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The first edition of this book certainly enjoyed a better reception than it deserved. When a second edition was called for, I resolved, so far as possible, to correct in it the faults of its predecessor. To this end I have labored very hard, seeking not only to add to the volume, as at first published, all the new material derived from later judicial decisions, but undertaking . also to correct original defects of plan and construction. This proved to be an enterprise of such magnitude that I can truly say that the toil expended upon this edition has very greatly exceeded that which was devoted to the composition of the book in the first instance. It was a re-writing rather than an editing. An especial effort has been made to condense the text, and a great deal of matter, in the nature rather of discussions than of the statement of established principles, has been omitted. The increase in the number of authorities cited is considerable, being about thirty per cent; or a trifle over four hundred new cases, while the pages of text have been increased by one hundred and five, or about twenty per cent.

This indicates in some degree the measure of compression brought to bear in this edition. It must be acknowledged that a still greater amount would have improved the book even more in the opinion of the professional man. But it purports to be a treatise, not a mere collection of authorities; and it has also been extensively used among business men engaged in banking, who require a somewhat fuller elucidation of rules and principles than would suffice for the lawyer. For these reasons I have felt justified in employing greater elaboration than would

liave been proper in a book intended only to be used for legal reference.

Further, I have sought, wherever it seemed desirable, to give a somewhat extended statement of cases, often embodying the language of the court, with the object of giving to this volume in some degree the value which belongs to a collection of cases. The subject is too extensive to be satisfactorily treated by a publication at length of all cases relating to banks ; on the other hand it is not so extensive as to justify its treatment in the shape of a digest. Mr. Thompson whose labors have been a great aid to me, has made a somewhat bulky volume by bringing together upon the former system only such cases as relate to our national banks. I hope that the middle course, which I have adopted, as it has appeared the only one practicable, may also prove to be satisfactory.


Boston, May 24, 1879,


QUESTIONS in relation to banking law, involving interests of great magnitude, have of late arisen in unusual numbers. But those engaged in investigating them have been cast upon the trackless wilderness of the reports, without guide or aid of any description from treatises or text-books on the subject. English works are nearly useless on this side of the water, since English legislation and usages differ widely and materially from our own. No thorough and sufficient book has ever been attempted by an American writer. It seemed to me that there was not only room but even a necessity for such an undertaking; and when I entered upon the task and found how it grew and expanded upon investigation ; when I found how many doctrines of the law had been expounded, having reference solely to the banking business, which had never been brought together and elucidated in connection with each other, or upon any uniform principle; when I found what multitudes of cases had arisen and been adjudicated which had never been collected, compared, or criticised, which might be overlooked, overruled, practically lost to the profession, I learned that the need for such a work as I contemplated was even far greater than I had believed it to be.

How well I have met the demands of my task I cannot pretend to judge. That imperfections should exist in my work may be regarded as inevitable. It is almost an impossible achievement to discuss in an absolutely exhaustive manner a broad legal topic where the footsteps of no predecessor serve to guide or to warn. It cannot be expected of the pioneer that he should finish his work beyond the possibility of improvement. I know that I have fallen far short of such a consummation; and I must rest satisfied if what I have done shall prove substantially useful, and shall betray no greater want of finish than may be deemed justly unavoidable and pardonable in so difficult a labor.



Jan. 9, 1870.

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