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Member: JosephStory

CollectionsYour library (105)


TagsLaw--Great Britain (48), Law--United States (22), Law reports (13), Roman law (10), Constitutional law (4), International law (4), Law--United States--Massachusetts (4), Commercial law (3), Civil law (3), United States--History (3) — see all tags

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About meI, Joseph Story, was born in 1779 in Marblehead, Massachusetts. After studying at Harvard and reading law under Samuel Sewell, Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, I was admitted to the bar in 1801 and went into practice in Salem. I served in the Massachusetts Legislature (1805-1808) and in the U.S. Congress (1808-1809). In 1811, President James Madison appointed me an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. At age 32, I was the youngest person ever named to the Court--a distinction I still hold two centuries later. I wrote some of the most significant decisions of the Marshall and Taney eras, including, for example, United States v. Schooner Amistad (1841). I continued to serve on the High Court until my death in 1845.

Unlike most of my colleagues wno considered the position of Justice to constitute full-time employment, I wrote prolifically. My commentaries on such subjects as conflicts of law, constitutional law, equity, bailments, and agency revolutionized both the study and the practice of law by systemstically organizing voluminous and unarranged case reports, analyzing them, and suggesting preferred rules. By incorporating the Roman law and modern civil law in which I had long been deeply interested, as well as American and English common law sources, I acquainted American lawyers with foreign legal ideas and with comparative approaches to law; thus I am regarded as America's first "global" legal scholar.

My greatest contribution to the legal profession may have been my sixteen years of service on the faculty of Harvard (1829-1845), where I essentially founded the university's Law School and influenced generations of law students. In 2004 I was described by legal historian Michael H. Hoeflich as "the dominant intellectual figure in antebellum American law."

About my libraryIn my day, the dearth of well-stocked public libraries forced lawyers and jurists--especially those who, like me, read on wide-ranging subjects--to assemble their own collections. Mine, rich not only in American and foreign law books but also in works of literature, history, language, theology, and other subjects, was considered one if the greatest. Although I received many of my books as presentation copies, I sought to purchase additions to my library wherever I went. I housed my working collection in a room next to my office at Harvard, where it was readily accessible to my colleagues and students. Whenever I consulted a book from my library, I meticulously returned it to its proper location on the shelf so that I could find it even in darkness.

After my death in 1845, my books were sold at two auctions, both in Boston, in 1846 (the larger and more significant sale) and 1856. The 1846 catalogue of my library reveals my interests, gives context to my writing, and constitutes a source of primary information on antebellum American legal history.


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Account typepublic, lifetime

URLs /profile/JosephStory (profile)
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Member sinceJul 28, 2011

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