Litchfield County Bar Association Journal
The Litchfield County Bar Association is celebrating Law Day today with a reception at the Litchfield History Museum. The Society holds the Litchfield County Bar Association Records, 1793-1886 in the Helga J. Ingraham Memorial Library. This single volume record book contains various information pertaining to the Litchfield County Bar Association. The first entry is dated December 1796. The volume includes entries by various secretaries documenting rules for admission to practice, resolves, and fees. Adonijah Strong is the first party listed as Chairman, and Frederick Wolcott the first as Clerk of the Bar. It establishes a fee schedule for the Court of Common Pleas and the Superior Court. It provides listings of students studying for the bar at the Litchfield Law School and reading law with various attorneys. It also notes when particular students have completed their studies. Several Litchfield Law School students held the Secretary’s position and kept the minutes. The volume ends in 1886. It has been a valuable resource for providing citations of attendance for many law school students. Images of the pages will soon be available in The Ledger.
It is well known that graduates of the Litchfield Law School figured prominently in national politics during the Civil War era. Vice President John C. Calhoun was an early proponent of secession. He may have been influenced by talk of New England secession during his time in Litchfield. Eugenius Aristedes Nisbet wrote the articles of secession for the state of Georgia. Earlier still, law school graduates including William Holabird, U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and Roger Sherman Baldwin participated on the prosecution and defense of the Amistad captors. Lawyer, minister and humorist Augustus Baldwin Longstreet was a staunch defender of slavery.
Today, during the course of research for the new Litchfield Female Academy and Litchfield Law School student database announced in our latest newsletter, researcher Lynne Brickley discovered an amazing, and previously unknown, connection to Abraham Lincoln. Litchfield student Judge John Pitcher advised a youthful Lincoln about the practice of law, gave him advice, and lent him books including two copies of Blackstone’s Commentary in which Lincoln is said to have penned his name.
The staff is excited to learn of this further evidence of the Law School’s national significance, and will continue to research the connection.