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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XVI. Early National Literature, Part II; Later National Literature, Part I.

XV. Publicists and Orators, 1800–1850

§ 10. Joseph Story: Commentaries on the Constitution

In the general field of constitutional law, Joseph Story (1779–1845) must be placed next to Marshall, though he did much less than the great chief justice of a purely constructive or creative character. His work as associate justice on the Supreme Bench was important, but his most substantial contribution was his Commentaries on the Constitution, which appeared in 1833 and long remained the only extensive and authoritative treatise on the subject. It passed through various editions, the best known, the fourth, containing copious annotations by Thomas M. Cooley, a distinguished publicist of a later generation. Thus for fifty years after its first appearance it furnished students of the law with the principles which Marshall and Story himself had done so much to establish by their decisions, and it doubtless had great influence on the thinking of bench and bar for two generations at least. It would be difficult to overestimate the importance of such volumes in the days when the critical case system was not used by beginners, when texts were comparatively few, and when practising attorneys and judges were not provided with long series of reports, in days also when the layman was interested in problems concerning the nature of the Union and the powers of government.