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The first edition of this Digest was published in 1838 and 1839. The general approbation of the work has been manifested by the sale of all the copies of a large edition; and a demand for this re-publication has been made in every part of the United States. A Digest of the Cases reported in the volumes of the reports of Mr. Sumner, Mr. Story, and the Hon. Mr. Justice M.Lean, of decisions in the Circuit Court; of the Hon. Judge Ware, and Mr. Gilpin, in the District and Admiralty Courts ; in nine volumes of Peters' Supreme Court, and five volumes of Howard's Reports; and the Decisions of the Supreme Court in 1847, contained in the fifth volume of Howard, are included in this work.
It has been the purpose of the Editor to exhibit the decisions of the Courts of the United States in such a form as to authorize the citation of the matters which the work contains, with the same confidence and certainty as would be obtained by the production of the original reports. To accomplish this, in almost every case, the language of the Court in giving the decisions has been faithfully extracted from the published reports.
In all other Digests, the object of the editors has been to support certain propositions by references to particular cases, and to collect the cases applicable to, or sustaining certain principles. Without desiring to impugn the value of such indexes to the published reports, or seeking to diminish their value, it is with confidence asserted that Digests in such forms are not authority in judicial proceedings, nor can they be relied upon in professional investigations.
The work now offered to the profession might with propriety be called, A Digest of Abstracts from the Reports of the Cases decided in the Federal Courts of the United States. The cases are reported in seventysix published volumes. The library of no professional gentleman in the United States contains all these reports. Their cost, if they could be purchased, would exceed three hundred and fifty dollars.
An enumeration of these works may be useful :
In the earnest hope that this work will be useful, it is respectfully submitted to the profession. It is intended to furnish to the bar of the United States full and accurate knowledge of the decisions of the Federal Courts of the United States, from the commencement of the government to 1847, inclusive; and thus to place in the possession of every lawyer in our country, a library of the Reports of the Decisions of the Courts of the Union.
It is proposed, although no pledge is given, to publish annually a Digest of the Decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States, accurately taken from the opinions of the Court in every case. This will, for some time, be furnished without charge to the purchasers of this work, on application to the booksellers who may dispose of it.
November 1, 1847.
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