What sort of person influenced the American understanding of common law? Join Michael Farris and PHC professor Dr. Robert Stacey as they discuss the life of Sir William Blackstone today on Home School Heartbeat.
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Bob, I'd like you to introduce our listeners to Sir William Blackstone. What kind of man was he?
Dr. Robert Stacey:
William Blackstone was an 18th-century English lawyer, judge, legal scholar, law professor. He wrote the seminal work on the common law called The Commentaries on the Laws of England. First and foremost, he was a very devout Christian rooted in the Bible. God's law informed every aspect of his life, including his scholarly work. As he put it in his Commentaries—and I'm quoting here—"Man, considered as a creature, must necessarily be subject to the laws of his creator, for he is entirely a dependent being."
He was born at a lower-middle-class family in London. He lacked the political connections that would be necessary at the time to establish a solid legal practice, and so even though he was a stellar student—had done well in college, brilliant legal student—had had a hard time establishing himself. Eventually he turned to writing and to lecturing when he couldn't make ends meet as a lawyer. The result ended up being probably the most important work in the English common law tradition.
So we could say that God turned what looked like earthly failure in the eyes of ordinary folks into a blessing for probably the entire English-speaking world. And what's more, he helped inspire not just the people of his time but the generation of Americans who founded our country as well.
Bob, I know that there are students who are really inspired by stories like that about Blackstone and other Christian leaders. Thanks so much. I'm Mike Farris.
Nearly all Americans are familiar with the contributions of Adams, Jefferson, Hamilton, Madison, and many other patriots of the eighteenth century. Few Americans, however, are familiar with the one person who had the greatest influence on the thinking of our founding fathers: Sir William Blackstone.
An introduction for many to this legal scholar, law professor, attorney, member of Parliament, and judge who shaped the thindking of our founding fathers and, as a result, shaped the content of the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution. Softcover, 134 pages.
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