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Commentaries on the Laws of England: A Facsimile of the First Edition of 1765-1769, Vol. 1 1st Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0226055381
ISBN-10: 0226055388
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

It was the dominant lawbook in England and America in the century after its publication and played a unique role in the development of the fledgling American legal system.

About the Author

Stanley N. Katz is professor of legal history at Princeton University. He has written widely on English and American legal history of the eighteenth century.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press; 1 edition (November 15, 1979)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226055388
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226055381
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,219,097 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Blackstone was widely read in America for a century after it was published. Lawyers practicing in the West almost relied entirely on this and the Bible to defend or prosecute. This particular series of volumes is a reproduction of the original publication by Blackstone (which BTW had eight revisions while Blackstone was still alive). The print is large and dark (and very 18th century, i.e. ss is S (or f)), and makes for easy reading. The Editor's notes appear at the beginning of the book and are not intrusive of the volume itself. Overall a very nice reproduction and I found it a nice read.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It really is quite amazing what you can learn from a book. I am well read but Blackstone, the long form unabridged version was very informative.
I should warn you that it is written in older English using f's in place of s's. For example, congreff. So if you do not like the idea of learning a mildly different form of English you may become frustrated reading this work. It also has quite a bit of Latin in it, about half of which is also expressed in English.
There are also intro's not written by Blackstone, written by jealous angry modern authors who wish their works could get published. Skip those.
The book explains a great deal about the common law upon which the US was initially built and which is still pretty much the law of the land. It also delves a little bit into the area of law which legal positivism has taken over.
Here is a little gem I loved (paraphrased):
The great advantage of the law being expressed in Latin was that Latin was a dead language and did not suffer from the ever changing meanings of modern English terms. Nonetheless, in XXXX the law was re-written in English to make it easier for the common people to understand, and yet within a few years the law had become more incomprehensible to the commoner than it had been when in Latin.
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Format: Paperback
I am a law student who read this edition of Blackstone's Commentaries for a jurisprudence course, and it was a great experience. Blackstone details the inner logic and principles of the common law and why it stands as an equal among Greek, Roman, and civil law. He also systematically details the logic and basis for the law of civil rights, property, civil procedure, and criminal law in England. These sections provided me with a much better understanding of the origin and rationality behind our system of law.

In addition he also explains the historical origins of the common law and the political structure of England's government at the time just before our nation's independence and why it had been superior, at that time, to any other form of government in all of Europe in the securing and preservation of human liberty. I highly recommend at least volume I to law students and even to any reader interested in better understanding the origins of our government. His explanations in particular will give you a much better understanding of how English government functioned and how our government distinguished itself in substantial ways from England.

Any scholar, student, or avid reader of political science, law, or history will benefit and enjoy this great literary work.

Ignore the earlier critique of the font, the facsimile of the first edition really transports you back in time and the font is not that difficult to navigate. The only real difference is "f" is used in place of "s" everywhere but in the last letter of words ("greateft" "fortrefs" "fubject" etc.). Generally it's very clear when the "f" is an "s" although there are a few confusing exceptions (e.g. "wife" is "wise" as in the "wife laws of England..."). The first edition included footnotes where Blackstone cited English, Latin, and Roman works and these are reproduced here as well.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
With all the Historical Revisionism going on these days I try very hard to find as close to original documents as I can. An actual facsimile of a first Edition removes all doubt that it has been tampered with by subsequent "handlers" (Publishers). These pages are like photocopies of the originals without tears or smudgmarks due to age, I absolutely LOVE this 4 volume set of the original first edition...including the fact that the "s"s look like "f"s.

So if reading paffages like thif bothers you fomewhat, you may defire to find something elf. Me, I kinda find it grows on you after a while and it gets easier,... though I still can't follow the reaffoning as to when they choofe to use what when, and why the "f"s still look like "f"s when lots-- but not all-- of the "s"s do too! Perhaps the typesetters were saving the "s"s from prematurely wearing out~.
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Format: Paperback
Sir William Blackstone (1723-1780) was an English jurist, judge and Tory politician; these Commentaries were first published in four volumes (On on the Rights of Persons; On the Rights of Things; Of Private Wrongs; Of Public Wrongs) between 1765-1769, and were very influential on the development of the American legal system. Other volumes in this series are: Commentaries on the Laws of England Vol.2, Commentaries on Laws of England, Vol. 3, and Commentaries on the Laws of England (Vol. 4).

He states, "(the Creator) has graciously reduced the rule of obedience to this one natural precept, 'that man should pursue his own happiness.' This the foundation of what we call ethics, or natural law." (Pg. 41) He asserts, "Upon these two foundations, the law of nature and the law of revelation, depend all human laws; that is to say, no human laws should be suffered to contradict these." (Pg. 42)

He says, "the community should guard the rights of each individual member, and that (in return for this protection) each individual should submit to the laws of the community." (Pg. 48) Later, he adds, "The absolute rights of man, considered as a free agent... are usually summed up in one general appellation, and denominated the natural liberty of mankind. This natural liberty consists properly in a power of acting as one thinks fit, without any restraint or control, unless by the law of nature...
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