Rantoul, Robert, Jr. (West's Encyclopedia of American Law)
Robert Rantoul Jr. was a Massachusetts attorney who served in various state and federal offices during his brief life. He is best remembered, however, for his denunciations of the common-law tradition, for his leadership in the CODIFICATION movement, and for his defense of LABOR UNIONS.
Rantoul was born on August 13, 1805, in Beverly, Massachusetts. He attended private schools before enrolling at Harvard University. He was admitted to the Massachusetts bar and practiced law in Salem.
Rantoul served in the Massachusetts legislature for several terms before becoming U.S. attorney for the district of Massachusetts. He was briefly a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives in the late 1840s. In 1851 he was elected to serve the last year of a term as U.S. senator.
Rantoul's congressional service was short but distinguished. He opposed the FUGITIVE SLAVE ACT OF 1850 and supported the expansion of railroads to the western territories. The town of Rantoul, Illinois, was named in his honor for his railroad legislation.
Nevertheless, Rantoul's importance lies in his critique of the common-law tradition and his call for the codification of all law by the legislature. The codification movement, of which Rantoul was a prominent spokesperson, attacked the COMMON LAW as unsuitable for a democratic republic. Randolph believed...
(The entire section is 668 words.)
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