Helen J. Knowles, SUNY Oswego, has posted Learning the Law in 1830s Massachusetts: The Contrasting Experiences of Wendell Phillips and Lysander Spooner:
Wendell Phillips (NYPL)
In the 1840s, Lysander Spooner and Wendell Phillips espoused opposing abolitionist interpretations of the United States Constitution. The former argued that the document did not sanction the enslavement of human beings, the latter denounced the text as a proslavery “covenant with death, and an agreement with hell.” This essay explores the effects of their contrasting legal educations on these theories. In the 1830s, Spooner worked as a legal apprentice under the tutelage of John Davis, Charles Allen, and Emory Washburn, three prominent lawyers (and politicians) working in Worcester, Massachusetts. By contrast, Phillips, consistent with his Boston Brahmin ancestry, attended the then-nascent Harvard Law School. The essay concludes that Spooner’s legal philosophy shows a far greater indebtedness to his legal education than does Phillips’s. This argument is defended by drawing on the voluminous correspondence and papers of both Phillips and Spooner, and the writings of their legal tutors and mentors.
Lysander Spooner (NYPL)