Monday, June 27, 2011

Welcome to the collection! Kent's Commentaries, 8th ed.

One of our most recent acquisitions is this lovely four-volume set of the eighth edition of James Kent's Commentaries on American Law (New York: published by William Kent, 1854). Other editions of this seminal treatise on American law are already housed in the Rare Book Room, and we are excited to add this set to the collection. The significance of this particular edition lies in the fact that it was the last one undertaken by James Kent's son, William Kent. Following his father's death in 1847, William took on the duty of updating the treatise and published the sixth, seventh, and eighth editions before his own death in 1861.

It should be noted that William Kent was an important jurist in his own right. He was a Judge of Circuit Court of New York City from 1841-1845; a professor at Harvard Law School; and one of the founders of NYU Law School. Notably, it was William who encouraged his father to compile, edit, synthesize and allow his lecture notes from Columbia Law School to be printed--a suggestion that the elder Kent ultimately heeded, leading to the publication of the first volume of the first edition of Kent's Commentaries in 1826.

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