Letter from Lemuel Shaw to Susanna Shaw, January 3, 1797

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Content Notes

This single page handwritten letter was sent from Lemuel Shaw to his mother, Susanna, during his freshman year at Harvard. In the letter, he requested that his mother wash and return his dirty laundry and send him clothes, including a pair of overalls, some neck-handkerchiefs, and a new hat. Shaw also asked for money to be sent to pay off his debt of $21.25 to Mr. Richard Hunnewell for board and rent, $18.93 for the previous quarter's bill, and $1.15 for Mr. Timothy Alden, the College Butler.

Biographical Notes

Lemuel Shaw, Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, was born in West Barnstable, Massachusetts on January 9, 1781 to Oakes and Susanna Shaw. After receiving his Harvard AB in 1800 and AM in 1803, he began studying law under David Everett in Boston. Shaw moved to New Hampshire in 1802 and was briefly engaged to Nancy Melville, who died before they were married. He married Elizabeth Knapp in 1818; she died only four years later. In 1827 he married Hope Savage. Shaw was admitted to the bar in both New Hampshire and Massachusetts in 1804. Shaw had strong Federalist views and was first elected a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1811, serving intermittently until 1829; he also served as a Massachusetts State Senator from 1821 to 1822. He was a member of the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention of 1820 and drafted the first charter of the city of Boston in 1822. Governor Levi Lincoln appointed Shaw as Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in 1830 and he served for 30 years until his resignation in 1860. While serving as chief justice, Shaw made important decisions impacting emerging industry, including water power, railroads, and labor relations. Shaw was awarded an honorary Harvard LLD in 1831. He died on March 30, 1861.