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My commission is to say something about the directions in which historians of American law have been moving in recent years. This is harder to do than it sounds, because there has never been a time when so much was going on in American legal history as now, or such a diversity of approaches to writing it. Legal historians, who have always had trouble defining their discipline, are now divided even on the issue ofits existence-of whether legal history is coherent enough to be a field on its own. I am not going to attempt an exhaustive descriptive catalogue of recent trends, but would like to pick out from this tangled bank at least some of the more colorful and important specimens.

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