Letter to a Recent Graduate
Among the Law School's collection of letters, manuscripts, and published works of Justice Joseph Story, Dane Professor of Law from 1829 to 1845, is a letter written March 26, 1832, from Story to Charles C. Convers, who graduated the year before. Story concludes the letter with words that could apply to today's graduates:
"I rejoice exceedingly to find you so thoroughly devoted to the Law. You are just beginning the profession; & I am sure you will live to witness the triumphs attained by science, over mere practical knowledge in this glorious department of human exertion. This will be a noble field for you; & the foundations laid by your persevering & exact studies will give you an incalculable vantage ground at the very onset. I shall take a lively interest in all your professional career, for next to the one discharge of my judicial duties, nothing is so near my heart as the anxious wish that the pupils of our Law School should rise to that eminence which their merits deserve; & which our feeble efforts may in any measure have induced to develop."
A selection of Story's letters is on display at the Harvard Law School Library's Caspersen Room through the end of July in an exhibit by David Ferris, HLS curator of rare books and manuscripts. The School's Joseph Story collection dates from 1796 to 1845, with most of the materials from the 1830s and 1840s.
Joseph Story from a painting by Alonzo Chappel.
Photograph courtesy of the HLS Art Collection