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Debating the Transformation of American Law: James Kent, Joseph Story, and the Legacy of the Revolution

The Transformation in American Legal History: Essays in the Honor of Morton J. Horwitz, 2008

NYU School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 08-44

28 Pages Posted: 29 Jul 2008 Last revised: 22 Jul 2015

Daniel J. Hulsebosch

New York University School of Law

Date Written: November 2008

Abstract

Using a variety of sources, including recently discovered letters and notes in James Kent's law library, this essay will demonstrate that although Kent and Joseph Story agreed about the desirability of a strong Congress, an independent federal judiciary, and the need to control juries, they disagreed about the shape of each of these institutions. Together, these disagreements reveal not only the dynamism of American law in the early Republic - a conclusion consistent with Morton J. Horwitz's interpretation in his Transformation of American Law I - but also illuminate the indeterminacy of federal authority and the judicial power - findings that fit more comfortably with the premises and methods of Horwitz's Transformation of American Law II. In addition, their disagreements illustrate the quest for authoritative reasoning that defined post-revolutionary American legal culture and the intertextuality of its formative literature.

Suggested Citation

Hulsebosch, Daniel J., Debating the Transformation of American Law: James Kent, Joseph Story, and the Legacy of the Revolution (November 2008). The Transformation in American Legal History: Essays in the Honor of Morton J. Horwitz, 2008; NYU School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 08-44. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1185566

Daniel J. Hulsebosch (Contact Author)

New York University School of Law ( email )

40 Washington Square South
503
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States

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