1902 Encyclopedia > Joseph Story

Joseph Story
American jurist

JOSEPH STORY, (1779-1845), was born at Marble-head, Massachusetts, September 18, 1779, graduated at Harvard in 1798, and was admitted to the bar in Massa-chusetts in 1801. He was a member of the Democratic party, then weak in New England but all-powerful in the rest of the Union; and his district made him its representative in Congress for 1808-9. In 1811 one of the associate-justiceships of the United States supreme court became vacant, and Story was appointed to it, retaining the office for life. Here he found his true sphere of work. The traditions of the American people, their strong prejudice for the local supremacy of the States and against a centralized government, had yielded reluctantly to the establishment of the federal legislative and executive in 1789. The federal judiciary had been organized at the same time, but had never grasped the full measure of its powers. Soon after Story's appointment the supreme court began to bring out into plain view the powers which the constitution had given it over State courts and State legislation, The leading place in this work belongs to Chief-Justice John Marshall, but Story has a very large share in that remarkable series of decisions and opinions, from 1812 until 1832, by which the work was accomplished. In addition to this he built up the department of admiralty law in the United States courts; and his Commentaries on the American Constitution are still the leading authority on the interpretation of that instrument. He died at Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he was the head of the Harvard law school, September 10, 1845.

See Story's Life and Letters of Joseph Story; Story's Miscel-laneous Works; Story's Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, and a great number of standard law-books of which he was the author. His supreme court decisions are in Cranch's, Wheaton's, and Peters's Reports; his circuit decisions in Gallison's, Mason's, Sumner's, and Story's Reports.

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