On the settlement of the colonies now composing the United States, and the settlement of a legislature in each of them, that legislature, in some cases, finding that the enacting a complete code of laws which should reach every transaction needing legislation, would be far beyond their time and abilities, adopted, by an express act of their own, the laws of England as they stood at that date, comprehending the common law, statutes to that period, and the chancery law. In other cases, instead of adopting them by an express statute of their own, they considered themselves as having brought with them, and been, even on their passage, under the constant obligation of the laws of the mother country, and on their arrival they continued to practice them without any act of adoption, which practice or usage is evidence that there was an adoption by general consent. In the case of Connecticut, they did not adopt the common law of England at all as their basis, but declared by an act of their own, that the law of God, as it stood revealed in the Old and New Testaments, should be the basis of their laws, to be subject to such alterations as they should make. In all the cases where the common law, or laws of England, were adopted either expressly or tacitly, the legislatures held of course, and exercised the power of making additions and alterations. As the different States were settled at very different periods, and the adoption for each State was the laws of England as they stood at the moment of the adoption by the State, it is evident that the system as adopted in 1607 by Virginia, was one thing, as by Pennsylvania was another thing, as by Georgia, in 1759, was still a different one. And when to this is added the very diversified modifications of the adopted code, produced by the subsequent laws passed by the legislatures of the different States, the system of common law in force in any one State on the 24th of September, 1789, when Congress assumed the jurisdiction given them by the Constitution, was very different from the systems in force at the same moment in the several other States: that in all of these the common law was in force by virtue of the adoption of the State, express or tacit, and that it was not in force in Connecticut, because they had never adopted it.
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