What is MAXIM?

An established principle or proposition. A principle of law universally admitted, as being a correct statement of the law, or as agreeable to natural reason. Coke defines a maxim to be “conclusion of reason,” and says that it is so called “quia maxima ejus dignitas et certissima auctorir tas, et quod maxime omnibus probetur.” Co. Litt. llo. He says in another place: “A maxime is a proposition to be of all men confessed and granted without proof, argument, or discourse.” Id. 67o. The maxims of the law, in Latin, French, and English, will be found distributed through this book In their proper alphabetical order. Maxime paci sunt contraria vis et injuria. The greatest enemies to peace are force and wrong. Co. Litt. 1616. Maximus erroris populus magister. Bacon. The people is the greatest master of error. “MAY,” in the construction of public statutes, is to be construed “must” in all cases where the legislature mean to impose a positive and absolute duty, and not merely to give a discretionary power. Minor v. Mechanics’ Bank, 1 Pet. 415, 64, 7 L. Ed. 47; New York v. Furze, 3 Hill (N. Y.) 612, 615.

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