- Samuel Williston
:"For the paleontologist, see
Samuel Wendell Williston."
Samuel Williston (
September 24, 1861– February 18, 1963) was an American lawyer and law professor.
Early in Williston's career, from 1888 to 1889 he worked as the private secretary to U.S. Supreme Court Justice
Horace Gray. In the summer of 1889, he helped to collate laws from various U.S. states in order to help formulate the state constitutions of North Dakotaand South Dakota.
From 1895 to 1938, Williston was a law professor at
Harvard Law School, and in 1910, he briefly served as acting dean. Amongst his most important contributions at this time were the drafting of four laws aimed at providing national commerce with a legally uniform architecture. The Uniform Laws of Sales (1906), Warehouse Receipts (1906), Bills of Lading (1909), and Stock Transfers (1909) would in fact serve as precedents for the construction of the Uniform Commercial Codesome decades later.
He became a consultant for the
Boston law firm Hale & Dorrfrom 1938 to 1956, during which time he was engaged in some Supreme Court cases such as " Kneeland v. AT&T" and " Chase National Bank v. Sayles". Williston unsuccessfully argued for the defense in the case of " Boston & Maine Railroad v. Hooker" before the U.S. Supreme Court on December 10and 11, 1913.
Williston wrote 5 volumes of his
legal treatise, "The Law of Contracts", which was first published during the span of 1920 to 1922. The treatise was widely acclaimed as the foremost authority on the topic and was later enlarged in 1938. In 1932, Williston served as reporter for the First Restatement of Contracts, a highly influential publication in the legal community.
In 1929, Williston was honored with the very first
American Bar Associationmedal for "conspicuous service to American jurisprudence."
In a 1963
Harvard Law Reviewessay (76 Harv. L. Rev. 1321.) titled "Samuel Williston: An Inadequate Tribute to a Beloved Teacher", Justice Felix Frankfurter, lauded Williston as being the "greatest artist in teaching."
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