The Common Law (book)

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The Common Law
The+Common+Law Cover.JPG
Cover of the first edition of The Common Law.
AuthorOliver Wendell Holmes Jr.
CountryUnited States
Publication date
Media typePaper

The Common Law is a book that was written by Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. in 1881,[1] 21 years before Holmes became an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

The book is about common law in the United States, including torts, property, contracts, and crime. It is written as a series of lectures. It has gone out of copyright and is available in full on the web at Project Gutenberg.

One of the most famous aphorisms to be drawn from this book occurs on the first page: "The life of the law has not been logic: it has been experience." Holmes's pronouncement is a subtle qualification of a dictum by the famous seventeenth-century English jurist Sir Edward Coke: "Reason is the life of the law."[2]


  1. ^ See Holmes, Jr., O.W. (1882). The Common Law (1 ed.). London: Macmillan. Retrieved 23 September 2015. via Internet Archive
  2. ^ E Coke, Commentary Upon Littleton (1628) 97b

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