According to the Dictionary of American Biography, this treatise "on the most exciting topic of the age has never been excelled" due to its "thorough research, exhaustive discussion and impartial treatment" (VI:423). It begins with an early history of bondage and its construction in natural and positive law, then traces the effect of international law on freedom and bondage. Turning to the United States, he outlines the evolution of slavery under English law and the United States Constitution. One of the book's most striking features is its neutral tone. Though written on the eve of the American Civil War, it remains loyal to the tenets of legal positivism and avoids any overt ethical or political judgments. Hurd [1816-1892], a scholar of independent means, studied for a year at Yale Law School and spent two years in a law office before he was admitted to the New York bar. An expert of civil liberties, he is the author of A Treatise on the Right of Personal Liberty (1858), which is available as a Lawbook Exchange reprint.