top of page

Holmes, Oliver Wendell, Jr.  [1841-1935]. The Common Law. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1881.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. is universally acknowledged to be one of the most influential judges in the history of the Supreme Court. Serving on the Court from 1902 to 1932, he was known for his succinct explanations, his often-terse opinions and his disagreement with the views of his Court colleagues.  Holmes was the son of prominent writer and physician, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. and abolitionist Amelia Lee Jackson. He loved literature and was a staunch supporter of the abolitionist movement.

After serving in the Civil War, he attended Harvard Law School and was admitted to the bar in 1866. He settled into practicing admiralty law in Boston, and became an editor of the American Law Review.

In 1881, he published "The Common Law," a compilation of lectures given at the Lowell Institute in Boston. Many consider this to be the only significant volume of American jurisprudence written by a practicing attorney.  Cited by Grolier, 100 American, 84: "This brilliant exposition, as effective on English scholarship and legal thinking as on American, of the true nature of law both as a development from the past and an organism of the present, blew fresh air into lawyers' minds encrusted with Blackstone and Kent." It offers an historic perspective of liability, criminal law, torts, bail, possession and ownership, contracts, successions, as well as many other aspects of civil and criminal law.

Condition/Description: First Edition, boards, very good or better copy of a scarce title. First Issue with the two-line printer's imprint on title page verso repeated with ampersand on page 422. Original purple cloth. With the bookplate of Charles Robinson Smith on the front pastedown as well as the bookseller's ticket of L. K. Strouse & Co. Typical aging of paper; neat binder's tape reinforcement of front hinge. Rubbing to top of spine with some wear and the heel of the spine with slight loss of lettering of publisher's name.

The Common Law

SKU: NLP0000013
    bottom of page