Independence Day and Arbitration


Adjunct Professor George Friedman wrote a blog post about the relationship between the U.S. founders and arbitration.

Our Founders and Arbitration


As we approach Independence Day, I am inspired to compose a blog post on the often-surprising relationships between our nation’s founders and arbitration. OK, the smash Broadway hit Hamilton also played a role. Either way, although America’s founders came from diverse political and socioeconomic backgrounds, some[1]seemed to like arbitration. Below I’ve collected some snippets on a few well-known signers of the Declaration of Independence, and some famous non-signer patriots. For example, who knew that in 1733 a dispute over the construction of what was to become Independence Hall in Philadelphia was submitted to arbitration?


Attorney, signer, and future President Thomas Jefferson in 1771 represented a litigant in Bolling v. Bolling, a dispute over a Will.Apparently, the case was so complex that the parties submitted it to arbitration.


I couldn’t find John Hancock’s views on arbitration, but his namesake life insurance company uses an arbitration clause in its policies.


During the period after the Revolutionary War and prior to Washington’s inauguration, Samuel Adams urged that every treaty entered into by the new country contain an international arbitration clause.[2]


Ben Franklin’s biography states “He was also much consulted by private persons about their affairs when any difficulty occurred, and frequently chosen an arbitrator between contending parties.”

In early 2016, I said the ADR views of our next president were hard to predict given the number of candidates. That’s no longer the case: President Trump is decidedly pro-arbitration! Why do I say that? As I’ve blogged before,[7]President Trump believes in arbitration and used the process often as a businessman. For example, in 2012, he won $5 millionin a dispute with a former Miss USA contestant who defamed the pageant, which he owned. President Trump in 2015 filed an arbitration claim against NBC after the network cancelled a contract to televise the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants. He also won an Internet domain name arbitration back in 2010. And according to the Indisputably blog that even Mr. Trump’s agreement with campaign volunteershad a predispute arbitration agreement (“PDAA”) giving the campaign the unilateral right to require arbitration of disputes.

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