Mississippi Genealogy Trails
By James Daniel Lynch, ©1881
Submitted by Janice Rice
ROBERT H. ADAMS
Mr. Adams was a native of Virginia, and born of poor and obscure parents. It is said that in his early youth he was apprenticed to the cooper's trade, and pursued that occupation into manhood. He consequently obtained but little education in his youth; but he possessed a native endowment of genius and perseverance, which inspired his bosom with an ambition to achieve a place and a name among men. Like many young men of this character, Mr. Adams, notwithstanding the apparently insuperable difficulties attending his path, directed his attention to the study of the law. His conscious vigor and natural sedulity of mind dispelled the gloom that hung over his prospects, and his resolution prompted him to undertake that which his ambition coveted. After acquiring a sufficient knowledge of the rudiments of law to gain him admission to the bar, he bade farewell to his native valley, and made his residence in East Tennessee, where he entered upon the practice of his profession; here he soon commanded notice and patronage, and rose rapidly in his profession; yet his aspirations were not satisfied, and the prospects of the rich harvest of litigation which the Western Territories then presented seemed to offer the field he desired; hither he removed, and established his office in the city of Natchez, where he at once entered upon a career brilliant and arduous.
Natchez at this time was noted for the legal ability that adorned its bar; but Mr. Adams was equal to the severe test which a claim to superiority demanded, and was soon recognized as one of the most skillful and logical as well as most learned advocates at that bar of eminence. While he was deficient in general learning, his vigorous mind grasped and embraced the subtleties of the law with an alacrity and comprehension that impressed his opponents with surprise, the court and bar with admiration, and his hearers with a conviction of his superiority.
Mr. Adams possessed in a high degree that versatility of excitation, which can awaken at pleasure the feelings of sympathy and abhorrence. He could recount the tales of sorrow and misfortune with a pathos that would moisten the eyes of all hearers, thrill at one moment the tenderest cords of the heart, and at the next, twang the arrows of indignation and scorn; while he could pour forth the melting strains of commiseration, he could, when necessary, hurl the awakening thunders of wrath and vengeance until the culprit would writhe in the agonies of conscious guilt.
His mind was always clear and ready, and so plain were his statements of facts, so lucid his presentations of the law, that no ingenuity of argument, no skill of abstraction, could pervert their meaning or obscure his position.
Mr. Adams possessed a warm and sympathetic heart, and was a general favorite among the people. He was elected, in 1880, to the United States Senate in the place of Mr. Reed, who died the year preceding. Here the prospects of Mr. Adams were brilliant in the highest degree, and his learning, eloquence, and winning address, would, no doubt, have gained for him a national fame had not the untimely hand of death checked his marvellous career. He died in a short time after his election to the Senate, beloved by all who knew him, leaving a multitude of friends, and not an enemy.
Biography from Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress:
ADAMS, Robert Huntington, (1792 - 1830)
Senate Years of Service: 1830-1830
ADAMS, Robert Huntington, a Senator from Mississippi; born in Rockbridge County, Va., in 1792; apprenticed to the cooper's trade; graduated from Washington College (now Washington and Lee University) at Lexington, Va., in 1806; studied law; admitted to the bar and commenced practice in Knoxville, Tenn.; moved to Natchez, Miss., in 1819; member of the State house of representatives in 1828; elected as a Jacksonian to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Thomas B. Reed and served from January 6, 1830, until his death in Natchez, Miss., July 2, 1830; interment in Natchez City Cemetery.
The subject of this sketch was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, on the 8th of March 1820, and was educated at the University of Nashville, where he was graduated in 1836, at the early age of sixteen years. On completing his education he studied law under his father, Judge William E. Anderson, and at the age of nineteen obtained license to practice his profession.
In 1810 he removed to Mississippi and settled at Raymond, in Hinds County, where, during that year, he made his first public speech in advocacy of the election of Harrison and Tyler. So brilliant were the manifestations of his genius and so rapid his professional ascent, that he soon achieved a distinguished position at the bar, and in 1847 was chosen State's Attorney for the district composed of the counties of Hinds and Warren; but disliking the duties of a public prosecutor, he resigned the attorney ship in 1848, and resolved never again to prosecute for a fee,
In 1848 Mr. Anderson was married to Miss Mary Yerger, an elegant and accomplished lady, the oldest daughter of Hon. George S. Yerger, of Jackson, and in 1849 removed to that place and formed a copartnership with that distinguished gentleman. This was for many years, until the death of Mr. Yerger, one of the leading firms at the bar of the High Court of Mississippi.
As a lawyer Mr. Anderson was learned, diligent, and astute, and was one of two or three gentlemen whose respective claims to the need of superiority at the bar of the High Court was a matter of contention among their friends. His knowledge of the law was thorough and comprehensive, and his powers of argument were of the highest order; indeed, it is doubtful whether a more logical mind than his could be found in the annals of the Mississippi bar. He was a gentleman of refined sentiments and a high sense of honor; stern and unyielding in the performance of duty, he was courteous and suave in his professional deportment and social etiquette.
During the war Mr. Anderson was elected to the Legislature, and was a candidate for a seat in the Confederate States Senate, but was defeated by Hon. J. W. C. Watson. In 1865 he was appointed by Governor Humphries, under a resolution of the Legislature, one of the counsel to aid in the defense of ex-President Davis, should he be brought to trial for treason by the United States Government, as was then threatened; and in the failure of the occurrence of that event, Mr. Anderson lost an opportunity for the exercise of his eloquence, his legal learning, and logical powers, which would have given him, no doubt, a world-wide renown.
WILLIAM E. ANDERSON
William E. Anderson was a native of Virginia, and of the county of Rockbridge, and had achieved reputation as a lawyer in the State of Tennessee prior to his advent to the bar of Mississippi, about the year 1835. He possessed a vigorous intellect as well as a huge physical frame, and his powers as an advocate attained conspicuous notoriety. While Mr. Anderson was thoroughly familiar with the general principles of law, he was by no means a person of studious habits, and was much fonder of the pleasures of desultory reading than of obedience to that stern restraint and zealous application which the jealousy of the law demands from all who would wear its garlands of honor and its wreaths of victory.
But Mr. Anderson was one of those individuals whose deficiency in one quality generally requisite to success was in a great measure counterpoised by the preponderance of others. His imposing personal appearance, forcible powers of oratory, quick comprehension, and constant flow of humor, obtained for him a position as an advocate which others reach only by rare gifts, or by constant and laborious application. . Notwithstanding the excitability of his temperament and the somewhat blustering air of his manners, Mr. Anderson was a man of great amiability and gentleness of disposition. The qualities of his heart seem to have been developed pari passu. with those of his mental and physical traits. He was of an exceedingly cheerful turn of mind, fond of innocent frolic and fun, and enjoyed life and the pleasures of society with all the gusto that usually pertains to those who are possessed of a cultivated fancy, a clear conscience, and a robust constitution.
WILLIAM R. BARKSDALE
William Robert Barksdale was born in Lauderdale County, Alabama, on the 26th of April 1834, but removed with his parents, in October of the same year, to the county of Yalobusha, in Mississippi. They were natives of Tennessee, and were intelligent and influential citizens, noted for their exemplary moral and social worth, and for their domestic virtues and parental solicitude. And the subject of this sketch, after having received the advantages of the best schools of his county, was sent, in 1851, to the State University at Oxford, where he graduated with distinction in 1855.
His deportment while at college was notably scholastic, and his studious habits, strict observance of the rules, courteous manners, and high sense of honor gained the admiration and esteem both of the professors and of his fellow-students, and he developed during his collegiate course a vigor of intellect and an inquisitiveness of mind which destined him for an eminent sphere in life. So prominent were his scholarly attainments, and so exemplary his integrity and moral habits, that, after having graduated, he was retained two years at the University as an adjunct professor; but, in 1857, having chosen the profession of law, for which his talents seemed peculiarly adapted, he entered the law school of the University, and in 1859 received his diploma from that department. He then returned to Yalobusha County, established his office in the town of Grenada, and entered immediately upon a brilliant professional career. But the versatility of his genius, his eloquent oratory, and ardent patriotism were soon demanded in another sphere, and he responded with alacrity to the public call, and entered the service of his State with all the spirit and enthusiasm of his nature.
In the fall of 1860 he was chosen by the States Rights party, of which he was a warm and strenuous advocate, to a seat in the memorable convention which, on the 9th of January, 1861, passed the Mississippi Ordinance of Secession, and, although he was but twenty-six years of age, he was a conspicuous member in that distinguished assembly. The vigor of his counsel, the ardor of his patriotism, and the fire of his eloquence not only challenged the attention and respect of the wisest men, but kindled a glow which permeated the action of that body and gave warmth to its proceedings.
But if Mr. Barksdale was ardent in his advocacy of secession, he was equally ready to seal the act with his blood, and, at the first call of his State for troops, in 1861, he responded to the sound of its bugle, and from that day to the closing scene of the struggle he followed the flag of the Confederacy with Spartan gallantry and patriotic devotion.
In 1862 he was promoted to the position of Adjutant-General on the staff of General W. S. Featherston, with the rank of major, and served in that capacity until 1864, when he was transferred to the staff of Major-General Walthall. He was a faithful and efficient officer. General Featherston, in his eulogy on his life and character, delivered in the Mississippi House of Representatives in January 1877, said:
" He was a model soldier, fearless in action, self-sacrificing and noble in example. Like the heroes of the Roman Republic, his country was his. idol, upon whose altar no sacrifice was too dear to be made. He followed the path of duty without reckoning where it led, whether to victory or the grave. In the storm of battle he was calm, self-possessed, and ever pressing upon the foe with undaunted courage. In camp, on the march, and in all the various phases of a soldier's life, he was always to be found in the full discharge of his whole duty an exemplar to his comrades in arms. And although he rose not higher than a major in the military service, he was in intellect and courage, strategy, and all the elements of true generalship, capable of higher command. He did not seek his own promotion: he rose above all selfish thoughts, and with all the zeal that could glow in the heart of a pure patriot, looked alone to the independence of his native South, and to the attainment of that end he directed all the powers of his mind and body."
At the close of the war Major Barksdale resumed the practice of his profession in Yalobusha County, accepted with manliness the harsh degrees which Fate had pronounced against his country, and maintained the terms of the Southern surrender with a faith which only the highest sense of honor could guarantee.
He applied himself diligently to the restoration of law, order, and good government; and so vigorous and fervid were his efforts in this respect, so just and pronounced the appreciation of his ability and integrity, that, during the exclusiveness of the Radical regime, he was elected to the office of District Attorney, a position which he filled with an efficiency that checked the demoralizing effects of Radical policy and re-established the security of society. He was a bold and fearless officer, and followed the path of his duty regardless of circumstances. He had no compromise to make with lawlessness, no leniency to offer to crime and corruption, but his aims were fixed upon the goal of right, and he was guided only by the standard of integrity.
In the great political revolution of 1875 Major Barksdale was elected to a seat in the lower House of the Legislature of Mississippi, and held a prominent position in that body. He took an active part in the dethronement of Governor Ames and in the dispersion of his notorious officials. His commanding yet courteous dignity, his thrilling eloquence and marked ability, gave him an influence that made its impression upon every legislative act, and his opinions were eminent among the criterions of wisdom and expediency.
But in the noonday of his promise, and in the midst of the reviving hopes of his country, to which he had so prominently administered, his career was suddenly ended, and Mississippi was called upon to mourn the death of one of her most devoted and useful sons. He died at Grenada on the 10th of January, 1877.
This remarkable man and eminent lawyer was born in the State of Tennessee, near the present city of Knoxville, on the 10th of October, 1802. He was the son of Dr. Hugh Barton and Mary Shirley Barton, both of whom were natives of Virginia. After receiving a good classical education at one of the colleges of East Tennessee, he began the study of law at Knoxville, in 1824, under the Hon. William E. Anderson, and after having practised his profession there for several years he removed to the town of Bolivar, and formed a copartnership with Judge V. D. Barry, a prominent lawyer of that place, whose daughter Eudora he afterwards married.
He was soon returned from his adopted county to the Legislature of Tennessee, and was afterwards selected by that body to fill the office of attorney-general, which he conducted with great ability, and with a distinguished exhibition of those qualities which afterwards rendered him so famous in criminal practice.
He had thus already acquired an enviable distinction at the bar of his native State when, in 1836, attracted by prospects more commensurable with his ambition, he emigrated to Mississippi, and located at Holly Springs, in Marshall County, where he formed a copartnership with the Hon. Joseph W. Chalmers. Here his remarkable talents and striking characteristics gained for him at once both practice and popularity, and at a special election in 1838 he was chosen to a seat in the Legislature, to which he was again elected in 1849, and assumed an influential and leading position in that body.
At the close of the first term of Hon. Jefferson Davis in the United States Senate, Mr. Barton was presented and strongly urged for that position by the people of the northern portion of the State, and which, on account of his known ability and great popularity, he would most likely have obtained, had it not been for the military glory of Mr. Davis, which rendered his preferment always grateful to the people of Mississippi.
Mr. Barton was always ready to serve his people in any capacity which immediately affected their interest, but invariably declined all positions of a general or mere honorary character. In 1837, in connection with Governor Vroom of New Jersey, he was appointed by the President a member of the commission to examine the claims of the Choctaw Indians to contingent reservations under the 14th article of the treaty of " Dancing Rabbit" Creek, which was a matter of vital importance to the people of the northern counties of Mississippi, and performed the difficult and laborious duties involved in this trust with distinguished skill and diligence.
At the district convention at Pontotoc in 1849, he received the nomination of his party for Congress, but happening to be present attending the Federal court, then in session there, Mr. Barton proceeded immediately to the hall of the assembly, and amid the welcome shouts of congratulatory applause promptly declined the honor. He was afterwards tendered by President Pierce the position of United States consul for the island of Cuba, which he also declined. To his country he was a pillar of patriotism, to his friends the living statue of a Pythian fidelity, and to his family the model of generosity, affection, and love ; and that such a man should have enjoyed the warm and universal need of friendship and esteem is but the reward of those who practise the hallowed precepts of that golden rule proclaimed by Heaven and dictated by the noblest sentiments of humanity. He died of acute rheumatism on the 4th of March, 1855, in the vigor of his manhood and intellect.
Judge Black was born and reared in the State of Massachusetts. He emigrated to Mississippi about the time of the organization of the State Government, and in 1826 was appointed one of the judges of the Supreme Court. This office he held until the year 1832. He was then appointed to succeed the Hon. Powhatan Ellis in the Senate of the United States, and in 1833 was elected under the new Constitution for a full term.
Judge Black was evidently a lawyer of much ability, and one of the ablest judges whose opinions are reported by Mr. Walker. It is from these mostly that I have been able to judge of his legal and judicial character. His decisions are lucid, terse, and logical, and evince a perfect familiarity with the settled principles of law. His course in the United States Senate was at first distinguished for a marked devotion to the interest of his State and section; but his subsequent opposition to some of the measures of Jackson's administration caused him to become unpopular with his constituency, and, on the 28th of January, 1835, the Mississippi House of Representatives, by a vote of 38 to 13, passed the following resolutions :
" Whereas, We regard it as a fundamental axiom in our system of government, that all power and political right is inherent in the people ; that the government, both State and Federal, was only instituted for their good ; and that in adopting our republican form of government the object was to select that which would best subserve their wants, wishes, and interests, with the least trouble and burden to themselves ; from which it necessarily results that those to whom power or authority is delegated or intrusted ought only to exercise or use it in accordance with the opinion of those for whom they hold it, whenever that opinion can be ascertained;
" And whereas, The Hon John Black was elected by this Legislature a Senator to the Congress of the United States, under the avowed pledge and promise of sustaining the principles of the present administration, by which we understood he would, by his vote and by his influence, support our President, Andrew Jackson, in his efforts to preserve and protect the Government from the influence of a corrupt and powerful moneyed monopoly in the Bank of the United States, and a prodigal expenditure of the public treasure to objects of doubtful constitutional purposes, and a tariff of protection and monopolies - all equally tending to consolidation;
" And whereas, The said Senator has upon various occasions violated the pledges which he had given to the people of this State, previous to his election, and more particularly in his votes on various occasions in the Senate of the United States in relation to the Bank of the United States, and especially that which he gave in voting for the resolution passed in that body on the 28th day of March last, in which the President is charged with having assumed to himself authority and power not conferred by the Constitution and laws, but in derogation of both; and also because we believe that he has joined the party opposed to the present administration, and to the best interest of this State; therefore,
" Resolved, That in the opinion of the House of Representatives of this Legislature, our Senator, the Hon. John Black, has unfaithfully represented the people of this State; and that it is an obligation which he owes to them to vacate his seat in the Senate of the United States, by resigning, and that he be invited to do so.
" Resolved, That our Senators in Congress be instructed to vote for rescinding from the journals of the Senate the resolution passed on the 28th day of March last, in which the President is charged with exercising powers not granted, in relation to the public deposits.
" Resolved, That a copy of these resolutions be transmitted to each of our Senators in Congress, to the President of the United States, and to the Governors of each of the States and Territories."
Notwithstanding this censure and request, it seems that Judge Black did not see proper to comply until two years after, when he resigned his senatorship and resumed his practice of law. Waiving the delicate question of instruction to Senators, and admitting the right of non-compliance when the requirements are contrary to conviction, it is difficult to account for this tenacity of Judge Black, under the circumstances. Yet such is the record of the matter.
The Biography below is from Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress
BLACK, John, (Birth date unknown - 1854)
Senate Years of Service: 1832-1833; 1833-1838
Party: Jacksonian; Anti-Jacksonian; Whig
BLACK, John, a Senator from Mississippi; born in Massachusetts, but date of birth is unknown; engaged in teaching; studied law; commenced practice in Louisiana; moved to Mississippi; elected judge of the fourth circuit and supreme court 1826-1832; appointed as a Jacksonian to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Powhatan Ellis and served from November 12, 1832, to March 3, 1833; elected as an Anti-Jacksonian (later Whig) to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy in the term commencing March 4, 1833, and served from November 22, 1833, to January 22, 1838, when he resigned; chairman, Committee on Private Lands (Twenty-third and Twenty-fourth Congresses); resumed the practice of law in Winchester, Va., and died there August 29, 1854; interment in Mount Hebron Cemetery.
SAMUEL S. BOYD
Mr. Boyd was a native of Maine, had enjoyed ample advantages in early life, and was said to have been the best educated lawyer that ever appeared at the Natchez bar. His scholarly attainments were united with great intellectual vigor, unwearied application, and a sparkling vivacity of comprehension. He made his appearance in Mississippi about the year 1830, formed a copartnership in law with Judge Alexander Montgomery, and in a few years was found in the front rank of the bar of the State.
As a lawyer he was profound and sagacious, with an alertness and penetration that knew no surprise, and which barred every effort of undue advantage. His knowledge was as vast as the range of thought and the bounds of jurisprudence, while his judgment was commended by an accurate perception and ready comprehension of the analogies and relations of facts.
In 1837 he was one of the special judges appointed to try the case of Vick at al. vs. the Mayor and Aldermen of Vicksburg, in the High Court of Errors and Appeals, and delivered the opinion of the court. This opinion is able and eloquent, and, in view of the novel features of the cause, is enunciated with remarkable clearness and vigor. It evinces a perfect familiarity with the subtle and unsettled questions of law involved, and the conclusion is reached by an irresistible train of syllogistic reasoning; but upon a different estimate of facts it was reversed by the Supreme Court of the United States.
His brilliant command of language gathered the most elegant and forcible phrases for the enunciation of his views. Full of pathos and sentimentality, whatever opinion he adopted, or principle he espoused, was grafted in his belief, and his zeal was warm with the ardent glow of conviction. This vehement and emotional earnestness of manner gave great weight to his utterances, and commended his views to the conviction of others.
Prodigal with learning and research, his style of oratory was incisive, cogent, and demonstrative, while his illustrations were apt, energetic, and lucid. Possessed of every acquired qualification, he was only deficient in that " divine afflatus" which alone can give model to the perfect orator.
In social life Mr. Boyd was bland, polished, and refined, and was a favorite in society, He married the daughter of James C. Wilkins, Esq., the pioneer cotton merchant of Natchez, and one of its most eminent citizens. But, while surrounded with accumulated wealth, standing face to face with every prospect of greatness and every promise of happiness, Mr. Boyd, like many of our most eminent men, died in the prime of life, on the threshold of his honors, and in the full-blown flower of his genius. He was truly a man of eminent merit, and his name is entitled to a bright place in the annals of our bar, where monuments of true worth are built only of hearts, and the memory of greatness lives in the veneration of the great. Ibi emicat in aiternum.
Among those gentlemen of our bar who seemed to have been designated by nature for the profession of the law, there were few who possessed such indications in a more remarkable degree than the subject of this memoir.
Walker Brooke was born in the State of Virginia on the 25th of December, 1813, and there his boyhood and his youth were passed. His early scholastic advantages were good, and at the age of twenty-one years, he completed his education at the university of his native State, where he had given marked evidence of those intellectual traits which afterwards so highly adorned his character. Soon after retiring from the university, he began the study of law in the school of the celebrated Judge Tucker, one of the most eminent jurists of the Old Dominion, where he had every advantage that learning, refinement and the most distinguished example could afford. These opportunities were well improved, and Mr. Brooke was admitted to the bar with every prospect which a high order of talent and a thorough preparation could offer.
But finding his means inadequate to that probationary ordeal which, at that period, claimed many years of a young practitioner before he could assert a position at the bar of Virginia, he emigrated to Kentucky, and there taught school, during two years, in order to maintain himself until the door of practice should open to him.
But for this he possessed the unfailing " sesame;" and now turning his eyes toward that already illuminated legal field, he removed to Mississippi and located at Lexington in Holmes County, where his abilities were soon recognized, and he became immersed in a large and lucrative practice. His talents were also sought in another sphere, and he was several times returned as the representative of Holmes County in the Legislature, where his career was characterized as brilliant among the eminent gentlemen who, at that period, took their seats in that body.
On the election of Senator Foote to the gubernatorial chair of Mississippi in 1851, Mr. Brooke was appointed to all his unexpired term in the United States Senate ; in which his political acumen, stanch patriotism, and logical eloquence, attracted the notice of the whole country, and Mr. Brooke retired from this high position with the need of an honorable efficiency, and with the laurels of a well-deserved reputation.
He was a member of the Mississippi Seceding Convention of 1861, and was appointed one of the committee of fifteen to report an ordinance of secession ; and while he sustained that measure, he was disposed to plunge not without caution into the abyss, and sought to impend its effect upon the contingency of an effort towards reconciliation. He also introduced a resolution to refer the whole matter to the action of the people at the polls, but such formalities and delays were not compatible with circumstances, or in accord with the spirit of the times ; and Mr. Brooke was swept along with the current. On the passage of the ordinance, he was chosen one of the delegates to the Provisional Congress of the Southern States at Montgomery, and in that body continued to favor the measures of prudence. He seems never to have entertained the sanguine views of many of his associates, and appeared more disposed to obey the dictates of a cool judgment than the fiery impulses of the moment.
He was during his whole life an inveterate and uncompromising Whig, and waged a fierce and relentless war upon Democracy ; by the leaders of which he was dreaded, while his party was a rival power in the State, as a fearless champion and a foe of no unworthy steel.
As a lawyer, Mr. Brooke was conspicuously imbued with the learning of his profession, and by his free indulgence of a taste and fondness for knowledge, had cultivated a familiar acquaintance with the whole field of literature. He had also thoroughly studied mankind, was versed in all the varied phases of human nature, and understood those which indicate and measure the virtues and vices of men ; hence he was a ready detective of their motives, and capable of unweaving the most intricate webs of cunning and deceit. This faculty gave him great power, both in the elicitation of evidence and the elimination of truth, while his lucid method and simplifying -analysis often substituted a willing conviction for that confusion with which the subtleties of a less experienced advocate often darken the minds of the jury.
His perceptive faculties were quick, penetrating and alert, and his cultured legal judgment weighed every fact in the scale of applicable law. His terse and forcible logic was blended with an earnestness and vigor that penetrated to the most obtuse understanding, while the candor and suavity of his manners so captivated the minds of his hearers that conviction anticipated reflection, burst every barrier of prejudice, and followed enchained in the wake of attention. There were few men who so blended the softer emotions of a generous nature with the ruder elements of a stern and dutiful professional regimen. Firm and uncompromising in the faithful discharge of a trust, and unswerving in his devotion to the interests of his clients, he was mild and courteous in his professional bearing, simple and cordial in all his dealings, and exhibited at all times a heart overflowing with the sentiments of charity and benevolence.
But in no respect was he more exemplary in kindness and amiability than in his deportment toward the younger members of the bar, a quality of kindness which seems to be inseparable from the traits that constitute true professional greatness. He was always ready to befriend them, both in counsel and in deed, and with a patience and alacrity as if his learning and experience were possessions in which they had a fee title of participation ; and there are many living members of the profession who, to-day, remember with grateful feelings his words and acts of encouragement, and cherish the hallowed impressions of his generous aid.
While Mr. Brooke enjoyed, during the space of nearly thirty years, a large and lucrative practice at the bar of Mississippi, his great hospitality, large-handed charity, and liberal expenditure, precluded the accumulation of fortune. He found his greatest pleasure in the happiness of his friends, and in the gratification of every wish of his family, by whom he was beloved and venerated to the depths of devotion. He was married in 1840 to Miss Jane L. Eskridge of Carrol County, a lady adorned with many rare traits and accomplishments, by whom he had ten children.
His death, which occurred on the 19th of February, 1869, was attended by circumstances of a singular nature. He was eating oysters in company with some friends, in a saloon in Vicksburg, when, in endeavoring to swallow one of unusual size, it lodged in his throat, and, in his effort to expel it, it was forced into the trachea, and produced suffocation and insensibility : and although it was removed by a physician as soon as circumstances would permit, yet, so great was his prostration and the effusion of blood to his brain that it became the immediate cause of his death, which followed on the next day.
His death was deeply felt in the community in which he lived, and at the bar, of which he was a distinguished ornament, while the State mourned the loss of one of its purest patriots. The bar of Vicksburg paid a beautiful tribute to his memory, in which he was characterized as an ornament to his profession, an honor to his State, and a model father, friend, and citizen.
Biography below from Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress:
Senate Years of Service: 1852-1853
BROOKE, Walker, a Senator from Mississippi; born at Page Brooke, near Winchester, Clarke County, Va., December 25, 1813; attended the public schools in Richmond, Va., and Georgetown, D.C.; graduated from the University of Virginia at Charlottesville in 1835; studied law; admitted to the bar in 1838 and commenced practice in Lexington, Miss.; member, State house of representatives 1848; member, State senate 1850 and 1852; elected as a Whig to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Henry S. Foote and served from February 18, 1852, to March 3, 1853; was not a candidate for reelection; resumed the practice of law; moved to Vicksburg, Miss., in 1857 and continued the practice of law; delegate to the State constitutional convention in 1861; became affiliated with the Democratic Party in 1861; elected a member of the Provisional Confederate Congress from Mississippi in 1861 and served one year; appointed a member of the permanent military court of the Confederate States; died in Vicksburg, Miss., February 18, 1869; interment in Vicksburg Cemetery.
ROBERT H. BUCKNER
Robert H. Buckner was a native of Kentucky, and removed to Mississippi soon after the establishment of the State government, settled in Natchez, and became the law partner of John T. McMurran. This firm enjoyed for many years a high degree of prosperity, and was considered one of the best in the State.
Mr. Buckner was a man of quiet and studious habits, devoted to his profession, and prepared his cases with great exactness and care. He was fond of investigation, and was generally prepared to support his views by ample authority; hence, he was an excellent counsellor, but was deficient in the powers of an advocate, and his mediocrity in this respect was greatly due to his modesty and meekness of manners. He possessed in an eminent degree that tender conscientiousness, power of patient investigation, and scrupulous exactness, which were so conspicuous in the character of Lord Chancellor Eldon, and which seemed to likewise fit Mr. Buckner especially for the chancery branch of the profession.
In this respect his proficiency was distinctively acknowledged, and in the year 1839 he was elected Chancellor of the State. His career on this bench was distinguished for ability, dignity, conscientiousness, and industry. He had made himself thoroughly familiar with the whole system of equity, which he administered, not in a visionary and abstract manner, but in strict accord with the settled rules and established principles of the science, dug out of the records of ages and sanctioned by the wisdom and experience of mankind; and to him, more than to all others, is due that dignified, gentle, enlightened, and complete system of equity judicature which adorns the jurisprudence of Mississippi. For six years he presided over the Superior Court of Chancery with a wisdom and refinement, which would not have disparaged the most eminent lord chancellor that ever directed the impressions of the great seal. His court was a sanctum of dignity and decorum, and his decisions glow with a lustrous purity, doctrinal soundness, and logical clearness, unsurpassed by the most luminous decrees of Hardwicke or Lyndhurst. It is to be regretted that so few of these, comparatively, have been.
The subject of this sketch was a native of Tennessee, and belonged to a large and highly respectable family. His early educational advantages were limited, and he never acquired attainments sufficient to characterize him as a profound lawyer or man of learning. He emigrated to Mississippi about the time of the formation of the State Government, and in 1829 was elected to a seat upon the supreme bench, which he held until the reorganization of the courts under the Constitution of 1832. He was then elected to Congress, in which he assumed an active part in the exciting discussions of the period. In 1834 he resigned, and retired to his plantation in Louisiana, where he died. Judge Cage owed his success more to his vivacity and congeniality of disposition than to any professional qualifications. He possessed social qualities of the highest order. Full of life and anecdote, he was the central figure of every social circle, while his ready wit and apt repartee, together with his easily aroused sympathies and power of feeling, gave him considerable forte in the art of persuasion.
While he seems to have had but little relish for office, he was yet evidently more of a politician, both by nature and by culture, than a lawyer. He is said to have been fond of miscellaneous and light literature, such as was congenial to his facetious taste and furnished him with tales of humor and anecdote. His manners were kind-and unassuming, but his gentle and amiable disposition reposed upon a spirit of indomitable courage.
As a judge he was conscientious and upright, patient and polite in his audience, and accorded a courteous consideration to all who approached him. He was, moreover, of an energetic and enterprising nature, sincere and manly in his bearing, and a general favorite with the members of the bar.
The following biography is from the Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress:
CAGE, Harry, a Representative from Mississippi; born at Cages Bend of the Cumberland River, Sumner County, Tenn., birth date unknown; moved to Wilkinson County, Miss., in early youth; studied law; was admitted to the bar and commenced practice in Woodville, Miss.; judge of the supreme court of Mississippi,1829-1832; elected as a Jacksonian to the Twenty-third Congress (March 4, 1833-March 3, 1835); retired from the practice of law and settled on Woodlawn plantation in the parish of Terrebonne, near the town of Houma, in Louisiana; died while on a visit to New Orleans, La., in 1859; interment in the cemetery of the Stewart family in Wilkinson County, Miss.
JOSEPH W. CHALMERS
The subject of this memoir was born in Halifax County, Virginia, in the year 1807. His father, Captain James Chalmers, was by birth a Scotchman and a near relative of Dr. Thomas Chalmers, the celebrated Presbyterian divine. He emigrated to America soon after the achievement of its independence, and engaged first in mercantile pursuits and afterwards in planting. His enterprise and industry met with adequate rewards, and he became the possessor of a large plantation on Dan River, and the owner of numerous slaves. His son Joseph was destined to the vocation of a merchant, and was placed at an early age as a clerk in a mercantile house, where he remained until he arrived at the age of nineteen. But the mental restraints and fettering routine of a life of trade were incompatible with the cravings of his mind and the soaring desires of his ambition. He had during his mercantile apprenticeship devoted every intervening opportunity to the cultivation of his literary taste and to the acquisition of knowledge, and after the death of his father, which occurred about this time, he determined to obey the dictates of his desire to become a lawyer, and repaired to the University of Virginia, where he spent two years, and then entered the law office of the distinguished Benjamin Watkins Leigh, in Richmond. On obtaining his license, he began the practice of his profession in his native county, under every promise which a thorough preparation and professional devotion could engender, and with every prospect which a high order of mental and moral qualities could vouch safe to his ambition.
At the age of twenty-three he married Miss Fanny Henderson, daughter of Alexander Henderson, of Milton, North Carolina, and the grandniece of Hon. Leonard Henderson, Chief Justice of that State; and, in 1835, having sold his patrimonial interest to his older brother, he determined to seek his professional fame and his fortunes in the West, and emigrated to Jackson, Tennessee. Here he at once took his position in the front rank of the lawyers of the Western District, and was engaged in most of the important cases that came before the courts of that section. He was one of the counsel for the notorious John A. Murrell, when that famous robber was finally convicted and sentenced to the penitentiary at Nashville. While at this bar, he recovered ten thousand dollars damages from a wealthy young man who had deceived and ruined a poor young girl, under promise of marriage, and his speech on the trial of that, cause is still remembered by the old citizens of the country as having been the most eloquent and pathetic ever heard at the bar of the Western District.
In 1840 he removed to Mississippi, and located in the town of Holly Springs, where he formed a copartnership with Judge Alexander M. Clayton. This connection, however, subsisted but a short time, and was dissolved by mutual consent. Mr. Chalmers soon afterwards became the partner of Roger Barton, which association continued so long as they both lived, and constituted the leading law firm of Northern Mississippi. Its practice embraced a wide range, and was large in every branch of the profession. This necessitated a division of their labors; and while Mr. Barton devoted his attention chiefly to the criminal side of the docket, Mr. Chalmers, whose mental traits and legal acquirements seemed equally adapted to either domain, attended principally to civil cases and suits in chancery.
For a period of many years there were few cases of importance before the courts of North Mississippi in which the services of these gentlemen were not engaged. They never prosecuted, but so successful were they in criminal defences that through a long series of years, during which they defended more than a score of men for homicide, they never failed to obtain the acquittal of their clients. Chief among these defences were those of Dyson, Nelms, and Slodge, each of whom was charged with murder, and their crimes attended with desperate and apparently hopeless circumstances.
In 1842, the Legislature of Mississippi established a vice- chancery district composed of the northern counties of the State, and provided for the election of a vice-chancellor, who should hold his court in each of these counties, and which should have concurrent jurisdiction with the Superior Court of Chancery, of all cases in equity where the amount involved in the controversy did not exceed five hundred thousand dollars. To this bench Mr. Chalmers was immediately appointed by Governor A. G. Brown, and held this position until the next regular election in 1843, when he was succeeded by Hon. Henry Dickenson, of Columbus. He discharged the duties of this office with distinguished ability, with a conscientious adherence to the principles of equity, and with a dignity and purity which gave elevation and honor to the new court.
In 1846, Judge Chalmers was appointed by Governor Brown to the seat in the United States Senate made vacant by the appointment of Hon. Robert J. Walker to the position of Secretary of the Treasury, and was subsequently elected by the Legislature for the short term; at the expiration of which he declined re-election and was succeeded by Hon. Jefferson Davis.
While in the Senate he was a warm supporter of President Polk and the measures of his administration. His speech in support of the Mexican War, and that in maintenance of the position taken by the United States in the dispute with Great Britain concerning the Oregon boundary, were regarded as the ablest delivered in the Senate on these questions.
During his term in the Senate he maintained the most cordial relations with Mr. Calhoun, and renewed with him a friendship which had originated during the nullification troubles of 1832, when Mr. Chalmers offered his services to the State of South Carolina, and was made a major in the army which that State contemplated raising for the defence of its rights.
In 1848, he was chosen elector for the State at large in the campaign for Cass and Butler, and made many able and eloquent speeches during that canvass. He was an ardent State Rights Democrat, and prominent in all the councils of his party and the State canvasses for many years. He was an enthusiastic supporter of John A. Quitman and Jefferson Davis in their contests with Henry S. Foote in 1851. Ho was a devoted Mississippian, and on his deathbed expressed the wish that none of his sons might ever abandon the State, but that they might live and die faithful citizens of Mississippi. He died at his residence in Holly Springs, in June, 1853, in the forty-seventh year of his age, from the effects of dyspepsia, from which he had been a sufferer for many years. He left six children, four sons and two daughters, only two of whom are now living.? General James R. Chalmers, member of Congress, and Hon. H. H. Chalmers, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Mississippi.
As a lawyer Judge Chalmers was thorough and profound. He possessed a vigorous grasp of intellect, a keen and ready apprehension, which could penetrate the most intricate combination that could be woven from the web and woof of subtlety. His judgment was clear and accurate, and reached with equal facility to the gist of principle and the motive springs of action. His official and professional character exhibited in a high degree that difficult combination, a suavity of manner with the energy of dispatch, and blended the purity of Sir Thomas More with the expedition of Lord Ellesmere.
But if he was eminent as a lawyer and judge, he was no less distinguished for the amiable qualities of the man and the pure and ardent sentiments of the patriot. His political convictions were deep-seated and unalterable, and he was styled the " Apostle of Democracy" in North Mississippi, an appellation which his distinguished services in promoting the interest of his parity justly merited. He labored incessantly and arduously for its success, and with a confidence and vigor that kindled the hope of triumph even in the gloom of defeat. He was a fluent and forcible speaker, possessed a tasty and classical command of language, and his elocution was easy and elegant. While he was invincibly aggressive in the performance of duty and the advocacy of principle, his deportment was characterized by a modesty and decorum which asserted the accomplished gentleman and magnanimous man. As a lawyer, as a judge, and as a statesman, Judge Chalmers was responsive and equal to every demand of duty, met with promptness every requirement of honor and patriotism, and acquitted himself with distinction in every sphere of his life. He was enterprising, public-spirited, and generous, and was considered as a father by the junior members of the bar and the young men of his town, and by his whole people as an able, upright, and useful man, whose memory they delight to cherish, and whose example should be followed by all who seek the path of virtue and the road to true greatness and honor.
The biography below is from: Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans. Vol. II. Boston, MA, USA: The Biographical Society, 1904
CHALMERS, Joseph W., senator, was born in Halifax county, Va., in 1807, of Scotch parentage. He studied law in the University of Virginia, and in a lawyer's office in Richmond. Va. He removed to Jackson. Tenn., in 1835, and practised (sic) his profession there for five years, at the end of that time going to Holly Springs, Miss. He was appointed vice-chancellor in 1842, and held the office during 1842 and '43. He was appointed United States senator from Mississippi to succeed Robert J. Walker, and served from Dec. 7, 1845, to March 3, 1847. He then resumed his law practice in Holly Springs, Miss.. where he died in June, 1853.
This biography is from the Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress:
Senate Years of Service: 1845-1847
CHALMERS, Joseph Williams, (father of James Ronald Chalmers), a Senator from Mississippi; born in Halifax County, Va., 1807; studied law in the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, and in Richmond; admitted to the bar and practiced; moved to Jackson, Tenn., in 1835 and to Holly Springs, Miss., in 1839, practicing law in both places; vice chancellor of the northern Mississippi district in 1842 and 1843; appointed and subsequently elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Robert J. Walker and served from November 3, 1845, to March 3, 1847; chairman, Committee on Engrossed Bills (Twenty-ninth Congress); engaged in the practice of law in Holly Springs, Marshall County, Miss., until his death on June 16, 1853; interment in Hill Crest Cemetery.
JOSHUA G. CLARKE
Joshua G. Clarke was born and reared in the State of Pennsylvania, and received a competent education. He appeared in the Mississippi Territory at an early period in its history, and represented Claiborne County in the Territorial Legislature. He was also a member of the convention assembled in 1817 for the purpose of forming a State Government, and took an active part in the proceedings of that body. In 1820 he was promoted to a seat upon the supreme bench of Mississippi, and in 1821, upon the establishment of a separate chancery system, he was appointed the first Chancellor of the State, and held that office until the year 1827.
Judge Clarke was a lawyer of ability, and a man of sterling qualities. He possessed in a high degree that placid temper and amiable patience which comport so compatibly with the requisite character of a good chancellor and just judge ; and it is to be regretted that his decisions have not been preserved. His learning and integrity first directed our system of equity jurisprudence into those channels through which it has flowed with increasing volume and utility. His career upon the supreme bench, though short, gave eminence to his judicial character. His opinions are marked with learning, dignity, and force ; and had he lived longer his usefulness would have, no doubt, increased with his years. He died at Port Gibson in 1828.
Judge Child was a native of New England, where he had been well educated in the various schools of science before entering upon the study of law. He appeared in Mississippi about the time of the State organization, and practised his profession in the city of Natchez. His thorough education and the natural vigor of his mind enabled him to achieve a rapid progress towards eminence in his profession. He was soon accounted an able lawyer, and in 1825 was promoted to the supreme bench. About this time, however, he began to yield to a propensity to drink, which his sociability and natural ardor of temperament greatly aggravated.
There are many disgusting incidents of this character related of Judge Child, which were said to have occurred in the various counties of his circuit. It is related of him that on one occasion, in one of the border counties, while under the influence of drink he became angry with some of the members of the bar, and to vent his rage, at the close of the term he ordered an adjournment, mounted his horse, and rode away without signing the minutes of the court.
Judge Child was never married, and strongly manifested the peculiarities usually belonging to those who grow old in celibacy. He was a man of courage, and engaged in a duel with General Joor, upon terms of bitter desperation, and in which both parties were severely wounded.
His opinions from the bench were delivered in a lucid, terse, and forcible manner, free from all prolixity or effort at display, and resting upon the authority of the court rather than upon an array of reported decisions.
He was fond of exhibiting his authority, at times excessively satirical and somewhat overbearing; hence he was not very popular with the members of the bar. Judge Child resigned his seat in 1831, and died not long afterwards.
Alexander M. Clayton
Virginia at that period were defined by an arbitrary custom, and often painfully prolonged ; and chafing under restraints which prevented the immediate and full development of his talents, Mr. Clayton sought a more ample and less ceremonious field, and removed to Tennessee and settled at the flourishing town of Clarksville. Here he met many distinguished lawyers, such as Hon. Cave Johnson, Judge William Brown, Judge William Turley, and others, by whom the talents of the young Virginian were immediately recognized, and they gave him a kindly and friendly reception. He had been but a short time in Clarksville before he was employed in some of the most important cases at that bar, and established a reputation which placed him in the first rank of his profession. He then formed a copartnership with Mr. Turley, which continued as one of the leading law firms in that portion of Tennessee until the latter was elevated to the bench. But in the midst of his professional triumphs Mr. Clayton met, in 1832, with the greatest of reverses in the loss of the devoted wife who had espoused his early fortunes, encouraged his youthful hopes, and inspired his professional ambition. This event was a severe shock to his sensitive and affectionate nature, and seemed for a time to unsettle his plans, to mar his hopes, and to cast a settled gloom over all his prospects. But, fortunately, a circumstance intervened which promised some relief to his mind and drew him away from the scenes of his sorrow. He was appointed by General Jackson, then President of the United States, to the position of United States Judge for the Territory of Arkansas. He held this office, however, for only one year, and then resigned and returned to Clarksville. While in Arkansas he had occasion to visit the country bordering on the Mississippi River, where the cholera was then raging with fatal malignity, and having contracted this terrible disease in its most virulent form, his constitution was prostrated to such a degree as to indicate a settled infirmity fatal to the performance of his professional duties. But after a protracted state of physical debility the healthful breezes and inspiring scenes of his early triumphs restored his health, and now catching the enticing reports of the exceeding fertility, the scenic beauty, and flushed prospects of the country which had been lately ceded to the United States by the Chickasaw and Choctaw Indians in Northern Mississippi, he removed to this State in 1837, and settled on a plantation near the present village of Lamar, in Marshall County. His agricultural operations were successful. The forests, which had never echoed but to the whoop of the Indian, were soon felled by the slaves which he brought with him from Tennessee, and bountiful crops were the reward of his judgment and enterprise. He, in the mean time, however, relaxed none of his energy and devotion in the pursuit of his profession. He found in this State a vast field of litigation, and entered immediately upon a lucrative and growing practice. The loose system of banking establishments, their numerous failures, and the efforts made to fix liability on the individual members of these corporations, have already been referred to in this work as fruitful sources of litigation at that period in Mississippi.
In 1842 Mr. Clayton was elected to the bench of the High Court of Errors and Appeals to fill a vacancy occasioned by the resignation of Mr. Justice Trotter, and in 1844 was re-elected for a full term. His decisions are remarkable for profound learning, and for the many novel and important principles , which they established in our jurisprudence. They are always clear and penetrating, embrace every hinging feature, and present a lucid exposition of every point necessary to disclose clearly the rights of the parties and the equity involved in the dispute.
Whilst upon the bench of the High Court, Judge Clayton delivered a series of opinions involving the question of the limitation of estates in our jurisprudence. These opinions, which met with the concurrence of the other judges, inculcated the doctrine that the Mississippi Statutes had so far modified the common law as, of themselves, to furnish rules amply sufficient to determine all questions of that character without recurrence to the artificial and technical principles of the English law.
Judge Clayton's term upon the High Bench expired in 1851, and he was a candidate for re-election ; but as he had taken strong grounds for the doctrines of the States Rights party a short time before in the Nashville Convention, and in the Mississippi Compromise Convention, held in the early part of 1851, as well as during the canvass, in which an address which he published to the people constituted mainly the platform of the campaign, he shared the defeat of his party and returned to a vigorous practice of his profession, in copartnership with Hon. J. W. C. Watson, of Holly Springs.
On the election of Mr. Pierce to the Presidency he tendered to Judge Clayton, without solicitation on his part, the position of consul to Havana. This office he accepted, and repaired to the island of Cuba. At that time there was considerable excitement in the Southern States, caused by a report raised, no doubt by filibusters, that a treaty had been formed between France, England, and Spain for the purpose of " Africanizing Cuba."
Judge Clayton received instructions to investigate the matter and ascertain the truth as to the existence of such a treaty, and he entered zealously upon that duty. Having availed himself of every Source and means of information, he became satisfied that the alarm was false, and his report to his government to that effect calmed all apprehension in regard to it, and the strict enforcement of the neutrality laws during his residence in the island put an end to the projects of the filibusters. It was not long, however, before the failure of his health and uncongeniality of the situation caused him to resign and return to his home in Mississippi. But being attracted by the rapid growth and commercial prosperity of Memphis, he soon after removed to that city and formed a copartnership with Judge Archibald Wright and D. M. Currin.
This firm enjoyed a large patronage ; but Judge Clayton had not been long in Memphis before the unmistakable omens which began to flit across the political skies stirred his patriotic anxieties. He was a member of the Charleston Convention, and of that subsequently held at Baltimore, and when he saw the dark shadowy of the approaching storm gathering along the horizon he stepped boldly into the arena of action. He returned to Mississippi, and in 1861 was chosen a delegate from Marshall County to the convention which withdrew Mississippi from the Federal Union.
In this body, as chairman of the committee appointed for that purpose, he presented an able address setting forth a declaration of the immediate causes which induced and justified the secession of the State of Mississippi from the Federal Union. He was also chosen one of the seven delegates to the Montgomery Convention, and was subsequently ordained to a seat in the Provisional Congress of the Confederate States. His services during this period were of marked efficiency. His great legal learning, calm and conservative judgment, and unswerving fidelity to the interest of his people, rendered his counsel at once weighty and influential.
When the Confederate Government was inaugurated Judge Clayton was appointed to the bench of the Confederate District Court for Mississippi, and held that position until the close of the war. There was during this period, of course, but little civil business before his court, and only one point of a general interest in the laws of war was decided by him, which was, that where the Government was powerless to protect, it had no power to punish.
After the close of the war he was appointed, on the death of Judge Trotter, to a seat on the circuit bench, and was elected afterwards for a full term, but was. removed by Governor Ames in consequence of his inability to take what was called the ironclad oath.
He has always taken great interest in the cause of education and in all public enterprises. He was made a trustee of the State University upon the establishment of that institution, and still maintains that relationship. He was also a chief promoter of the construction of the Mississippi Central Railroad, and was for several years one of its directors. In 1879 he lost his second wife, with whom he had lived in the warmest affection and in the bonds of unbroken harmony for more than forty years, who was to him a true and devoted friend.
He now resides at his home near the village of Lamar, in Benton County, Mississippi, in quiet seclusion, having withdrawn from all public affairs, and if the good wishes of his country and the esteem of his fellow citizens can soften the bed of death, his last rest will be upon a couch of down. Alexander Clayton died near Lamar, Died near Lamar, Benton County, Miss., September 30, 1889. He was laid to rest at Hillcrest Cemetery, Holly Springs, Miss.
Source for the biography below is "Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans". Vol. II. Boston, MA, USA: The Biographical Society, 1904
CLAYTON, Alexander Mosby, jurist, was born in Campbell county, Va., Jan. 15, 1801; son of William and Clarissa (Mosby) Clayton, and a descendant of Dr. John Clayton (born in England, 1690, died in Virginia, 1773). He was admitted to the bar in 1823 and practised (sic) for a time at Louisa Court House, after which he removed to Clarkesville, Tenn. He was appointed U.S. judge for Arkansas Territory, Dec. 12, 1832, and remained in the office for two years. He removed to Mississippi in 1837 and was there judge of the high court of errors and appeals, 1842-51. In 1853 he was appointed U.S. consul at Havana, but resigned that post and removed to Memphis, Tenn. He remained in Memphis but a short time, returning to his old home "Woodcote" in Mississippi. He was a delegate to the Mississippi secession convention in 1861, and wrote the ordinance of secession reported by the committee and adopted. He was a member of the Confederate provisional congress; district judge of the Mississippi district during the war, and afterward circuit judge until removed by Governor Ames. He was a member and president of the board of trustees of the University of Mississippi, 1844-53, 1857, and 1878-89. He died at his seat, "Woodcote," in Benton county, Miss., Sept. 30, 1889.
GEORGE R. CLAYTON
George R. Clayton was born in Athens, Georgia, on the 6th of October, 1808, and was the oldest son of Hon. Augustine S. Clayton and Julia Clayton, nee Carnes. He graduated at the University of Georgia in 1827, and read law in the office of his father, who was one of the many able lawyers, distinguished jurists, and eminent representatives in Congress, of whom Georgia can so justly and proudly boast. George began the practice of law in his native town, and his natural ability and thorough professional training enabled him very soon to attain a position of prominence at the bar ; but the attention which the sprightliness of his genius had so early attracted was not to permit its confinement to the dull routine of a law office, and its seclusion from public affairs.
In 1834 he was elected to a seat in the Legislature of Georgia, and participated with activity and prominence in all matters of general legislation, and particularly distinguished himself by the remarkable ability and zeal he displayed in the advocacy of a petition made to the Legislature for the pardon of a minister of the gospel, the Rev. Mr. Johnston, who had been convicted on circumstantial evidence of the murder, in his own house, of a young girl who was his ward. Here was a theme and occasion well calculated to kindle the glowing benevolence of his nature, and elicit the brightest coruscations of his intellect; and he nobly availed himself of the opportunity. After a thorough investigation of the case, Mr. Clayton became so profoundly convinced of the innocence of the applicant for legislative clemency, that he threw all the impulses of his heart and powers of his genius into the struggle for the rescue of the unhappy man from the terrible fate that awaited him ; and in this noble effort achieved a reputation throughout the State for pre-eminent qualities, and for an intellectual ability rarely attained by one of his years.
About this time Mr. Clayton was married to Ann R. Harris, oldest daughter of Gen. Jephtha V. Harris, who for more than forty years practised law in the Northern Circuit of Georgia, with distinguished success ; and if it be true that the germs of excellence pulsate in inheritable veins, this lady brought to him a dowry kindred to that heritage described in the beginning of this sketch.
In 1836 Mr. Clayton removed with his family to Mississippi, and established his residence in the town of Columbus, where he continued the practice of law, and took his position among the most eminent of the profession ; but, while he was a devoted barrister, he entertained firm and vigorous opinions regarding matters of public interest, and still listened to the voice of political ambition. During the very next year after his advent to Mississippi, we find him engaging in a fierce discussion, at Columbus, with Alexander G. McNutt, and acquitting himself with distinction in his polemical contest with that veteran politician, who was then canvassing the State for governor upon the Van Buren platform.
At the election following this canvass Major McNutt was elected, and during his term as governor promulgated those doctrines which finally resulted in repudiation. To this principle Mr. Clayton was bitterly hostile, and in 1843 engaged in a canvass for governor against Hon. Albert G. Brown, in which the main issue between the opposing candidates was repudiation or payment on the part of the State of the bonds of the Union Bank, but the policy of repudiation was embraced by a majority of the people, and Mr. Brown was elected. Those who favored the payment of the bonds contended, first, for their legality, and then for ,the honor and credit of the State, which they conceived should be preserved at all events. Some abhorred the principle of public repudiation to such an extent as to dispose them to waive all doubts of their legality, in favor of their payment ; and among these was the subject of this sketch. The stanch position of Mr. Clayton in opposition to repudiation debarred him, with many other men of eminence, from the preferments which his abilities merited, and which his popularity otherwise would have achieved.
He was a warm advocate of States rights, favored separation as the only mode of preserving them, and was a member of the convention that withdrew the State of Mississippi from the Union, and took an active and vigorous part in all the proceedings of secession, the right and justification of which he maintained to the day of his death.
Having lost his wife some years before, he was married in 1861 to Miss Laura Johnston, daughter of Gabriel Johnston, Esq., of Mobile, a lady of many noble qualities and accomplishments.
At the close of the war his aged mother was still living, and so soon as the affairs of the country would permit, he hastened to look after her welfare; and while on a visit to her with his family, he was stricken with disease of the heart, and died in Athens, Georgia, in 1867, in the house of his mother and the home of his childhood.
As a lawyer, Mr. Clayton was thorough, accurate, and vigorous ; conspicuous for his ready grasp and tenacity of tenable positions, and for his ability to fasten conviction upon the minds of both judges and jurors. This was due to his masterly knowledge of law, his brilliant logical powers, and his polished arts of suasion. His probity and integrity commanded universal confidence, while his amiable and courteous bearing engaged the most affectionate esteem of his brothers of the bar.
The subject of this sketch was born in the eastern portion of the State of Tennessee, and in 1818, when quite young, removed with his parents to Columbus, Mississippi, where his father was sent under the appointment as agent for the Choctaw tribe of Indians. Here young Cocke acted in the capacity of clerk of the agency, and subsequently as clerk of the Circuit Court.
His general education was consequently of a meagre character, but he was early trained to the habits and knowledge of business. While performing the duties of circuit clerk, Mr. Cocke turned his attention to the study of law, in which he soon manifested a commendable progress. Yet it cannot be said that he ever acquired distinguished proficiency at the bar. He was noted more for diligence than aptitude in his profession, He was an indefatigable student, fond of patient investigation, and even of antiquarian researches, and his success was due more to these qualities than to any marked intellectual brilliancy.
In 1834 Mr. Cocke represented the counties of Monroe, Lowndes, and Rankin in the State Senate, and distinguished himself for his vigorous championship of the cause of the new counties formed of the Choctaw and Chickasaw cessions.
In 1845 Mr. Cocke was elected Chancellor of the State. This office he held for the full term of six years. He was not popular as chancellor, and acquired no distinctive eminence on the bench. His elevation was, no doubt, due in a great measure to his popularity in the Legislature, and to his efforts in behalf of the new counties.
His decisions manifest neither a high degree of legal acumen nor lucidness of style, but by patient and laborious application he succeeded in keeping the beaten track of his more eminent predecessor, and availed himself closely of precedents.
William Francis Dowd
William Francis Dowd was born in the State of South Carolina, at Society Hill, in the District of Darlington, on the 31st of December, 1820. His paternal ancestors were of Irish origin, and were distinguished as soldiers in the war of the American Revolution. His father was a captain in the war of 1812, and was afterwards a Baptist clergyman noted for his strenuous advocacy of the missionary interest, and for his exertions towards the establishment of educational institutions. His mother, who had been educated at the Moravian School of Salem, in North Carolina, was a lady of culture and refinement; and to her teachings Colonel Dowd always attributed with distinguished pride those ambitious aspirations and eminent qualities which achieved his success in life.
In 1832 young Dowd emigrated to the State of Tennessee with his parents, who settled on a small farm on Forked Deer River, near the town of Jackson. Here he was reared to manhood, and here, during the frequent and protracted absences of his father on ministerial duties, he attended, during the daytime, to the improvement and cultivation of the farm, and at night listened to the instructions of his amiable and devoted mother, who inspired him with that spirit of application and thirst for knowledge which attended him through life. He also attended at intervals a common school in the vicinity, and was maintained a short time at an academy in Brownsville.
In 1841 the family removed to Mississippi and established its residence in Monroe County, near the village of Smithville. The mind of his aged father had now become greatly impaired, and young Dowd found himself burdened with the main charge of the family, and with the responsibility of educating his younger brother and his sister. He continued to labor with his own hands for their support and promotion, but the dull and monotonous routine of farm drudgery did not satisfy his intellectual appetite and the cravings of his ambition. He longed for a sphere in which his conscious genius could assert its claims to the notice and respect of his fellow-men. The law presented its boundless field and its shafts of glory to his imagination, and, encouraged by his cultured and ambitious mother, he entered upon its study with a determination and avidity which predestinated at once a successful career. He continued, however, his attention to the farm, and taking his Blackstone with him to the field, he would select some shady spot where he could observe the progress of the laborers, and there pore over those great principles which he was afterwards to elucidate with so much depth and brilliancy. And to-day a tree near the roadside is pointed out by his old neighbors as having been a favorite beneath whose shady boughs he pursued his study, all absorbed and heedless of the jeers and jokes hurled at the young disciple of Coke by the rustic denizens who passed that way.
He was admitted to the bar about the year 1846, and made his first appearance at the April term, 1847, of the Monroe County Court. He was then a member of the firm of Coop- wood, Herbert & Dowd, of Aberdeen. His very first efforts commanded the attention and admiration of the court and the older members of the bar, and caused him to be recognized at once as a young man of decided genius and great promise.
About this time he became also the editor of a newspaper published in Aberdeen in the interest of the Whig party, which he conducted with skill and ability, and without relaxing his application to his chosen profession. In 1854 he was married to Miss Ann W. Brown, daughter of Colonel James Brown, of Lafayette County, Mississippi, a lady of accomplished culture and many distinguished graces ; and so great had become his popularity as a successful advocate that his professional income during the year of his marriage is said to have reached the amount of twenty thousand dollars.
He was an unswerving advocate of the doctrine of States rights, favored secession as the only remedy against Federal usurpation, and upon the advent of the civil war promptly marshalled all his energies for the conflict; and, under a commission from the Confederate Secretary of War, raised and mustered for the duration of the war the 24th Mississippi Regiment of Infantry, of which he became colonel. His first engagement was at the battle of Corinth, in which his regiment took a distinguished part, holding with desperation a large force of the enemy in check while the bloody drama of the day was being enacted. At the battle of Perryville he acquitted himself with conspicuous gallantry, and at the battles of Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge the 24th Mississippi, led by Colonel Dowd, gained a brilliant wreath of the glory of those two terrible days. After this his health became too feeble for field service, and he was appointed by the President one of the judges of the military court for North Alabama, which position he held until the close of the war.
On the return of peace he again opened the doors of his office, and in 1865 entered into a copartnership in law with Colonel Sale and Hon. James Phelan, which continued until the year 1867, when it was dissolved by the voluntary withdrawal of Colonel Phelan. The firm of Sale & Dowd was then formed, and existed until dissolved by mutual consent in 1876. These firms are celebrated in the legal annals of the State for the great learning and ability of the gentlemen composing them.
After his severance with Judge Sale, Colonel Dowd continued the practice alone, and his business was at all times more than equal to his physical ability, which, becoming more and more impaired, finally gave way beneath the onerous burdens which his mental energies imposed upon it. His intense and continued application would brook no restraint, his ambition to achieve would listen to no bodily rebuke, and he fell on the plain of his greatness with the same spirit with which he leaped into the field. He died at his home in Aberdeen, on the 28th of November, 1878.
EPHRAIM S. FISHER.
Ephraim S. Fisher was born near Danville, Kentucky, on the 15th of November, 1815, and was educated in the college at that place, in which his proficiency was marked by rapid progress. He early manifested a thirst for knowledge and an aptitude in its acquisition which gave unmistakable assurances of his destiny. So moral and assiduous was his deportment and so scholarly his attainments, that while yet a student he was employed as an assistant tutor. On retiring from college he engaged in teaching a country school, and, having determined to prepare himself for the bar, pursued the study of law during the intermissions of his preceptorial duties.
In 1833, impelled by an ambition alert for more flattering prospects, he emigrated to Mississippi, and resided for some years in Vicksburg, where he became connected with the clerk's office, and at the same time pursued his legal studies under the instruction of Joseph Holt. In 1838 he obtained his license from the High Court of Errors and Appeals, and immediately entered upon his brilliant professional career at the bar. He practised, however, only about one year in Vicksburg, and in 1839 removed to North Mississippi and located at Coffeeville. Here he entered at once upon a large and remunerative practice, which was interrupted only by the popular demand for his political services. He was elected to the Legislature, but, having served one term, declined the re-election offered him, and devoted himself exclusively to his profession. About this time he married Miss Martha A. Towns, an estimable lady, the accomplished daughter of Colonel Armistead Towns, a wealthy and genial planter of Yalobusha County. They reared a large and interesting family, of whom five daughters and two sons, and their mother, are now living. The professional success and popularity of Mr. Fisher continued to increase until he occupied an eminent position at the bar, and in 1851 was elected to the bench-of the High Court of Errors and Appeals, which position he held until a short time prior to the civil war, when he resigned and returned to the bar. Judge Fisher was opposed to the policy of secession. He had always been a Clay Whig in politics, and deprecated the idea of a dissolution of the Union. He seemed to have a premonition of the consequences, and a prescient estimate of the terrible results that would attend its failure ; but when he saw the irresistible tide sweeping over the country, he accepted the situation and threw himself into the current. He voted for Mr. Davis to be President, and during the war accepted a colonelcy in the Home Guards, and took an active part in enlisting the old men for the purpose of encouraging the people.
In 1865 he was nominated for Governor of Mississippi by the Constitutional Convention. He was at that time attending to some professional business in Washington, and returned to Mississippi only a few days before the election. This circumstance and the indifference he manifested in regard to the office were fatal to his chances of obtaining it. He, no doubt, saw, while in Washington, the humiliating attitude in which the party controlling the Federal Government was preparing to place the sovereignty of Mississippi, and was reluctant to accept a position which he foresaw would be fraught with so much responsibility and vexation.
After the war Judge Fisher resumed the practice of his profession, but in 1869 was appointed by Governor Alcorn to the bench of the Circuit Court. In 1876 he removed to Texas and located in Georgetown, where he continued the practice of law in copartnership with one of his sons, but died suddenly a short time afterwards. Mr. Wirt says of the distinguished Robert Goodloe Harper that, while apparently in good health, standing before the fire, and reading a newspaper, " He dropped down dead ;'' and the death of Judge Fisher, which occurred on the night of the 12th of October, 1876, took place under somewhat similar circumstances. He had just partaken of a hearty supper with his accustomed joviality, and was sitting by the fire discussing in a gleeful manner with his son the logical triumph of the open letter of Hon. Jeremiah Black to Mr. Garfield, which had just appeared, and then turning to his son, who had but a moment returned from an attendance on court, requested him to go in to his supper and return quickly; that he had some important business to transact with him, alluding to a case in which they were employed. His son finished his supper, and calling to his father, who had walked out on the portico, announced himself ready. The Judge re-entered the room, and suddenly placed his hand upon his forehead. His son inquired the cause of his agitation. He replied that he felt a severe pain over the eye, and laid down on the bed, but became immediately unconscious, and died within an hour.
SAMUEL J. GHOLSON.
Samuel Jonathan Gholson was born in Madison County, Kentucky, on the 19th of May, 1808, but emigrated in 1817, with his father's family, to the northern part of Alabama, where his youth was passed. His early education was very limited, being such only as he could obtain from the common country schools of that period ; but he possessed a remarkable energy and an ambition which knew no goal but success, and on arriving at the age of manhood he studied law in Russellville, Alabama, under the guidance of Judge Peter Martin. In 1819 he was licensed to practice by the Supreme Court of his adopted State, and in 1830 removed to Mississippi and located as a lawyer at Athens, in Monroe County, where he was married, in 1838, to Miss Ragsdale, a lady conspicuous for her virtues.
In 1833 he was elected to the Legislature of Mississippi, and was continued a member of that body by re-election until 1836, when he was chosen to a seat in the United States House of Representatives, at a special election held by order of the Governor, to fill a vacancy in the Mississippi delegation occasioned by the death of General David Dickson, and was returned for a full term at the regular election in 1837. This latter election was contested by his Whig opponent, Mr. Word, in connection with Mr. Prentiss, who at the same time contested that of Colonel J. F. H. Claiborne, the circumstances of which are presented in the sketch of the last-named gentleman.
The career of Mr. Gholson in Congress was marked with vigor and fidelity. He was vigilant and bold in the defence of the interest of his section, and in the advocacy of the principles of his party, and came repeatedly in conflict with Hon. Henry A. Wise, of Virginia, who, supported by Mr. Bailie Peyton, of Tennessee, both professed fireeaters, sought to play the role of Mr. Randolph in the House, and not unfrequently attempted to sneer down or intimidate their opponents. In 1838 Mr. Gholson was appointed by Mr. Van Buren to the judgeship of the United States District Court for the State of Mississippi, and retained his seat on that bench until the outbreak of the civil war in 1861. While occupying this position an incident occurred which strikingly illustrated the patriotic character of the man. When Governor Quitman was arrested by the United States authorities, charged with complicity in the expedition of Lopez, he was brought before Judge Gholson, who was then holding his court at Jackson, to give bail for his appearance before the District Court at New Orleans, the alleged locus criminis, to answer to the indictment ; but when the Governor appeared at the bar of the court Judge Gholson ordered him to be released simply upon his promise to appear and answer. He could not consent to require of the Governor of his State any other recognizance than his word of honor. But no stronger obligation could have been exacted from John A. Quitman.
Judge Gholson, having resigned his position, was elected a member of the Mississippi Secession Convention, and participated actively in the proceedings of that body. When the war began he joined as a private one of the first companies raised in his county, and was afterwards chosen its captain. He was wounded through his right lung at the siege of Fort Donelson , and his company having been captured at the fall of that place, he raised another and took the field under General Sterling Price, participating in the battles of Luka and Corinth, and in the latter engagement was badly wounded through his left thigh.
In the spring of 1863 he was appointed Major-General of Mississippi State troops, and was placed in charge of the protection of the railroads of the State against sudden incursions. At the termination of the war General Gholson resumed the practice of his profession ; but the people again demanded his services, and in 1866 he was elected to represent his county in the lower branch of the Legislature. In 1878 he was again elected to a seat in that body, and was chosen Speaker of the House. Samuel J. Gholson died in Aberdeen on October 16, 1883, and was interred in the town's Odd Fellows Cemetery.
The following biography is from the Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress:
GHOLSON, Samuel Jameson, a Representative from Mississippi; born near Richmond, Madison County, Ky., May 19, 1808; moved with his father to Franklin County, Ala., in 1817; attended the common schools; studied law; was admitted to the bar at Russellville, Ala., in 1829; moved to Athens, Monroe County, Miss., and commenced the practice of law; member of the State house of representatives in 1835, 1836, and 1839; elected as a Jacksonian to the Twenty-fourth Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the death of David Dickson and served from December 1, 1836, to March 3, 1837; presented credentials as a Democratic Member-elect to the Twenty-fifth Congress and served from July 18, 1837, until February 5, 1838, when the seat was declared vacant; appointed United States district judge in 1839 and served until 1861, when Mississippi seceded from the Union; member of the State secession convention in 1861; during the Civil War served in the Confederate Army as a private, captain, colonel, brigadier general, and major general of State troops; became brigadier general of the Confederate States Army in June 1863, and was placed in command of a brigade of Cavalry; again a member of the State house of representatives in 1865, 1866, and 1878; continued the practice of law in Aberdeen, Miss., until his death there October 16, 1883; interment in Odd Fellows Cemetery.
DAVID C. GLENN.
David Chalmers Glenn was born in the State of North Carolina about the year 1824, but, having lost his father, he was brought to Mississippi when a mere infant, and, at an early age, was placed in the law office of his uncle, Hon. J. W. Chalmers, who was then the partner of Roger Barton at Holly Springs. His early educational advantages were very limited, and he enjoyed, for the most part, only such as were afforded in a busy law office. But his ambition stimulated an application which, together with his rare natural endowments, soon enabled him to surmount all untowardness of circumstances, and, in 1842, when but eighteen years of age, he was admitted to the bar under omens of a propitious future. He had, however, no sooner achieved his entrance upon a successful career at the bar than, impelled by his ardent patriotism and fiery spirit, he embraced a warm interest in the political questions of the day, and, in 1844, entered the exciting canvass of that period, a young but brilliant champion of the Democratic cause.
His political speeches during the campaign attracted much attention and were highly applauded ; indeed, his able impeachment of the conduct of some of the Whig leaders, and his unanswerable arraignment of some of the measures of that party, displayed powers which designated him as the future attorney- general of the State.
In the fall of 1844, he removed to Jackson, where he soon attained to an extensive practice, and assumed his position as one of the most eloquent, energetic, and brilliant advocates before the bar of the High Court.
In 1848, he again felt himself called upon to enter the political field in support of the national nominees of his party, the principles of which he cherished with partisan devotion, and whose interest he considered as paramount to all other claims upon his talents. In this campaign he acquired additional reputation for political acumen, for brilliant logic, and for a superb and thrilling eloquence, which made him the favorite and pride of his party.
In 1849 he was chosen, by a large majority, attorney-general of the State, and acquitted himself in that office with such marked ability and satisfactory performance that he was re-elected, and even strongly urged to accept a third term, which he, however, declined, and, at the expiration of his second term as attorney-general, removed to Hancock County. He was prominent as a "Resister" orator in 1850-51, and again in the campaign of 1860; was a delegate to the Charleston convention, and a member of the secession convention of January, 1861, being one of the leaders of the secession movement. He died early in January, 1869. "There was a magnetism about him, both charming and irresistible " His voice was "of surpassing power and sweetness," his orations were adorned with vivid pictures of imagination, and the power of voice and insinuating manner worked wonders with witnesses in court.
SPENCE M. GRAYSON
Spence Monroe Grayson was born in Prince William County, Virginia, in the year 1803. His early educational advantages were but ordinary, and on the death of his father the burden of his family devolved upon Spence, who was his oldest son. He continued to labor for its support until assisted by his uncle, Beverly R. Grayson, a planter residing near Natchez, Mississippi, who took the young man under his care and placed him at school at Jefferson College, in the village of Washington, near Natchez; and as soon as he was sufficiently advanced directed him to the study of law in the office of Thomas B. Reed, then a lawyer of large practice in Natchez.
In 1825 or 1826 he received his license, and entered upon the practice of his profession, in which he rose rapidly. In 1830 he married Miss Sarah R. Chew, only daughter of William L. Chew, a wealthy planter of the vicinity, and in 1835 removed to Yazoo County, where he purchased a large plantation near Benton, then the county-seat, and in 1838 represented Yazoo County in the State Senate.
Mr. Grayson attained great distinction in his profession, and stood in the front rank of the Natchez bar, at a time when it glittered with the coruscations of the highest order of learning and genius. He was a lawyer of fine judgment and skill, devoted to his profession, and assiduous in his application. He was consequently a successful lawyer, and engaged a large and lucrative practice. He was by no means gifted with the powers of oratory; but he possessed that which, in a lawyer, is far better he possessed depth of legal knowledge, strong logical powers, and was forcible, lucid, and convincing in argument.
He was exceedingly kind and courteous in his manners, and few men cherished more than he the elegance and charm of social life. But while he was popular in society, naturally quick of perception, and penetrating in judgment, his professional eminence was due mainly to his perseverance and unwearied application to the details of his profession. He died in Yazoo in the summer of 1839.
WILLIAM B. GRIFFITH
William B. Griffith was a native of the State of Maryland. He was of a wealthy family, and possessed the advantages of early culture and a finished education. He had also studied law, and acquired a knowledge of the elements of that science prior to his removal to Mississippi. He located at Natchez about the year 1818, and began his professional career at that Temple Bar of the West, where he soon attained distinction; and having formed a co-partnership with John A. Quitman, the firm became one of the most celebrated in the State.
Mr. Griffith was gifted with intellectual faculties of a high order, which, with his habits of application and his professional devotion, enabled him to master the law in all its branches, and he became familiar with all its abstruse features and subtle principles. His mental qualities were adorned with an acute penetration and a brilliant perception, and his judgment was characterized by an unerring discrimination. His logic was clear, close, and conclusive; and his powers of argumentation were among the most brilliant of his professional qualifications.
His high character as a lawyer was a combination of learning and the finest social accomplishments; he was a man of fascinating and courtly manners, mild and forbearing in his intercourse with the many uncouth characters with whom the lawyers of that time were brought in contact. He was a graceful and attractive speaker, and is said to have been the most polished orator that had yet appeared in Mississippi; and his eloquence was of that gentle and persuasive character which appeals more to reason than to passion: he never indulged in coarse invectives or vituperative assaults, but endeavored to reach the affections as well as the judgment of his audience, whether a jury or popular assembly, by amiability of manner and clearness of reason.
Such were the characteristics of a man whom both nature and culture had marked for the fee of fame; but in the meridian of life his brilliant career was suddenly severed by the Nemesis of all human greatness. Mr. Griffith fell a victim to that scourge which has of late years so often ravaged portions of the South, and died with yellow fever in the summer of 1829, leaving a young and accomplished wife, the daughter of Judge Edward Turner, afterwards Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
JOHN I. GUION
The subject of this sketch was born and reared in Adams County, Mississippi. His parents were natives of South Carolina, and were of Huguenot origin. Mr. Guion was educated in Tennessee, and studied law at Lebanon in that State. Here he met William L. Sharkey, and here a friendship was contracted between them which subsisted throughout their lives. On returning to Mississippi they entered into a copartnership for the practice of law, in Vicksburg, which association existed until Judge Sharkey was raised to the circuit bench, in 1832. Mr. Guion then united in practice with the celebrated Sergeant S. Prentiss, who was then approaching the height of his forensic fame, and this copartnership continued until 1836. During that year the Legislature established an inferior court of exclusive criminal jurisdiction in the counties of Warren, Claiborne, Jefferson, Adams, and Wilkinson. It was styled the "Criminal Court," and had concurrent jurisdiction with the circuit courts of these counties over all crimes, misdemeanors, and matters of a criminal nature. Mr. Guion was appointed the first judge of this court, over which he presided about a year, and then resigned. Judge Guion now resumed the practice of law, and his old partner, Mr. Prentiss, having been elected to Congress, he associated with him William C. Smedes.
As a judge he was able, upright, and pure, readily comprehensive of every point upon which a proposition hinged, liberal in his interpretation of law for the advancement of justice, and watched the poise and inclination of its scales with a jealous and conscientious eye.
As a lawyer Judge Guion was fully worthy of the eminent distinction he enjoyed. Thoroughly versed in all the principles of the science, he was proficient in all the functions of the profession; and while he cannot be said to have been assiduous in application, his great ability and comprehensive views precluded the necessity of that constant labor which success requires of ordinary minds. He had in early life, acquired a thorough knowledge of the rudiments and fundamental principles of law, and these he so wove in with his own judgment and perceptions that they constituted a lucid stream which continually flowed through his mind, and was constantly fed by the estuaries of his superb genius.
But while his discussion of legal questions was marked with great adroitness and force, the power which Judge Guion could at all times exercise over the minds of the jury constituted, perhaps, the most prominent feature of his forensic eminence. His great integrity and love of justice, his kindness of heart, which continually beamed in his face, lurked in every tone of his voice, and gave air to every act and gesture of the man, were even superior in effect to the charms of eloquence, in which he was by no means deficient.
Judge Guion was a great favorite with his brother members of the bar, and was popular with all classes of the people. He displayed always a warm and attractive cordiality, a sincere suavity of manner, and a courtesy that gushed from the pure fountains of benevolence. Indeed, kindness was the controlling attribute of this great and good man, a man whose abilities were well worth the fee of fame, and whose many endearing traits of character entitle his name to be entwined with wreaths of living green in the memory of every Mississippian who delights to cherish and honor the noblest virtues of humanity.
JOHN P. HAMPTON
Judge Hampton, it is believed, was a native of South Carolina, and belonged to the family from which sprang the present eminent United States Senator from that State. He emigrated to the Mississippi Territory some time prior to the organization of the State Government, and was the first Chief Justice of the State of Mississippi, having taken his seat at the opening of the court, in the spring of 1818.
That he was a profound lawyer and able judge there can be no question. This is evident both from the fact of his elevation and the tenor of his decisions which are always marked with clearness, comprehension, and a lofty and unswerving regard for equity and justice. One of the ablest decisions rendered by our early courts was delivered by Chief Justice Hampton in the case of Stark's heirs vs. Mather (Walker's E. 180). This was a case of conflicting tenures arising under different grants, one of which was made by Spain and the other by the Government of the United States.
The court held that if the prior Spanish grant was a nullity in se for want of power on the part of the Spanish Government to effectuate it, yet, being embraced in the confirmatory provisions of the Georgia Cession, it was valid, and that consequently the subsequent patentee claiming under the United States was merely a trustee of the former grant.
Judge Hampton continued as Chief Justice upon the supreme bench until the year 1829, when he was succeeded by the Hon. Edward Turner.
ALEXANDER H. HANDY.
The subject of this sketch was born in Somerset County, Maryland, on the 25th of December, 1809. He was well educated, and, having obtained his license as a lawyer, removed to Mississippi in the year 1836. In January, 1837, he was admitted to the bar of the High Court of Errors and Appeals, and entered at once upon a most successful professional career.
In 1853 he was elected to a seat upon the bench of the High Court over Judge William Yerger, who was then upon the bench, but who had rendered himself unpopular with the dominant party in consequence of his opinion in the case of Johnston vs. The State, in which he maintained the liability of the State for the payment of the bonds of the Union Bank. Judge Handy held this office until October, 1860, and was then re-elected without opposition.
In 1865 he was again elected a judge of the High Court over George L. Potter, and in January, 1866, was appointed Chief Justice of Mississippi. In November, 1866, he was re-elected without opposition, but resigned the position on the 1st day of October, 1867, by letter to the Governor, in consequence of the court's being placed by the Federal Government in subordination to the military power of the United States.
He then removed to the city of Baltimore and resumed the practice of his profession, but was soon after appointed Professor of Law in the University of Maryland, which position he held until 1871, when he returned to Mississippi and resumed the practice of law at Jackson, and in October, 1877, was admitted to the bar of the Supreme Court of the United States.
Judge Handy has always been a firm believer in the doctrine of States rights, is immovably Southern in his views, and favored secession both as a right and a necessity. He was appointed by the Governor of Mississippi, in December 1860, as a commissioner to the State of Maryland in relation to the political crisis then existing ; and failing in his efforts to communicate with the Legislature of that State, in consequence of the refusal of its Governor to convoke that body, Judge Handy addressed himself directly to the people, and in his speech delivered at Princess Anne, on the first day of January, 1861, presented the subject of secession?its right and its reason? in a lucid and elaborate manner. He depicted, with the ken of inspiration, the policy and purposes of the party about to take possession of the Federal Government, and showed that the principles announced by the President-elect and the leaders of his party were subversive of all equality in the Union, destructive of the rights of the Southern people, and virtually a revolution of the Government. But, although the people of Maryland were aroused by his presentment of the situation, they could do nothing in view of the action of the State Government.
In 1862 Judge Handy wrote and published a pamphlet entitled " Secession considered as a Right in the States composing the late American Union of States, and as to the Grounds of Justification of the Southern States in exercising the Right." In this treatise he thoroughly and ably discussed the fundamental principles of the American Government, the conditions upon which it was created, and its interpretation by the authors of the Federalist. The work is a profound and instructive constitutional argument, which every lawyer should read who seeks a thorough knowledge of the history, character, and interpretation of the Constitution of the United States.
Judge Handy is a fluent speaker, a polished writer, and an interesting companion. The qualities which so eminently fitted him for a judge designated him for other marks of distinction, and in 1801 the title of LL.D. was tendered him by the faculty and trustees of the University of Mississippi, but his modesty impelled him to decline the honor ; and in 1867, on his resignation as a judge of the High Court, he was offered the position of Professor of Law in the same institution, but that was also declined.
As a lawyer Judge Handy is learned and profound, and his legal learning is united to a character of unspotted integrity, and is blended with a purity which eminently fitted him for the bench. As a judge, his uniform urbanity, together with his able and dignified manner of administering justice, excited the admiration of the bar. His decisions are searching and comprehensive, clear and logical in enunciation, and exhaustive in their elucidation of the rights of the parties. His opinions are numerous, and enter largely into the composition of sixteen volumes of the Mississippi Reports, from vol. 26 to vol. 41, inclusive.
They are characterized by an independence of thought and a self-reliance which bespeak the possession of resources rarely acquired, and a fertility of legal genius which only a clear and well-defined sense of right and wrong could inspire, and which only talents of the highest order could develop.
These decisions constitute for his fame a far more splendid and enduring monument than all the pillars and shafts that mechanism could rear, and are records more glorious than all the volumes of praise and adulation that history could produce. Through them his name is inscribed luminously and indelibly upon every title-deed, every tenure, and every relation of the society of Mississippi.
Judge Handy passed away in Canton, Madison County, on September 12, 1883.
Source for the biography below is "Courts, Judges, and Lawyers of Mississippi, 1798-1935", by Dunbar Rowland, BS, LLB, LLD, Printed by Press of Hederman Bros., Jackson, Miss., 1935, pgs 94-96
Alexander H. Handy, chief justice of the Mississippi Court of Errors and Appeals, was born in Somerset County, Maryland, on the 25th of December, 1809. He was well educated, and, having obtained his license as a lawyer, removed to Mississippi in the year 1836. In January 1837, he was admitted to the bar of the high court of errors and appeals, and entered at once upon a most successful professional career.
In 1853 he was elected to a seat upon the bench of the high court over Judge William Yerber, who was then upon the bench, but who had rendered himself unpopular with the dominant party in consequence of his opinion in the case of Johnson vs. The State, in which he maintained the liability of the State for the payment of the bonds of the Union Bank. Judge Handy held this office until October, 1860, and was then re-elected without opposition.
In 1865 he was again elected a judge of the high court over George L. Potter, and in January, 1866, was appointed chief justice of Mississippi. In November, 1866, he was re-elected without opposition, but resigned the position on the 1st day of October, 1867, by letter to the governor, in consequence of the court’s being placed by the Federal government in subordination to the military power of the United States.
He then removed to the city of Baltimore and resumed the practice of his profession, but was soon after appointed Professor at Law in the University of Maryland, which position he held until 1871, when he returned to Mississippi and resumed the practice of law in October, 1877. He was admitted to the bar of the supreme court of the United States.
Judge Handy was firm believer in the doctrine of state’s rights; was immovably Southern in his views, and favored secession both as a right and a necessity. He was appointed by the governor of Mississippi, in December, 1860, as a commissioner to the State of Maryland in relation to the political crisis then existing. Failing in his efforts to communicate with the legislature of that state, in consequence of the refusal of its governor to convoke that body, Judge Handy addressed himself directly to the people, and in his speech, delivered at Princess Anne on the first day of January, 1861, presented the subject of secession – its right and its reason – in a lucid and elaborate manner. He depicted, with the ken of inspiration, the policy and purpose of the party about to take possession of the Federal government, showed that the principles announced by the president-elect and the leaders of his party were subversive of all equality in the Union, destructive of the rights of the Southern people, and virtually a revolution of the government. But, although the people of Maryland were aroused by his presentation of the situation, they could do no0thing in view of the action of the State government.
In 1882 Judge Handy wrote and published a pamphlet entitled “Secession considered as a Right in the States composing the late American Union of States, and as to the Grounds of Justification of the Southern States in exercising the Right.” In this treatise he ably discussed the fundamental principles of the American government, the conditions upon which it was created, and its interpretation by the authors of the Federalist.
Judge Handy was a fluent speaker, a polished writer, and an interesting companion. The qualities which so eminently fitted him for a judge designated him for other marks of distinction, and in 1861 the title of LL.D., was tendered him by the faculty and trustees of the University of Mississippi, but he declined the honor. In 1867, on his resignation as a judge of the high court, he was offered the position of Professor at Law in the same institution, but that was, also, declined.
As a lawyer Judge Handy was learned and profound. As a judge, his uniform urbanity, together with his able and dignified manner of administering justice, excited the admiration of the bar. His decisions were searching and comprehensive, clear and logical in nouncement (sic), and exhaustive in their elucidation of the rights of the parties. His opinions were numerous, and entered largely into the composition as an enduring monument sixteen volumes of the Mississippi Reports, from Vol. 26 to Vol. 41, inclusively.
They are characterized by an independence of thought and a self-reliance which bespeaks the possession of resources rarely acquired, and a fertility of legal genius which only a clear ad well-defined sense of right and wrong could inspire, and which only talents of the highest order could develop.
Judge Handy resided in the cultured little city of Canton, an old ante-bellum town of Madison county, where he practiced law for many years.
BUCKNER C. HARRIS
Buckner C. Harris was a native of the State of Georgia, and belonged to a family of high social standing and intellectual repute. After receiving a thorough education and the usual training for the profession of law, he removed to the State of Mississippi, about the year 1830, and settled in the county of Copiah. Here he soon acquired distinction in his profession, and in 1833 was chosen to represent the counties of Copiah and Jefferson in the State Senate, in which by his energy and ability he attained a position of eminence and influence. He was an active participant in all proceedings of an important or general nature transacted in the Senate during his connection with that body, and it was there that his character and abilities were first fully displayed to the view of the public; and from that time so rapid was his progress in the path of professional eminence that in 1837 he was elected judge of the Circuit Court.
The career of Judge Harris, during the short time that he remained upon the bench, was characterized by a display of the most eminent qualifications, and an exhibition of all those noble traits of character which constitute the mantle of juridical renown.
He was learned in all the branches of the law, familiar with the settled principles of right, and administered justice with a stern and inflexible hand, in which he was prompted not only by a penetrating perception and sound judgment, but also by a sensitive conscience and a controlling love of equity. He possessed in an eminent degree the respect and confidence of both the bar and the people, hence his rulings and decisions were generally received with confiding satisfaction.
Judge Harris was unquestionably a man of unswerving honor and refined sensibilities. His kindness and amiability were equally conspicuous with his integrity on the bench and his sense of duty at the bar, and there is no telling what might have been the measure of his professional achievements had he remained in the field where his character had already assigned an unbounded scope to his fame and usefulness. At the expiration of his terra of office as circuit judge, in 1841, Judge Harris retired from the bench and resumed his practice at the bar, and soon after the annexation of Texas to the United States he removed to that State, where he resided until the time of his death.
WILLIAM L. HARRIS.
William Littleton Harris was born in Elbert County, in the State of Georgia, on the 6th of July, 1807. He was the son of General Jeptha V. Harris, and his maternal grandfather was Major Richardson Hunt, both of whom were men of high character and influential standing. His ancestors moved from Virginia to Georgia prior to the American Revolution, and left numerous descendants. His parents reared a family of twelve children, to the education of which they devoted themselves with such care, anxiety, and affection as to attract the admiration of their neighbors and friends, and inspire feelings of deep and lasting filial veneration. They lived to a very great age, and saw their children all matured and married, the father having attained, at the time of his death, the age of seventy five years, and the mother having reached the longevity of eighty-two.
The early educational advantages of William L. Harris were good, and after the usual academical preparation he entered the University of Georgia at Athens, at the age of fifteen, and graduated in 1825. On finishing his collegiate course he immediately applied himself to the study of the law, and in 1827, being yet under legal age, he was admitted to the bar by special legislative enactment, and began the practice of law in the town of Washington, in Wilkes County, which was included in what was, at that time, designated as the northern judicial circuit of Georgia. Among the practitioners at the bar of this circuit at that period were many gentlemen of eminence, and afterwards of renown, such as Augustus B. Longstreet, Joseph H. Lumpkin, Garnett Andrews, William C. Dawson, Alexander Pope, Robert Toombs, Alexander H. Stephens, and many others of distinction; yet amid this brilliant array of talent Mr. Harris rose rapidly in his profession, and soon achieved a conspicuous place in this galaxy of legal luminaries, and from whom he, no doubt, learned those lessons of professional vigor, devotion, and profundity, which characterized his entire career at the bar.
But, notwithstanding his prospects and the position he had achieved at the bar of his native State, the unlimited resources, unbounded prospects, and prolific harvest of litigation, which had already attracted so many eminent lawyers to Mississippi, now presented their allurements to his ambition, and in 1837 he removed hither and settled in the town of Columbus.
To this new and inviting field, which afforded a scope so commensurate with his ambition, he transported a vigorous diligence, a stern integrity, an unswerving professional faith, a genius, and a knowledge of law, which enabled him, almost at a bound, to take his position in the very front rank of the profession.
In 1853 he was elected judge of the Circuit Court of the sixth judicial district of Mississippi ; and in this position he administered justice with an ability and rectitude that gave the utmost satisfaction and received universal admiration.
In 1856 he was appointed by the Legislature to co-operate with Judges William L. Sharkey and Henry T. Ellett of the supreme bench in revising and codifying the laws of Mississippi, which was performed in a most thorough, skilful, and able manner, and which was adopted, during the next year, at a special session of the Legislature, and is known as the Revised Code of 1857.
At the expiration of his term, in 1857, Judge Harris was re- elected to the circuit bench, and, in 1858, he was elevated to the bench of the High Court of Errors and Appeals.
In 1860 President Buchanan tendered to him a seat upon the bench of the Supreme Court of the United States, to fill the vacancy occasioned by the death of Mr. Justice Peter V. Daniel, of Virginia, but this appointment Judge Harris declined in consequence of the approaching and foreseen disruption of the Federal Union. He spurned the honors of an office which might place him in an attitude of official hostility to measures the adoption of which he foresaw would be the only alternative to the degradation of his people.
In 1865 he was again chosen one of the judges of the High Court of Errors and Appeals of Mississippi, but upon the overthrow of the Johnson reconstruction in 1867, and the remandment of the State to military control and the malignant vengeance of the Radical party, Judge Harris, together with Judges Handy and Ellett, the other members of the court, resigned, his seat upon the high bench, and, resuming the practice of his profession, he removed to Memphis, Tennessee, and there formed a co-partnership in law with Judge Ellett and Colonel James Phelan, who had late been a Senator from Mississippi in the Confederate States Congress. This firm, composed of men of such distinguished ability and reputation, enjoyed in this ample field every promise of a brilliant career ; but in the following year, Judge Harris was suddenly attacked with a violent pneumonia, and died, after a short illness, on the 27th of November, 1868, leaving a family of seven children, his wife having died in the preceding spring.
The life and character of Judge Harris are kindling incentives to that honorable ambition which finds its satisfaction only in the distinguished performance of high public trusts, to that patriotism which derives more happiness from the faithful discharge of public duties than from the attainment of the most coveted private ends, and to that conscious rectitude which finds its reward in the commendation and applause of all good men, and in the smiles of Heaven which mirror themselves upon the unruffled surface of a clear conscience.
JAMES T. HARRISON.
James Thomas Harrison was born near the village of Pendleton, in the State of South Carolina, on the 30th of November, 1811. His father, Thomas Harrison, was a distinguished lawyer and a descendant of a signer of the Declaration of Independence. He was also captain of a battery in the war of 1812, and was afterwards Controller General of the State.
The mother of James T. Harrison was a lady remarkable for her many graces and accomplishments. She was the daughter of General John Bayliss Earle, who was a leading member of the famous Nullifying Convention, and one of the most highly- respected and popular men in his State.
The residence of Thomas Harrison, Lowther Hall, was situated on the little river Tugaloo, and opposite to Fort Hill, the home of John C. Calhoun ; and it was in the glare of such surroundings that the subject of this sketch imbibed those beams of greatness which kindled the fires of his genius and afterwards blazed along his own pathway. The inspirations of such a nursery, and the impressions which he received from the master mind of his distinguished neighbor, blended with his natural endowments in the formations of a mind which afterwards expanded into an illustrative type of true greatness. He was a close and devoted student, manifested at an early age an eager and inquiring mind, and his career was one of those rare instances in which youthful precocity realizes the hopes of parental ambition and the promises of early years. On reaching the age of eighteen he graduated with distinction at the University of South Carolina, and then studied law under the celebrated James L. Pettigru, of Charleston, where he was admitted to the bar. The teachings and examples of his distinguished preceptor no doubt left plastic impressions upon the already highly- wrought mould of his mind, and stamped his career with the forebodings of future success.
Having now arrived at the age of majority, he contracted the raging desire among young lawyers of that period to emigrate westward, and lured by the professional attractions of Mississippi, which were then being spread upon the gaudiest wings of report, he determined to make his future home amid her blooming prairies and tangled wilds?a step which, he said, he soon regretted, and that some remark of his father predicting, when he gave his consent to the move, that he would soon tire of the hardships of his new home and return to the old, was mainly the cause of his remaining.
Arriving in Mississippi in 1834, he established himself at Macon, the county seat of Noxubee County, and there began his first struggles for professional fame. Possessed of ample means supplied by his father, who was in affluent circumstances, he was enabled to direct his application with a view to improvement rather than to the speedy acquisition of gain ; but it was not long before his talents were recognized, and he soon found himself in the midst of a remunerative practice.
At Macon Mr. Harrison formed a co-partnership with the late Judge Ruff, but he remained at that place only two years, after which, induced by the prospects of a more extended field, he removed to Columbus, where he made his permanent abode and achieved his great success. Here he was married, in 1840, to Miss Regina Blewett, the eldest daughter of Major Thomas Blewett, who was one of the wealthiest planters in Mississippi, by whose assistance, together with his own ample patrimony and acquired means, he was now in a condition to pursue his profession simply for the love which he bore it, and this love, setting apart his affection for his family, was the ruling passion of his life, He loved the law as the grandest edifice ever erected by the mind of mortal man, as the great receptacle into which has flowed the wisdom of the ages. He recognized the truth of the saying of Sir Henry Finch, that " the sparks of all the sciences in the world are raked up in the ashes of the law,"
Among the many exhibitions of his genius he cherished a remarkable fondness for the science of geology, or rather for its objects, for his devotion to the study of law would not permit such an exacting rival; but he was fond of geologizing, and his cabinet of collections, which he arrayed in his law office, and to which he took pride in directing the attention of his visitors, was truly novel and interesting, and perhaps the most complete group of specimens possessed by any individual in the State.
It was on one of these excursions, not long after the war, among the rocks of Noxubee County, that he received a wound from the fall of a large stone, which necessitated the amputation of a large portion of his right foot, a circumstance which caused him great suffering during the remainder of his life.
He died at his residence in Columbus on the 22d of May, 1879. And here prudence would dictate that the curtain should fall upon this feeble narrative ; but I must subjoin that, in addition to all these more public qualities of head and heart, Mr. Harrison maintained the most affectionate domestic relations. He was a fond husband, a doting father, and a devoted friend ; and while the friendship he inspired needed but the mesmeric contact with his virtues to assume the growth of love, the golden chain was blanked with the jewels of domestic felicity. To say that he was dear to his family and his friends would be to arrogate an unnecessary and gratuitous act of judgment, and to say how dear is not perhaps in the power of speech or thought.
The subject of this sketch was a native of the North, but emigrated to Mississippi when quite a young man, and located as a lawyer at Woodville, in Wilkinson County, about the year 1820. He soon achieved by his application a professional standing, while his integrity and genial deportment gained for him great personal popularity. In 1835 he represented the county of Wilkinson in the State Senate, and was the author of the resolutions impeaching the validity of the Legislature in consequence of the admission of members from the counties newly formed out of the Indian cession.
He early became associated in political measures with General John A. Quitman, and supported the political principles of John Quincy Adams in opposition to those of General Andrew Jackson; but finally drifted, in company with his friend, into sympathy with the views of Mr. Calhoun, and became a stanch advocate of the doctrine of State Sovereignty.
While thus entertaining, in part, the principles of both political parties, he was elected, in 1849, by the Legislature of Mississippi, to a full term in the United States Senate. In this body he was considered an able debater and a strong supporter of the rights of the States. His career rendered him popular with the Democratic party, and on his return to Mississippi, at the expiration of his term, he aligned himself with the politicians of the extreme Southern school of that period. He was warmly in favor of the annexation of Texas, and the conquest of Cuba and Mexico, and was closely connected with General Quitman in his views and schemes looking to these enterprises.
In February, 1851, he was arrested, together with General Quitman, and put upon his trial before the United States District Court at New Orleans, for violating the neutrality laws of 1818, by his complicity with the Lopez expedition against the island of Cuba, but was acquitted of the charge, and died soon after the tragic failure of that enterprise.
Mr. Henderson was by no means a man of extensive literary attainments or of finished education, nor was his oratory modelled after the style of Cicero. But he was an able lawyer; he had thoroughly digested the great masters of the common law. His learning was deeply grounded in fundamental principles, which his astute discernment, sound judgment, and vigorous application rendered remarkably effectual in achieving success. The great secrets of his professional eminence were an overweening self-confidence and indomitable pertinacity. He was never prepared to accept defeat, and clung to a case as long as there was a suspended thread of possibility. Consequently he was at all times a formidable antagonist, both in the forum and on the hastings.
Joseph Holt was born in Breckenridge County, Kentucky, in the year 1807. He received a thorough and finished education in the college at Danville, and was thoroughly trained for the profession of law. He was admitted to the bar at Elizabethtown in 1828, soon attained a high rank as a lawyer, and served with distinction as district-attorney there, previous to his emigration to Mississippi. He removed to the latter State in 1837, and settled first at Jackson, where he resided a short time, and then removed to Vicksburg. He brought with him to Mississippi a high reputation both as a lawyer and politician. He had taken a prominent part in the race of Richard M. Johnson for the Vice-Presidency, and in the National Democratic Convention of 1836 had delivered a speech that gave him great credit, and which was read with admiration throughout the Union.
With such a prestige his reception in Mississippi was of course warm and flattering, and which, with his unassuming dignity of manners and great ability as a lawyer, placed him at once in the front rank of the profession, and he became one of the brightest lights that ever shed lustre upon the bar of Mississippi.
After having remained about ten years at the Mississippi bar, and having reaped an ample fortune from his practice, Mr. Holt returned to Kentucky, and took up his residence in the city of Louisville; soon after which he went abroad, visiting various countries in Europe, and on his return to the United States he was, in 1857, appointed by President Buchanan us Commissioner of Patents at Washington. In 1859 he became Postmaster-General, and on the resignation of John B. Floyd, in 1860, he was placed for a short time at the head of the War Department.
In 1862 he was appointed Judge Advocate General of the United States army, and in that capacity took a prominent part in the trial and execution of the unfortunate Mrs. Surratt, the first woman ever executed by authority of the United States Government. For his connection with this matter, whatever may have been his official attitude and obligations, he has received, and no doubt will always receive, the disapprobation of all fair-minded mankind.
After this transaction, and the expiration of his office as Judge Advocate, Mr. Holt retired from public view, and has since lived in obscurity. It is hard to conceive that the amiable Joe Holt of the Mississippi bar was the merciless Judge Holt of the Surratt trial.
Truly may it be said, in view of him, that no man's life is made up until his death. Whether it be from a higher degree of conscientiousness or not, yet it is a fact worthy of note that Judge Holt is the only person immediately responsible for the issue of that trial who has not come to an unfortunate end; and whatever may be his official justification, his name will be forever connected with an event that will remain a stigma upon the Government, which all the waters of Jordan can never cleanse.
VOLNEY E. HOWARD
The subject of this sketch was a native of the State of Maine, where he received a finished education, and was thoroughly prepared for the profession of law. When quite a young man he determined to seek for fortune and fame in the great Southwest, and turning his steps thither he arrived at the capital of Mississippi about the year 1830, and immediately entered upon his profession, in which he so rapidly rose in the confidence and esteem of the bar and the people that, in 1837, he was chosen reporter of the decisions of the High Court of Errors and Appeals.
His reports are distinguished for regularity and systematic arrangement, and his captions and syllabuses are lucid, comprehensive, and exact. He also took a prominent part in the politics of the day, and was for several years editor of the Mississippian, a newspaper published at the capital, and the leading Democratic organ of the State. He was a vigorous and caustic writer, and attacked with scathing rebuke and sarcasm every measure which he deemed false to the interest and welfare of the people, while he maintained with inveterate alacrity and eloquence the true principles of his party.
His paper wielded a great influence throughout the State, and the force and ability with which he included his views caused them to be deeply impressed both upon public policy and private enterprise.
Mr. Howard was a man of undoubted ability, and a lawyer of no ordinary capacity. Like Mr. Prentiss, he came to Mississippi without means and without friends, and with the suspicion and prejudice existing at that time in the minds of the Southern people against all natives of New England staring him in the face, and which nothing but the most amiable character, the most upright conduct, and eminent merit could have so soon and so completely dispelled as to admit him to the full confidence and to the warmest support and patronage of the people.
About the year 1847, Mr. Howard, allured by the spacious fields of that rising empire, removed to the State of Texas, and in 1850 was a member of the Texan Legislature, in which he took an active and able part in the affairs of? the State, and in the interest of the Missouri Compromise measures, which were at that time agitating the waters of national politics. In consequence of which he was sent by the President of the United States to California, on a mission of importance regarding the organization of that State, where he established his residence, and acquired much additional reputation in his profession.
JAMES M. HOWRY
HOWRY, James Moorman, jurist, was born in Botetourt county, Va., Aug. 4, 1804 ; son of the Rev. Daniel and Fredrica (Wax) Howry. He received a limited education in the common school, read law in Tennessee with General Parsons at Rogersville and with Ephraim S. Foster (q.v.), and in 1826 was elected colonel of the Tennessee regiment in Hawkins county, Tenn. He subsequently served as clerk of the Tennessee senate, house of representatives and supreme court ; and in 1836 was attorney-general for the circuit. He was married in 1834 to Narcissa, daughter of Charles Bowen. He removed to Mississippi in 1836 and was elected circuit judge in 1844. He was a charter trustee of the University of Mississippi, 1844-70 ; secretary and treasurer of the board, 1851-80 ; chairman of the executive committee of the board, 1845-51, and proctor of the university, 1848-56. He was a prominent Mason. He died in Oxford, Miss., April 14, 1884.
Anderson Hutchinson was a native of Greenbrier County, Virginia, where he received a common-school English education, most of which he acquired at intervals while assisting his father in his office, which was that of clerk of the county courts. Here he also acquired some practical knowledge of legal forms and processes, which was, no doubt, the foundation of those habits of accuracy and that expertness in the preparation of legal documents, which characterized his practice.
On reaching the age of manhood Mr. Hutchinson emigrated to Knoxville, Tennessee, where he was admitted to the bar, and soon acquired considerable reputation. This he achieved by means of perseverance and a vigorous devotion to the profession, as well as by the native faculties of his mind, which the very touch of learning kindled into a flame of genius. After practising some years at Knoxville, he removed to Huntsville, in North Alabama, and there encountered, with increasing reputation, the eminent lawyers of that noted bar. He then removed to Mississippi, and established his residence in the town of Raymond, in Hinds County, about the year 1835.
In 1840 he published, in conjunction with Volney E. Howard, a Digest of the laws of Mississippi, for which the Legislature allowed him $12,000, purchasing fifteen hundred copies, and in 1848 he published his Mississippi Code. This is undoubtedly a work of great merit, and required an incalculable amount of labor as well as great ability in its preparation. It is not a digest, nor revision, nor a compilation of the statutes at large, but an analytical compilation, excluding all enactments not in force except those which were necessary to explain some right originating from them, or requisite for affording an insight into existing statutes.
The plan of this work conforms to the admirable analysis of Blackstone's " Commentaries," and in its arrangement presents a striking novelty as well as an exhibition of marked genius.
This work gave entire satisfaction, and the Legislature ordered two thousand copies to be distributed among the officers of the State.
About the year 1850, Mr. Hutchinson removed from Mississippi to the State of Texas, and there acquired such an exalted reputation as a lawyer and a man of integrity that he was made one of the judges of the Supreme Court of that State. He had been but a short time on the supreme bench when, while sitting on the trial of an important case in the city of San Antonio, before the boundary lines between the United States and Mexico had been fully established, a band of armed Mexicans rushed into the town, captured the court-house, and carried away the judge and other officers of the court as prisoners to the castle of Perote. Here he was closely confined, and subjected to great hardships. This act caused a thrill of indignation throughout the country, and the American minister at the city of Mexico, the celebrated Waddy Thompson, promptly demanded his release and reparation for the outrage from the Mexican Government. His release was effected, and satisfactory reparation made.
Judge Hutchinson then returned to Mississippi, and renewed his practice in copartnership with Henry S. Foote.
As a lawyer Judge Hutchinson owed his success and celebrity more perhaps to an accurate and laborious preparation of his cases than to any pre-eminent feature of ability. He was deeply read in the law, and by application and indefatigable industry availed himself fully of his extensive knowledge and good judgment. The accuracy of his pleadings, his uniform urbanity and simplicity of manners, his fidelity to his clients, and the force of character which he brought to bear upon a cause, all contributed to his great popularity and success. He possessed an extraordinary degree of promptness, decision, and energy, which, with a sincere kindness of heart and love of justice, enlisted for him a confidence which no power could shake. He died in the year 1853.
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