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Chapter 6: Law School.—September, 1831, to December, 1833.—Age, 20-22.

Sumner joined the Law School of Harvard University, Sept. 1, 1831.1 This school grew out of the Royall Professorship of Law, which was established in 1815. It was organized as a distinct department two years later; but its vigorous life began in 1829, with the appointment of Judge Story and John H. Ashmun as professors. The character of Story as jurist and teacher, his immense learning, copious speech, great enthusiasm, and kindly interest in students have been often commemorated.2 Ashmun was remarkable for his acumen and logical method; and the two professors were well mated. At that time the method of teaching was, not only to illustrate the topic of study by decided or supposed cases, and to comment upon and criticise the text-book, but also to examine most of the students quite closely upon the lesson of the day. The exercise was a recitation rather than a lecture,—a mode of instruction which becomes inconvenient when a professional school is largely attended.

Professor Ashmun was the sole instructor when Judge Story was absent on judicial duty at Washington, or on his circuit. His service as teacher was cut short by his death, April 1, 1833. Sumner alone was with him when he died, his sole watcher for the night.3 He afterwards collected the funds for a monument to his teacher, and revised his manuscripts for posthumous publication in the ‘American Jurist.’ He was admitted to the professor's

1 Sumner was the author of two sketches of the Law School,—one, an article in the ‘American Jurist,’ Jan., 1835. Vol. XIII. pp. 107-130; and the other, ‘A Report of the Committee of Overseers,’ Feb., 1850. Works, Vol. II. pp. 377-392. Another history of the school, by Professor Emory Washburn, may be found in ‘The Harvard Book,’ Vol. I. pp. 223-231.

2 Judge Story's method as a teacher is described in his ‘Life and Letters,’ edited by his son, Vol. II. pp. 35-39.

3 Judge Story's funeral discourse on Professor Ashmun was printed in the ‘American Jurist,’ July, 1833, Vol. X. pp. 40-52. An extract is copied in Story's ‘Life and Letters,’ Vol. II. pp. 143-148. Sumner was ‘the interesting friend’ referred to in the discourse.

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