Simeon Eben Baldwin (1840-1927), a native of New Haven and alumnus of Yale College (1861), studied law at the Law School from 1861-62 and was a professor at the Law School for fifty years, as well as the Law School’s Treasurer for decades. In the Nineteenth century, the Law School faculty were not salaried positions, and Simeon Baldwin was also a leading practitioner, legal scholar, jurist, and Connecticut statesman. He was the governor of Connecticut from 1911-15, after having served as justice and then chief justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court. He was also founder and president of the American Bar Association, president of the Association of American Law Schools, the American Social Science Association, the American Political Science Association, the American International Law Association, and the American Historical Association.
Governor Baldwin was the leading railroad lawyer of his day, and authored a prominent treatise on railroad law, American Railroad Law (1904). He devoted a considerable portion of his fortune, as well as his time, to the Law School, which he considered, as he put it, “a large part of my life, almost my child.” Early in his career at Yale he helped to sustain the school through a difficult period. He was also instrumental in establishing the Law School’s interdisciplinary tradition by arranging for law students to attend graduate courses at Yale in philosophy, political science, economics, and history.
Upon Baldwin’s death, an unsigned tribute in the Law Journal, attributed to Arthur Corbin, stated: “The frugality and simplicity of his life were about as striking as was the unostentatious liberality of his contributions to others. He was confident, definite and inflexible; and yet his modesty and sense of proportion are strongly witnessed by his unswerving loyalty to this law school, a loyalty expressed even in his last will and testament…He is the man whose memory will be kept green; partly, indeed, because of his ideas and his unusual achievements, but even more largely because of his life and character. The Yale Law School will be proud to continue to build upon the broad and massive foundations laid by this man throughout his long and noble life.” 36 Yale L. J. 682 (1927).
At the Law School, a professorship was established in his honor in 1896 and augmented in 1927, a research fund was established in his honor in 1927, a library fund in 1942 and an alumni award for distinguished achievement in law and business in 2007.
For information on Simeon Baldwin’s personal papers (in the Baldwin family papers collection at Yale) follow this link.
John H. Langbein, “Law School in a University: Yale’s Distinctive Path in the Later Nineteenth Century,” in Anthony T. Kronman, ed., History of the Yale Law School (2004).
Frederick Herbert Jackson, Simeon Eben Baldwin: Lawyer, Social Scientist, Statesman (1955).