Jewels in Her Crown: Treasures of Columbia University Libraries Special Collections

Exhibition Themes > Law > 180. William Samuel Johnson

180.  William Samuel Johnson (1795-1883).  Litchfield notebook of law lecture courses. Manuscript on paper. Litchfield, Connecticut, 1817. Arthur W. Diamond Law Library, Special Collections, Johnson Collection

The Litchfield Law School, established by Tapping Reeve in Litchfield, Connecticut, was the first law school in America. From its opening in 1774, the school trained more than 1,000 students before it closed in 1833. The course of instruction included lectures by Reeve, a graduate of Princeton College, and moot court sessions. Students transcribed Reeve's lectures into notebooks like this, which would later serve as useful reference works in the law office.

William Samuel Johnson (not the first president of Columbia College, but related to that family) received his A.B. from Union College (Schenectady, N.Y.) in 1816 after which he read law at the Litchfield Law School. He began his practice in New York City and was later elected to the N.Y. State Senate in 1848, representing the sixth district in Manhattan.

Gift of William Samuel Johnson

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