The Common Law

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Before he became U.S. Supreme Court justice in 1902, American jurist OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES JR. (1841-1935) was already famous as the most influential proponent for and teacher of the common law. In this collection of lectures-originally delivered at the Lowell Institute in Boston and first gathered in book form in 1881-Holmes introduces us to basic concepts of the common law and explains his reasoning of them. Discussed are: [ liability [ criminal law [ trespass and negligence [ fraud, malice, and intent [ possession and ownership [ the contract [ and much more. One of the most widely cited members of the Supreme Court, Holmes continues to dramatically impact the U.S. legal system to this day. This classic volume of his jurisprudence-reproduced here from the 1938 31st printing-is essential reading for anyone wishing to understand modern American law.
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About the author

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (August 29, 1809 - October 7, 1894) was an American physician, poet, professor, lecturer, and author based in Boston. A member of the Fireside Poets, his peers acclaimed him as one of the best writers of the day. His most famous prose works are the "Breakfast-Table" series, which began with The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table (1858). He was also an important medical reformer. Holmes was a professor of anatomy and physiology at Harvard College for 35 years. His literary fame came relatively early when in 1830 he published a few lines of verse in a Boston newspaper in which he objected to the dismantling of the frigate Constitution, which had served its nation victoriously in the Tripolitan War and the War of 1812. The poem, "Old Ironside," was a great success, both for Holmes as a poet and in saving the frigate. However, his medical studies left Holmes little leisure for literature for the next 25 years. That changed, however, with the publication of an animated series of essays in the newly founded Atlantic Monthly in 1857 and 1858, and afterwards published in book form as The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table (1858). Not only did these essays help secure the magazine's success, but also brought Holmes widespread popularity. Holmes as an essayist has been compared with all of the great writers in that genre, from Michel de Montaigne to Charles Lamb, but his compositions are closer to conversational than to formal prose. Later volumes---The Professor at the Breakfast-Table (1860), The Poet at the Breakfast-Table (1872), and Over the Teacups (1891)---extend the autocrat's delightfully egotistical talks, mainly of Boston and New England, in which Holmes was, by turns, brilliantly witty and extremely serious. During these same years, he also wrote three so-called medicated novels: Elsie Venner (1861), The Guardian Angel (1867), and A Mortal Antipathy (1885). Though undistinguished as literary documents, they are important early studies of that "mysterious borderland which lies between physiology and psychology," and they demonstrate that Holmes was advanced in his conception of the causes and progress of neuroses and mental disease. Holmes died quietly after falling asleep in the afternoon of Sunday, October 7, 1894. As his son, the U. S. Supreme Court Justice, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., wrote, "His death was as peaceful as one could wish for those one loves. He simply ceased to breathe." Holmes's memorial service was held at King's Chapel and overseen by Edward Everett Hale. Holmes was buried alongside his wife in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Cosimo, Inc.
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Published on
Jan 1, 2009
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Pages
444
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ISBN
9781605206424
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Lawyers & Judges
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Judge Learned Hand is an icon of American Law. Though he was never nominated to our country's highest court, Hand is nevertheless more frequently quoted by legal scholars and in Supreme Court decisions than any other lower court judge in our history. He was the model for all judges who followed him, setting the standard for the bench with a matchless combination of legal brilliance and vast cultural sophistication. Hand was also renowned as a superb writer. Now, in Reason and Imagination, Constance Jordan offers a unique sampling of the correspondence between Hand and a stellar array of intellectual and legal giants, including Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Theodore Roosevelt, Walter Lippmann, Felix Frankfurter, Bernard Berenson, and many other prominent political and philosophical thinkers. The letters--many of which have never been published before--cover almost half a century, often taking the form of brief essays on current events, usually seen through the prism of their historical moment. They reflect Hand's engagement with the issues of the day, ranging from the aftermath of World War I and the League of Nations, the effects of the Depression in the United States, the rise of fascism and the outbreak World War II, McCarthyism, and the Supreme Court's decisions on segregation, among many other topics. Equally important, the letters showcase decades of penetrating and original thought on the major themes of American jurisprudence, particularly key interpretations of the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments, and will thus be invaluable to those interested in legal issues. Most of these letters have never before been published, making this collection a priceless window into the mind and life of one of the giants of American law.
In Brennan and Democracy, a leading thinker in U.S. constitutional law offers some powerful reflections on the idea of "constitutional democracy," a concept in which many have seen the makings of paradox. Here Frank Michelman explores the apparently conflicting commitments of a democratic governmental system where key aspects of such important social issues as affirmative action, campaign finance reform, and abortion rights are settled not by a legislative vote but by the decisions of unelected judges. Can we--or should we--embrace the values of democracy together with constitutionalism, judicial supervision, and the rule of law? To answer this question, Michelman calls into service the judicial career of Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, the country's model "activist" judge for the past forty years. Michelman draws on Brennan's record and writings to suggest how the Justice himself might have understood the judiciary's role in the simultaneous promotion of both democratic and constitutional government.

The first chapter prompts us to reflect on how tough and delicate an act it is for the members of a society to attempt living together as a people devoted to self-government. The second chapter seeks to renew our appreciation for democratic liberal political ideals, and includes an extensive treatment of Brennan's judicial opinions, which places them in relation to opposing communitarian and libertarian positions. Michelman also draws on the views of two other prominent constitutional theorists, Robert Post and Ronald Dworkin, to build a provocative discussion of whether democracy is best conceived as a "procedural" or a "substantive" ideal.

The first Hispanic and third woman appointed to the United States Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor has become an instant American icon. Now, with a candor and intimacy never undertaken by a sitting Justice, she recounts her life from a Bronx housing project to the federal bench, a journey that offers an inspiring testament to her own extraordinary determination and the power of believing in oneself.

Here is the story of a precarious childhood, with an alcoholic father (who would die when she was nine) and a devoted but overburdened mother, and of the refuge a little girl took from the turmoil at home with her passionately spirited paternal grandmother. But it was when she was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes that the precocious Sonia recognized she must ultimately depend on herself.  She would learn to give herself the insulin shots she needed to survive and soon imagined a path to a different life. With only television characters for her professional role models, and little understanding of what was involved, she determined to become a lawyer, a dream that would sustain her on an unlikely course, from valedictorian of her high school class to the highest honors at Princeton, Yale Law School, the New York County District Attorney’s office, private practice, and appointment to the Federal District Court before the age of forty. Along the way we see how she was shaped by her invaluable mentors, a failed marriage, and the modern version of extended family she has created from cherished friends and their children. Through her still-astonished eyes, America’s infinite possibilities are envisioned anew in this warm and honest book, destined to become a classic of self-invention and self-discovery.
A valuable compilation, this volume contains Holmes' most famous speeches and papers from 1885 to 1918. Its publication in 1920 was an important event in the legal community, and it was reviewed with great enthusiasm in the major journals and law reviews. Roscoe Pound offered the finest assessment in "Judge Holmes's Contributions to the Science of Law," an essay-review from 1921 that analyzed the place of these writings in the development of American law from the 1880s to the 1920: "Rereading them consecutively in their new form and remembering the dates of their original publication, one can but see that their author has done more than lead American juristic thought of the present generation. Above all others he has shaped the methods and ideas that are characteristic of the present as distinguished from the immediate past." Harvard Law Review 34 (1920-1921):449. ." . . Collected Legal Essays is a good vertical section of the mind of that judge who beyond any other of his generation has impressed his ideas on the structure and course of the law."- Learned Hand. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. [1841-1935] served as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1902 to 1932. Known as "The Great Dissenter" on the Court because of the brilliant legal reasoning found in his written opinions, he often differed in opinion from Theodore Roosevelt, who had appointed him to the bench. As a young man he attended Harvard College, served in the American Civil War among the "Harvard Regiment" and was seriously wounded. After the war he attended, and later taught at Harvard Law School before his appointment to the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. Well known for his legal philosophy espoused here and in The Common Law, Holmes proposed that the law was not a science founded on abstract universal principles but a body of practices that responded to particular situations. CONTENTS Early English Equity, 1885 The Law. Speech, 1885 The Profession of the Law. Part of an Address, 1886 On Receiving the Degree of LL.D. Speech, 1886 The Use of Law Schools. Oration, 1886 Agency, 1891 Privilege, Malice and Intent, 1894 Learning and Science. Speech, 1895 Executors, 1895 The Bar as a Profession, 1896 Speech at Brown University, 1897 The Path of the Law, 1897 Legal Interpretation, 1899 Law in Science and Science in Law. Address, 1889 Speech at Bar Association Dinner, 1900 Montesquieu, 1900 John Marshall. From the Bench, February 4, 1901 Address at Northwestern University Law School, 1902 Economic Elements, 1904 Maitland, 1907 Holdsworth's English Law, 1909 Law and the Court. Speech, 1913 Introduction to Continental Legal Historical Series, 1913 Ideals and Doubts, 1915 Bracton, 1915 Natural Law, 1918
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