The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 86, July 1982 - April, 1983 Page: 161
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Law at Texas:
The Roberts-Gould Era (1883-1893)
HANS W. BAADE*
THE FORMAL HISTORY OF THE CREATION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF
Law at the University of Texas is surprisingly brief. At the first
meeting of the board of regents on November 16, 1881, Regents Ash-
bel Smith, Smith Ragsdale, and Thomas D. Wooten were appointed a
Committee on Departments of the University. They submitted their
report at eight o'clock that evening. Included therein was a somewhat
cryptic recommendation to establish a Department of Law "Embrac-
ing Civil-Common-Constitutional and Statutes of Texas-'Two Pro-
fessors." In the minute book, "Department of Law" is crossed out lat-
erally; the lines above and below read "Science of Government" and
"Law," respectively. This was followed, on August 17, 1882, by the
adoption of a resolution specifying "that we incorporate a law school
with a present faculty of two professors-with a salary of $3,500 per
annum for the leading professorship, and $2,500 per annum for the
Upon motion of Regent M. L. Crawford of Dallas made that day,
the leading professorship of law was tendered to Judge Thomas M.
Cooley of Michigan. Cooley declined; and on November 16, 1882,
Oran M. Roberts was elected first professor and Robert S. Gould sec-
ond professor, at a salary of $3,000 each. A resolution adopted on
April 30, 1883, awarded all professors $500 per annum in commuta-
tion for "house-rent," with the result that the annual emoluments of
the two law professors were raised to $3,500, where they remained
*Hans W. Baade is the Hugh Lamar Stone Professor of Civil Law at the University
of Texas, Austin.
1University of Texas Board of Regents Minutes, Vol. A, Nov. 16, 1881, pp. 6, 8, 9 (first
through fourth quotations), Aug. 17, 1882, pp. 26 (fifth quotation), 27 (Ashbel Smith
Hall, Austin). According to Roberts, the word "government" was added to the description
of the law department at his suggestion. In a letter to Robert L. Batts, he explained his
purpose had been to "keep control" of this subject because "no professor that is not a
lawyer is capable of teaching the principles of government." O. M. Roberts, "A History
of the Establishment of the University of the State of Texas," Quarterly of the Texas
State Historical Association, I (Apr., 1898), 256; Oran M. Roberts to Robert L. Batts,
June 27, 1896, Robert L. Batts Papers (Eugene C. Barker Texas History Center, Uni-
versity of Texas, Austin; cited hereafter as BTHC).
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 86, July 1982 - April, 1983, periodical, 1982/1983; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101209/m1/197/: accessed July 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.