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American legal commentators of the antebellum period bear a distinctly
conservative stamp. At their best they were conservative in the manner of
Story, imposing wise restraint on the process of change; at their worst they
could be no more than apologists for the status quo, justifying abuse and
privilege in the name of order. This pervasive conservative tone is understandable, for the task of the commentator is often synthesis and consolidation. That function was even more important in the nation's childhood. The dearth of ordered materials made practice difficult and put a premium on the elementary tasks of order. Perhaps because he was a confirmed Jeffersonian, writing at the zenith of Jeffersonianism, St. George Tucker stands out as a notable exception to the rule. His work exudes a reformist and libertarian vitality unthinkable in a Kent, a Story, or a Dane.

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