Friday, January 29, 2016

Maxeiner on a Transtlantic German Legal Scholar

James R. Maxeiner, University of Baltimore School of Law, has posted
two articles on J.L. Tellkampf, a legal scholar who already in 1841 in an important series of articles in the America Jurist pointed the way to a modern American legal system as one where codifying and systematizing would lead common law.

Supported by Justice Joseph Story, poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and famous naturalist Alexander von Humboldt, he was a professor at Columbia College and at Union College. His research into prison discipline paralleled that of Alexis de Tocqueville. He was a founder of what is now the Correctional Association of New York. Francis Lieber found him a rival. In New York Tellkampf worked with “Young Americans” such as the codifiers of the New York Revised Statutes and David Dudley Field. He knew the poet Poe and other lead Young Americans. He supported reform and criticized past practice.

Before coming to the U.S. in 1838, Tellkampf was a young supporter of modern constitutionalism in Germany and a colleague of the Brothers Grimm at the University of Göttingen. Upon his return to Germany he was a member of the Frankfurt Parliament of 1848 and of its all important constitutional committee and an advocate of American practices.

The article J.L. Tellkampf: German Legal Scientist in the U.S. 1838-1847 in an Age of Reform [forthcoming in volume 50 of the Yearbook of the Society of German American Legal Studies (2016)] is about Tellkampf’s life in the United States and the mixed reception he received here in his pursuit of legal scholarship. The article The First Humboldtian Research Trip into the Polis: J.L. Tellkampf in the United States 1838-1847 is about his research into legal methods, codification, currency backing and prison discipline.