During the greater part of the past hundred years the American lawschools enjoyed a spectacular success. The students, the professors, eventhe deans, shared a buoyant self-confidence, an ebullient enthusiasm, apervasive intellectual and spiritual euphoria. It is only during the pasttwenty years or so that we have begun to doubt, to question ourselves,to wonder whether, after all, we were on the right track. The selfconfidenceof our predecessors has given way to a disquieting intellectualdisarray. Various proposals have been put forward in the attempt torekindle the enthusiasm of the past in the service of new causes. Onesuch proposal, which has recently enlisted a considerable amount ofsupport, is that, abandoning the antihistorical bias which has characterizedmost American legal writing in this century, we should, at longlast, become historians and turn our energies to the reconstruction ofour long despised past. If indeed the study of law is to become a branchof the study of history, we will do well to give some thought to theproblem which the adoption of an historical approach-to law or anythingelse-poses in the declining years of the twentieth century
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