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Remembering the Class of ’98

Posted on: | by Christine Anne George | No Comments
Class of 98

From the Law Library’s archives, a list of toasts given by members of the Class of ’98, including one to “The Volunteers of the Class of ’98.”

On Veteran’s Day, we take the time to honor those who have served our country. This seems like a good time to look back into a particular instance of SUNY Buffalo Law School’s history when a class honored three servicemen.

The Spanish-American War may not be the most well-known of American conflicts. Post-Civil War and pre-World War I, the Spanish-American War is what caused Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders to charge up San Juan Hill. Amid cries to “Remember the Maine,” then President McKinley (who had yet to make his trip to Buffalo) asked Congress to declare war on Spain on April 20, 1898. Congress approved the request five days later. The war ended when the Treaty of Paris was signed on December 10, 1898.

In April 1898, the Buffalo Law School (as it was then named) was only ten years old. It was located on the ninth floor of the Ellicott Square Building in Buffalo. Adelbert Moot was dean. It’s first two female graduates (Helen Z.M. Rogers and Cecil B. Wiener) were a year shy of graduation. John Lord O’Brian, our building’s namesake, was set to graduate. Among his classmates were the three men who inspired this post: Henry Adsit Bull, John Dunn Clute, and Archie C. Ryder. Bull, Clute, and Ryder enlisted to fight before they could graduate.

The students at the Law School in those early years would regularly petition the administration. In University Archives, you can find petitions requesting that exams be delayed, vacations extended, and any other number of suggestions. Some were granted, some were not. The Class of 1898 circulated a petition that showed that they stood in solidarity with their three classmates who left to serve their country. The petition asked that, even though Bull, Clute, and Ryder were absent, the three men receive their degrees as a part of the Class of 1898. Through a resolution from the University Council, the request was granted.