The Importance of Understanding the History of Legal and Political Organs

The Importance of Understanding the History of Legal and Political Organs

Friedrich Nietzsche’s statement implies that despite one mastering the importance of an organ, they do not gain anything about its origin. Only by understanding the history of an organ can an individual fully grasp its usefulness. The history of laws and political systems help individuals understand the origin of the law and how it has evolved over time. Laws are not constant and are thus prone to changes; therefore, by studying the origin of a particular law, its metamorphosis can be understood. Legal history, for example, helps understand and shape the government by looking at what has been done in the past and what needs to be done in the future. Therefore, it is a guide to questions regarding duty and morality. For example, American hearsay rule originated in Britain and was introduced in the country by European immigrants (Rabban 40).

Legal history shows connections between two nations. For example, most of American earlier laws derived from European countries, especially Britain. It happened because America was a British colony from the late 16th century to the mid-18th century (Rabban 31). As a result, America adopted some laws from its colonizer. For example, nine out of the twenty-six Bills of Rights of the United States derive from the Magna Carta, seven are borrowed from the English Petition of Rights, and six find their roots in the English Bill of Rights (Grossberg and Christopher 17). Thus 22 out of 26 rights in the American Bill of Rights have British origin. The origin of the laws can thus explain the White supremacy in the United States.

The Magna Carta is a 13th century charter from England (Grossberg and Christopher 22). In the face of an oppressive ruler, people used the charter to advocate for their rights. In the 18th century, Americans adopted the charter because it signified their freedom from their British colonizers. The reassertion of rights, as presented in the Magna Carta, provided citizens with immunities and protections from their colonizer. Some of the rights included the right to justice, the right to the fast and fair trial, and protection against unjust punishment and loss of life, property, and liberty. Such rights are still applied in the current legal systems and form the foundation which most laws are based on.

Understanding the history of an organ also helps in understanding how a law is crafted; for example, the equal voting rights in America can be traced to Selma (Rabban 107). African American Activists campaigned through bloody protests to ensure that people of all races, especially those of African descent, could vote. As a result, African Americans gained the right to vote. For instance, they significantly contributed to the election of the first African American president —Barack Obama— in the history of America. The current political system in America is democratic. Prior to the adoption of this system, America was a British protectorate. However, Americans attained their freedom from British colonization during the 18th century (Rabban 80). Consequently, democracy reigned in America but slavery persisted, as slaves were not considered citizens. Upon their emancipation, slaves were granted citizenships but were not treated as equals. The rights were equal but separate, which led to the emergence of a selective democracy that fostered White supremacy. In 1965, African Americans were allowed to participate in voting (Rabban 89). This can be said to be the point at which America achieved total democracy because prior to 1965 democracy was skewed towards the white population. The history of American political systems is felt in the laws and regulations in the country as each era contributed to the creation and amendment of various laws. The history of legal and political systems is important in understanding the status of these systems and institutions.

Legal history is becoming a less important branch of the legal system and less relevant to a student’s needs which should not be the case as it is the basis for the study of legal changes. Law is not a body of randomly changing rules; therefore, its rules must be an important dimension of study. Just like societies, laws change over time. The study of legal history provides a platform through which laws can be changed overtime. By looking at the legal and political history of a country, policy makers can critically identify areas that require changes and improvements to make adaptations.

In conclusion, the history of an organ provides a continuing chain through which new interpretations and adjustments can be made. History is important to the legal and political systems as it provides a progress report through which a country can gauge its performance in the legal and political arena. After gauging its performance, the country can make appropriate changes where necessary. The history of laws and political systems help people fully understand the origin of the law and its evolution. The reassertion of rights can give citizens vitally important immunities from their colonizers.


Works Cited

Grossberg, Michael, and Christopher L. Tomlins. The Cambridge History of Law in America.

Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. On the Genealogy of Morals. n.d.

Rabban, David M. Law’s History: American Legal Thought and the Transatlantic Turn to

            History, 2013.