St. George Tucker, a former student of George Wythe, served on William & Mary’s board of visitors for several years; and made strong efforts to protect Thomas Jefferson’s revisions to the College’s curriculum from conservative clergy who served on the board. He was William & Mary’s rector when George Wythe resigned his post in 1789, and the board of visitors named Tucker to succeed Wythe as Professor of Law and Police in 1790.

Tucker used Blackstone’s Commentaries as the foundation of his lectures, adding lectures on the United States Constitution, how American law diverged from the English common law described by Blackstone, on public morality, and on principles of American government. He would use the notes from these lectures as the basis for his edition of Blackstone’s Commentaries, one of the most highly-regarded treatises in American legal history. Under Tucker’s direction, the College issued the first Bachelor of Laws granted to a student in the United States, to future Governor of Virginia William H. Cabell in 1793. Tucker resigned in 1804 mainly due to a conflict over where classes were to be taught. Tucker preferred to teach in his house, where his library would be at the ready, but the College required professors to teach in college classrooms and to submit attendance records twice per week. Soon thereafter, Tucker was named to the Virginia Court of Appeals, where he served from 1804 to 1811, and later was a judge at the U.S. District Court for Virginia from 1813 to 1825. Tucker died in 1827.



A Letter to the Rev. Jedidiah Morse, St. George Tucker



Plan for Conferring Degrees on the Students of Law in the University of William and Mary (ca. 1792), St. George Tucker



St. George Tucker Law Lectures, circa 1790s, St. George Tucker