Monday, April 29, 2013

Recent acquisition: Joseph Story letter on bankruptcy law

This exciting acquisition is a letter from Joseph Story, the influential Harvard Law professor and legal scholar who served as an associate justice on the United States Supreme Court from 1812 until his death in 1845.  Story penned this letter to one William Tudor, Esq. in the midst of his tenure on the Supreme Court. 

The contents show a rare glimpse into the opinion of an active Supreme Court justice on a matter before the U.S. Congress.  Story was a longtime supporter of federal bankruptcy legislation.  The first federal Bankruptcy Act, adopted in 1800, had been repealed in 1803. When this letter was written, Congress was considering a new bankruptcy bill, which Story clearly supported.  His correspondent, William Tudor, had asked for Story's support in securing a position as a Commissioner of Bankruptcy under the new legislation, if passed.  Story voices his support while noting that it's unclear who would have the power to make the appointment--the executive or the judiciary.  In the end, the law that was the subject of the letter failed to pass, but another one that Story actually helped draft was ultimately passed by Congress in 1841.  

The other pages of the letter are featured on our Facebook page.  Those interested in Justice Story and his writings would enjoy visiting the beautiful digital suite on Story created by the special collections staff at the Harvard Law Library.  

No comments:

Post a Comment