Exploring the Federal Arbitration Act through the Lens of History

Imre Stephen Szalai

The United States Arbitration Act (known today as the Federal Arbitration Act, or FAA) is a relatively short and deceptively cryptic statute. The heart of the statute, section 2, is one sentence, and this key provision simply declares that arbitration agreements are generally “valid, irrevocable, and enforceable.” There is not much traditional legislative history surrounding this statute because much of the development of the bill that became the FAA occurred through organizations outside of Congress, like the American Bar Association and the New York Chamber of Commerce.3 As a result, to understand the FAA at a deeper level, it is helpful to examine the broader history and context surrounding the FAA’s enactment.

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