Last Updated on October 9, 2021 by Constitutional Militia
William Blackstone: The Founding Fathers Preëminent Legal Mentor
William Blackstone was an English jurist, judge and politician of the eighteenth century. He is most noted for writing the Commentaries on the Laws of England, which was essentially a textbook that was just that—commentaries and analysis on the Laws of England. And inasmuch as “[a]t the time of the adoption of the Federal Constitution [Sir William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England] had been published about twenty years, and * * * more copies of the work had been sold in this country than in England; so that undoubtedly, the framers of the Constitution were familiar with it”, and considered it “the preëminent authority on English law”, every legally literate American was also aware of the general rule for statutory construction which Blackstone taught: namely, that
“[T]HE fairest and most rational method to interpret the will of the legislator, is by exploring his intentions at the time when the law was made, by signs the most natural and probable. And these signs are either the words, the context, the subject matter, the effects and consequence, or the spirit and reason of the law.”
So every such American knew that the proper constructions of the original Constitution and the Bill of Rights were to be found in WE THE PEOPLE’S “intentions at the time when the law was made”, to be deduced from what those documents themselves contained, explicitly and implicitly.