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By Gareth Jones (eds.)

ISBN-10: 1349018236

ISBN-13: 9781349018239

ISBN-10: 1349018252

ISBN-13: 9781349018253

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Additional resources for The Sovereignty of the Law: Selections from Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England

Example text

But this must be understood with very many and very great restrictions. Such colonists carry with them only so much of the English law, as is applicable to their own situation and the condition of an infant colony; such, for instance, as the general rules of inheritance ... What shall be admitted and what rejected, at what times, and under what restrictions, must, in case of dispute, be decided in the first instance by their own provincial judicature, subject to the revision and control of the king in council: the whole of their constitution being also liable to be new modelled and reformed by the general superintending power of legislature in the mother country.

Everett. Sir William Blackstone XXXVll only their opinions but even their language, and by no means always does he let us know that he is quoting'. 1 For example, a number of paragraphs in the Commentaries are directly taken from Thomas Nugent's translation of Burlamaqui's Principles of Natural and Politic Law and there are others which clearly show the influence of Montesquieu. 2 Blackstone's discussion of natural law is theological and conventional. God lays down the law of nature for man, and natural law reveals itself through reason and revelation; it is 'coeval with mankind and dictated by God himself ...

It was not until the middle of the eighteenth century that the common law began to take root in the colonies; and after the Revolution, in some states such as New York, its future was obviously not assured. 2 Blackstone's Commentaries played a considerable part in establishing the common law before and after the Revolution. In the colonies trained lawyers were few and tended to practice in the larger towns. Law books were expensive so that even second-hand legal advice was hard to come by. The Commentaries filled these gaps and provided a rounded picture of the common law and its institutions.

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