Joseph Story (September 18, 1779 – September 10, 1845) was an American lawyer and jurist who served on the Supreme Court of the United States from 1811 to 1845. He is most remembered for his opinions in Martin v. Hunter's Lessee and The Amistad case, and especially for his magisterial Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, first published in 1833. Story opposed Jacksonian democracy, saying it was "oppression" of property rights by republican governments when popular majorities began (in the 1830s) to restrict and erode the property rights of the minority of rich men. Newmyer presents Story as a "Statesman of the Old Republic" who tried to be above democratic politics and to shape the law in accordance with the republicanism of Alexander Hamilton and John Marshall and the New England Whigs of the 1820s and '30s, including Daniel Webster. Historians agree that Justice Joseph Story reshaped American law—as much or more than Marshall or anyone else—in a conservative direction that protected property rights.
He was admitted to the bar at Salem, Massachusetts in 1801. As the only lawyer in Essex County aligned with the Jeffersonian Democratic-Republicans, he was hired as counsel to the powerful Republican shipping firm of George Crowninshield & Sons. In 1805 he was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives, serving until 1808, when he succeeded a Crowninshield son(Jacob Crowninshield who spit up blood on the Congressional floor and died few days later.) to represent Essex County in the Congress, serving from December 1808 to March 1809. There he led the effort to end the 'Jefferson' embargo of maritime commerce. He re-entered private practice in Salem; and was again elected to the state House of Representatives, where he was chosen Speaker in 1811.
In November 1811, at the age of thirty-two, Story became the youngest Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. He was nominated by President James Madison on November 15, 1811, to a seat vacated by William Cushing, and was confirmed by the United States Senate, and received his commission, on November 18, 1811.
My friends grew up in his house on Winter Street playing in his tunnels. His home connected to his two brother-in-laws' homes on Washington Square West.
Read more about the history of the tunnels on our blog!