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The Constitution of the United States A Brief Study of the Genesis, Formulation and Political Philosophy of the Constitution   By: (1861-1936)

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Harrington Mann for Gray's Inn



The Constitution of the United States

A brief Study of the Genesis, Formulation and Political Philosophy of the Constitution of the United States

By James M. Beck, LL.D .

Solicitor General of the United States, Honorary Bencher of Gray's Inn

With a Preface by The Earl of Balfour

" Where there is no vision, the people perish; but he that keepeth the Law, happy is he." Proverbs xxix . 18

" Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set." Proverbs xxii . 28




With whom it is the author's great privilege to collaborate as Solicitor General in defending and vindicating in the Supreme Court of the United States the principles and mandates of its Constitution

Chamonix ,

July 14 1922

Preface by the Earl of Balfour [1]

I have been greatly honoured by your invitation to take the chair on this interesting occasion. It gives me special pleasure to be able to introduce to this distinguished audience my friend, Mr. Beck, Solicitor General of the United States. It is a great and responsible office; but long before he held it he was known to the English public and to English readers as the author who, perhaps more than any other writer in our language, contributed a statement of the Allied case in the Great War which produced effects far beyond the country in which it was written or the public to which it was first addressed. Mr. Beck approached that great theme in the spirit of a great judge; he marshalled his arguments with the skill of a great advocate, and the combination of these qualities qualities, highly appreciated everywhere, but nowhere more than in this Hall and among a Gray's Inn audience has given an epoch making character to his work. To day he comes before us in a different character. He is neither judge nor advocate, but historian: and he offers to guide us through one of the most interesting and important enterprises in which our common race has ever been engaged.

The framers of the American Constitution were faced with an entirely new problem, so far, at all events, as the English speaking world was concerned; and though they founded their doctrines upon the English traditions of law and liberty, they had to deal with circumstances which none of their British progenitors had to face, and they showed a masterly spirit in adapting the ideas of which they were the heirs to a new country and new conditions. The result is one of the greatest pieces of constructive statesmanship ever accomplished. We, who belong to the British Empire, are at this moment engaged, under very different circumstances, in welding slowly and gradually the scattered fragments of the British Empire into an organic whole, which must, from the very nature of its geographical situation, have a Constitution as different from that of the British Isles, as the Constitution of the British Isles is different from that of the American States. But all three spring from one root; all three are carried out by men of like political ideals; all three are destined to promote the cause of ordered liberty throughout the world. In the meanwhile we on this side of the Atlantic cannot do better than study, under the most favourable and fortunate conditions, the story of the great constitutional adventure which has given us the United States of America.


[Footnote 1: [Address of the Earl of Balfour as Chairman on the occasion of the delivery on June 13, 1922, in Gray's Inn of the first of the lectures herein reprinted.]]

Introduction by Sir John Simon, K.C. [2]

I have the privilege and the honour of adding a few words to express our thanks to the Solicitor General of the United States for this memorable course of lectures. They are memorable alike for their subject and their form; alike for the place in which we are met and for the man who has so generously given of his time and learning for our instruction... Continue reading book >>

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