Moorfield Storey and the Abolitionist Tradition

By Jr. William Hixson B. | Go to book overview

4Obedience to the Law

In the spring of 1920, Moorfield Storey was to give the annual Godkin Lectures at Harvard, and under the rubric "Problems of Today," he bore down heavily on what he called "the growing tendency to ignore or disobey the law." Behind his current strictures lay a deeply rooted belief that law was the very basis of civilization, a belief most notably expressed in an address on "lawlessness" he had given sixteen years before:

It is hardly too much to say that civilization is the process of restraining the will of the individual by law, that the liberty of a people depends on its success in curbing by a written constitution the power of its rulers, and that the cause of justice in the world is advanced by observing the law of nations... . The history of civilization is the record of the struggle between might and right, between force and law.

Storey had, therefore, already worried about the "growing tendency" of Americans to achieve their goals through extra-legal means; now what seemed to him the complete breakdown of order after the Armistice of 1918 raised his interest in "obedience to the law" to the highest level of concern.1

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Moorfield Storey and the Abolitionist Tradition
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xi
  • 1 - The Making of a Reformer 3
  • 2 - Anti-Imperialism 45
  • 3 - Civil Equality 98
  • 4 - Obedience to the Law 146
  • 5 - The Abolitionist Tradition 191
  • Bibliographical Guide 247
  • Index 249
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