Law History Books Presented To Jackson Center

Believe it or not, Jamestown has more than one notable lawyer.

On Wednesday, Constance Cryer Ecklund presented two volumes of her late husband’s book ”The Origins of Western Law: From Athens to the Code Napoleon” to James Johnson, Robert H. Jackson Center president and chief executive officer, and to Matthew Hanley, executive assistant to Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi. Ecklund made the presentation at the Jackson Center, 305 E. Fourth St., Jamestown, because her husband, John Ecklund, wrote the two-volume set of books on the history of Western legal origins. Ecklund was also a native of Jamestown.

Constance Ecklund said like Jackson, John Ecklund left Jamestown and dedicated his life to the law. Like Jackson, who advised President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John Ecklund worked with Yale President Kingman Brewster. Jackson would advise Roosevelt on World War II while John Ecklund served in it. As Jackson rose to become a Supreme Court Justice, John Ecklund chose to have a law practice in New Haven, Conn., to be Yale’s legal counsel and then treasurer.

”As Judge Jackson admired the building of law’s cathedral, John would believe to the last that law was like crafting a satisfactory structure for the client; and like Jackson, who believed that ‘the great works of great men endure,’ Ecklund, going to the very heart of those works of greatness was determined that we at last know why they endure,” Constance Ecklund said.

Constance Ecklund said it took 20 years, but her husband finished the history book in the hospital as he lay dying of cancer. Constance Ecklund, who edited the book, but was not part of the writing process with her husband, said it took 10 years for her to proof and piece together the book from notebooks John Ecklund wrote in to finish the volumes of work.

”Read it and weep. Read it and laugh. Read it and be fascinated. Or just dip in,” she said. ”John divided his thoughts into law’s dual thrust: principle and preference. In other words, those called originally Realists who believe in immutable, general principles of the right and those called Nominalists who believed there is no such idealistic eternal structure of ‘natural law,’ but rather that every period, every age, has the duty to craft jurisprudence according to topical, individual need. Right and wrong meet relativism. ‘These are the rules,’ versus ‘Let it all hang out.”’

Constance Ecklund said the last time John Ecklund was in Jamestown was in 1974 when he gave the commencement speech during Jamestown High School’s graduation ceremony. It was 40 years after John Ecklund had spoke at his graduation from Jamestown High School as valedictorian.

”Yes, Jamestown was indeed a birthplace for fine lawyers,” Constance Ecklund said.