The American Bar Association Founded

The American Bar Association Founded

US #1022 was issued for the ABA’s 75th anniversary. It pictures a section of the frieze from the walls of the US Supreme Court Room. Click image to order.

On August 21, 1878, the American Bar Association (ABA) was formed in Saratoga Springs, New York.

Lawyers played an important role in forming the United States.  Many delegates to the Constitutional Convention were attorneys, and quite a few of our early presidents practiced law.  Until the late 1800s, a person who had been an apprentice to a lawyer could train to become one himself.  In Indiana, the constitution stated any citizen and voter of good character could begin a law practice.

US #1022 – Classic First Day Cover. Click image to order.

After the Civil War, industry was expanding in the North and the demand for lawyers to represent corporations also increased.  In 1870, a bar association was established in New York City to serve corporate attorneys.  Many state associations were soon formed, as well.

US #1022 – Fleetwood First Day Cover. Click image to order.

On August 21, 1878, Connecticut lawyer Simeon Baldwin invited 75 men from his profession to meet in Saratoga Springs, New York, to organize a national group.  The ABA was formed.  Its constitution stated five goals, “to advance jurisprudence (the science of law), to encourage uniform state laws, to strengthen the administration of justice, to uphold the legal profession’s honor, and to encourage friendly interaction among bar members.”

US #1022 – Plate Block First Day Cover. Click image to order.

The ABA has proposed state and federal laws since its founding and pushed for a separate federal court to handle appeal cases.  Around 1900, several states adopted laws that were suggested by the association.  A federal law this group proposed was the Bankruptcy Act.  Congress created the US Circuit Court of Appeals after the ABA worked to get it for ten years.

US #687 – Taft was president of the ABA from 1913-14.  Click image to order.

The American Bar Association is a voluntary, non-governmental association of American lawyers and judges.  Its mission is to serve as a national representative of the legal profession, promote justice, professional excellence, and respect for the law.  It also helps ensure that all people have access to legal services and encourages improvements in the legal profession as well as in the administration of justice.

Today the American Bar Association is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois and has over 400,000 members.  It also accredits US law schools.

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