« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
The learned and elegant author of the Commentaries on the Laws of England, speaking from an English stand point, makes, in his first lecture, the following suggestions: “A competent knowledge of the laws of the society in which we live, is the proper accomplishment of every gentleman and scholar. As every person is interested in the preservation of the laws of his country, it is incumbent upon every man to be acquainted, at least, with those laws with which he is immediately concerned. Gentlemen of fortune are ambitious to represent their country in parliament. When they occupy that station, they become the guardians of the English constitution, and the makers, repealers, and interpreters of the English law.
"It must appear unbecoming in a member of the legislature to vote for a new law while ignorant of the old ; to attempt to interpret a law while ignorant of the text on which he comments.”
What Blackstone here says of English gentlemen, should apply, in a measure and with proper modification, to every man in our country; and I think we may properly say that a successful result of our American experiment of government by universal suffrage, demands that the governing citizen of the State shall be educated, to a reasonable degree, in the constitution and laws of his country.
Every such citizen is liable at any time, upon the call of his fellows, to be required to assist in making the laws by which he and his countrymen are to be governed ; and while it cannot at present be expected that all will acquire such knowledge of the principles of legislation, as will, without special experience, fit them to legislate wisely, it may perhaps reasonably be hoped that the business men of our country, upon whom the privilege of making our laws mainly rests, will gladly avail themselves of any means of practical information which can be brought to them for daily use, at their farm-houses, shops, factories, and counting-rooms, and by which their intelligence and self-reliance will be increased from year to year.
A popular book of American Commercial Law, if generally used, would clearly be such a means of information.
The laws of business are simple and easily understood, and when expressed in common language, with familiar illustrations, can be readily comprehended by any man who has a willing mind and ordinary capacity.
It is the purpose of this book to present those legal principles which lie at the foundation of all Commercial Law; and those common rules and forms in general and constant use in the ordinary transactions of business life in such language, and with such illus. trations.
The old forms of conveyance, contract, &c., and many of those still in use, are quite repetitious, involved, and technical ; and it is frequently the case that an intelligent party to a contract first gets a true idea of its meaning, when he consults counsel in making preparation to sue or defend upon an issue which never would have arisen if, when he signed his name, he had clearly known what he was agreeing to.
It has therefore been thought desirable that the body of the work should be supplemented by appropriate forms.
Every form in the book has been carefully prepared by the author personally, with a view to brevity, clearness, and precision, and it is hoped they will commend themselves to busy and earnest men, in whose interest they have been prepared.
In human life, every man should be so intelligent in the anatomy of his body and the laws of life and health, as to be able (so far as his appetites and passions are under the control of his discretion and judgment) to conduct himself in his own care and management, when in health, with reasonable skill and prudence, without the aid of a physician; and so in business life, every man should be so familiar with the general forms, customs and laws of trade, as to be able to manage, without the aid of a lawyer, the common, normal, and ordinary transactions of business life; and he who is so far educated, will, more surely than an ignorant man,—when his body is disordered by disease, or his business deranged by misfortunes, mistakes, improve idence, or the dishonesty of his fellows,—take advice.
Almost every business man is interested, either as debtor or creditor, in the general bankrupt law of the United States; and the number is increasing from year to year who need information as to the laws regulating patents, and the rules and regulations prepared and issued by the Department at Washington, for the instruction of persons having occasion to do business with the Patent Office: in the subject of trade-marks, and the statutes of the United States by which they are secured to the exclusive use of those who have devised and appropriated them as distinctive marks of their wares: in the homestead and other exemption laws of the different States of the Union, which not unfrequently seriously modify the ability of a creditor to collect what is due him, and should therefore be in the mind of a business man in the regulation of his credits : in the statutes of the several States which have passed laws affecting the rights of married women; in most cases removing their property from the reach of creditors of the husband : in the United States Pension Laws, and the forms and instructions issued by that department, and which will enable any man or woman to obtain, and from year to year collect, a pension without expense for counsel or agents : in the general forms of insurance policies, and the tables of mortality which govern life insurance companies in establishing their rates of premium, and by the aid of which any person can ascertain, at any period of his life, how many years the average duration of human life warrants him in expecting to live. These important materials of information have been gathered in an appendix.
The table of contents is sufficiently full to enable any person by its aid, without referring to the index, readily to turn to the subject upon which he seeks information; while the table of cases and the index are carefully prepared, and so complete that every special matter contained in the book may be easily found.
The subject of insurance has become of great interest and importance to nearly every person, in some one or more of its present numerous forms, and still the ordinary stipulations and conditions which are contained in a common policy, are rarely known, even to those who hold them, till the burning of the insured property calls the attention of the party interested to the question whether he is entitled to his indemnity. The Chapter on Insurance is therefore specially full and complete, containing numerous references to decided cases, and it is believed it will be found useful to the lawyer in his practice, as well as to the business men for whose use the book is more especially intended.
F. C. HARTFORD, June, 1869.