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Lawyers and Poetry
William Betts was born in Bechsgroe, St. Croix, West Indies, on January 28,1802. He attended school in Jamaica, and after he came to the United States, he attended Union College in New York for a year, and then entered Columbia, where he graduated in 1820. He studied law with David Born Ogden, and entered the law office of his father-in-law, Beverley Robinson.
Betts, after he became an attorney, represented various New York corporations and was named a trustee of Columbia and of the College of Physicians and Surgeons. From 1848 until 1854 he was a professor of law at Columbia. He received the degree of LL.D. from Columbia in 1850. He died in Jamaica, Long Island, New York, on July 5, 1884. [Source: Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography]
Our only knowledge that Betts was a poet comes from the appearance of a poem by Betts in An Account of the Celebration of the First Semi-Centennial Anniversary of the Incorporation of Columbia College wityh the Oration and Poem Delivered on the Occasion (New York: G. & C. Carvill & Co., 1837).
Addresses of the Newly-appointed Professors of Columbia College: With an Introductory Address by William Betts (New York: By Authority of the Trustees, 1858) [online text]