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Between 1820 and 1850 American legal commentators became obsessed with whether legislatures should codify, either in whole or in part, the common law of the American states. Indeed, "[a]lmost every law writer after 1825 felt compelled to include his views [on codification] in his works of whatever sort." The enormous literature that emerged from this period survives today to fascinate modern legal historians, who seem to have developed their own obsession for the "codification" issue. As Lawrence Friedman has said, "The codification movement is one of the set pieces of American legal history." Charles M. Cook's The American Codification Movement: A Study of Antebellum Legal Reform is the first comprehensive study of this period of legal debate.

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