In 1820-1850 our courts felt in general a freedom and duty to move in the manner typified in our thought by Mansfield and Marshall. “Precedent” guided, but “principle” controlled; and nothing was good “Principle” which did not look like wisdom-in-result for the welfare of All-of-us. In 1880-1910, on the other hand, our courts felt in general a prime duty to order within the law and a duty to resist any “outside” influence. “Precedent” was to conrol, not merely to guide; “Principle” was to be tested by whether it made for order in the law, not by whether it made widom-in-result.
[I]t is plaint to see that the two earlier period-styles represent also two eternal types of human being. There is the man who loves creativeness, who can without loss of sleep combine risk-taking with responsibility, who sees and feels institutions as things built and to be built to serve functions, and who sees the functions as vital and law as a tool to be eternally reoriented to justice and to general welfare. There is the other man who loves order, who finds risk uncomfortable and has seen so much irresponsible or unwise innovation that responsibility to him means caution.
Karl Llewellyn, Remarks on the Theory of Appellate Decision