In the nineteenth century, U.S. courts, like their counterparts in other countries, did not favor party recourse to arbitration. In most legal systems, courts were unwilling to surrender or share their adjudicatory authority with mere merchants who usually lacked any background in law. They rejected the idea that unqualified individuals could provide adjudicatory services. These judges also deemed arbitration to be a poor approximation of the judicial trial. Courts were generally unwilling to force parties to arbitrate, regardless of their agreement to resolve disputes through arbitration. In the words of Mr. Justice Story,
[w]hen [courts] are asked to...compel the parties to appoint arbitrators whose award shall be final, they necessarily pause to consider whether such tribunals possess adequate means of giving redress, and whether they have a right to compel a reluctant party to submit to such a tribunal, and to close against him the doors of the common courts of justice, provided by the government to protect rights and to redress wrongs.
Under early U.S. law, the legal validity of arbitration agreements was uncertain. The contract to arbitrate disputes did not become legally binding until the tribunal was ready to rule and the outcome of the litigation, for all intents and purposes, was known. Succinctly stated, the arbitration agreement became binding only once it had been completely performed.