In an address to the North Carolina Bar Association in June 1920, Roscoe Pound, Dean of the Harvard Law School, contended that the views of nineteenth century pioneers and rural frontiersmen toward the common law were obstacles to the enactment of legislative reforms necessary for the administration of justice to an increasingly urban society. It is vintage Pound: historically grounded, insightful, provocative, well-written and still worth reading. This is an excerpt:
"Under the influence of the theory of natural rights and of the actual equality in pioneer society, American common law assumed that there were no classes and that normally men dealt with one another on equal terms and at arm's length; so that courts at the end of the nineteenth century were loath to admit, if they would admit at all, the validity of legislation which recognized the classes that do in fact exist in our industrial society and the inequality in point of fact that may exist in bargaining between them. It assumed also that every normal part of the community was zealous to maintain its rights and would take the initiative in doing so. Not a little friction has resulted from application of rules based upon this theoretical equality in communities divided into classes with divergent interests. A great deal of ineffectiveness has come from application of common-law principles, developed to an extreme in adapting them to pioneer communities, to elements of the city population which do not understand our individualism and our tenderness of individual liberty, and from reliance upon individual initiative in case of other elements which by instinct and training are suspicious of authority and of magistrates."
His address was published later that year in the "West Virginia Law Quarterly and the Bar."