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TO THE PRESENT EDITION.
At the time when this Work was commenced, Mr. Ballantine's "Treatise on the Statute of Limitations," was the only Book of the kind; but that, although deservedly esteemed as a valuable Publication, had been rendered partially inaccurate, by Decisions made in the English Courts, since it was written, modifying and altering in some essential particulars, what had previously been considered as the settled construction of the Law on that subject. Of the various important Decisions of the American Courts, upon the Limitation of Actions, it was believed that no collection or arrangement had been attempted.
The advantage to be derived from a knowledge of recent English Adjudications, is too obvious to require any remark; nor can the peculiar importance of the American Authorities, to Practitioners in the Courts of this Country, be a matter of doubt and as the Editor of this Edition had been taught by actual experience, how great an expense of time and labour, was incurred, in searching through nearly three hundred Volumes, to extract the Law on this subject, he was induced to believe that a new Edition of Mr. Ballantine's Treatise, with notes of the Decisions made by the English Courts since that Treatise was written, together with notes of the Decisions, made in all those of the United States, which have caused the Proceedings of their Courts to be reported, would not be considered by his brethren of the Bar, as either useless or unacceptable.
Under these impressions, the preparation of the following pages for the Press, was commenced; after considerable progress had been made in the Work, it was understood that a Gentleman in one of the Eastern States, already favourably known as an Author, had it in contemplation to publish a Volume on
the same subject; the work in question is now out; but from a cursory examination, it is not supposed, that it will render the present Edition useless, especially in the State of NewYork.
The Authorities cited in the following pages have been gleaned from a large collection of Books, of which but a few, comparatively speaking, are to be found in common Libraries; for this reason, therefore, as well as from a desire to adduce the most satisfactory Authority for the positions which he has advanced, the Editor has preferred, wherever it was practicable, to give the Opinions of the Courts in their own words, rather than in his: and for the like reason the name of the Judge delivering the Opinion cited, and whether such were the Opinion of the Court, or merely that of the Judge individually, have usually been mentioned: so that in case of any conflicting Decisions, the Reader may be enabled, for himself, to scan the relative weight of the Authorities.
With a view of rendering the Decisions in the different Courts more readily intelligible, a Summary of the Statutes of the United States, and of the several States, limiting the time of commencing Suits, has been prepared and inserted in the Appendix. A Digest of the several English Statutes of Limitations, arranged in the order of time in which they were respectively enacted, has also been added.
Of the Statutes of Limitations of the State of New-York, only the first Acts passed after the American Revolution, together with those of the Colonial Government, have been digested; The Statutes of Limitation now in force, have been inserted at Large; But, as the Revised Statutes, will go into operation on the first day of January next, it was deemed advisable to give them, also, Verbatim although they had not yet been published, the kindness of Benjamin F. Butler, Esq., one of the Revisers, enabled the Editor to lay them before his Readers; for that, as well as for some valuable suggestions, with which he was favoured by that Gentleman in the progress of the Work, the Editor gladly avails himself of this opportunity, to express his grateful acknowledgments.
From the difficulty, which was experienced, in some cases, of adapting the notes of American Decisions to the order observed in the 'Text, it has been impracticable to arrange them, in every instance, with the same accuracy of Method, that might have been pursued in a work entirely original; so far, however, as this difficulty existed, it has been attempted to be obviated by a copious Index.
For the purpose of facilitating and preserving uniformity in references, the present Edition has been paged to correspond with one formerly published; and in addition to the usual Tables of Contents, and of Cases cited, there are also inserted for the convenience of Readers, a Table of the Abbreviations used in the following pages, and a Table of the Reports and Authorities consulted and cited, shewing the periods of time respectively embraced by them, and specifying the Courts whose Decisions they contain.
As this Work is merely a Compilation, the Editor can claim no other merit, or expect no other approbation, than such as belongs to a patient and careful investigation of the subject upon which he has written, and a faithful and complete collection of all the Decisions which he could find relating thereto. It is not presumed that perfection has been attained; but, considering the multiplicity and variety of cases, which have been consulted and cited, it is hoped, that there will not be found in this Edition, more errors than are usual in works of the kind.
Should this Compilation answer its intended purpose, of assisting the progress of the Student, and of saving the time, and abridging the labours of Practictioners in a useful and honourable Profession, the Editor will enjoy the satisfactory assurance, that his own time and labour have not been bestowed in vain.
Albany July, 1829.