Law, Andrew, 1749-1821, American composer, b. Milford, Conn. He was a preacher in Philadelphia and Baltimore and, later, a singing teacher in New England. Opposed to the contrapuntal style of William Billings, Law wrote rather simple hymn tunes. In his Select Harmony (1778), Collection of Best Tunes and Anthems (1779), and other compilations, he collected and arranged many tunes of other composers. He was among the first Americans to arrange hymns with the melody in the soprano instead of the tenor part. Law's teaching books were important in early American music education. One of the first American writers about music, he published Essays on Music in 1814.

See study by R. Crawford (1968).

Law, Andrew Bonar, 1858-1923, British statesman, b. Canada. He went to Scotland as a boy and in 1900, after a business career, was elected to Parliament as a Conservative. He soon became known as a spokesman for tariff reform. In 1911 he succeeded Arthur Balfour as leader of the Conservative party. Working closely with Sir Edward Carson, he led the fierce opposition to Irish Home Rule that carried Ireland to the brink of civil war. During World War I he was colonial secretary (1915-16) in Herbert Asquith's coalition cabinet and then (1916) became chancellor of the exchequer and leader of the House of Commons under David Lloyd George. He resigned party leadership in 1921, but in 1922 he returned to politics to lead the Conservative revolt against the continuation of the wartime coalition. He became (Oct., 1922) prime minister but had to resign the following May because of ill health.

See biography by R. Blake (2 vol., 1955-56).

Law, John, 1671-1729, Scottish financier in France, b. Edinburgh. After killing a man in a duel (1694) he fled to Amsterdam, where he studied banking. Returning to Scotland (1700), he proposed to Parliament plans for trade and revenue reforms and published Money and Trade Considered (1705). His ideas and a proposal for a national bank were rejected, and Law went to France. The finances of France were in critical condition at the death of King Louis XIV, and Law succeeded in winning the support of the regent, Philippe II, duc d'Orléans, for a scheme that promised to reduce the public debt and stimulate French trade and industry. Law believed that credit and paper money, by encouraging investment, would regenerate the French economy. In 1716 the regent chartered Law's private Banque générale and authorized it to issue paper currency. In 1717, Law acquired the monopoly of commercial privileges in the French colony of Louisiana and organized the Compagnie d'Occident, or Mississippi Company, which was consolidated (1719) with the French East India Company and other organizations as the Compagnie des Indes.

The Banque générale was made the royal bank in 1718, and its issues of notes were guaranteed by the state. Finally (1720), Law, made controller general of finances, merged the huge stock company with the royal bank and took over most of the public debt and the administration of revenue. A rash of speculation swept France. Numerous small investors bought stock, which soared to heights far beyond what could be expected in returns from the exploitation of the colonies (see Mississippi Scheme) and from trade with Asia. The bubble burst suddenly. Well-informed speculators sold their stock at huge profits, setting off a frenzy of selling that ruined thousands of investors. The system collapsed (1720), and Law fled France in disgrace. He died in Venice, where he had supported himself by gambling.

The dizzy speculation caused by Law's system greatly helped to discredit the regency and the idea of a national bank. Although the immediate results of Law's schemes were disastrous, colonial enterprise received a lasting stimulus. His monetary theories have found defenders among later economists.

See biographies by H. M. Hyde (rev. ed. 1969) and J. Gleeson (2000).

Law, William, 1686-1761, English clergyman, noted for his controversial, devotional, and mystical writings. One of the nonjurors, Law was deprived of his fellowship in Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and lost all chances for advancement in the church. Unexcelled among the controversialists of his day, he was also a leading devotional writer. In the former role he wrote Three Letters to the Bishop of Bangor (1717-19) in the Bangorian Controversy, and The Case of Reason (1731), in reply to Matthew Tindal, the deist. In the field of devotional writings, few books have been given so high a place as his Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life (1728). Its influence was acknowledged by John Wesley. In The Spirit of Prayer (1750) and The Spirit of Love (1754) is discernible the influence of Law's study of Jakob Boehme, the mystic. Law's collected works (9 vol., 1753-76) were edited by G. B. Morgan in 1892-93.

See biography by J. H. Overton (1881); W. R. Inge, Studies of English Mystics (1906); S. Hobhouse, William Law and Eighteenth Century Quakerism (1927); J. B. Green, John Wesley and William Law (1945).

Law, the, in Judaism: see Torah.
law, rules of conduct of any organized society, however simple or small, that are enforced by threat of punishment if they are violated. Modern law has a wide sweep and regulates many branches of conduct.

Development of Early Law

Law does not develop systematically until a state with a centralized police authority has appeared. For this development a written language is not required, but necessarily the earliest known legal codes are those of literate societies. Examples of early law systems are to be found in the code of Hammurabi (Babylonia), the Laws of Manu (India), and the Mosaic code (Palestine). These codes show what would seem to be the universal tendency of the religious and ethical system of a society to produce a legal order to enforce its ethical and social mandates. In classical antiquity the first codes of law are those attributed to Solon and to Lycurgus.

Roman Law and Its Influence

The first law code in Roman history was the Law of the Twelve Tables, the prelude to the development of Roman law, a highly elaborate system that has had immeasurable influence on the growth of Western law. It was summarized in the Corpus Juris Civilis in the time of Justinian. Roman law developed the distinction between public law (in which the state is concerned directly, e.g., treason and taxation) and private law (concerned with disputes between persons, e.g., over contracts).

The breakup of the Roman Empire under the pressure of the Germanic invasions brought the disruption of the Roman legal administration. Temporarily the codes of Germanic laws eclipsed Roman law in Western Europe. In the simpler Germanic codes the main distinctive element was the use of composition for crimes, but most of the Germanic codes showed at least some Roman influence.

Roman law, together with the Bible, was the basis of canon law, the legal system of the Roman Catholic Church, while Muslim law was derived from the Qur'an and the traditional sayings of Muhammad, and later Hebrew law was based on the Talmud. Feudal law also showed the effects of Roman law, although in theory it was based not upon any concept of the state but on personal relations (see feudalism).

The revival of trade in the commercial revolution, and in the Renaissance brought new developments in the law of the sea (see maritime law). The study of Roman law itself was also revived, notably at the Univ. of Bologna. It became the basis of most Continental law, as exemplified in the French Code Napoléon, the archetype of codes that govern the jurisdiction of civil law.

Anglo-American Law

In England after the Norman Conquest the feudal law was ultimately replaced by the law of the royal courts, such as the king's bench. The royal courts developed common law, i.e., judicial legislation as opposed to the law of the formally enacted statute. Common law adhered excessively to precedent, and equity, exercised by the king's chancery, appeared, with its reliance upon the dictates of conscience rather than upon precedent.

The two systems became bitter rivals. In the early 17th cent. Francis Bacon championed equity, while such eminent jurists as Edward Coke upheld the common law. In the 18th cent. English jurisprudence stressed natural law (the theory that law must incorporate the natural rights of humans), and the highly influential work of Sir William Blackstone exemplifies the theory.

The work of Blackstone was the most important influence in U.S. law (except for Louisiana, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, where Continental civil law prevailed). Among those who helped to develop the American concept of law were James Kent and Joseph Story; in constitutional law the most important figure was John Marshall. In the United States the distinctive feature is the coexistence of federal and state law, for the U.S. Constitution limits the sphere in which federal law is supreme.


See H. L. A. Hart, The Concept of Law (1961); R. A. Wormser, The Story of the Law and the Men Who Made It (rev. ed. 1962); R. David, Major Legal Systems in the World Today (tr. 1968).

In law, an abstract is a brief statement that contains the most important points of a long legal document or of several related legal papers.

Abstract of title

The Abstract of Title, used in real estate transactions, is the more common form of abstract. An abstract of title lists all the owners of a piece of land, a house, or a building before it came into possession of the present owner. The abstract also records all deeds, wills, mortgages, and other documents that affect ownership of the property. An abstract describes a chain of transfers from owner to owner and any agreements by former owners that are binding on later owners.

Clear Title

A Clear Title to property is one that clearly states any obligation in the deed to the property. It reveals no breaks in the chain of legal ownership. After the records of the property have been traced and the title has been found clear, it is sometimes guaranteed, or insured. In a few states, a more efficient system of insuring title real properties provides for registration of a clear title with public authorities. After this is accomplished, no abstract of title is necessary.

Patent law

In the context of patent law and specifically in prior art searches, searching through abstracts is a common way to find relevant prior art document to question to novelty or inventive step (or non-obviousness in United States patent law) of an invention. Under United States patent law, the abstract may be called "Abstract of the Disclosure".

Administrative process

Certain government bureaucracies, such as a department of motor vehicles will issue an abstract of a completed transaction or an updated record intended to serve as a proof of compliance with some administrative requirement. This is often done in advance of the update of reporting databases and/or the issuance of official documents.



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