The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Class of 1819

Dartmouth College Public Service Legacy: Rufus Choate, Class of 1819

This article is part of a series recognizing Dartmouth Alumni who have served in public office and demonstrated their commitment to the ideals of public service, leadership, and civic engagement.


Rufus Choate, Dartmouth Class of 1819, was a lawyer, orator, and politician who devoted himself to whatever task was before him. Best known for his career as a lawyer, he is said to have never lost a case, always performing the most eloquent speeches in defense of his clients. As a politician, his career was marked by the multitude of passionate speeches he gave, his dedication to his constituents, and the morals he stood for. He also lived his life as a continual scholar, never abandoning the learning that marked his time at Dartmouth. One of his biographers, Reverend Adams, noted that he was defined by “one of his prominent characteristics, the seizing upon every means to fit himself for every task with which he consented to grapple. It was in the genius, the nature of the man, to master every subject appertaining to his calling.”

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The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences