Thomas Jefferson Papers

Joseph Story to Thomas Jefferson, 25 May 1816

From Joseph Story

Salem. Massachusetts. May 25. 1816.


I beg your acceptance of the enclosed Sketch of the life & character of Mr Dexter—It is a hasty composition, but, I trust, it will receive your indulgent consideration, as a token of the gratitude & respect, with which

I have the honour to be Your very obliged & obedient Sert

Joseph Story

RC (MHi); at foot of text: “The Honorable Thomas Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received 4 June 1816 and so recorded in SJL. RC (DLC); address cover only; with PoC of TJ to Peter Derieux, 27 July 1816, on verso; addressed (trimmed): “The Honorable Thomas [. . .] Mo[. . .].” Enclosure: Story, Sketch of the Life of Samuel Dexter, LL. D. (Boston, 1816; Poor, Jefferson’s Library description begins Nathaniel P. Poor, Catalogue. President Jefferson’s Library, 1829 description ends , 5 [no. 163]).

Joseph Story (1779–1845), jurist, legal scholar, and educator, was a native of Marblehead, Massachusetts. He graduated from Harvard University in 1798, studied law, joined the bar in 1801, and established his legal practice in Salem, Massachusetts. Story declined TJ’s appointment in 1803 as naval officer for Salem and Beverley, Massachusetts. He was in the state House of Representatives, 1805–08, and again in 1811, when he served as Speaker. As a member of the United States House of Representatives, 1808–09, Story adamantly opposed the Embargo Act of 1807, and TJ credited its repeal to his influence. President James Madison nominated Story to the United States Supreme Court in 1811 despite TJ’s opposition. He took his seat on 3 Feb. 1812 as the youngest person ever appointed to the court and served until his death. A strong supporter of Chief Justice John Marshall, Story opposed states’ rights and supported interpretations of the United States Constitution that strengthened and expanded the power of the federal government. In 1829 Story accepted the position of Dane Professor of Law at Harvard, which he also served as overseer, 1818–25, and fellow, 1825–45. During his tenure attendance at the law school increased dramatically, as did its prestige. Story was a member of the Massachusetts Historical Society, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and, from 1844, a member of the American Philosophical Society. His many scholarly publications included a series of influential treatises on technical legal subjects, with the Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, 3 vols. (1833), being among the most important (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ; R. Kent Newmyer, Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story: Statesman of the Old Republic [1985]; Story, Miscellaneous Writings, Literary, Critical, Juridical, and Political [1835]; William W. Story, ed., Life and Letters of Joseph Story, 2 vols. [1851]; Harvard Catalogue description begins Harvard University Quinquennial Catalogue of the Officers and Graduates, 1636–1925, 1925 description ends , 120, 181; JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States description ends , 1:441, 446, 453, 2:189, 190 [4 Feb., 1 Mar., 11 Nov. 1803, 15, 18 Nov. 1811]; Story to TJ, 14 Jan. 1806 [MHi]; TJ to Henry Dearborn, 16 July 1810; TJ to Madison, 15 Oct. 1810; APS description begins American Philosophical Society description ends , Proceedings 4 [1844]: 37–9; Boston Daily Atlas, 12 Sept. 1845; Washington Daily National Intelligencer, 15 Sept. 1845).

Index Entries

  • American Philosophical Society; members of search
  • books; biographical search
  • Dexter, Samuel; biography of search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; works sent to search
  • Sketch of the Life of Samuel Dexter, LL. D. (J. Story) search
  • Story, Joseph; identified search
  • Story, Joseph; letter from search
  • Story, Joseph; Sketch of the Life of Samuel Dexter, LL. D. search