Why Black’s Law Dictionary?

    Black grew up in New York State’s Hudson Valley region, & developed an interest in the law at a young age.  He was regarded something of a prodigy, 11publishing his first edition of Black’s Law Dictionary before his 31st birthday[1] in 1891, & the second edition in 1910.[2]

    He wasn’t a particularly noteworthy lawyer.  He received formal legal training & began to practice law after graduating from a now-defunct law school in Pennsylvania, but then grew frustrated with the demands of the profession & left his post after just five years.  He then holed himself up in his parents’ house & began compiling a comprehensive list of legal terms.

    He published over 1,000 scholarly articles that touched upon arcane legal matters as well as timely political issues.  In recognition of his achievements, he received an honorary law degree from his undergraduate alma mater (the school, college, or university that one once attended) in 1917.  Black kept returning to the legal dictionary that he had created.
During his lifetime, he issued several revised editions of the tome.  With each successive
publication, he personally oversaw the addition of thousands of new definitions & concepts.  By the time he passed on in 1927, he had earned recognition as one of the most powerful legal thinkers of his generation.[3]  Today Black’s Law Dictionary is the most widely used law dictionary in the United States; used for terms in legal briefs & court opinions.

    “Liberty, whether natural, civil, or political, is the lawful power in the individual to exercise his corresponding rights. It is greatly favored in law.

– Henry Campbell Black, Handbook of American Constitutional Law, 1895

Go to Legal Term Definitions


[1]:  Black’s Law Dictionary 2nd Edition Online, “Who Is Henry Campbell Black?”: http://thelawdictionary.org/article/who-was-henry-campbell-black/

[2]: Online Computer Library Center, 33831602:https://www.worldcat.org/title/law-dictionarycontaining-definitions-of-the-terms-and-phrases-of-american-and-english-jurisprudence-ancient-and-modern-and-including-the-principal-terms-of-international-constitutional-ecclesiastical-and-commercial-law-and-medical-jurisprudence-with-a-collection-of-legal-maxims-numerous-select-titles-from-the-roman-modern-civil-scotch-french-spanish-and-mexican-law-and-other-foreign-systems-and-a-table-of-abbreviations/oclc/33831602

[3]:  Black’s Law Dictionary 2nd Edition Online, “Who Is Henry Campbell Black?”: http://thelawdictionary.org/article/who-was-henry-campbell-black/

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