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Dictionary of the History of Ideas

Studies of Selected Pivotal Ideas
170 occurrences of ideology
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170 occurrences of ideology
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V

The American colonists lost no love on the King's
courts or the King's conscience. Remembering the
oppression suffered at the hands of some judges follow-
ing the Restoration, and that equity was somehow
associated with royal prerogative, they looked with
more favor on the law of the Hebrew Scriptures than
on the common law and equity of England. Thus, when
the Constitution of the United States was framed, it
provided for a single system of federal courts, with
power as to both law and equity; and some states also
adopted this pattern. However, this did not mean the
fusion of the two systems of law. It only meant that
at times the court sat as a court of law and at times
as a court of equity. But this device, adopted in part
because it was more economical than two separate
courts, could not but contribute in time toward a
fusion. Some states set up entirely separate courts of
equity and of law. New York State in 1848 broke new
ground by adopting the code drafted by David Dudley
Field, which effectively merged the two systems. In
1938 the federal courts adopted the essentials of the
Field Code, and in 1948 New Jersey, by then the only
state with a Court of Chancery, also effected a merger
of the separate courts. The right to equitable relief,
however, is still based on the inadequacy of “legal”
relief; equity's principles, maxims, and precedents re-
main relevant.