THE AMERICAN BLACKSTONE: FIRST EDITION OF KENT’S LANDMARK COMMENTARIES ON AMERICAN LAW
KENT, James. Commentaries on American Law. New York: O. Halsted, 1826-30. Four volumes. Octavo, modern full tan calf, red and black morocco spine labels. $7800.
First edition of one of the most important legal treatises in American history, handsomely bound.
"Superior to any previous treatise on this subject, and a landmark in the history of international law" (Chamberlain). "The foremost American institutional legal treatise" (DAB). "Without Kent and Story, it is doubtful that the common law could have been received as readily as it was or that judicial decision could have taken over as the law's growing point… Above all, the text writers and their affiliated law schools were a great unifying influence in American law" (Schwartz, 111). Kent's Commentaries "contain not only a clear statement of the English law, with all the alterations that have taken place since the time of Blackstone, but a full account of the main principles of Equity, also, a review of the modifications engrafted on the English law by the different states of the Union… and on all important questions, an instructive parallel between the English, American, Modern Continental and Civil Laws" (Marvin, 438). Kent's goal was "to transplant the English common law to America… [His] reliance on precedents had the two-prong effect of helping to maintain the primacy of judge-made law in contrast to codification by legislatures, while providing the legal profession with the degree and kind of certainty it craved" (ANB). A Columbia University professor and judge in New York, Kent was one of the most influential jurists of his time, and early in his career "was responsible for two significant innovations: written opinions and published reports" (ANB). NYU, 249. HLC I: 1088. Occasional penciled annotations.
Mild foxing to text; binding fine and attractive. An excellent copy.