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A System of Penal Law for the United States of America:...

Consisting of a Code of Crimes and Punishments; a Code of Procedure in Criminal Cases; a Code of Prison Discipline; and a Book of Definitions. Prepared and presented to the House of Representatives of the United States.

Availability: In stock

Published: Washington Printed by Gales & Seaton, 1828

Stock Code: 118857

OR On display in 100 Fulham Road


First and only edition of the American jurist's proposal for a national code of criminal procedure, presentation copy from the author to Judge Gershom Powers, who developed the "Auburn System" mode of prison discipline, with an accompanying hand-written note "Presented by Mr. Livingston to Mr. Powers, H. Reps" (House of Representatives). Livingston (1764-1836) began his political career as a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives in 1820, and went on to serve as Mayor of New York City, Senator for Louisiana, Secretary of State, and Minister to France, among other positions. It was while he was a member of the US House of Representatives for Louisiana that he completed the draft of his major revisions to the state's criminal system which became known as the "Livingston Code". Despite his best efforts, neither it, nor his later System of Penal Law, were enacted. Regardless, his work - which was heavily influenced by Bentham's writings - received praise for its emphasis on remedial methods such as prevention and rehabilitation, and they were reprinted in England, France, and Germany. OCLC locates only two physical copies in institutional holdings (British Library and Bibliothèque Cujas de droit et de sciences économiques in Paris).
Gershom Powers (1789-1831) was warden of Auburn prison in New York from 1820 to 1823, and later became the inspector in 1830. Powers and Livingston corresponded regarding the reform practices that the former was attempting to establish at Auburn, and he is best remembered for his involvement in implementing the silent "Auburn System" method of group working and solitary confinement.

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Folio (315 x 208 mm). Original buff card wrappers, spine hand lettered. Housed in a grey cloth-backed solander box, paper label to spine printed in black.


Spine creased, wrappers chipped with some loss to extremities and splitting to inner margin of front, dampstain to top edge and lower front wrappers, a little foxing to endpapers, edges chipped and creased, minor mark to p. 121, overall a very good copy.


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