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In 1786, legal reform activist Benjamin Austin undertook a campaign to promote the use of arbitration over litigation as the primary method of dispute resolution in Massachusetts. Although supported by a groundswell of anti-lawyer sentiment, Austin ultimately failed in securing the triumph of arbitration. Exploring Austin's pamphlet campaign in its historical context not only provides us with a snapshot of the arguments for and against dispute resolution in early America, but also serves as a corrective to the prevailing accounts of arbitration in American legal history. This article explores the context and content of Austin's pamphlet campaign and its implications for understanding the role of arbitration in early American law in five parts.



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