Tapping Reeve

The image of Tapping Reeve is used with permission from the Collection of the Litchfield Historical Society

Tapping Reeve assisted Theodore Sedgwick in gaining Mumbet’s freedom. Reeve was from Litchfield, Connecticut and founded the first law school in the United States in the house below in 1774 which you may visit. The lawyers for Colonel John Ashley were attorneys John Canfield Esq & David Noble Gental who were noted lawyers during this period. However it was the team of Sedgwick and Reeve who were instrumental in winning Mumbet’s freedom. Read Mumbet’s court record.

Beginning in 1784, Reeve, systematized his law lectures for young students, creating the Litchfield Law School. Reeve was the first to develop a series of formal, regular lectures that insured that all students had access to the same body of knowledge. The lectures became so popular that in 1784 Reeve built a small school building adjacent to his house to accommodate his growing classes, and to house his law library. Over its 60 year history, more than 1,500 men graduated from the Litchfield Law School, many of them going on to distinguished careers. The list of graduates includes two Vice Presidents, Aaron Burr and John C. Calhoun, over 100 members of the House of Representatives, 28 senators, 14 governors, 14 cabinet members, 34 State Supreme Court Justices, and 3 Justices of the United States Supreme Court.
source > Litchfield Historical Society

Tapping Reeve, Clio (founder), Class of 1763. Founded the Cliosophic Society. Founder of the first law school in the United States.
source > 18th Century Whig-Clio Notable Alumni, Princeton

Tapping Reeve (1744-1823), Princeton alumnus and founder of the nation’s first law school, served as co-counsel in the 1781 case Brom and Bett v. J. Ashley, Esq., which led to the abolition of slavery in Massachusetts.

First Law School in USA

1906 postmarked postcard of Litchfield Law School
Image is a candidate to be copied to Wikimedia Commons

Judge Reeve’s Law School building dedication 1929
Image courtesy of WikiMedia Commons

The house has finely furnished period rooms and is open to visitors from mid April through the end of November. For more information > http://www.litchfieldhistoricalsociety.org


Tapping Reeve House and Law School, Litchfield, Connecticut
Image courtesy of WikiMedia Commons

Biographical information from Princeton


Tapping Reeve Books