New Orleans: Printed by Benjamin Levy, 1824. Folio. 164pp. Bound in attractive modern quarter calf with marbled boards, gilt-lettered morocco title label on spine. Rubberstamp on title page, else a clean text and Very Good.
The author, a disciple of Bentham, presents the philosophical underpinnings of his penal system. "No single writer, except Jeremy Bentham, has written so much upon Codification, or as learnedly, as Livingston. His Codes are much admired for their philosophy, apparent practicability, and the characteristic wisdom of their provisions, which place their author among the best writers upon legislation... His writings deserve the attention of legislators, and will remain a lasting monument of his industry, wisdom, and learning" [Marvin 471]. Sir Henry Maine called him "the first legal genius of modern times" [DAB].
A leader of the Codification movement, he thus favored laws made democratically by legislatures rather than by Judges exercising common-law prerogatives. Opposing conceptions of the law as an arcane discipline, fit only for experts, he argues, "Penal laws should be written in plain language, clearly and unequivocally expressed, that they may neither be misunderstood nor perverted; they should be so concise, as to be remembered with ease; and all technical phrases, or words they contain, should be clearly defined. They should be promulgated in such a manner as to force a knowledge of their provisions upon the people."
FIRST EDITION. Jumonville 430. Cohen 10327. I Harv. Law Cat. 1187. Item #31598