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Bentham's central concern during the 1810s and 1820s was with the codification of the law. Rejecting both the common law and the historical approach to codification, he argued that a code of law should be based on a rigorous logical analysis of the categories of human action, and that each enactment should be followed by the reasons which justified it. Such an 'all-comprehensive' code containing an 'interwoven rationale' would signal a new era in legislation. Once one state had adopted such a code, other states would be obliged to follow its example, and Bentham would become in effect 'legislator of the world'
Bentham attempted to persuade legislative authorities in the United States of America, Russia, Spain, Portugal, Greece, South and Central America, and elsewhere, to invite him to draft a code of law for them. The works presented in this volume record in fascinating detail Bentham's dealings with such eminent figures as James Madison, John Quincy Adams, Emperor Alexander I, Prince Adam Czartoryski, Alexander Mavrokordatos, Bernadino Rivadavia, and Jose del Valle.
The production of a methodology for codification ranks as one of Bentham's outstanding theoretical achievements. Through the materials presented in this volume he emerges as a seminal figure in the development of liberalism throughout Europe and America in the early nineteenth century.