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East Rock's First Lawyer: Abraham Bishop

Did you know it was actually a New Haven lawyer who originally owned the unsettled farmland that would one day become the neighborhood of East Rock? Abraham Bishop graduated from Yale at the age of 15 and was admitted to the bar in 1785. He would go on to develop the current Orange Street and Lower State Street historic districts in the 1800s, as well as nearby Wooster Square.


Bishop was an early advocate for women and African Americans, championing natural rights regardless of skin color and challenging traditional gender roles. He wrote that, through education, “our daughters will shine as bright constellations, in the sphere where nature has placed them.” In 1791, approximately 74 years before the thirteenth amendment abolished slavery, Bishop wrote that “blacks are entitled to freedom, for we did not say all white men are free, but all men are free.”


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