Page:Democracy in America (Reeve, v. 1).djvu/331

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grandeur and luxury of their establishments. From this order it was that the King usually chose his councillors of state[1].

In the United States, the principal clauses of the English law respecting descent have been universally rejected. The first rule that we follow, says Mr. Kent, touching inheritance, is the following: If a man dies intestate, his property goes to his heirs in a direct line. If he has but one heir or heiress, he or she succeeds to the whole. If there are several heirs of the same degree, they divide the inheritance equally amongst them, without distinction of sex.

This rule was prescribed for the first time in the State of New York by a statute of the 23rd of February, 1786. {See Revised Statutes, vol. iii., Appendix, p. 48.) It has since then been adopted in the revised statutes of the same State. At the present day this law holds good throughout the whole of the United States, with the exception of the State of Vermont, where the male heir inherits a double portion: Kent's Commentaries, vol. iv. p. 370. Mr. Kent, in the same work, vol. iv. p. 1—22, gives an historical account of American legislation on the subject of entail: by this we learn that previous to the revolution the colonies followed the English law of entail. Estates tail were abolished in Virginia in 1776, on a motion of Mr. Jefferson. They were suppressed in New York in 1786; and have since been abolished in North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and Missouri. In Vermont, Indiana, Illinois, South Carolina, and Louisiana, entail was never introduced. Those States which thought proper to preserve the English law of entail, modified it in such a way as to deprive it of

  1. This passage is extracted and translated from M. Conseil's work upon the Life of Jefferson, entitled “Mélanges Politiques et Philosophiques de Jefferson.”