James Law was one of the first faculty members of Cornell University, the first dean of the New York State College of Veterinary Medicine, and a pioneer in veterinary medicine and public health in the United States.
Law was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, February 13, 1838. He was educated at Edinburgh's Veterinary College and the medical school at Edinburgh University. He received additional training in France at the veterinary schools in Alfort and Lyons. When Andrew Dickson White approached him in 1868 to join the faculty at newly founded Cornell University, Law was an experienced teacher and practitioner with a firm belief in sound scientific training for veterinarians. Law brought his beliefs to fruition at Cornell through high entrance requirements, rigorous courses, and exacting state licensing requirements.
Law was also a leader in public health. His work on tuberculosis, foot and mouth disease and other epizootics had a profound effect on animal and human health in America. His fight against superstitious animal care practices rampant in rural America also had significant influence. His
Farmer's Veterinary Advisor was read widely by practitioners and lay people alike for its practical and medically sound advise on the treatment of common ailments.
For more biographical information about James Law, see the essay in
American National Biography as well as Ellis Leonard's description in
A Cornell Heritage.