October 20, 1882 – For a Georgetown Law Graduate

Georgetown College         October 20th, 1882  

 My Dear Will,

….This does not come entirely from your delay in writing to me according to promise, but partly from the disappointment of my hopes of obtaining an early opportunity to experiment on your electric light.  I wrote Mr. Edison during the summer, informing him of annihilating his light on the market, and asking him (very modestly, you will say) for the means of experimenting with that intention…I was expecting to have abundance of time for experiment this year, but the classes had scarce got fairly underway, when Father Doonan asked me if I could manage to take the English Poets and Rhetoricians…

      -J.H. Richards, S.J.


The above letter was addressed to William Law McLaughlin, who graduated from Georgetown Law in 1884. We don’t know if anything came of his electric light experiment, but after obtaining his law degree William returned to Deadwood in the Dakota Territory to practice law with his father Judge Daniel McLaughlin.  In 1886, William is elected district attorney for the county of Lawrence.  He also appears as defense attorney on several murder trials, notably the trial of Charles Brown for the murder of Mrs. L.P. Stone in 1887 and for the defense of Two Sticks a Brule Sioux Indian Chief on trial for the murder of four cowboys in 1893.  He practiced law in Deadwood until his death in 1911.


This letter is part of the McLaughlin Brothers’ Papers, a collection of letters to William and his brother Daniel while they studied at Georgetown over the period 1879-1887.  The McLaughlin Brothers’ Papers are available for research.  For more information please contact, Hannah Miller, Manuscripts Librarian at 202/662-6602 or htm@law.georgetown.edu.

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