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Heuristic: A form of education where the student is trained to find out things for himself.
William Rawle (1759-1836) studied law at Middle Temple, London in 1781, and returned to Philadelphia to open the Rawle Law Offices on September 15, 1783. He quickly took his place among Philadelphia’s legal elite, managing a successful law practice and participating in the formation of the new republic. Rawle’s reputation as a lawyer vaulted him into the position of delegate to the Pennsylvania Constitutional Assembly of 1789. His public service continued when he accepted President Washington’s request to become the first U. S. Attorney for the District of Pennsylvania.
As U. S. Attorney, Rawle was instrumental in suppressing the Whiskey Rebellion in Western Pennsylvania and prosecuting the leaders of the insurrection. In 1792, Washington offered Rawle the position of federal judge for the new Pennsylvania district. When Rawle declined that post, Washington offered the position of U. S. Attorney General, which Rawle also declined, choosing instead to maintain his thriving private law practice. Rawle became the first chancellor of the newly-founded Philadelphia Bar Association in 1822, and remained in that position until his death. Rawle was a member of the American Philosophical Society, a trustee of the University of Pennsylvania, president of the local anti-slavery society, and founder and president of the Pennsylvania Historical Society.
Rawle authored A View of the Constitution of the United States of America, first edition 1825, second edition 1829 (and is still being reprinted in 2007). His book was adopted as a constitutional law textbook at West Point and other institutions and covers the subject in 344 pages. Continue reading