Justice Joseph Story and the Rise of the Supreme Court

By Gerald T. Dunne | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
A Young Man of Talents

Story first went south toward the end of 1794, and it was not much of a trip -- only as far as Cambridge.

He had burned his bridges at Marblehead Academy; impelled "to chastise" a schoolmate there, he had been chastised in turn by a teacher, disproportionately, and on this note the academy and the scholar parted company forever. His uncle, Reverend Isaac Story, took him to Harvard College to arrange for his late enrollment. The school's decision was that matriculation depended not on merely passing the usual entrance examination but on equaling the current attainment of the incumbent freshman class. This meant that the applicant had six weeks to cover the fall semester's work, largely by himself. In Homeric Greek he was completely on his own, and he went through the Iliad as reader, grammarian, and lexicographer. He appeared at Harvard in January of 1795 and passed the entrance examinations with flying colors.

As young Joseph Story was demonstrating his proficiency in the classics, talents of a more mundane type were being displayed in Augusta, Georgia, where four land companies purchased an immense quadrilateral that ran from the Chattahoochee to the Mississippi and from Tennessee to western Spanish Florida. It was beautiful country, fertile, and irrigated by a network of rivers

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