Book Talk: The Litchfield Law School: Guiding the New Nation

September 24, 2019

Please join the Lillian Goldman Law Library for a book talk with Paul DeForest Hicks and commentary by Mike Widener, Rare Book Librarian. They will discuss Mr. Hicks’ new book, The Litchfield Law School: Guiding the New Nation.

The event will take place on Thursday, September 26, 2019 at 2:10-3:00pm in SLB 127.

We also invite you to attend an Open House in the Rare Book Room from 3:10-4:00pm showcasing the Litchfield Law School Student Notebooks. 

In this well-researched and engaging book, Paul DeForest Hicks makes a convincing case that the Litchfield Law School provided the most innovative and successful legal education program in the country for almost fifty years (1784-1833). A recent history of the Harvard Law School acknowledged, “In retrospect, both Harvard and Yale have envied Litchfield’s success and wished to claim it as their ancestor.”

Upwards of twelve hundred bright and ambitious students came from all over the country to study law at Litchfield with Tapping Reeve and James Gould, who took a national rather than state perspective in their lectures on the evolving principles of American common law.

In every year from 1791 to 1860, there were law school alumni, including Aaron Burr and John C. Calhoun, who served at high levels in the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the federal and state governments. Hicks gives fascinating details about many who succeeded as lawyers and in public office but also in the fields of business, finance, education, art, and the military. Whether they practiced law or pursued other careers, their collective achievements continued to enhance the prestige of the Litchfield Law School long after it closed.

Paul DeForest Hicks is a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law Schools and former Managing Director of J.P. Morgan.

Mike Widener is Rare Books Librarian and Lecturer in Legal Research, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School

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