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Brookhaven Man Founder of First National Law School

January 2, 1964

 

Brookhaven Man Founder of First Natl. Law School

By Thomas R. Bayles


Brookhaven Man Founder of First National Law School
Tapping Reeve

Tapping Reeve was born in Brookhaven in October 1744, and was the son of the Rev. Abner Reeve, minister of the south Haven Presbyterian Church for several years.

            He graduated from Princeton in 1763 and in 1771 moved to Litchfield, Conn., and began the practice of law.  Judge Reeves was the first lawyer to give young men a regular course and complete legal education with lectures.  He founded at Litchfield the first law school in the United States, which he conducted alone until 1798, when he took in James Gould, and the two men constituted the faculty until Judge Reeve retired in 1820.  He was also judge of the Connecticut Superior Court from 1798 to 1814, and was the author of several important law books. 

            Judge Gould, his fellow teacher was born in Branford, Conn., in 1770.  His lectures on pleading were revised by him and published, and this classic placed him among the very best legal writers of those years.

            These two great lawyers, who were the first founders of a national law school in America, and laid one of the cornerstones in the foundation of true American patriotism, loyalty to the law.

            In 1820, when Judge Reeve retired, J.W. Huntington became associated with his partner Judge Gould, and they continued the law school until 1833, when it was given up.

            Between 1784 and 1798 there were 210 students in attendance; from 1798 to 1812, 264 students, and after that date 550 students. 

            Many of the students attained high positions: 16 became United States senators, five Cabinet officers, eight chief justices of states, two were chief justices of the United States Supreme Court, 10 were state governors, 50 members of Congress and 40 judges of state supreme courts.

            No catalog of the school was published until 1798, and the course was one of 14 months, with tuition $100 the first year and $60 the second year. 

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