Excerpt from Introduction to American Law
But I have entitled this book, an Introduction to American Law, and I may be called upon to vindicate the propriety of this title. I confess then, that in some minor respects, it may not be equally adapted to all parts of the Union; but my excuse is, that without being ten times as large as it is,'it could not have been made so. If I had possessed the knowledge, I could not, within any reasonable compass, have referred to the local law of twenty-six different states; and yet local references were occasionally necessary, in order to exhibit an entire system. I was compelled, therefore, in such cases, to make choice of some particular state; and I naturally selected that state in which the lectures were read. But these local references, in an out line so general as this, are not so frequent as to detract materially from the general adaptation of the book, to students in other states; and in case of diversity, the necessary corrections can be easily made. At all events, the diversity is less between the different states, than between any one state and England; and therefore something is cer tainly gained even on the score of general adaptation.
And here let me anticipate an objection of another sort. It may be said, that in attempting to teach what the law is, I have dwelt too much upon what I think it should be; or, in other words, that in a work professedly didactic, I have speculated too much upon projects of reform. To this objection I have two answers. In the first place, I have never undertaken to show what the law ought to be, without first stating what it is. While therefore the primary end of instruo tion is obtained, the mind of the student is at the same time excited to compare, examine and discuss the principles in question; and thus impress them the more deeply upon his memory. And in the second place, if the suggestions I have ventured to make be sound, they can not be made too early, because bad laws are the very worst of bad things; and if these suggestions be not sound, they can do no harm, because the antidote accompanies the bane; nay the provision com plained of will inspire increased confidence in the mind of the student from having been unsuccessfully assailed. But I cannot help believing that many of the proposed alterations would be decided improvements.
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