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is particularly so in matters arising out of agreements and larger or smaller business relations. We do not appreciate the fact that while no rule of law can have more than one true meaning, it is not only possible but common for men to enter upon business relations with each other without having in their minds any complete identity of understanding. While courts and the state cannot under ordinary circumstances release anyone from the obligation of informing himself what the law is, yet in law, as in all other sciences, definitions are apt to be understood in the light of previous impressions upon the meaning of words and phrases, and the same maxim does not present the same idea to all minds. The most important advantage of the jury system is that juries understand and apply rules as they are commonly understood by the mass of society, and so harmonize legal obligations with the general sense of mankind. The beauty of the common law is that it is not abstract, but is found in practical applications of right and duty.
The necessity for such a remedy has been found most commonly where numbers of people have similar interests and employments. It has existed in France for a long time, and has been applied to several classes of cases. The members of these tribunals are there called prud'hommes (men of experimental knowledge). As long ago as the time of Philip the Fair, in the thirteenth century, a council of twenty-four prud'hommes was formed to decide controversies between manufacturers and traders dealing in their wares. The first French republic created similar boards to dispose of ordinary differences between masters and workmen or apprentices. In 1806 provision was made in like manner for the important manutacturing city of Lyons, with power to extend it to other industrial towns. Several of these bodies were organized in Paris from 1844 to 1848 for metal workers, weavers, chemical works and builders. The maritime towns have for a great while without legislation had such tribunals among
the fishermen. The modern French councils are said to be composed of representatives of employers and employed, chosen by their orders. One-third go out of office annually. Their duties are confined to questions relating to the business. The old fishery boards are supposed to have suggested the others, and are said to have been first known in the southern ports. It is quite likely they were regulated by the ancient sea laws. These arrangements, with perhaps some variations, seemed to be regarded as desirable.
Analogous bodies are found in other countries. They are thought to be better and more satisfactory than temporary and voluntary
institutions, and experience in the difficulties and grounds of difference among particular classes is of great valụe in enabling them to decide fairly. The effect of the permanent reference committees in our boards of trade in preventing commercial litigations in the courts of this state has been very marked.
Courts of conciliation properly organized to settle the differences of employers and employed, could hardly fail to remove any rational cause of complaint of unfairness in their mutual relations, and would have the double value of doing justice and of putting captious persons in the wrong. Sympathy would be given where it is deserved, and the common sense of the community would justify withholding it where it is not deserved. When public sentiment knows where justice lies, it will not be profitable to provoke it.
With this exception, the constitution has been fairly carried out. The methods of procedure and jurisdiction were not materially disturbed from what they had been. The state was divided into eight circuits, with judges elective for six years and sitting without associates. They were then brought together in one body, and when sitting thus together constituted the supreme court. This continued until 1857, when the present independent supreme court was established. There are now twenty-eight circuit courts, besides various municipal tribunals, in Detroit and some other of our larger cities. The number of judges now sitting in common law courts is four times as great as in 1851. Business has multiplied, and there is a perceptible increase in the prolixity of important trials.
Since 1851 there has been an important change in the law of testimony. All personal disqualifications affecting witnesses on account of interest or character have been swept away, some rules preserving confidences in families and professional advisers being wisely retained, One class of laws has given occasion for much contention-that relating to the condemnation of property for various easements and corporation uses. This grows out of too frequent changes and too little uniformity. The power is a necessary one, but should be strictly guarded. It is a question, also, whether litigation is not unduly encouraged, under our present system, by imposing no restrictions on appellate proceedings.
When the constitution of 1850 went into effect, and the circuit judges and district judge of the upper peninsula were first elected, all of the existing judges of the supreme court were chosen as circuit judges, and Judge Goodwin, a former member of that court, was elected for the upper peninsula. Judge Sanford M. Green, the
reviser of 1846 and judge of the supreme court under the old constitution, still presides at the circuit and still retains undizainished respect and confidence. Sarnuel T. Douglass and David Johnson are the remaining survivors of the first bench of circuit judges, which was made up of very able and excellent jurists. Five of them resigned during their term to return to practice. Many changes have been made since on the circuit bench, and most of them for the same reason. The state has been very well served by its circuit courts.
The supreme court, as now organized of judges having only appellate duties, was provided for by the legislature of 1857, and sat first in January, 1858. George Martin, of the old bench, was chief-justice, and Randolph Manning (former chancellor), Isaac P. Christiancy and James V. Campbell, associates. Judge Manning died in 1864 and was succeeded by Thomas M. Cooley, who resigned in 1885, and was succeeded by Allen B. Morse, now in office. Judge Martin died in 1867, and was succeeded by Benjamin F. Graves (who had been chosen to the circuit bench in 1857), who retired at his own desire at the end of his term, and was succeeded by John W. Champlin of the present bench. Judge Christiancy was elected United States senator in 1875. Isaac Marston succeeded him and continued in office till March, 1883, when he resigned and Thomas R. Sherwood, the present incumbent, was elected in his place.
During the existence of the state, which finished its half century of judicial experience on the fourth day of July, 1886, there has been nothing striking or startling in its court records. No judge has been removed from office or convicted of misconduct. No capital sentence has been pronounced or carried out. No person has been tried for a political offense. No court has been prevented by violence from enforcing its orders. Few conspiracies to do mischief on a large scale have created local and none general disturbance. The four years of war in which our citizens played a heroic part left no legacy of disorder, and returned soldiers have been the best guards of law and order, and have filled and are filling the most responsible offices of peace, and have shared most liberally in the administration of justice. It is perhaps one of the most comfortable assurances of public prosperity that our long judicial history is uneventful.
THE ATTEMPTS MADE TO SEPARATE THE WEST FROM THE
'HE War of the Revolution was scarcely over and peace declared,
before there began an effort which, in various forms, was carried on for twenty years, to separate the western portion of the l'nion from the states on the Atlantic sea-board. The first attempt to divide the Union was by a line running nearly north and south, and along the Alleghany mountains. The cause which gave life to the movement was the vast extent of the territory of the states, the little knowledge of and communication at that time had between the distant parts, and the adverse interests which were created by the difference of climate, and antecedents, and previous nationality of those now bound together in the American Union.
There is considerable ignorance now, even on the part of well-informed persons, as to the condition of the several parts of the country, with all our facilities of travel and communication. It is not strange that this should be much greater when few could ever go far from their own fire-sides, when newspapers were rare, and high rates of postage made frequent communication impossible. As resulting from this, the provincial stampset upon the several sections, by reason of climate and soil and occupation, would be more fixed, and antagonisms more emphatic than now, when all judgments and tastes are modified by a ready and constant attrition of the most distant parts upon each other.
It could not well be otherwise, than that regions so dis’ant and dissimilar, and in so many matters opposed in interest, should find it difficult to pass from the condition of separate and independent provinces to that of a Federal union without many jarrings of discord. This would be especially likely in the earlier days of the government, before the relative rights and duties of the central and state administrations had been adjusted, and when the burdens of debt incurred by a long war had to be borne, and distributed, and paid. In no part of the country was this strain greater than in the recently and sparsely settled regions west of the Alleghanies, where, along with a self-assertion and indisposition to submit easily to control, always characteristic of a frontier life, there was but little ability as yet to bear heavy exactions of impost and taxation, and perhaps no very great sense of the degree of previous protection extended by the central government, as calling from them justly for any large self-sacrifices now. They were povr, and had with great hardships made homes and settlements. The
Atlantic states were wealthier, and had done little for them. They were not patient under any heavy burdens to be put on them now.
In order to come fairly to a consideration of these early chafings against the new and strange bonds of union, it will be necessary to remind ourselves of the political situation of the Mississippi valley at that time.
On the third of November, 1762, the French king ceded to Spain all the country known under the name of Louisiana,* which itself, in 1712, Louis XIV had defined in his letters patent to Crozat, to be all the country between Mexico and Carolina, the river Mississippi † from the sea to the Illinois, the Missouri river, the Wabash, and all the land, lakes and rivers flowing into any part of the River Mississippi.
This donation was accepted, but the transaction was kept secret, and the king of France continued to act as sovereign. In the treaty of Paris, in 1763, between Spain and France on the one side and Great Britain on the other, it was agreed that the limits of the French and British possessions should be a line drawn along the middle of the Mississippi river from its source to the river Iberville; along the middle of that stream, and of the lakes Maurepas and Pontchartrain) to the sea; and that all on the left side of the Mississippi river, except the town and island of New Orleans, should belong to the king of England. New Orleans and the country to the west were to belong to the king of Spain.
In the same year Great Britain divided Florida into two provinces. West Florida was bounded by the Appalachicola river on the east and by the thirty-first degree of latitude on the north. In March, 1764, on the representation that important settlements to the north had been left out, the northern boundary was made along a line due east from the mouth of the Yazoo river to the Appalachicola. In 1777 Great Britain purchased of the Choctaws the Natchez district, extending along the Mississippi river from latitude thirty-one, one hundred and ten miles northward to the mouth of the Yazoo.s
In November, 1782, in the preliminary articles, and on the third of September, 1783, in the definitive treaty of peace between the United States and Great Britain, the southern boundary of the United States was determined to be a line drawn from the Mississippi river due east in the northernmost part of the thirty-first degree of latitude to the Chattahooche river, thence to its junction with the Flint river;
** Vergennes, Mem. Sur la Louis.,' pp. 32-3. † Martin, 'Louisiana,' p. 114. 'Gayarré,' third ser., p. 93.
$• Claiborne, Miss.,' p. 98. \'Treaties U. S.,'p. 316.