In the Clutches of the Law: Clarence Darrow's Letters

In the Clutches of the Law: Clarence Darrow's Letters

In the Clutches of the Law: Clarence Darrow's Letters

In the Clutches of the Law: Clarence Darrow's Letters

Synopsis

This volume presents a selection of 500 letters by Clarence Darrow, the pre-eminent courtroom lawyer of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Randall Tietjen selected these letters from over 2,200 letters in archives around the country, as well as from one remarkable find--the kind of thing historians dream about: a cache of about 330 letters by Darrow hidden away in the basement of Darrow's granddaughter's house. This collection provides the first scholarly edition of Darrow's letters, expertly annotated and including a large amount of previously unknown material and hard-to-locate letters. Because Darrow was a gifted writer and led a fascinating life, the letters are a delight to read. This volume also presents a major introduction by the editor, along with a chronology of Darrow's life, and brief biographical sketches of the important individuals who appear in the letters.

Excerpt

MY SEARCH FOR LETTERS

My interest in Darrow began in 1991 when I was living in Lincoln, Nebraska. I had recently finished law school in Minnesota and was working as a law clerk for a judge. I knew almost no one in Lincoln and had some free time in the evenings and on weekends. I thought about writing an article or possibly a book and then saw an advertisement for the letters of Eugene Debs, which had just recently been published by the University of Illinois Press. I knew that Debs had been one of Darrow’s more famous clients and it occurred to me that Darrow’s letters had never been published.

I did not know much about Darrow other than what I had read in a few books about him. I knew that most of his fame as a lawyer springs from two cases: the Leopold and Loeb case in 1924 and the Scopes trial in 1925. From what I had read of Darrow’s writings, I also knew that he had been a fine writer and speaker. So I started writing to libraries around the country, asking them to look in certain manuscript collections for his letters. Before long, I was receiving photocopies of his letters from the libraries and realized that what I had thought of Darrow as a writer was proving true. His letters—at least some of them—were beautifully written and interesting to read. I forwarded copies of the letters to Darrow’s two surviving grandchildren—Mary Darrow Simonson and Blanche Darrow Chase—daughters of Darrow’s only child, Paul Darrow, and his wife, Lillian. (Paul’s other child, his oldest daughter, Jessie, died in 1968, and Mary and Blanche have also since died.) Mary and Blanche—both of whom were very supportive of my . . .

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