64 A.B.A. J 1038 (1978)
The First Century of the American Bar Association

handle is hein.journals/abaj64 and id is 1040 raw text is: The First Century of the
American Bar Association

No commemoration of the Association's centenary would
be complete without an account of its achievements, but
the task of writing its history obviously presents problems
of organization. A strictly chronological account would run
the risk of the kind of boredom we remember from school
days when lists of monarchs and dates of battles made
history painful. On the other hand a detailed account of all
the activities of the Association would exceed the space
available. Whitney North Seymour, who was president of
the Association in 1960-61, took a different tack, noting
some of the general aspects of the Association's history
within defined historical periods, then dealing with a few
episodes that are of the greatest interest and importance.

By Whitney North Seymour
AT THE TIME of the founding of the American Bar As-
sociation in 1878, most lawyers were sole practition-
ers, trained in law offices, with no pressure beyond
their own consciences to feel that public or profes-
sional responsibility required concern with the public
interest. Most thought it enough to use the skills they
had to advance the interests of their clients and their
own fortunes. No uniform code of ethics governed
their conduct; few institutions for common effort were
available. The spirit of brotherhood was found
primarily in the tavern, the courtroom, and the home.
Judges and courts did what they thought right with no
organized help from the bar. And the problems of ju-
dicial administration created by modern social wel-
fare, regulatory, and environmental legislation were
literally unknown.
It would, of course, be wrong to assume that those
lawyers were benighted or without standards. Like
the rest of their countrymen, they had the benefit of
the moral lessons then generally learned in church,
home, and school.
The lawyers who largely wrote the Constitution and
later helped the Supreme Court reach its views about
interpreting it were scholarly, inspired men. Some

1038 American Bar Association Journal

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