American Legal History

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AndrewMcCormickProject 28 - 18 Mar 2010 - Main.AndrewMcCormick
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-- AndrewMcCormick - 13 Nov 2009
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 5. Character, Fitness, Race, and Gender. A very short comment.
6. Partially Integrated/Otherwise Interesting sources.
6. Other Interesting Sources and The New York Historical Society.
 7. Sidebar of Related Projects.
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Partially Integrated/Otherwise Interesting sources


Other Interesting Sources and the New York Historical Society

 Gawalt. The Promise of Power: The Emergence of the Legal Profession in Mass. 1760-1840
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 Lefler, Hugh Talmage. 1956. North Carolina History told by contemporaries. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.
The New York Historical Society

I spent a day at the New York Historical Society, digging through manuscripts with a view to finding information on early legal education in New York and related character matters. Unfortunately, they will not allow me to use their book scanner, so I have included bibliographic notes, some (non-comprehensive) summary, and interesting quotations for three documents.

I might add that for those interested, the Historical Society’s museum library is easy to use, convenient to get to, and free. One can go from a general topic idea to reading original documents very quickly.

Methods of legal education in the state of New York : a paper read before the State Bar Association at its annual meeting held at Albany, N.Y., January 17, 1899 • Author/Creator: Clarence D. Ashley (Clarence Degrand), 1851-1916. • Publisher: New York City[?] • Publication Date: 1899 • Description: 16 p. ; 24 cm..

In this speech before the Bar in 1899 Ashley discusses requiring “High School” Academic Regent’s diploma as a minimum before beginning study of law: “At present every youth who tires of the farm or the city counter, seeks to enter a profession because little capital is required…. And thus our profession becomes a general dumping ground, while good farmers or useful clerks become poor lawyers, or else waste valuable time and hard-earned money only to fail”

He forcefully advocates against apprenticeship and for three-year full time study (limiting access to upper classes, presumably.) Ashley then goes into his theory of legal education, and does not substantially touch on issues relevant to my project.

A lecture, introductory to a course of law lectures in Columbia College. Delivered February 2, 1824. • Author/Creator: James Kent 1763-1847. • Columbia College (New York, N.Y.) • Publisher: New York : The College • Publication Date: 1824 • Description: 23, [1] p. (last page blank) ; 20 cm..

He begins by discussing his purpose – to repay a debt to his profession by offering a strictly utilitarian value to legal education. He asserts that the legal profession plays a central role in life “protecting the rights, securing the property, and promoting the happiness of the people… our private rights depend upon the enlightened and faithful administration o fjustice; and the political liberties of the people are essentially concerned in the character of our laws, and the skill and judgment of those who make them.”

And in order to secure that order, Kent argues we need lawyers who are “properly instructed immoral science, and adorned with the accomplishment of various learning; he must not only have his passions controlled by the discipline of Christian truth…” and “knowledge alone is not sufficient for pure and lasting fame. It is mischievous, and even dangerous, unless it be regulated by moral principle.”

An introductory lecture, introductory to a course of law lectures in Columbia College. Delivered November 17, 1794. • Author/Creator: James Kent 1763-1847. • Columbia College (New York, N.Y.) • Publisher: Francis Childs • Publication Date: 1794

In this lecture, moral education was given shorter note than in his lecture to follow 30 years later. After discussing matters of law, history, and government essential to legal education, Kent offers that:

“The doctrines of Moral Philosophy for the foundation of Human Laws and must be deemed an essential part of Juridical Education. It is the business of this Science to examine the nature and moral character of Man, the relations he stand in to the Great Author of his being, and to his Fellow-Men; the duties, the rights and happiness resulting from those relations.”


Sidebar of Related Projects:

(1) The professionalization of legal practice and the varying element of public service in law

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