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This “unwritten" law is a system quite complete, but its expression is most fragmentary. It is found scattered throughout thousands of volumes of English and American reports and digests, from the Year Books down to the present time. The Civil Law, with Mexican modifications, prevailed in this State up to the time of the adoption of the Common Law. The history of civilization does not furnish a parallel, of placing upon a conquered people a whole system of “unwritten” laws, foreign to them and their language, and which could only be found by searching out its disintegrated elements. The Legislature has never provided for a translation of the Common Law into Spanish. The citizen and the lawyer alike complain over the want of a condensed methodical expression of the law. The Civil Code of New York—a monument of legal wisdom and patient industry—is a collection of Common Law rules and principles, combined with a consolidation of statutes like our own, all concisely stated, logically and harmoniously arranged, in order of subjects corresponding to Blackstone's Commentaries. We “supply the defect” in our Act adopting the Common Law, by specifying the general rules already embraced in its very general terms, and for this purpose avail ourselves of the exhaustive labors of the New York Commission. Most of our statutes have been taken, from time to time, from sister States, and mostly from New York. The chapters on Special Partnerships (Stats: 1870, 123) and Adoption of Children (Stats. 1870, 530) were taken bodily from the Civil Code of New York.

The sharp lines between statute law and the Common Law, remaining unexpressed in Code form, are toned down. The Code and the Common Law are but harmonious parts of one system, differing only in name—in the terms employed, indicating the different modes of adoption.

The work of revising such of our statutes as pertain to this Code, and giving them conciseness in harmony with the general style of that Code, and of incorporating them in their appro

priate places, has been performed with all reasonable care. The law on marriage and divorce has been more fully declared; the distinction between sealed and unsealed instruments has been abolished; married women authorized to convey separate property without the signatures of their husbands; conveyances and acknowledgments simplified, and all parts of the Code made to harmonize with these changes. It is believed that in the main the work is well done. Doubtless some defects or omissions will be discovered on final examination after printing as a whole, which the Commission, Committee or Examining Board will correct before presentation to the Legislature in bill form.

The Code can be considered and be accepted or rejected as a whole, or those Acts of our statutes which have been revised and incorporated into the Code can be considered and passed by themselves. The Legislature can take its choice as between the whole volume or the revised Titles from the statutes. Alternate bills can be prepared to carry out either plan. Those who choose to follow the Comunission through this Code should obtain a copy of the New York Civil Code, as a better means of testing the accuracy of our work. Its numerous references to leading cases, in which the particular principle declared has been adjudicated, and the copious notes, afford the highest guarantee of the correctness of that work.

We make acknowledgments to Judges 0. C. Pratt, S. H. Dwinelle, E. D. Sawyer and T. Reed; also, to Messrs. Williams and Thornton, S. Wilson and J. B. Harmon, for examinations and suggestions concerning some portions of the work.



Sacramento, October 20, 1871.


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