Justice Joseph Story and the Rise of the Supreme Court

By Gerald T. Dunne | Go to book overview

Foreword

Why did I write this book? It all goes back to a Story opinion on negotiable instruments which I encountered years ago in the course of my work as a junior member of the legal staff of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. At that time I was struck by what seemed to me the extraordinary combination of Story's legal scholarship and his practical knowledgeability, and this circumstance led me to two other discoveries. One was that Justice Story had been president of one bank and vice-president of another while serving on the Supreme Court. The other was that, notwithstanding his enormously critical influence on American law and life, no modern, full-length biography of this great man existed.

Initially, I had no intention of filling the lacuna. Rather, my original aim had been only to examine Story's dual role as judge and banker as a means of exploring the origins and consequences of his ideas on the law of money, banking, and commerce. Undertaken with a grant from the Ford Foundation (herewith gratefully acknowledged) and published in the Journal of American Legal History, this effort led, inevitably but imperceptibly, to the larger project. Basically, I suspect the motivation rested upon the fact that at the range of a century I had been captivated by Story's fundamental decency and goodness, and was accordingly moved to pay a tribute to his memory by placing his accomplishments (and recording his shortcomings) in a modern perspective.

There was, however, far more to it than an effort to add another wreath to Story's laurels. Indeed, transcending any purely

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