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Copyright (c) 1995 Kansas Law Review, Inc.
Kansas Law Review

ESSAY: Law in the Republican Classroom

Winter, 1995

43 Kan. L. Rev. 711


M.H. Hoeflich *


Increasingly, historians are coming to realize that the American Revolution was a revolution fought not only on the battlefield, but also in the hearts and the minds of the citizenry. 1 The Founding Fathers recognized that to secure the liberties and republican form of government proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence and institutionalized in the Constitution and Bill of Rights would require a widespread reorientation of public attitudes and beliefs. They, and the generations after them, used every tool available, from public spectacle and symbolism to propagandistic literature, to achieve this end.

Within this revolutionary zeitgeist, law enjoyed a prominent place of honor. The new government was a government of law and it was through law that each individual citizen was secure in his legally guaranteed liberties. There was no longer a monarch above the law. Instead, the members of the new republic's government were regulated by the law and the government itself was so constructed as to provide internal checks and balances created by law and which would guarantee the maintenance of law. Law was, in short, the framework within which the new republic functioned. Each individual citizen was both protected by the laws but also subject to the laws for the protection of others. In this context, knowledge of the law and obedience to the law were two of the highest virtues attainable by any citizen.

Given this paramount importance of the law in the new republic, it is not at all surprising that legal education was ...
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