United States Law, Part I: Laws and Statutes

Erik Berner returns with the first of his last three posts on the Secular Legislation section of the original St. Ignatius College library collection. These posts address the largest segment of the collection, work on United States law.

The most extensive part of the secular law collection is works related to the laws of the United States. Keeping in mind that the United States had been independent for a full century by the time the library was begun, it was likely important to have a good collection of the laws of the land. The works related to United States law in the catalog can be broken down into three categories. First, there are five compilations of important American legal documents with little or no commentary. These include three containing such important documents as the Constitution and Declaration of Independence and two collections of legal opinions issued annually. Second, there are five books of instructional or referential commentary intended for the use, primarily, of law students in apprenticeship programs or businessmen. Third, there are five books rich in commentary and expressly intended for education, providing a fitting endpoint to my analysis of the Jesuits’ intentions for legal education.

Laws and Statutes

The American’s guide: comprising the Declaration of Independence; the Articles of Confederation; the Constitution of the United States, and the constitutions of the several states composing the Union. Viz. Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Illinois, Alabama, Missouri. (Philadelphia: 1835, Hogan & Thompson).

Digest of the published opinions of the Attorneys-General and of the leading decisions of the Federal courts, with reference to international law, treaties, and kindred subjects. (Washington: 1877, Govt Print Office).

The United States Patent Law: Instructions how to obtain letters patent for new inventions. (New York: 1875, Munn & Co).

William Hickey, The Constitution of the United States, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the prominent political acts of George Washington, electoral votes for all the presidents and vice-president, the high authorities and civil officers of government, from March 4, 1789, to March 3, 1847, chronological narrative of the several states and other interesting matter, with a description account of the state papers, public documents and other sources of political and statistical information at the seat of government. (Philadelphia: 1853, TK &PG Collins).

Erastus Buck Treat, National political manual, comprising facts and figures, historical, statistical, documentary, political, from the formation of the government to the present time. With a full chronology of the rebellion. From official and other sources. (New York: 1872, EB Treat).

The title of William Hickey’s omnibus compilation of American governing and legal documents provides an exact list of its contents:

The
Constitution
of the
United States of America
with an alphabetical analysis :
the Declaration of Independence,
the Articles of Confederation,
the prominent political acts of
George Washington,
electoral votes for all the Presidents and Vice-Presidents,
the high authorities and civil officers of government,
from March 4, 1789, to March 3, 1847,
chronological narrative of the several states;
and other interesting matter,
with a description account of the
state papers, public documents,
and other sources of
political and statistical information
at the seat of government.

Fortunately, the 1853 edition printed in Philadelphia by TK and PG Collins listed in the St. Ignatius College catalog has been digitized by the Internet Archive. This over 300-page volume functions as an “everything you need to know in one book” reference source for a common American. This work could conceivably have been intended for scholarly use, but it would make just as much sense if it was for personal reference. It is not surprising that the compilers of the library found this a useful volume, though many of the documents inside are also included, with more detailed commentary, in other publications in the collection.

A similar compilation listed in the catalog still survives in Loyola’s collection today. The title once again proudly lists the broad scope of its contents: The American’s guide : comprising the Declaration of Independence; the Articles of Confederation; the Constitution of the United States, and the constitutions of the several states composing the Union. Viz. Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Illinois, Alabama, Missouri. The 1835 edition of the American’s Guide was printed in Philadelphia by Hogan and Thompson. It contains no fluff of any sort: no commentaries are inserted between the assembled documents, making it a reference source that any library would find useful to hold.

1849 edition of the American’s Guide in the collections of Loyola University Special Collections

An 1849 edition held by Loyola of The American’s Guide at Loyola contains an ex libris from Rev. Dr. Eneas B Goodwin. Initial internet research does not turn up much detail about him, but I would guess he was a prominent priest in the Chicago Archdiocese; the two references to him easily found through a web search are about his role commuting from Chicago to Downers Grove to assist in the establishment of St. Joseph Parish there in 1906, and a wikisource reference attributing some contributions to the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia to him. It seems likely that if he was not a Jesuit or involved with St. Ignatius himself, he was a sympathetic priest in the Archdiocese who wanted to give a gift to a new Catholic institution in his city.

Erastus Buck Treat’s 1872 New York edition of The National Political Manual, though no longer held at Loyola, has been digitized by the Internet Archive. Of the five books of laws, this one offers the most context about its purpose, despite (excluding a two-page introduction) being a straightforward collection of legal documents. It offers a wider array of documents, including statutes like the Dred Scott decision, the Monroe Doctrine, speeches such as Lincoln’s inaugural address, and statistics such as voting results for presidential elections, in addition to the standard Declaration of Independence and Constitution. The purpose, judging by its year, of the patriotic rhetoric of the introduction, and the choices of documents, must have been to promote unity in the post-Civil War (or “post-Rebellion” as the editor tellingly terms the long conflict) United States. Beyond this, it is hard to speculate who the editor imagined using it specifically, whether students, politicians, lawyers, or “common men”. Still, it is interesting to see the subtle propaganda in the editor’s “appeals to the patriotic sensibilities of all classes of readers” as he claims he will make in the introduction. This, despite its political hinting, may have been the most useful of the compilations with its diverse collection.

A copy from the Internet Archive of the National Political Manual.

Munn and Co.’s United States Patent Law (1875) lists, in their original legislative language, American laws and statutes pertaining to the obtaining and holding of patents. The publisher Munn and Co. was run by Orson Desaix Munn I and had its origin as a patent office, so it is not a surprise that it would print patents or laws about them. The publisher is most famous, however, for publishing the still-extant journal Scientific American. Neither the original copy of the work nor a digital surrogate can now be found. This would seem like a perfect edition to the type of workingperson-targeted part-time legal education that Loyola’s law school began providing to Chicago immigrants in the early 20th century, but its inclusion in the Jesuits’ collection is more of a mystery. Interesting research can be found elsewhere on the manner in which the Midwest Jesuits acquired whatever books they could get their hands on, and this may well have been something that was added simply because it was available. The Loyola Jesuits throughout their history have abstained from any manufacturing or publishing ventures, despite a Loyola Press in Chicago run by unaffiliated Jesuits, so it is unlikely that they had sought this book out for business purposes.

The Digest of the published opinions of the Attorneys-General, and of the leading decisions of the Federal courts, with reference to international law, treaties, and kindred subjects (1877) was included in the 2014 exhibition Crossings and Dwellings, at the Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA), but has since disappeared. This is an important reminder of the threat to these nineteenth-century books. Besides the obvious threats to their physical condition imposed upon books still in circulation by the rigors of serving Loyola’s reading public, even those that have been removed for their historical value can still be lost in the shuffle. The Jesuit’s edition of this digest was published by the government printing office and seems to have contained rulings issues by attorney general each year. A web search corroborates its continued publication, under various guises, every year. It is doubtful that the St Ignatius founders envisioned their institutions operation within a globalized educational sphere (which the modern Loyola has fully embraced), so this, like the Patent Law collection, was very likely obtained simply because it was available.

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