A number of fortuitous circumstances made William Blackstone the principal teacher of law to American lawyers of the revolutionary generation and the early republic.’ Daniel Boorstin said of Blackstone’s Commentaries, “In the history of American institutions, no other bookexcept the Bible-has played so great a role.” Yet Blackstone’s jurisprudence is widely regarded today as ponderous, formal, conceptual, deductive, mechanistic, naive, and hopelessly unrealistic. A revolt against formalism led by Oliver Wendell Holmes is said to have given us a better, more flexible, more adaptive concept of law.

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