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To the Honorable JAMES KENT, Chancellor of the
Stale of New-York : Sir,
Moved with that respect and esteem which are so justly due to your private and public character, I ieel great pleasure in dedicating to you this Treatise, and indeed I know not to whom I could pay this tribute of regard with more propriety than to him, who discharges all the duties of his elevated station with so much honor to bimself, and satisfaction to the public.
I have the honor to be, with
D. T. BLAKE. New-York, July 4th, 1818.
CONSIDERING the many Treatises which have been published in England, on the elements and practice of the Court of Equity, calculated not only to illustrate and explain the sublime principles of that tribunal, but to trace them up from the earliest period of juridical annals, it is a matter of no small surprize, that no attempt of this kind has been made in the United States, notwithstanding the period of time in which this court has been established, the importance which it has attained, and the peculiar spirit of public discussion and inquiry, which pervades erery branch of our government;—for whatever difficulty might have arisen be. tween the crown of England and its colonial assemblies, as to the right of creating this court, since its establishment in this state, it has always been considered a tribunal n t only of great utility, but the venerable palladium of our legal rights.
That no treatise on the English practice can be applicable to our courts, is obvious to any person who has examined into the variance of the laws and institutions of both countries; and that every attempt to complete a treatise of this kind, must require more time and labour than is compatible with the situation of every professional gentleman to bestow on it; considering the novelty of the undertaking, and the variety and crude state of the materials he has to collect, digest and arrange, in order to form them into a system.
From difficulties like these, the compiler has engaged in this undertaking with great diffidence; by the advice of his friends, he has committed the result of his labours to the press, and ardently hopes that it will be found of some use to the junior part of the profession, and received with much indulgence by the public.
In preparing this Treatise, the compiler has endeavoured to be as concise and perspicuous as possible, and has made it his chief study to combine the principles and practice in every part of it, where it appear- ' ed necessary; and instead of attempting to account for the origin of this court, or the various modifications it has undergone in that country from which it has descended to us by inheritance, considering this part of the subject wrapt up in some obscurity, and perhaps of little or no iinportance to the reader, or of enumerating every object of juridical investigation, which in the language of Grotius, the law does not exactly define, he has contented himself in giving an historical sketch of its introduction into this state, and the manner in which its duties were administered, till the time of the Revolution.
*The organization of this court took place some time in the year 1701, by an ordinance of the Lords of Trade in England, and its duties were vested in the governor and council, under the colonial government; for a long time after its establishment, it became very obnoxious to the colonial assemblies, and laid the foundation of many difficulties between them and the executive, on the ground of constitutional rights.
• See Smith's History of New York, pages 98 and 255. 1 V R. L. 494. in notis. In 1752, the officers of the court were two masters, two clerks, one examiner, a register, and a sergeant at arms.