscious of the needs of the future, striking a sensitive balance between the conflicting claims of local automony and national uniformity in an immense, diverse, and rapidly growing country, creating a new law for a new land. Only the issue of slavery, which cast an ever-lengthening shadow, disturbed the tranquillity of the scene.

    When we turn to...

  8. 4 The Age of Anxiety
    (pp. 68-98)

    All Ages of Faith may well be of brief duration. The pleasant and comforting myth of the law’s internal consistency and external stability cannot, for long, sustain itself. The facts of life cannot, for long, be suppressed. Every Blackstone must have his Bentham; every Langdell must have his Llewellyn. The specifics of the breakdown, like the specifics of the original construction, are determined by the accidents of time and place.

    From the vantage point of the 1970s it is clear enough that the great structure of Langdellian jurisprudence crumbled during the period between the two World Wars. It did not,...

  9. 5 On Looking Backward and Forward at the Same Time
    (pp. 99-112)

    For two hundred years we have been in thrall to the eighteenth-century hypothesis that there are, in social behavior and in societal development, patterns which recur in the same way that they appear to recur in the physical universe.¹ If the hypothesis is sound, it must follow that, once the relevant developmental sequences which have led us to our present state have been correctly analyzed, we will know not only where we are but where we are going. Our understanding of the present will enable us to predict the future and, within limits, to control it. Once the forces at...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 113-148)
  11. Index
    (pp. 149-154)