The New International Encyclopædia/Shaw, Lemuel

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SHAW, Lemuel (1781-1861). An American jurist, born in Barnstable, Mass. He graduated at Harvard in 1800, studied law, and in 1804 was admitted to the bar. The next twenty-six years he spent in private practice in Boston, rising by slow degrees to a commanding position at the Boston bar. He was actively interested in public affairs. He succeeded Chief Justice Isaac Parker, of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, in 1830. His service on the bench, covering a period of thirty years, won for him rank as one of the greatest of New England jurists. His decisions in greatly differing fields of law had a remarkable influence on the application of the English common law to American conditions. As an interpreter of constitutional law, too, he rendered services of great value. Although an ardent anti-slavery man, his respect for the law was such as to cause him, in the famous Sims case, to uphold the constitutionality of the Fugitive Slave Law, the passage of which he had in private vigorously opposed.