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The English law dictionaries would be very unsatisfactory guides, even in pointing out where the laws relating to the acquisition and transfer of real estate, or the laws of descent in the United States, are to be found. And the student who seeks to find in the Dictionaries of Cowell, Manley, Jacobs, Tomlins, Cunningham, Burn, Montefiore, Pott, Whishaw, Williams, the Termes de Ley, or any similar compilation, any satisfactory account in relation to international law, to trade and commerce, to mari. time law, to medical jurisprudence, or to natural law, will probably not be fully gratified. He cannot, of course, expect to find in them any thing in relation to our government, our constitutions, or our political or civil institutions.

It occurred to the author that a law dictionary, written entirely anew, and calculated to remedy those defects, would be useful to the profession. Probably overrating his strength, he resolved to undertake the task, and if he should not fully succeed, he will have the consolation to know, that bis effort may induce some more gifted individual, and better qualified by his learning, to undertake such a task, and to render the American bar an important service. Upon an examination of the constitution and laws of the United States, and of the several states of the American Union, he perceived many technical expressions and much valuable information which he would be able to incorporate in his work. Many of these laws, although local in their nature, will be found useful to every lawyer, particularly those engaged in mercantile practice. As instances of such laws the reader is referred to the articles, Acknowledgment, Descent, Divorce, Letters of administration, and Limitation. It is within the plan of this work to explain such technical expressions as relate to the legislative, executive, or judicial departments of the government; the political and the civil rights and duties of the citizens ; the rights and duties of persons, particularly such as are peculiar to our institutions, as, the rights of descent and administration ; of the mode of acquiring and transferring property; to the criminal law, and its administration. It has also been an object with the author to embody in his work such decisions of the courts as appeared to him to be important, either because they differed from former judgments, or because they related to some point which was before either obscure or unsettled. He does not profess to have examined or even referred to all the American cases; it is a part of the plan, however, to refer to authorities generally, which will lead the student to nearly all the cases.

The author was induced to believe, that an occasional comparison of the civil, canon, and other systems of foreign law, with our own, would be useful to the profession, and illustrate many articles which, without such aid, would not appear very clear; and also to introduce many terms from foreign laws, which may supply a deficiency in ours. The articles Condonation, Extradition and Novation, are of this sort. He was induced to adopt this course because the civil law has been considered, perhaps not without justice, the best system of written reason, and as all laws are or ought to be founded in reason, it seemed peculiarly proper to have recourse to this fountain of wisdom: but another motive influenced this decision ; one of the states of the Union derives most of its civil regulations from the civil law; and there seemed a peculiar propriety, therefore, in introducing it into an American law dictionary. He also had the example of a Story, a Kent, Mr. Angell, and others, who have ornamented their works from the same


And he here takes the opportunity to acknowledge the benefits which he has derived from the learned labours of these gentlemen, and of those of Judge Sergeant, Judge Swift, Judge Gould, Mr. Rawle, and other writers on American law and jurisprudence.

In the execution of his plan, the author has, in the first place, defined and explained the various words and phrases, by giving their most enlarged meaning, and then all the shades of signification of which they are susceptible; secondly, he has divided the subject in the manner which to him appeared the most natural, and laid down such principles and rules as belong to it; in these cases he has generally been careful to give an illustration, by citing a case whenever the subject seemed to require it, and referring to others supporting the same point ; thirdly, whenever the article admitted of it, he has compared it with the laws of other countries within his reach, and pointed out their concord or disagreement; and, fourthly, he has referred to the authorities, the abridgments, digests, and the ancient and modern treatises, where the subject is to be found, in order to facilitate the researches of the student. He desires not to be understood as professing to cite cases always exactly in point; on the contrary, in many instances the authorities will probably be found to be but distantly connected with the subject under examination, but still connected with it, and they have been added in order to lead the student to matter of which he may possibly be in pursuit.

At the suggestion of a judicious friend, in order to make this work as complete as possible, and useful to the inquiring practitioner, as well as to the student, an appendix has been added, containing Kelham's Norman Law Dictionary.

To those who are aware of the difficulties of the task, the author deems it unnecessary to make any apology for the imperfections which may be found in the work. His object has been to be useful; if that has been accomplished in any degree, he will be amply rewarded for his labour; and he relies upon the generous liberality of the members of the profession to overlook the errors which may have been committed in his endeavours to serve them.

Philadelphia, September, 1839.



A, The first letter of the English | tence, (q. v.), and the like; adulteand most other alphabets, is fre- ry; cruelty; and malicious desertion quently used as an abbreviation, (q. for two years or more. In New v.) and also in the marks of schedules York a sentence of imprisonment or papers, as schedule A, B, C, &c. for life is also a ground for a divorce

A MENSA ET THORO, from a vinculo. When the marriage is bed and board. A divorce a mensa dissolved a vinculo, the parties may et thoro, is rather a separation of marry again ; but when the cause the parties by act of law, than a is adultery, the guilty party cannot dissolution of the marriage. It may marry his or her paramour. be granted for causes of extreme AB INITIO, from the beginning. cruelty or desertion of the wife by 1. Where a man makes a lawful the husband. 2 Eccl. Rep. 208. entry, and subsequently abuses an This kind of divorce does not affect authority in law to enter, as to the legitimacy of children, nor autho- distrain or the like, he becomes a rize a second marriage. V. A vin- trespasser ab initio. Bac. Ab. culo matrimonii, Cruelty, Divorce. Trespass, B.; 8 Coke, 146; 2 Bl.

A PRENDRE, French, to take, Rep. 1218; Clayt. 44. And if an to sieze, in contracts, as profits a officer neglect to remove goods prendre. Ham. N. P. 184. attached within a reasonable time

A RENDRE, French, to render, and continue in possession, his entry to yield, in contracts. Profits a becomes a trespass ab initio. 2 BÍ. rendre ; under this term are com- Rep. 1218. See also as to other prehended rents and services. Ham. cases, 2 Stra. 717; 1 H. Bl. 13; N. P. 192.

11 East, 395; 2 Camp. 115; 2 A VINCULO MATRIMONII, Johns. 191; 10 Johns. 253; Ibid. from the bonds of marriage. A mar- 369.-2. But in case of an authority riage may be dissolved a vinculo, in in fact, to enter, an abuse of such many states, as in Pennsylvania, on authority will not, in general, subject the ground of canonical disabilities the party to an action of trespass, before marriage, as that one of the Lane, 90; Bac. Ab. Trespass, B.; parties was legally married to a 2 T. R. 166. See generally i Chit. person who was then living; impo-'Pl. 146, 169, 180.

VOL. 1.-2.

AB IRATO, civil law. A latin | contract of insurance. 3 Kent, Com. phrase which signifies by a man in 265 ; 2 Marsh. Ins. 559; Pard. Dr. anger. It is applied to bequests or Com. n. 836 et seq. Boulay Paty, gifts, which a man makes adverse to Dr. Com. Maritime, tit. 11, tom. 4, the interest of his heir, in conse- p. 215. quence of anger or hatred against ABANDONMENT. In maritime him. Thus à devise made under contracts in the civil law, principals these circumstances is called a tes are generally held indefinitely retament ab irato. And the suit sponsible for the obligations which which the heirs institute to annul their agents have contracted relative this will is called an action ab irato. to the concern of their commission ; Merlin, Répert, mots, Ab irato. but with regard to ship owners there

ABANDONMENT, contracts. is a remarkable peculiarity; they In the French law the act by which are bound by the contract of the a debtor surrenders his property for master only to the amount of their the benefit of his creditors. Merl. interest in the ship, and can be disRép. mot Abandonment.

charged from their responsibility by ABANDONMENT, contracts.- abandoning the ship and freight. In insurances the act by which the Poth. Chartes part. s. 2, art. 3, 951; insured relinquishes to the assurer Ord. de la Mar, des proprietaires, all the property to the thing insured. art. 2; Code de Com. 1. 2, t. 3, art. No particular form is required for 216. an abandonment, nor need it be in ABANDONMENT, rights. The writing ; but it must be explicit and relinquishment of a right; the giving absolute, and must set forth the rea- up of something to which we are sons upon which it is founded. It entitled. Legal rights when once must also be made in reasonable vested must be divested according to time after the loss. It is not in every law, but equitable rights may be case of loss that the insured can abandoned. 2 Wash. R. 106. See abandon. In the following cases an 1 H. & M. 429; a mill site, once abandonment may be made; when occupied, may be abandoned. 17 there is a total loss; when the voy- Mass. 297 ; an application for land, age is lost or not worth pursuing, by which is an inception of title, 5 S. & reason of a peril insured against ; or R. 215; 2 S. & R. 378; 1 Yeates, if the cargo be so damaged as to be 193, 289; 2 Yeates, 81, 88, 318 ; of little or no value; or where the an improvement, 1 Yeates, 515; 2 salvage is very high, and further Yeates, 476 ; 5 Binn. 73; 3 S. & R. expense be necessary, and the insurer 319; and a trust fund, 3 Yerg. 258, will not engage to bear it; or if what may be abandoned. is saved is of less value than the ABANDONMENT for torts, a freight; or where the damage ex- term used in civil law. By the ceeds one-half of the value of the Roman law, when the master was goods insured; or where the pro- sued for the tort of his slave, or the perty is captured, or even detained owner for a trespass committed by by an indefinite embargo; and in his animal, he might abandon them cases of a like nature. The aban- to the person injured, and thereby donment, when legally made, trans- save himself from further responsifers from the insured to the insurer bility. Similar provisions have been the property in the thing insured, adopted in Louisiana. It is enacted and obliges him to pay to the in- by the civil code that the master sured what he promised him by the shall be answerable for all the damages occasioned by an offence or ings in a suit, from the want of proquasi offence committed by his slave. per parties capable of proceeding He may, however, discharge himself therein. It differs from an abatefrom such responsibility by aban- ment at law in this, that in the latter doning the slave to the person in the action is in general entirely dead, jured ; in which case such person and cannot be revived, 3 Bl. Com. shall sell such slave at public auction 168; but in the former, the right to in the usual form, to obtain payment proceed is merely suspended, and of the damages and costs; and the may be revived by a bill of revivor. balance, if any, shall be returned Mitf. Eq. Pl. by Jeremy, 57; Story, to the master of the slave, who shall Eq. Pl. § 354. be completely discharged, although

ABATEMENT, contracts, is a the price of the slave should not be reduction made by the creditor, for sufficient to pay the whole amount the prompt payment of a debt due of the damages and costs; provided by the payor or debtor. Wesk. on that the master shall make abandon- Ins. 7. ment within three days after the ABATEMENT, merc. law. By judgment awarding such damages this term is understood the deduction shall have been rendered; provided sometimes made at the custom-house also that it shall not be proved that from the duties chargeable upon the crime or offence was committed goods when they are damaged. See by his order; for in such cases the Act of Congress, March 2, 1799, s. master shall be answerable for all 52, 1 Story L. U. S. 617. damages resulting therefrom, what- ABATEMENT, pleading, is the ever be the amount, without being overthrow of an action in consequence admitted to the benefit of abandon- of some error committed in bringing ment. Art. 180, 181.

or conducting it, when the plaintiff is The owner of an animal is answer- not forever barred from bringing anoable for the damages he has caused; ther action. i Chit. Pl. 434; Pleas but if the animal had been lost, or in abatement will be considered as rehad strayed more than a day, he lating, 1 to the jurisdiction of the may discharge himself from this court; 2, to the person of the plainresponsibility, by abandoning him to tiff'; 3, to that of the defendant; 4, the person who has sustained the to the writ; 5, to the qualities of injury, except where the master has such pleas; 6, to the form of such turned loose a dangerous or noxious pleas; 7, to the affidavit of the truth animal, for then he must pay for all of pleas in abatement. the harm he has done, without being [2] § 1. As to pleas relating to the allowed to make the abandonment. jurisdiction of the court, see article Ib. art. 2301.

Jurisdiction, and Arch. Civ. Pl. 290; ABANDONMENT, malicious.- 1 Chit. Pl. Index. tit. Jurisdiction. The act of a husband or wise, who [3] § 2. Relating to the person leaves his or her consort wilfully, of the plaintiff. 1. The defendant and with an intention of causing a may plead to the person of the plainperpetual separation. Such aban- tiff that there never was any such donment, when it has continued a person in rerum natura. Bro. Brief, sufficient length of time, is sufficient 25; 19 Johns. 308; Com. Dig. cause for a divorce. Vide 1 Hoff. Abatement, E. 16. And if one of R. 47; Divorce.

several plaintiffs be a fictitious perABATEMENT, chancery prac- son, it abates the writ

. Com. Dig. tice, is a suspension of all proceed. Abatement, E. 16; 1 Chit. Pl. 435;

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