Tucker, St. George (1751–1827)

Author:Leonard W. Levy

Page 2737

St. George Tucker, who became known as the "American Blackstone," wrote the first commentary on the Constitution since THE FEDERALIST, a book that he recommended as a "masterly discussion." After a dozen years as a judge in Virginia, Tucker succeeded GEORGE WYTHE, with whom he had studied law, as professor of law at the College of William and Mary. Using WILLIAM BLACKSTONE'S Commentaries on the Laws of England as his text, Tucker updated and domesticated Blackstone in his lectures, showing how the English law had changed in the United States and in Virginia. His lectures led in 1803 to the publication in five volumes of an annotated edition of Blackstone. Notwithstanding Tucker's 1,400 notes, the most creative parts of his work are to be found in his appendices, which run to 425 pages in the first volume, mostly an analysis of the United States Constitution. Although Tucker preferred a "federal" to a "consolidated" Union, he was a moderate who defended the American constitutional system, championed democracy, opposed SLAVERY, and made constructive criticisms. The appendix argued against a FEDERAL COMMON LAW OF CRIMES. Volume two's appendices included an extended proposal for the gradual abolition of slavery...

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