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Qlnnwll aiam #rl)nnl ffitbrarg 

To Jax_ies S. Cl.rksun, 
one of tlie greatest editorial 
writers of this or any otli.r 
country, anl Anna clsrivSon, his 
wife, one of the no^ilest of her 
^exj^the auti.or ^.resents this 
volL-i.-e . 

So.Pasadera,Calif . 

Cornell University 

The original of tiiis book is in 
tine Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 

KF 354.16887" ""''''""'"■"'"^>' 

Recollections and sketches of notable la 

3 1924 018 792 808 

Recollections and Sketches 
of Notable Lawyers and 
Public Men of Early Iowa 

Belonging to the First and Second 
Generations, with Anecdotes and 
Incidents Illustrative of the Times 



For many years a member of the Iowa Bar ; miember of its House 
of Representatives, 1863-1864; member of its Senate, 1865-1866; Re- 
porter of its Supreme Court, 1867-1875; author of Complete Digest 
of its Decisions from the earliest Territorial period to the 56th Iowa 

"In old age alone we are masters of a treasure of which we cannot be 
deprived, the only treasure we can call our own. The pleasures of memory 
and the retrospect of the varied images which in an active life have floated 
before the mind, compensate, and more than compensate, for the alternate 
pleasures and cares of active Iife."-S1R ARCHIBALD ALLISON. 

"Personal anecdotes, when characteristic, greatly enliven the pages of 
a biography."— SAMUEL. SMILES. 




"^ ^zz^. 




In 1881 the judges of the Supreme Court of Iowa expressed the desire that I 
should write my recollections and sketches of some of the notable lawyers and public 
men of the Territorial and early State period, most of whom were in action when I 
came to the State in 1856, and with most of whom I had formed a personal ac- 
quamtance. To this I acceded and entered upon the work of collecting the neces- 
sary material. In the course of my efforts I endeavored to procure appropriate data, 
both by letter and personal application, as well as by a printed circular which I sent 
to many persons in the State, and which was also printed in some of the leading 
newspapers of the State. Among the data gathered were manuscripts, written state- 
ments and colloquial interviews taken down in shorthand at the time. I have been 
adding to this collection through the intervening years, and have written occasional 
sketches, some of which have from time to time appeared in the "Annals of Iowa;" 
but I never found time consecutively to prepare the material thus acquired until after 
my retirement from professional life in 1910. In my eighty-first year I now give 
this book to the public for whatever it may be worth. The work was taken up and 
has been prosecuted as a labor of love, without the hope or expectation of pecuniary 
gain. I am cheered, however, by the thought that I have, to some extent, contributed 
to perpetuate the names of some of the great men of earlier Iowa and of other worthy 
ones whose names and memory would otherwise soon be covered with the dust of 

It should be understood that I have not endeavored to include all the notable 
lawyers and public men who have graced the history of Iowa, but for the most part, 
only those with whom I had some personal acquaintance. 

I may be pardoned for saying that some years ago, by reason of my advanced 
years, I was strongly inclined to forego further proceeding in this work, but was 
encouraged, and I may say inspired, to go on by the receipt of a letter from that 
most widely celebrated lawyer of his times, the late Judge John F. Dillon, in which 
he said: "I have read your sketch of my life in the Iowa Annals for July, 1909, 
and I wish now to assure you of my sincere appreciation of the taste, skill, good 
judgment and literary merits of your work. Alike in form and substance, it is an 
admirable performance. I shall be more than satisfied to be remembered by the 
people of our beloved State, if remembered at all, as you have portrayed me. I 
esteem myself fortunate to have had such a biographer. I am glad that you lived to 
finish the sketch and that I have lived to see it in its final form, and also to know that 
it will constitute part of the greater work you have in hand relating to the lawyers, 
judges and public men of early Iowa, and which I earnestly hope your days may be 
spared to complete." 

Edward H. Stiles, 
South Pasadena, Calif., 1916. 


Henry Jane, on page 412, should be Henry Jayne. 

Thomas S. Withrow, on page 508, should be 
Thomas P. Withrow. 

P. Henry Smyth, on pages 303 and 304, should 
be P. Henry Smythe, 

These errors which the author deeply regrets 
are attributable to his failing eyesight, which ren- 
dered him unable to read the final proof himself. 


(For names not included in this table see index.) 


CHAPTER I Governors and Other Officials 

CHAPTER II The Supreme Court of the Territory and Its Judges, 

With Glimpses of Territorial Lawyers 
Charles Mason, Joseph Williams, Thomas S. Wilson. 


CHAPTER III Early Governors 

Ansel Briggs, Stephen Hempstead, James W. Grimes, Ralph P. Lowe, Samuel 
J. Kirkwood, William M. Stone, John H. Gear. 

CHAPTER IV Early United States Senators 

Augustus C. Dodge, George Wallace Jones, James Harlan, James W. Grimes, 
James B. Howell, Oeorge G. Wright, William B. Allison, James W. McDill, 
James F. Wilson. 

CHAPTER V Early Representatives in Congress 

Serranus Clinton Hastings, Shepherd Leffler, William Thompson, Daniel 
F. Miller, Bernhart Henn, Lincoln Clark, Samuel R. Curtis, William Van- 
dever, Hiram Price, Josiah B. Grinnell, John A. Kasson, William Lough- 
ridge, James B. Weaver, Marcellus E. Cutts, D. B. Henderson, John F. Lacey. 


CHAPTER VI Judges of United States District Court 

John J. Dyer, James M. Love, John S. Woolson, Oliver P. Shiras, Smith 

CHAPTER VII Judges of United States Circuit Court 

Samuel F. Miller, John F. Dillon, George McCrary, Henry C. Caldwell. 


CHAPTER VIII •• Burlington 

David Rorer, J. C. Hall, James W. Woods, William W. Chapman, Isaac 
Leffler, Verplank Van Antwerp, Fitz Henry Warren, Henry W. Starr, 
William H. Starr, Milton D. Browning, L. D. Stockton, Charles H. Phelps, 
George Robertson, Charles Ben Darwin, George Frazee, Frederick D. Mills, 
George Snyder, C. B. Harrington, W. H. Clune, Benton J. Hall, P. Henry 
Smyth, Dr. William Salter, Joshua Tracy, John G. Foote, A. H. Stutzman, 
Thos. W. Newman, William E. Blake, Daniel M. Hammack, Joseph W. 
Blytlie, Thomas Hedge, Samuel L. Glasgow, Clark Dunham, Charles Beards- 
ley, Robert J. Burdette. 


CHAPTER IX Fort Madison and Keokuk 

Philip Viele, Henry Eno, Alfred Rich, Edward Johnstone, Hugh T. Reid, 
Lewis R. Reeves, Joseph M. Beck, John P. Kinney, George H. Williams, 
Samuel T. Marshall, Francis Semple, Lyman Johnson, Norton Munger, 
John S. Hamilton, L. E. H. Houghton, H. H. Belding, W. J. Cochran, G. W. 
Kilbourne, J. M. Reid, George C. Dixon, Archibald Williams, Cyrus Walker, 
R. S. Blennerhassett, John Van Valkenburg, Joseph M. Casey, Thomas W. 
Clagett, Samuel M. Clark, John W. Noble, Henry Strong, John W. Rankin, 
H. Scott Howell, John H. Craig, R. H. Gilmore, James H. Anderson, Joseph 
G. Anderson, Lee R. Seaton, W. W. Belknap, John N. Irwin, Wesley C. 
Hobbs, William Collier, P. T. Lomax, Caleb F. Davis, James C. Davis, 
William H. Worthington, John Bruce, A. J. McCrary, James and Frank 
Hagerman, William and Dr. D. W. Stewart, Benjamin P. Roberts, John M. 
Young, G. A. Hawley, Gibson Brown. 

CHAPTER X Muscatine 

Stephen Whicher, William G. Woodward, J. Scott Richman, Jacob Butler, 
Elijah Sells, Suel Foster, John Mahin, George Van Horn, William P. 
Brannan, Jerome Carskaddan, D. C. Richman, E. H. Thayer, Henry O'Con- 
nor, David C. Cloud, Samuel McNutt, John A. Parvin, Cornelius Cadle, 
Henry Cadle, Allen Broomhall, Thomas Hanna, Henry Jayne, William 

CHAPTER XI Keosauqua 

Edwin Manning, George G. Wright, Joseph C. Knapp, Augustus Hall, 
Delazon Smith, Charles Baldwin, Robert Sloan, D. C. Beaman, William 
M. Walker. 

CHAPTER XII Fairfield 

Samuel Shuffleton, Cyrus Olney, Charles Negus, Thomas H. Gray, Christian 
W. Slagle, George Acheson, J. M. Shaffer, Daniel P. Stubbs, Ward Lamson, 

A. R. Fulton, W. W. Junkin, Edward Campbell, Moses A. McCoid, William 

B. Culbertson, John J. Cummings, Other References. 


Daniel O. Pinch, P. M. Casady, R. L. Tidrick, Curtis Bates, Byron Rice, 
John H. Gray, Hoyt Sherman, Lampson P. Sherman, Barlow Granger, 
Madison Young, Chester C. Cole, Stephen V. White, James M. Ellwood, 
Charles C. Nourse, Martin D. McHenry, William H. McHenry, William 
McKay, Thomas Baker, C. J. McParland, W. W. Williamson, Marcellus M. 
Crocker, James A. Williamson, Jefferson S. Polk, P. M. Hubbell, Johii R. 
Barcroft, Seward Smith, The Clarksons, Thomas S. Withrow, John S. 
Runnells, Josiah Given, C. A. Dudley, Levi J. Brown, Galusha Parsons, 
Frederick Lehman, Alb(:rt B. Cummins, Hugh W. Maxwell, John A. McCall, 
William M. Phillips, John Mitchell, B. P. Kaufman, Thomas S. Wright, 
Conduce H. Gatch, Calvin P. Holmes, William Holmes, Hiram Y. Smith, 
William Connor, William P. Conrad, Marcus Kavanaugh. 

CHAPTER XIV Louisa County 

Francis Springer, Edward H. Thomas, James S. Hurley, John Hale, Lewis 
A. Reiley, D. N. Sprague. 

CHAPTER XV Washington 

Norman Everson, Samuel A. Russell, Hiram Scofield, John F. McJunkin, 
G. G. Bennett, A. R. Dewey. 


Daniel Anderson, Judge John S. Townsend, Theodore B. Perry, Josiah T. 
Young, Lafayette Young, John W. H. Griffin, William A. Allison, William 
P. Hammond, George Yocum, B. P. Yocum, James Coen. 


Harvey J. Skiff, Stephen N. Lindley, Horace S. Winslow, Sherman G. Smith, 
John C. Cook, Frank T. Campbell. 


CHAPTER XVIII General Sketches 

Theodore S. Parvin, Henry Clay Dean, Charles Aldrlch, Benjamin P. Gue, 
James Gamble Day, John Scott, John P. Duncomhe, George W. and James 
S. Clark, William L. Alexander, Daniel Kerr, S. H. M. Byers. 


Henry B. Hendershott, William L. Galbraith, George May, Homer D. Ives, 
Samuel W. Summers, John D. Devin, W. H. Brumfield, Morris J. Williams, 
Augustus H. Hamilton, Jacob W. Dixon, Homer Thrall, John A. Johnson, 
Duane P. Gaylord, Thomas Bigham, A. W. Gaston, R. W. Boyd, William 
McPherrin, Cyrus Pranklin, Alfred Lotspiech, Edward H. Stiles, Addison 
A. Stuart, Edmond L. Joy, Edward L. Burton, James T. Hackworth, Joseph 
G. Hutchison, Joseph C. Mitchell, Isaac N. Mast, Charles E. Pulton, W. W. 
Cory, W. H. C. Jacques, William McNett, Eugene Fawcett, William E. Cham- 
bers, E. E. McElroy, D. H. Emery, William A. Work, A. C. Steck, J. J. 
Smith, Calvin Manning, W. S. Coen, David T. Miller, A. J. Bryant, R. H. 
Warden, J. H. D. Street, James W. Norris, Green D. R. Boyd, John W. Hed- 
rick, Samuel B. Evans, George Gillaspy, Peter G. Ballingall, Thomas D. 
Poster, H. L. Waterman, Joseph H. Merrill. 

CHAPTER XX Mount Pleasant 

Presley Saunders, Alvin Saunders, Asbury Porter, William H. Wallace, Ben- 
jamin P. Wallace, Joseph B. Teas, George W. Teas, Alfred Lotspeich, R. L. B. 
Clark, Theron W. Woolson, Leroy Palmer, George B. Corkhill, Alvah H. 
Berreman, Thomas Berreman, Henry Ambler, Richard Ambler, Washington 
I. Babb, Prank Hatton. 

CHAPTER XXI Davis County 

H. H. Trimble, James Baker, Mastin H. Jones, Harvey Dunlavey, S. S. 
Carruthers, H. C. Traverse, Prank Eichelberger, D. H. Payne, Stiles S. 
Carpenter, J. A. T. Hull, Hosea B. Horn, J. J. Selman, Samuel A. Moore, 
O. D. Tisdale, John Judson Hamilton. 

CHAPTER XXII Appanoose County 

Amos Harris, Harvey Tannehill, P. M. Drake, W. P. Vermillion, Andre\/ 
J. Baker, M. M. Walden, Nathan Udell, George D. Porter. 


Micajah T. Williams, William H. Seevers, William T. Smith, Stephen B. 
Shelleday, Enoch W. Eastman, J. A. L. Crookham, John R. Needham, 
Samuel A. Rice, Lucian C. Blanchard, Elliott Rice, J. Kelly Johnson, 
George Lafferty. 

CHAPTER XXIV Keokuk County 

Sanford Harned, George D. Woodin, Ezekiel S. Sampson, Cassius M. Brown, 
Cyrus H. Mackey, James L. Hogin, John A. Donnell, James H. Sanders, J. 
Warren Havens, William H. Needham. 

CHAPTER XXV Lucas County 

Warren S. Dungan, Theodore M. Stuart, Thomas B. Stuart, Dell Stuart. 


Gilbert C. R. Mitchell, Jonathan W. Parker, James Grant, Simeon Meredith, 
J W Drury, W. B. Conway, Charles Weston, J. A. Bradford, Ja;mes 
Thorington, Ebenezer Cook, John P. Cook, Ira Cook, George E. Hubble, 
James T Lane, David S. True, Abner Davison, John N. Rogers, Charles E. 
Putnam, Hans R. Claussen, W. H. P. Gurley, Joseph B. Leake, John C. Bills, 
Samuel B. Brown, James D. Campbell, Jacob W. Stuart, H. M. Martin, 
Jeremiah Murphy, Nathaniel Prench, Edward E. Cook, Charles M. Water- 
man, Michael V. Gannon, Charles A. Picke. 

CHAPTER XXVII ■ - ■ -■ ■;; ■ ■ V ■ VV•^T?^ ^'^^ 

James P Carleton, Gilman Polsom, Morgan Reno, Eastin Morris, Hugh D. 
Downey Henry Wright, James Templin, William Penn Clarke, William E. 
Miller Rush Clarke, William J. Haddock, Samuel H. Pairall, George J. Boal, 


James B. Edmonds, Charles H. Ransom, LeGrand Byington, Lemuel B. 
Patterson, Levi Robinson, Milton Remley, Cyrus S. Ranck, George W. Ball, 
Captain Frederick M. Irish, John P. Irish, Ezekiel Clark, Robert Finkbine, 
William G. Hammond. • 


Norman W. Isbell, Isaac M. Preston, William Smyth, Robert Smyth, Isaac 
Cook, George Greene, Algernon Sidney Belt, Dr. S. D. Carpenter, J. J. 
Childs, Ellsworth N. Bates, Ezra Van Meter, Donald C. Mcintosh, Nathaniel 
M. Hubbard, Charles A. Clark, William G. Thompson, Joseph B. Young, 
Charles Weare, John Weare, Frank Hormel. 


Peter H. Elngle, B. Rush Petrikin, Henry A. Wiltse, James Churchman, W. 
W. Coriell, Thomas Rogers, John V. Berry, W. J. Barney, Timothy Davis, 
James Crawford, Phineas W. Crawford, Lewis A. Thomas, Benjamin M. 
Samuels, Piatt Smith, Fred E. Bissell, Austin Adams, Shubael Adams, 
Dennis N. Cooley, David S. Wilson, Joel S. Blatchley, William Graham, 
William Mills, James Burt, DeWitt C. Cram, Frank M. Robinson, John M. 
Ballon, A. J. VanDuzee, George Crane, Winslow T. Barker, D. E. Lyon, 
H. B. Fouke, B. W. Poor, Samuel M. Pollock, James H. Shields, Myron 
Beach, John D. Jennings, Jeffrey M. Griffith, William J. Knight, Joseph B. 
Powers, Benjamin W. Lacy, Edward McCeney, Frederick O'Donnell, John 
H. O'Neill, Thomas S. Monroe, Henry T. McNulty, John Deery, Michael 
Mulkern, Henry T. Utley, John Doud, Jr., Alonzo Cragin, Louis G. Hurd, 
Joseph C. Longueville, Daniel J. Lenehan, Monroe M. Cady, Alphons and 
Matthew Matthews, Henry Michel, Robert W. Stewart, Glen Brown, John 
T. McCarthy, Dennis A. Mahoney, Joseph B. Dorr, M. M. Ham, Marcus C. 
Woodruff, and other incidental mentions. 

CHAPTER XXX Clayton County 

Samuel Murdock, Reuben Noble, Eliphalet Price, Realto E. Price, Elias H. 
Williams, Elijah Odell, James O. Crosby, Thomas Updegraff, Benjamin T. 
Hunt, John T. Stoneman. 

CHAPTER XXXI Allamakee County 

Charles T. Granger, John T. Clark, Leander 0. Hatch, Liberty E. Fellows, 
Henry Dayton, Samuel H. Kinne. 

CHAPTER XXXII Council Bluffs 

Orson P. Hyde, George P. Stiles, D. C. Bloomer, A. C. Ford, Hadley Johnson, 
D. W. Price, A. V. Larimer, W. C. James, J. P. Cassady, Frank Street, J. D. 
Test, R. L. Douglas, C. E. Stone, Caleb Baldwin, Samuel Clinton, George 
Snyder, Robert Percival, B. F. Montgomery, Lewis W. Ross, Joseph R. 
Reed, William P. Sapp, Joseph Lyman, Thomas H. Benton, Jr., Lysander 
W. Babbitt, William H. M. Pusey, Thomas Officer, John W. Chapman. 

CHAPTER XXXIII Blackhawk County 

Horace Boies, Henry B. Allen, Carlton F. Couch, Sylvester Bagg, J. B. 
Powers, H. C. Hemenway, William H. McClure, 0. C. Miller. 

CHAPTER XXXIV Clinton County 

William E. Leffingwell, Aylett R. Cotton, Lyman Ellis, Daniel W. Ellis, 
Joseph R. Darling, Nathaniel B. Baker, Walter I. Hayes, E. S. Bailey, 
Nathaniel A. Merrell, A. J. Leffingwell. 

CHAPTER XXXV Montgomery County 

Horace E. Deemer, Alfred Hebard, David Ellison, Smith McPherson. 


Daniel H. Solomon, William Hale, John Y. Stone. 

CHAPTER XXXVII General Sketches 

James H. Rothrock, LeVega G. Kinne, L. L. Ainsworth, Philip P. Bradley 
John B. Booth, John Hilsinger, P. Gad Bryan, Lewis Todhunter Hueh w' 
Maxwell, Gideon S. Bailey. ' ^ 



The Governors and Other Officials. 

"Speak of me as I am; nothing extenuate, nor set down aught in maUce." 

Lord John Campbell, in his "Lives of the Lord Chancellors of England," 

displayed the unhappy faculty of smirching in some way every one of his subjects 

before finally dismissing them ; whereupon Sir Charles Wetherell, while speaking on 

a certain occasion and desiring to address himself to Lord Campbell, turned toward 

that nobleman and said: "And here is my biographical friend who has added a 

new terror to death." 

The Governors of the Territory were in their order Robert Lucas, John Chambers, 
and James Clark. Governor Lucas had formerly been Governor of Ohio. So much 
has been written of him in the lines of general history, and otherwise, that it is 
necessary for me to speak of him but briefly. In my estimation, he strongly resembled 
Andrew Jackson in both appearance and character. He was resolute, indomitable, 
zealous, headstrong, and once his mind was fixed, it was difficult to change it. He 
was unquestionably a pure and patriotic man, but the qualities just indicated, made 
him, as they did General Jackson, enemies as well as friends. He had many 
discordant elements to deal with, many difficult duties to perform. He acquitted 
himself efficiently and well. His good name is imperishably associated with Iowa. 

He was born in 1781 in Jeff^erson County, Virginia, where his ancestors settled 
at an early day. His father was descended from William Penn ; his mother was of 
Scotch extraction. The father had served as a captain in the Revolutionary War 
and distinguished himself at the battle of Bloody Run. He emigrated with his 
family to Sciota County, Ohio, at the very beginning of the last century. 

His son, Robert Lucas, was a soldier and officer in the war of 1812. He 
became captain in the regular army in 1812, but resigned his commission in the 
following year. He was subsequently appointed as colonel in the regular army, a 
position which he also afterwards resigned. He enjoyed many offices within the 
highest gift of the commonwealth of Ohio. He served successively for nineteen 
years in one or the other branches of the Ohio legislature and in the course of that 
career presided first over one and then over the other branch. In 1 820 and again in 
1 828, he was a presidential elector. In May, 1 832, he presided over the Democratic 


National Convention which nominated Andrew Jackson for his second term for 
President and Martin Van Buren for Vice-President. In 1832, he was elected 
Governor of Ohio and re-elected to the same office in 1 834. His Ohio residence 
was at Portsmouth, Sciota County. In 1836, he removed to Piketown in Pike 
County, which continued to be his home until his appointment as the first territorial 
governor of Iowa in 1 838. He was one of the ablest and most useful members of 
the first constitutional convention, which- met in I 844. In 1 839, he purchased a 
tract of land near Iowa City and a few years later built a residence there, where he 
continued to reside until his death, which occurred in 1853. 

Captain F. M. Irish (father of the distinguished John P. Irish, now living in 
California), of Iowa City, who knew Governor Lucas intimately and was an 
excellent discriminator of human character, thus wrote of him: 

Governor Lucas was most emphatically a man of the people. He belonged to 
that noble band of statesmen and patriots, who, during the first half of the 
present century, contributed so much by their labors in placing the United States 
in the most elevated position in the scale of nations. He was truly a Western 
man, and took the greatest interest In its advancement. He was a firm friend to 
the system of common schools, holding it to be the duty of all parents to give their 
children a substantial English education, and that the State governments should 
enable them to do so. I have often heard him say every boy at the proper age 
should be taught the art of swimming, taking care of a horse, and acquire the 
faculty of riding well; that he should learn the use of a rifle, and practice with it 
sufficiently to become a fair marksman. The thousands traveling over our 
Western plains and mountain slopes will realize the correctness of his theories. 

Governor Lucas was succeeded by John Chambers. He was a man of ability, 
substantial character, and, as I should judge from the following incident, illustrative 
of the times and of both himself and the late Governor and United States Senator, 
John H. Gear, a gentleman of rather old-fashioned ways. Some forty years ago. 
Governor Gear related to me the incident referred to in about the following language, 
of which I made a note at the time : 

In 1838, my father was appointed a chaplain in the regular army and took 
his family to Port Snelling, then a frontier military post on the upper Mississippi. 
When about eighteen years of age, I was made a bearer of dispatches from Colonel 
Bruce, the Indian agent at Fort Snelling, to Governor Chambers. On horseback, 
I carried the dispatches, through the wilderness inhabited only by Indians and wild 
animals. Arriving In Burlington, I sought and found the Governor's quarters, was 
ushered into his presence and delivered my messages. He received me in a very 
kindly and cordial manner, and looking at me closely, said, "You are rather young 
to be the bearer of dispatches. How came you to be appointed?" I answered the 
question the best I knew how, and this, with one kindly question after another, 
soon established an easy and friendly intercourse between us, and showed him 
to be a very lovable man. As I was about to leave, he remarked, "Young man, do 
you ever drink anything?" "Wine, sometimes, and occasionally a little rum." 
(Most everybody drank rum in those days.) Thereupon he touched a bell, which 
brought into the room his colored servant, Cassius, afterwards long and well 
known In the vicinity of Burlington, who was directed to bring in some ice-water, 
which was soon done, accompanied by a bottle containing some very fine whisky, 
which the Governor recommended. With his strongly intellectual traits, he cer- 
tamly possessed kindly and social ones of the most entertaining character. He had 
two accomplished daughters at the time. 


As indicated by the foregoing incident and from all accounts concerning him, 
he was a man of kindly ways and amiable disposition, deliberate and diplomatic; 
in many respects, quite the antipodes of Governor Lucas. But notwithstanding his 
amiability, he was a man of heroic character, determined views, and fine ability, as 
the following will show. He was born in 1 780, in the State of New Jersey. His 
father, Rowland Chambers, was a colonel of New Jersey militia, in the Revolution- 
ary War. When John was fourteen years of age, the family removed to Mason 
County, Kentucky. He studied law with Francis Taylor of the Mason County Bar. 
He was admitted in 1800. In 1812, he represented his county in the legislature. 
During the War of 1812, he was appointed aide-de-camp with the rank of Major 
on the staff of General Harrison, with whom he remained during the campaign, 
rendering efficient service in the battle of the Thames, and on other occasions. In 
1815, he was again elected to the legislature. In 1828 he was elected to represent 
his district in Congress. In 1 832, he was again elected to the State Legislature, 
and was the author and promoter of legislation which resulted in relieving the state 
from the great financial burden under which it then labored. During the same year, 
1 832, a seat on the Supreme bench of Kentucky was proffered to him, which he 
dechned. In 1 835, he was again nominated by the Governor and confirmed by the 
Senate for the same position, but he was again obliged to decline on account of his 
health, which had become impaired by long and arduous service. In 1835, he was 
again elected to represent his district in Congress and was re-elected in 1837. 
Between 1815 and 1828, he held for several years the office of Commonwealth's 
Attorney for his Judicial District. He was then at the zenith of his reputation as one 
of the leading lawyers of Kentucky. He successfully met in contest, for the honors 
of the profession, such men as Rowan, Hardin, and Barry. His appearance and 
manners were dignified, his tone calm and impressive, his language singularly direct 
and vigorous. 

On the 25th of March, 1 841 , he was appointed Governor of Iowa Territory by 
President Harrison. The politics of the government had changed from Van Buren 
to Harrison. Governor Lucas was a Democrat, Governor Chambers, a 
Whig. O. H. W. Stull, a Virginian, was appointed Secretary of the Territory 
and James Wilson, of New Hampshire, Surveyor-General. On the 1 5th of July, 
1 84 1 , he was formally received at The Madison, in Fort Madison, and welcomed 
to Iowa, in an address delivered by Phillip Viele of that place. Captain F. M. 
Irish, to whom reference has been made in sketching Governor Lucas, thus describes 
Governor Chambers, in his history of Johnston County (Vol. 3, Annals of Iowa, 

Governor Chambers was a man past the middle age of life, plain in his 
exterior and wholly free from any affectation. Reared in Kentucky, he possessed 
the fervid ardent passions peculiar to people of that State, which was made 
manifest in his strong political bias, notwithstanding which, he \vas a man of 


sterling integrity, and his straightforwardness made him a favorite among the 
honest, outspoken backwoodsmen. 

He is thus described by Edmond Booth, of Anamosa, Iowa, in Volume 3, 

Annals of Iowa, 1871 : 

Chambers was a large, well-proportioned man, with large head and face corre- 
sponding; his face, that of a man self-possessed, of pleasant and social nature and 
of great strength of character. 

The editor of the "Annals of Iowa," speaking of him in the July number, 1871, 

gives this very graphic and pleasing description : 

Governor Chambers' private career was marked by a generosity which was 
limited only by his means, and was, in fact, the prominent trait in his character. 
His house and his purse were alike open to every worthy claimant of his bounty. 
He seemed utterly incapable of any sordid motive. His benevolence gave rise to 
many pleasant incidents, recalling acts which he had forgotten. On one occasion 
his family discovered that he wore a handsome diamond breastpin in addition to 
the less costly one he usually wore. On inquiry they found that he was unconscious 
of the fact, and was at a loss to account for it. But on reflection, he remembered 
that a young gentleman had, a few hours before, pretended to examine closely the 
breastpin he was wearing, and next day charged him with the surreptitious 
present. The reply was:. "Yes, sir. I knew your aversion to accepting presents, 
and therefore did not venture to tender this formally. Years ago, you performed 
valuable legal services for my father, and refused compensation, because you knew 
he was in straitened circumstances. But you will not refuse to wear this to remind 
you of my father, and of the gratitude of his son." On another occasion, in 
traveling through the Far West, he found a namesake at an humble farm house, 
where he had stopped for the night. In answer to a question, the boy's mother 
said he was named for a lawyer in Kentucky who had helped her family when they 
were in trouble. She was wholly unconscious that her guest was the identical 
Kentucky lawyer of whom she spoke. 

Governor Chambers furnished a beautiful example of filial love and duty. 
As early as his fifteenth year he was partly charged with the care of his mother, 
a woman of high character and strong intellect, whom he fondly loved, and to 
whose comfort and happiness he devoted himself with untiring assiduity through- 
out her long life. He was a man of iron will, and somewhat stern in his bearing, 
but always ready to unbend at the call of hospitality, and always ready to mingle 
cheerfully in the family circle. Although often before the people, he was 
never defeated in a popular election; yet he never descended to any of the arts of 
demagoguery to secure popularity. 

I cannot refrain from relating another instance, illustrative of his natural kind- 
ness, and noble impulses, as well as his efficiency of action. General Simon Kenton 
had been a celebrated pioneer and Indian fighter. He had become infirm and poor. 
His case did not fall under any general law and he applied to Congress for a special 
act giving him a pension. Chambers, whose sympathies were thoroughly aroused, 
introduced a bill for the purpose and urged its passage in a vigorous speech, graphic- 
ally portraying the veteran woodman's career in his country's service; and the bill 
was passed. When General Kenton heard of this, he walked all the way from his 
home on Mad River, in Ohio, to thank his friend. The person who related this 
incident was an eyewitness to the scene which presented itself upon the meeting of 
the two and thus relates it : 

General Kenton was neatly clad, his white hair streaming over his shoulders, 
and his countenance wearing an expression of unwonted complacency and comfort' 
4s he straightened himself up to his full six feet two inches to receive the cordiai 


greeting extended to him, he said, with tremulous voice: "John Chambers, you 
gave me shelter when I had no home, money from your purse when I was penniless, 
and now you have — " Here the old man broke down without even reaching the 
subject of the pension, and brushed away the tears that filled his eyes; while Mr. 
Chambers said, cheerfully, as he led him to a seat: "Come, General, you are too 
old now to make a set speech. I understand and appreciate your feelings, and am 
glad to see you looking so well. I reflect on no incident of my lite with more 
pleasure than my successful appeal in behalf of a public servant who deserves 
well of his country." 

He was repeatedly called on to treat with the Indian tribes for the purchase of 
their lands. While he had acted with great firmness and decision with the Indians, 
they nevertheless respected him for his justice and humanity. In September, 1842, 
he was appointed sole commissioner to hold a treaty with the Sacs and Foxes, in 
which he succeeded in successfully carrying out the wishes of the Government. 
Assisting him in the execution of this commission was Alfred Hebard, whose life and 
services are intimately connected with Iowa. In speaking of this treaty, Mr. Hebard 
thus refers to Governor Chambers in Volume One, Third Series of the Annals of 
Iowa, pages 398-399: 

The sole commissioner was Major John Chambers, of Kentucky, and at that 
time Governor of the Territory of Iowa. And right here, I deem it fitting that I 
say something more of John Chambers than the mere mention of his name. Men 
in important positions, who are distinguished for conscientious and successful 
discharge of official duty, affecting the welfare of their fellowmen, are entitled to 
grateful recognition. With John Chambers, duty was first, consequences took care 
of themselves. In appearance, he was a man of medium height and rather robust. 
In bearing, dress and address, a gentleman, without the slightest suggestion of 
personal conseqtuence on his own part; genial, affable, and sympathetic, with all 
who were entitled to regard. * * * He was not only a good lawyer, but a man of 
prudence, patience and good business judgment. Aside from the fact that previous 
experience had given him a knowledge of Indian character, he had lived here in 
Iowa, as a neighbor of these Indians, long enough to be somewhat familiar with 
their character and the complicated relations that had grown up between them 
and their white neighbors. 

In I 843, he held a treaty with the Winnebagos, but without any result having 
been reached. In I 844, he was re-appointed by President Tyler, but was succeeded 
in 1 845 by James Clark, whose political faith was in accord with that of the 
President, while that of Governor Chambers was not. In the latter part of his life, 
he returned to Kentucky, where he died in September, 1852. 

James Clark, the successor of Governor Chambers, was a brother-in-law of 
Augustus C. Dodge, one of Iowa's first United States Senators. He led an active 
and useful life, as will presently be seen, and died in the very height of his promise, 
at the early age of thirty-eight. He, with his wife and a son, were swept away by 
the cholera, which visited Burlington in July, 1850. 

Bom in 1812, in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, he learned the printers' 
trade and worked awhile at it in Harrisburg. In 1 836, he went to St. Louis and 
worked on the "Missouri Republican." He subsequently went to Bellmont, then 
capital of Wisconsin Territory, and, in company with John B. Russell, established 


ihe "Bellmont Gazette." Its proprietors were chosen state printers for the territorial 
legislature. In 1837, he established the "Wisconsin Territorial Gazette" at Bur- 
lington. This was the first newspaper published there. He was appointed Territorial 
Librarian and did the public printing. William B. Conway, the first Secretary of the 
Territory, having died, Mr. Clark was appointed his successor. In I 844, he was 
elected Mayor of Burlington and in the same year was chosen a delegate to the 
constitutional convention. He was appointed Governor of the Territory on the 1 8th 
of November, 1845. He held the office until the 28th of December of the fol- 
lowing year, when he retired for the inauguration of the new State Government and 
its first Governor, Ansel Briggs. In 1 848, he resumed the management of the 
"Burlington Gazette." He was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention, 
which resulted in the nomination of Lewis Cass for President. The legislature 
bestowed his name upon the new county of Clark, when it was organized. 

From all accounts, he was a man of extraordinary parts, and in view of what he 
had accomplished at the time of his death, it may be fairly surmised that had he 
lived, he would have attained still greater honors and become a still more conspicuous 
figure in the history of the State. 

There were no Lieutenant-Governors during the territorial existence. The 
nearest officer to the Governor was the Secretary of the Territory. The Secretaries 
during the period were, successively: William B. Conway, James Clark, O. H. W. 
Stull, Samuel J. Burr, and Jesse Williams. 

William B. Conway, the first secretary, had been an editor in Pittsburg, Penn- 
sylvania. He was an invalid and survived only a short period after his appointment. 
He died during the second session of the legislature. He was a resident of Daven- 
port, but died at Burlington while attending the session of the legislature there. His 
body was brought to Davenport for interment. A public meeting was held and 
resolutions passed expressive of the respect in which he was held and profound regret 
for his loss. His short official life, however, was not a smooth one. He had reached 
Iowa about a month in advance of Governor Lucas, and assuming to act for the 
Governor in his absence, he displayed a manner that was not pleasing to some of the 
political leaders, which, for the time, created a very active friction between them and 
the secretary. Professor Parvin told me that he left no survivors. He was succeeded 
by James Clark, who afterwards became Governor, and in respect to whom nothing 
need be added to what I have already said of him. Clark served as Secretary from 
1839 to 1841. O. H. W. Stull, his successor, it hats been said, was a Virginian 
by birth, but Governor John H. Gear informed me that at the time of his appointment 
he was a Marylander, from Frederick in that State, and that the remnant of his 
family returned there. I have not been able, from any source, to gain any informa- 
tion respecting his personality, except this instance, which would seem to indicate 
that he was a man of ready wit. In the legislative assembly of I 841 , M. Bainbridge 


was a member of the council from Dubuque ; Ver Plank Van Antwerp was one of 
the proprietors and editor of the "Capitol Reporter" and had made some severe 
strictures upon Mr. Bainbridge. Bainbridge met Van Antwerp in the hall leading 
to the council chamber and commenced a personal attack upon him. Van Antwerp 
drew a pistol, but before he could get it into position, Bainbridge wrenched it from 
him. Just at this moment. Secretary Stull, hearing the noise, rushed from his office 
to see what it was, and when Bainbridge took the pistol from Van Antwerp, cried 
out at the top of his voice, the political maxim, said to have been established by 
General Jackson, "To the victor belong the spoils." Mr. Stull served from 1841 
to 1843. 

The next Secretary of the Territory was Samuel J. Burr, who served from I 843 
to I 845. Concerning him, I have been able to obtain but little personal information. 
He is described by Edmond Booth, of Anamosa, as being a man large in frame, 
agreeable in looks, pleasant in manners, and what is termed an all-round good fellow, 
which the following instance would seem to indicate. Mr. Booth relates that he and 
Mr. Burr started in a two-horse buggy to go from Iowa City to Burlington. There 
were not to exceed a half dozen log houses in the eighty miles travel. In one of 
these, where they stopped for the night, the occupants were a man, his wife and 
daughter, the last about seventeen or eighteen. In the morning, the mother came 
down from the loft, before the daughter. It' was in the days when ladies' dresses 
were fastened behind and evidently the mother had had no time to fasten the girl's. 
Burr took in the situation and in his lively, good-humored way remarked that he 
always fastened his wife's dress, and proceeded to fasten that of the girl. She stood 
quietly and with a most innocent air, while the Secretary of the Territory of Iowa 
went as deftly through the operation as though it were his daily business.* I have 
been unable to ascertain from any source what became of Mr. Burr, whether he 
remained in Iowa or left any descendants here. 

The next and last Secretary of the Territory was Jesse Williams, who served 
from 1845 to 1846. He had been Auditor of the Territory from 1840 to 1843 
and Territorial Agent from 1841 to 1842. In company with Bernhart Henn, 
George D. and Edward A. Temple, he organized the first bank in Fairfield, where 
he resided, in 1851, under the firm name of Henn, Williams & Co. For many 
years it was one of the principal banking houses in the State. He came to Iowa 
about the time that T. S. Parvin and James M. Morgan did, as a sort of an attache 
of Governor Lucas. He engaged in newspaper work. His first venture was the 
"Iowa Capital Reporter" at Iowa City. He was an able writer and did much 
toward developing the resources of the country. He was a Democrat in politics and 
his paper became the legal organ of that party during the territorial period. As a 
journalist he had no superior in the management of a political paper. He was large- 

* Note— Annals of Iowa, First Series, Vol. 4, 1870, p. 108. 


hearted, generous, and had many warm, personal friends. He was a man of high 
character and strictly honorable. He never married. 

The Territorial Auditors, after Mr. Williams, who held that office from I 840 
to 1 843, were William L. Gilbert from 1 843 to 1 845 and Robert M. Secrest from 
I 845 to 1 846, when the State was inaugurated. 

The Territorial Treasurers were Thornton Bayless, from 1839 to 1840, and 
Morgan Reno from 1840 to 18*16; and the Territorial Agents other than Mr. 
Williams, whom we have seen was one, were Chauncey Swan from I 839 to I 840, 
John N. Coleman from 1842 to 1844, and Anson Hart from 1844 to 1846. 

The United States District Attorneys during the territorial period were succes- 
sively: Cyrus S. Jacobs, Isaac Van Allen, Charles Weston, John G. Deshler and 
Edward Johnston. Cyrus S. Jacobs was a lawyer of ability and, had he lived, 
would doubtless have obtained pre-eminence in his profession. He was sensitive, 
high-tempered, "sudden and quick in quarrel." He was killed in an unfortunate 
rencounter in one of the streets in Burlington. He was a Southerner by birth and 
instinct. He was succeeded by Isaac Van Allen. Mr. Van Allen was from 
Albany, New York, and was appointed before coming to Iowa. *He was a young 
man of accomplishments. He died not long after his appointment at Rockingham, 
in Scott County, and Charles Weston was appointed to succeed him. At the time of 
his appointment he was Librarian of the Territory, having succeeded Theodore S. 
Parvin in I 839. He in turn was succeeded as Librarian by Morgan Reno, who 
served until the State was organized in I 846. Mr. Weston was one of the twenty 
lawyers who were present at the opening of the first term of court at Burlington. He 
was from New York. He settled and lived for a long time at Davenport and, I 
think, died and left descendants there. He was an accomplished gentleman of refined 
and artistic tastes. He did not minister very closely at the shrine of the "Jealous 
Mistress." As a result, he did not attain eminent distinction as a lawyer. He was, 
however, a man of fine talents and made an efficient district attorney. As further 
particulars respecting Mr. Weston will be found in connection with the sketch 
of Professor Parvin, further on, it is unnecessary for me to add anything more here. 

Mr. Weston was succeeded as District Attorney by John G. Deshler, who 
served from 1 843 to 1 845. I may add here that Mr. Van Allen served from 1 838 
to 1840 and Mr. Weston from 1840 to 1843. Deshler had had no experience 
as a lawyer. His appointment was through the influence of Ohio men. He was 
connected with the Dennisons and Neiswangers of that State. He went back to Ohio 
and married a very lovely woman and brought her to Iowa. He afterwards removed 
to Buffalo, New York, and went into the commission business. His father was 
immensely wealthy. From him he inherited a large portion, which he afterwards 
added to from his own business. Professor Parvin told me, using his own words, 
that "He was fast, as a young man. He was first admitted to the bar in Iowa. 


He gave a 'blow-out' to the committee who had passed him and to the lawyers. We 
were pretty much all present — Browning, Starr, Hall, Grimes, and the rest. Dif- 
ferent liquors were mixed in the pail and it made a pretty strong beverage. But 
everybody had to take it or they would make him. Deshler had some bad qualities 
and a good many good ones. At the time of the flour famine in New York City, 
he sent from Buffalo to the relief committee a thousand half-barrels of flour. 
While he was in Iowa, a widow with a beautiful little girl, came to Muscatine. 
She secured a house, but had no money to get her goods out of the warehouse. This 
came to Deshler's knowledge and he paid the charges to the warehouse men and had 
the goods sent to her house. He also went to a grocery store and arranged for 
necessaries to be sent her. He died in Columbus." 

Of Edward Johnston, the last Territorial District Attorney, who succeeded Mr. 
Deshler in 1 845 and held the position until the organization of the State Government, 
I will speak more at length when I come to the early lawyers of Lee County. 

The United States Marshals during the territorial period were, in their order: 
Francis Gehon, from 1838 to 184! ; Thomas B. Johnston, from 184! to 1842; 
Isaac Leffler, from 1 842 to 1 845 ; and Gideon S. Bailey, from 1 845 to 1 846. 

The Surveyor-Generals for Iowa, and Wisconsin, while we were a part of that 
territory, were Warner Lewis, from 1836 to 1838; Albert G. Ellis, from 1838 
to 1840; George W. Jones, from 1840 to 1841 ; James Wilson, from 1841 to 
1 845 ; and George W. Jones, again, from 1 845 to 1 846. 

The United States Land Offices during the territorial time were located at 
Dubuque, Burlington, and Fairfield. The Registrars at Dubuque were successively : 
B. R. Petrekin, Henry Harrison, and Warner Lewis. The Receivers were Thomas 
McKnight and Stephen Langworthy. At Burlington, the Registrars were A. C. 
Dodge and William Ross. The Receivers were Ver Plank Van Antwerp and 
Joseph C. Haw.kins. At Fairfield, the Registrar was Bernhart Henn; the Receiver, 
Ver Plank Van Antwerp, who, as above indicated, had before been Receiver at the 
Burlington Office. 

At the First Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Iowa, which convened at 
Burlington November 1 2, I 838, the Territory was divided in three Judicial Districts, 
in each of which a trial Court was held by one of the Judges. The counties of Lee, 
Van Buren, Henry and Des Moines composed the First District, to which Charles 
Mason, the Chief Justice, was assigned. The counties of Louisa, Washington, 
Johnston, Cedar and Muscatine composed the Second District, to which Judge 
Joseph Williams was assigned. The counties of Jackson, Dubuque, Scott and 
Clayton composed the Third District, to which Judge Thomas S. Wilson was 
assigned. The office of District Attorney was created for each Judicial District. 
He was to be appointed by the Governor and hold his office for three years. An 


act was also passed, appointing Commissioners to locate the seat of government at 
some suitable point in Johnston County. Chauncey Swan, John Rowlands and 
Robert Ralston were appointed Commissioners. The other members selected 
Chauncey Swan to superintend the work of erecting the Capitol Building. 

The first delegates to Congress from the Territory were William W. Chapman, 
who served from 1839 to 1841, and Augustus C. Dodge, who served from 1841 
to the admission of the State in 1 846, when he and George Wallace Jones became 
our first United States Senators. Sketches of these men will be found further along. 

On the 26th of October, 1 846, two months anterior to her admission into the 
Union, Iowa held her first State election. Ansel Briggs, of Jackson County, was 
chosen Governor over Thomas McKnight, of Dubuque County ; and Elisha Cuttler, 
of Van Buren County, Secretary of State. Shepard Leffler and S. Clinton Hast- 
ings (Democrats) were elected to Congress over G. C. R. Mitchell, of Scott 
County, and Joseph Hedrick, of Wapello County (Whigs) . 

Thus ended the Territorial and thus commenced the State existence. 



Chief Justice Charles Mason. 

I once heard Charles Aldrich, while he was the distinguished Curator of the 
State Historical Department, ask a gentleman in whose judgment he had considerable 
confidence, whom he thought the two greatest men in Iowa history. The answer was, 
James W. Grimes and Charles Mason. I am not prepared to confirm an estimate so 
definite, for in respect to it there might be fairly well grounded differences of 
opinion in a review of all the illustrious names that adorn its annals. But it may 
safely be said that Charles Mason was one of its very greatest. 

With the elements of a great jurist and statesman he combined those of an 
exalted character. 

He was a Democrat of the old school, but in no sense, save the highest, was he 
a politician. He disdained the artifices of the calling, and was infinitely above those 
panderings which often place men in power. But notwithstanding this, his conspicu- 
ous qualities as a real statesman would doubtless have elevated him to the choicest 
offices in the gift of his people had not his party in the more mature portion of his 
life been utterly out of power in both the State and Nation. 

His appointment as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, upon the organization 
of the Territory in 1 838, was entirely unsought and unexpected. His notification of 
it came as an agreeable surprise through the slow course the mail had to take before 
the era of railroads and telegraphs. 

No man could have filled the position with more genuine service and usefulness 
to the State. He held the scales of Justice with an even hand, unswerved by 
prejudice or popular clamor. His various opinions are marked by learning, and by 
a practical wisdom suited to the existing conditions of the time and people. The 
more important ones can be studied with profit after all these years. They are free 
from verbiage, devoid of rhetorical flourish, instinct with virile force. I cannot stop 
to discuss them variously. His first one, and the first one reported, is a fair index 
of the others. It is that of In re Ralph, Morris Reports, 1 , in which it was held 


by this Democratic Judge, who was naturally averse to the so-called Abolitionism 
of the times, that a slave who is voluntarily permitted by his master to abide for a 
time in a free State cannot afterward be subjected to servitude. 

In this connection I cannot refrain from giving as apropos the following extract 
from a paper delivered some time ago before the Iowa Association of New York by 
Judge John F. Dillon, in whose name every lowan feels a just pride and which will 
stand undimmed in comparison with any of her greatest sons: 

Nothing is more ephemeral than professional reputations in the legal world. 
Keats said, with a note of disappointment and sadness, fhat his epitaph should be: 
"Here lies one whose name was writ in water." This is applicable to most lawyers. 
The lawyer walks along the sandy shore of the everflowing stream of litigation, 
but his footprints are not enduring, for they are effaced by the winds and waves 
and by the footsteps of those that follow after him. Suffer me a few words, and 
chiefly of Judge Mason, whose name is already fading from the general memory of 
the bar and people. It fell to his lot to decide, in 1839, a cause of the greatest 
public and historiacl importance. It is the first reported case in the first volume 
(Morris) of Iowa Reports — the case entitled "Ralph (a colored man) on Habeas 

To those familiar with the history of Iowa, since 1856, it will perhaps be a 
surprise to learn that the first territorial legislature in 1838 passed an act 
prohibiting any free negro from settling in Iowa unless he first gave bond for $500 
for good behavior and that he would not become a public charge. If he failed to 
give bond he should be arrested and hired out to the highest bidder for cash for 
six months. Whoever harbored or employed a colored man who had not "given 
bond was subject to a fine of $100, and any slaveholder might come to Iowa and by 
Iowa officers arrest and take back a slave who had escaped from bondage. Against 
this law only three votes were recorded. Even James W. Grimes, afterwards the 
first Republican Governor of Iowa, did not vote against it. 

Ralph was a slave in Missouri. He made a contract with his owner, Mont- 
gomery, to buy his freedom for $550, with permission to go to the Dubuque lead 
mines in Iowa to earn the money. Ralph, though he is said to have worked in- 
dustriously, had not been able to save enough to pay Montgomery. Two men in 
Dubuque volunteered to deliver Ralph to Montgomery in Missouri for $100. Mont- 
gomery accepted the offer. Governor Gue, in his excellent history of Iowa, says 
Ralph was kidnapped, but this seems to be a mistake. While at work in the mines 
Ralph was arrested as a fugitive slave under a warrant issued by a justice of the 
peace pursuant to the statute just mentioned, and the sheriff of Dubuque County 
delivered him into the custody of Montgomery's agents for the purpose of being 
transported to Missouri. He was handcuffed and taken to Bellevue to be sent by 
steamboat to Missouri. Alexander Butterworth, a farmer, seeing the arrest, pro- 
cured from Judge Wilson a "writ of habeas corpus, and Ralph was returned to 
Dubuque. The case was of such importance that it was transferred to the 
Supreme Court of the Territory and came up before Judges Mason, Wilson and 
Williams. It involved, you will perceive, the great question which many years 
afterwards arose in the famous Dred-Scott case, viz., the constitutionality and effect 
of the Missouri Compromise Act of 1820 forbidding slavery north of 36 degrees 30 
minutes.. It involved the momentous question fought out in the Civil War, viz., 
whether slavery was local and freedom national, or the reverse. 

The Court, Chief Justice Mason giving the opinion, decided these three 

1. Where a slave goes with the consent of his master to become a permanent 
resident of a free State or Territory, he cannot be regarded as a fugitive slave. 

2. The Act of 1820, for the admission of Missouri into the Union, which 
prohibits slavery north of 36 degrees 30 minutes was not intended merely as a 
naked declaration, requiring further legislative action to carry it into effect, but 
must be regarded as an entire and final prohibition of slavery north of that line. 


3. The master who, subsequently to this Act, permits his slave to become a 
permanent resident here, cannot afterwards exercise any acts of ownership over 
him within this territory. 

The result was that Ralph was declared to be a free man and he was taken 
from the custody of his captors and set at liberty by these three Democratic judges. 
«■ ^'^^^It ^x l^ ^^^^ '^® Dred-Scott decision afterwards rendered was in direct con- 
flict with Judge Mason s decision on Ralph's case. But in the Civil War, a higher 
body than either of those courts, namely, the American people, in their primary 
and sovereign capacity, overruled the Dred-Scott decision and re-established 
the doctrines of the Iowa court in Ralph's case. 

With Ralph's case the published records of Iowa jurisprudence begin, and those 
records, so long as they last, will honorably perpetuate the names of Chief Justice 
Mason and his associates. 

By that decision Iowa became the first free child of the "Missouri Com- 
promise." And when, in contemplating the State of Iowa today in its maturity 
we look back through the intervening years to the early days when Ralph's case 
was decided, we are for many reasons filled with pride. 

In personal appearance Judge Mason was strikingly attractive. That of some 
distinguished men on first sight belies the gifts attributed to them. It was not so with 
Judge Mason. I may be pardoned for illustrating this from my own experience. 
Nearly sixty years ago, I think it was in 1858, when the now flourishing city of 
Ottumwa was but a little hamlet of wooden structures, I was seated as a young 
lawyer waiting for clients, in my office on its main street. It was before there was any 
railroad, between that place and Des Moines, and as the passenger stage drove into 
the village and stopped before the log hotel — then kept by John Potter, father of 
"Tom" Potter, afterward a prominent railroad man — I saw through my open 
window a passenger alight and stand by the hotel door, who at once attracted my 
attention by his superior bearing, so much so that I left my office and went across to 
inquire who he was. I ascertained that it was Judge Mason. In figure he was 
tall, erect, commanding; in expression grave, dignified and thoughtful, but, as was 
plain to be seen, keenly observant. He was rather dark in visage, with dark hair 
and closely cut full beard. His eyes were deeply set, dark, luminous and penetrating. 
He was in short a man of distinguished appearance. 

Professor T. S. Parvin thus describes him in speaking of the opening of the first 

term of court and the three Judges : 

In the center of the group was Charles Mason, Chief Justice, tall and straight 
in person, of grave mien, as became the presiding officer of the court, slow of 
speech, like Moses of old, yet endowed with much of his law-giving power. 

And George H. Yewell thus: 

He was a man over six feet in height, thin and somewhat angular. His move- 
ments were energetic, and he carried himself erect, a habit formed during his 
military education at West Point. His mind was by nature a judicial one. He was 
an attentive listener; arranged his thoughts carefully before clothing them in 
words; not much given to talking; rather reticent than otherwise, yet capable of 
being very interesting when he did talk, and having a quick sense of humor that 
brought with it a cheery smile and a twinkle of the eye. 

From this, one might be tempted to apply what William Wirt said of Chief 

Justice John Marshall, that he "sat on the bench like a descended god." 


Notwithstanding his rather aristocratic mien, bred to some extent by his discipline 
and association at West Point, it was not in the least repellant, because it was so 
perfectly natural ; while his real kindness of heart warmed through all the outward 
expressions. That he was a man of noble sympathies is attested by private acts 
attendant upon his whole life, while his official ones were tempered with justice and 

He was naturally modest, retiring, and as free from egoism and self-laudation 
as any man in our history. This statement is verified by many instances in his 
private and public career, by the testimony of his contemporaries, and is conspicu- 
ously borne out by the autobiographical manuscript hereinafter set out, in which he 
narrates with unadorned simplicity the principal events of his life. He frequently 
exalts others but never himself. 

He was born in the State of New York ; educated at the United States Military 
Academy at West Point, having for his classmates the future Confederate Generals, 
Robert E. Lee and Joseph E. Johnston, and the distinguished astronomer, O. M. 
Mitchell ; graduated therefrom at the head of his class in 1 829 ; became for a time 
one of its professors in civil engineering; studied law and was admitted to the bar; 
practiced for a while in New York City ; came as a young lawyer to Belmont, where 
the legislature of Wisconsin Territory — then embracing Iowa — was held; became 
acquainted with David Irwin, one of the Judges of the Supreme Court; came with 
him and settled in Burlington, where he was when appointed Chief Justice, and where 
he continued to reside until his death. 

After his voluntary retirement as Chief Justice, he resumed the practice of his 
profession, which was again interrupted on his appointment by the President as 
Commissioner of Patents at the national seat of government, in which he served his 
country with distinguished ability. But I am going to let the autobiographical narra- 
tion before alluded to and about to be introduced, tell the further particulars of 
his life. 

In 1881, at the request of the Judges of the Supreme Court of Iowa, with 
whom I had formed personal acquaintance while I was the Reporter of its decisions, 
1 commenced to gather material for the present work. In the course of my efforts in 
that direction I wrote Judge Mason the following letter : 

Ottumwa, Iowa, November 22, 1881. 
Hon. Charles Mason, Burlington, Iowa. 

Honored Sir: You will observe from the inclosed circular the character of the 
work upon which I have entered. I am sure you will regard it a laudable one even 
though it should serve no other purpose than to preserve material that may be of 
service to the future Historian of the State. 

May I not ask that you will kindly give me some assistance in the matter. 
I want to learn all I can respecting the early lawyers. Prom your position as 
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court during the territorial and the first year of the 
state existence, I am sure you could give me most valuable information. With 
many of the lawyers of that period I had sufficient personal acquaintance to form a 


pretty just estimate of the characteristics, abilities, and the parts they respectively 
played; but with regard to others who passed from the theater of active profes- 
sional life before I entered it, I must depend mainly upon such information as I 
may be able to derive from their early contemporaries. I would know of the 
appearance, the leading traits, the peculiarities, the influence they exerted on the 
profession and State, with such instances as might serve to illustrate the times 
as well as their own lives and characters. 

If you will give me this information respecting such members of the bar of 
your court as you may think worthy of mention, I shall feel myself greatly obliged. 

He was then considerably past the allotted three score years and ten, and in 
feeble health, as the following reply will indicate, written only a few weeks before 
his death, which occurred in the ensuing month : 

Burlington, January 12, 1882. 

Dear Sir : The only apology I can now make tor my long delay in replying to 
your request made some weeks since, is, that the state of my health did not permit 
me to do so. I ought to have written you to that effect but I hoped from time to 
time that I should be able to give you the information desired. More than once 
have I commenced writing, but have been obliged to desist on account of the 
fatigue thereby incurred. I hope I shall soon be strong enough mentally and 
physically to give you to some extent the information desired and will do so as 
soon as practicable. I can read without fatigue, but writing is labor of a different 
character. Yours truly, 

Edward H. Stiles, Esq., Ottumwa, Iowa. Charles Mason. 

On the 18th of the same month (I had again written him in the meantime), I 
received the following further communication from him: 

Burlington, January 18, 1882. 
In reply to yours of the 16th I have pleasure to inform you that I have already 
commenced writing the statement you desire through an amanuensis. I hope to be 
able to complete it in the course of a few days. It would not be necessary to 
employ a stenographer, as I think I can have it better done from time to time as 
I feel able. Yours truly, 

Charles Mason. 

On the 23d I received the first portion of the manuscript referred to. The first 
of the above letters, that of January 1 2th, was written by himself ; that of the 1 8th, 
as well as the manuscript, under his dictation by his devoted daughter, Mrs. Mary 
J. Remey, wife of Admiral George Collier Remey, now retired. While it is 
authenticated by his own signature at the end, he had become too weak to write the 
body of it and invoked the aid of his daughter for that purpose. 

I have mentioned these particulars because they throw a strong light upon his 
character, and pathetically evince his devotion to Iowa, and the strenuous desire 
that his last days should be given to the preservation of some of its early history and 
that of the men concerning whom he writes. 

I now present the portion of the manuscript first received literally as it was 

written : 

I was born in central New York among the hills some twelve or fifteen miles 
southeastwardly from the City of Syracuse ; graduated at the United States Military 
Academy in 1829 and immediately thereafter entered my name in a law office as 
a student while I remained for two years as an assistant professor of engineering 
at the Academy; then resigned from the army and entered a lawyer's office in the 


City of New York, and in June, 1832, was licensed to practice; commenced the 
practice in September of that year at Newburgh, New York, and two years later 
removed to New York City, where I remained until July, 1836. I then went West 
on a tour of observation and emigrated to Wisconsin in November, 1836, spending 
three months near Belmont, where the legislature of that Territory was then in 
session. The future seat of government being fixed at Madison, was temporarily 
located at Burlington, while preparations were made for the reception of the 
legislature at the former place. That portion of the Territory lying west of the 
Mississippi and which at the census of July, 1836, contained a little more than 
ten thousand inhabitants, was made to constitute the Third Judicial District of the 
Territory and David Irvin, one of the Judges of Wisconsin, was assigned to that 
District as its Judge. 

Judge Irvin concluded to make his home at Burlington and at his suggestion I 
accompanied him to that place on horseback in the month of February, 1837, 
reaching our destination on the sixth day a little after noon on the 19th of that 
month. In March following we Jointly purchased "the claim" to the tract of land 
now lying within the city limits though three miles distant from the steamboat 
landing. Of this I afterwards became sole owner and occupied it with my family 
for many years thereafter. In April following I was appointed by Governor Henry 
Dodge one of his aids and also public prosecutor of Des Moines County. I com- 
menced housekeepng in Burlington November 3, 1837, and have ever since made it 
my home. 

Among my earliest acquaintances in Burlington were David Rorer and James 
W. Grimes, who as nearly as I remember were the only members of the bar then 
residing in this city — for it was then a city, although containing only about three 
hundred inhabitants, with the streets full of stumps and brush and surrounded by 
the primeval, unbroken forest. James W. Woods was then practicing law here, 
though residing in Illinois. He made his home here in the course of the then 
current year. Wm. W. Chapman then resided in tl>°. neighborhood and perhaps 
had an office in town, and Shepherd Leffler, who lived in the neighborhood, was, 
I think, shortly afterwards admitted as a member of the bar, though he never 
devoted himself very closely to his profession. 

In the course of the then current year two young members of the bar, both 
from New England, both about the same age and both named William H. Starr, 
emigrated to this city. To avoid confusion one of these changed his name to Henry 
W. Starr, by which name he was ever afterwards known. About the same time 
M. D. Browning, of Kentucky, who had just completed his legal education with his 
brother, O. H. Browning, of Quincy, also made this his home. J. C. Hall emigrated 
from Ohio and took up his abode in Burlington in the year 1839 and ever after- 
wards remained a citizen of Iowa. John C. Breckenridge and Thomas W. Bullock 
came from Kentucky a year or two later, but returned to their old home after a 
comparatively brief residence in Burlington. L. D. Stockton dated his citizenship 
shortly afterwards and took up his permanent abode here. H. S. Hugius and 
F. D. Mills came not long afterward from New England and formed a co-partnership 
in Burlington. They were both young men of ability, the former only remained 
two or three years — the latter became a permanent citizen until he lost his life in 
one of the battles of the Mexican War. With the exception of a few others who 
only took up their residence here temporarily the above named gentlemen con- 
stituted all the members of the Burlington bar while we remained a Territory. 
I shall presently have something to say of members of the bar in other counties, 
but will not attempt to enumerate them at present. 

David Irvin, our first District Judge, was a native Virginian. He had many 
peculiarities, but was on the whole a gentleman of fair ability and of irreproachable 
habits and morals. He rendered himself somewhat unpopular while residing east 
of the Mississippi as well as while he made his home in Burlington by taking up 
his winter residence in St. Louis, where he found a more congenial society. This 
was probably his greatest error as a public officer. Upon the division of the Terri- 
tory of Wisconsin, he would much have preferred remaining in Iowa, but he was 
so positive in the belief that there would be no division of the Territory — although 
he was aware that an effort was making to that effect — that he took no pains to 
make his wishes in that respect known and accordingly remained one of the 


Judges of the Supreme Court ot the Territory of Wisconsin, and was consequently 
compelled to remove his residence to the east side of the Mississippi river. At that 
date communication with Washington was so tardy that ninety days' time was 
generally required to obtain an answer to letters written from Burlington, and 
consequently before it was known here that the bill dividing the Territory would 
probably pass, the bill had received the signature of the President, and the 
appointments under it had all been made. Without any application or previous 
knowledge on my part, my first information on the subject was that the bill 
organizing the new Territory had passed, that I had been appointed Chief Justice, 
with Joseph Williams, of Pennsylvania, and Thomas S. Wilson, of Dubuque, as my 
associates. We were all re-appointed in 1842 by John Tyler and again in 1846 by 
James K. Polk. 

Upon the organization of the state government in December, 1846, the condition 
of parties in the legislature was such that it was found impossible to elect judges 
or senators and accordingly under a provision of the State Constitution the 
territorial judges held over as judges under the state government. In May, 1847, 
however, I resigned my office and Joseph Williams succeeded me as Chief Justice, 
the vacancy being filled by the appointment of John F. Kinney as an associate. 
In December, 1848, the deadlock having been removed, senators and judges were 
elected and Joseph Williams became Chief Justice, with John P. Kinney and S. C. 
Hastings as his associates. A new election of judges was held two years later and 
Joseph Williams, John F. Kinney and George Greene became the Judges of our 
Supreme Court, leaving S. C. Hastings unprovided for. He thereupon emigrated to 
California, where he has since become noted and wealthy and has recently made 
a public donation of $100,000 to one of the leading institutions of that State. 

My association with Judges Williams and Wilson was always of the most har- 
monious and agreeable character. The former was one of the most affable and 
amusing men I have ever known and although not a very close legal student was a 
man of very quick parts and seemed to arrive at just conclusions as if by intuition. 
The latter was a closer legal student and formed his opinions after more thought 
and reflection. We rarely disagreed ultimately in our views with respect to any 
questions that were argued before us as Judges of the Supreme Court. I do not 
now remember more than one case in which there was a dissenting opinion written 
by either of us, for although many of the decisions made by each of us were 
reversed by the Supreme Court the judge making such decisions respectively 
cheerfully concurred in such reversals. 

I have mentioned Mr. Rorer as one of my earliest legal acquaintances in Iowa. 
He has ever since remained a citizen of Burlington and is now at the end of fifty- 
five years in the full enjoyment of a green old age surrounded by a competence and 
a full share of domestic comforts. He has always been a hard and devoted legal 
student and though of late years he has withdrawn himself from ordinary practice 
as a lawyer he has been devoting his time and talents to the preparation of works 
on different branches of the law which I believe possess a high degree of merit. 
Gifted with a very acute mind and possessing a more extensive library than most 
of his competitors he has generally appeared in court provided with a copious list 
of authorities. I know of no one who seemed more fully to enjoy an investigation 
which taxed to the fullest extent his thoughtfulness and his industry nor do I know 
of any who devoted himself more unreservedly to the interests of his clients. 

Henry W. Starr was for a short time a partner of Mr. Rorer, but he soon 
exchanged that association for one with James W. Grimes, which continued for 
many years and until the latter had withdrawn from practice as a member of the 
bar. Mr. Starr was one of the best-fitted both by nature and by education for a 
successful practitioner at the bar, of any person I have ever known. He did not, 
however, devote himself to the discharge of his professional duties with the same 
assiduity as some of his competitors and never rose to the distinction that many of 
his ardent friends had expected. While he was associated with Mr. Grimes he was 
the lawyer of the concern so far as related to business in the courts — the latter 
rarely engaging in the management of cases in court, and then with apparent 
reluctance, though in the outside management of the business of the firm he was 
believed to be far superior to his partner. He subsequently showed himself highly 
gifted in the management and control of men, in which no man in Iowa of my 


acquaintance has ever been his equal. As a politician he was an unqualified 
success and when ultimately struck down by a fatal disease he was fast rising to 
the front rank in the highest council of the Nation. At the time when failing 
health compelled him to resign from that body, although he had never stood in 
its front rank as a debater, I doubt whether there was a single person therein 
who wielded a more commanding influence than he. There was nothing politically 
to which he might not have aspired had his health proved equal to his ability. 

One circumstance connected with his senatorial career deserves to be more 
widely known and appreciated. When the impeachment of the President was 
about coming up for trial, I was waited on by a friend of Judge Curtis, who was 
engaged in the defense, and who desired to learn something definite in relation to 
the moral principle which would control Senator Grimes on that occasion, He did 
not desire to learn anything in relation to his religious or sectarian notions, but 
simply whether he would be likely to regard the obligations of an oath when 
brought in conflict with ideas of political expediency. I expressed full confidence 
that implicit reliance might be placed upon his moral integrity when thus tested 
and gave as an illustration of my confidence in that respect a circumstance to which 
I was a witness. On a trial before me in one of the Iowa District Courts a heated 
controversy sprung up between Mr. Grimes and an opposing counsel as to some 
matter of fact, which was alleged to have been proved on one side but denied on 
the other. To settle the question in dispute, the opposing counsel called upon Mr. 
Grimes as a witness and had him sworn to give testimony in the case. The moment 
this was done his whole demeanor was changed and he gave testimony which was 
undoubtedly candid and truthful and which at all events settled the point in 
dispute against his client. This was the ground of my confidence and the result 
showed that it was well founded. Many of his political friends regarded him on 
that occasion as having swerved from his political integrity by the vote he then 
gave on the question of impeachment, but every right-minded man must admit 
that whatever the number or degree of the errors committed by the President, he 
had done nothing for which he could have been justly impeached and that therefore 
those Senators who defeated such impeachment in defiance of the dictates of 
intensified party spirit were only acting in obedience to the higher law of a moral 
duty. I have always regarded that act as being as commendable as any other ever 
performed by him. 

William H. Starr though not equal to his namesake in some respects was not 
far behind him professionally. He was probably more industrious and quite as 
lucid in his exposition of questions of law or of fact. No member of the bar would 
make an argument flfteen minutes in length which would be more systematic and 
better ordered than he. He was some years the public prosecutor of the First 
District and managed the business of his oflSce with eminent ability and success. 
But many years since he abandoned his profession and devoted himself to the 
construction of railroads and engaged in other industries which proving unfortunate 
brought him to the end of his life in poverty and distress. 

M. D. Browning was a gentleman of great professional aptitude. He was never 
a very close student, but seized the strong points of a case with great energy and 
general success. He was for some time District Attorney for the United States 
for the State of Iowa. For the last ten years of his life he was afflicted with 
paralysis and recently went to join the multitude who are rapidly marching forward 
to their final bourne. 

J. C. Hall was one of the ablest practicing lawyers I have ever known. His 
leading characteristic was strength. He cared little for polish or rhetoric, using 
language often inappropriate and incorrect but uttered in such a way that no juror 
could fail to understand his intended meaning. He regularly attended all the 
courts held in the First Judicial District and was engaged in almost every case 
that was tried therein. He was most persistent and persevering in the pursuit of 
his main purpose and was very generally successful. When fully aroused he 
seemed like a great locomotive that nothing could resist. If defeated on one point 
he was fruitful in expedients by some flank movement to obtain success on others. 
He was indefatigable and untiring and his success was in a great degree com- 
mensurate with his industry. There were other better read lawyers, but I know 
of no one with whom I would be more willing to entrust a difficult case than 
with him. 


"^"^'l,-^" Breckeuridge, who afterwards rose to eminence in the Republic, com- 
menced his professional career in Burlington. Though his career here was brief 
It gave abundant promise of a prominence which he subsequently attained. 

L. D. Stockton, a Kentuckian by birth, emigrated to the Territory of Iowa 
several years before it became a State. He was a gentleman of fair ability and 
devoted himself for several years to the practice of his profession. He subse- 
quenOy became a Judge of the Supreme Court and was acting in that capacity at 
the time of his death while comparatively a young man. 

James W. Woods practiced law for many years in this and some of the 
neighboring counties. He was not a well-read lawyer, having picked up his 
professional knowledge piecemeal. He was for some time made a clerk of the 
Supreme Court of the Territory, and afterwards enigrated to the northern portion 
of the State, where he still continues in the practice. I understand he is more 
than eighty-four years of age, though I should suppose him much younger. 

William W. Chapman was our first Delegate in Congress after we became an 
independent Territory. He opened an office and practiced law for several years in 
this city, and among the earliest emigrants to Oregon he left for that Territory, 
where he still resides. 

Having thus enumerated the principal members of the bar who settled in 
Burlington, which for some years was a sort of headquarters for the profession in 
this section of the Territory, I will briefly refer to some of those who settled in 
some of the neighboring counties. Among these, Edward Johnstone very properly 
deserves a prominent mention, as well on account of his early settlement in the 
Territory as on account of his position and ability. 

At the session of the Wisconsin Legislature at Belmont in the autumn and 
winter of 1836, he, with Thomas S. Wilson, of Dubuque (afterwards Judge Wilson), 
and a gentleman named Brigham, were appointed Commissioners to settle the title 
of the Half-Breed Lands in Lee County. He at once took up his residence at Port 
Madison, where he resided some twenty or thirty years and from whence he 
afterwards removed to Keokuk, where he still resides. In 1839, he formed a co- 
partnership with Hugh T. Reid, who had just then immigrated into the Territory, 
and which relation continued many years thereafter and until he abandoned the 
practice of the law, for which he never seemed to have any great relish. He 
subsequently engaged in other pursuits and has for many years been a banker in 
the City of Keokuk. 

Hugh T. Reid, his partner, had the chief management of the business of the 
co-partnership. His tastes and talents inclined him to engage in legal controversies, 
and he never seemed more happy than when engaged in the most exciting kind of 
such controversies. He was for several years the public prosecutor of the First 
Judicial District, the duties of which he performed in the most stern and thorough 
manner. At the breaking out of the Rebellion he raised a regiment and entered the 
service, was engaged in some of the severest battles of the War, in one of which he 
was severely wounded. He was breveted a Brigadier-General for gallant services in 
the field, lived several years after the War and finally died some ten years since, 
probably from the effect of the wounds received in battle. 

Philip Veile settled at Fort Madison about the year 1838 and was engaged 
there for many years in the practice of law. He was well matured in his pro- 
fession at the time he emigrated from Renssalaer County, New York, and took up 
his abode in Iowa, and was consequently a desirable acquisition to the bar of our 
Territory. Like many other lawyers, he was drawn more or less from a profes- 
sional into a political channel, in which adverse currents prevented his attaining 
much success. He, however, succeeded in acquiring a competence and died peace- 
fully and calmly in a good old age only a year or two since. 

Alfred Rich also settled at Fort Madison at an early day. He was a young man 
of bright parts rather than of profound ability. He was led off from his professional 
career by the ignis fatuus of political hopes which were doomed to disappointment, 
and through which, in part at least, he was consigned to a premature grave. 

Lewis R. Reeves also settled in Fort Madison at an early day. He was a young 
man of decided ability, more profound than showy. He was rapidly acquiring 


reputation and wealtli through the practice of his profession when he was cut down 
almost in the morning of his career, leaving a professional blank not easily filled. 

Daniel P Miller immigrated to Fort Madison in 1839 and commenced the prac- 
tice of law. He remained there more than a quarter of a century and then removed 
to Keokuk, where he still remains actively engaged in the duties of his profession 
No man in Iowa has ever practiced law as many years consecutively as he, and 
therefore his friends claim that he is justly to be considered as the Nestor of the 
Iowa bar. It is true that Mr. Rorer preceded him a few years as a practitioner, but 
Mr Rorer has for many years past substantially withdrawn from the ordinary 
practice at the bar, thus leaving everyone to determine for himself the question of 
seniority as between the two. 

Mr. Miller has always been an earnest and successful advocate. In criminal 
cases especially his success has been particularly marked. He has been engaged in 
most of the capital cases in his own and some of the neighboring counties, and I 
think I am not mistaken in saying that he has never had a client convicted of 
murder. Nor has his success in cases less than capital or in civil suits at law or 
in equity been without results almost as striking. Possessing a discriminating 
mind and an intuitive knowledge of the workings of human nature he has been 
peculiarly skillful in his selection of juries and the presentation of his facts 
before them in the strongest and most available light. He has recently published 
a work on Rhetoric which has received the highest commendations and has 
evinced the foundation of his professional success. Nor has he devoted himself 
exclusively to his professional labor. Mingled with his partiality for legal inves- 
tigation he has always displayed a strong inclination for political pursuits and 
inquiries. He has several times been elected to prominent positions under our 
local governments and once as a Representative to Congress in a district wherein 
his party was supposed to be in a decided minority. At the same time he has been 
very far from shifting his sails to catch a favoring breeze. For nearly twenty years 
when the Democratic party was paramount In our Territory and State he was its 
open and constant antagonist, and not many years after his political friends had 
attained a permanent ascendency here he showed the sincerity of his convictions 
by openly joining the minority, to which he has ever since been immovably 

I have thus completed a review of the older members of the bar with whom 
I was more particularly brought in contact, and hardly feel able to continue the 
discussion further. You can doubtless obtain more reliable information from other 
sources as to the junior members of the bar. 

Shortly after my resignation from the bench in 1847, I was appointed on a 
Commission to provide a Code of Laws for the new State, and also an especial 
attorney to conduct the controversy of our State with the State of Missouri in 
relation to the boundary line between the two States. These employments 
occupied my time almost exclusively for the two or three succeeding years. After 
the settlement of the controversy referred to, and the adoption of the Code, I 
engaged again in the general practice of the law, but was soon drawn into other 
pursuits and never returned to the general practice of my profession. I will merely 
observe, however, that about the year 1850 I formed a co-partnership with Col. 
Samuel R. Curtis, afterwards the distinguished General Curtis, and John W. 
Rankin for practicing law in Keokuk. Not many months afterwards Col. Curtis 
removed to St. Louis, changing his profession to that of a civil engineer, and James 
M. Love became a member of the firm in his place. In the spring of 1853 Mr. Love 
was appointed Judge of the United States District Court for the State of Iowa, 
and I was made Commissioner of Patents. Samuel F. Miller stepped into the 
vacancy thus created as a member of the firm of Rankin & Miller. When Mr. 
Miller was made a Judge of the Supreme Court of the United States, George W. 
McCrary entered the firm as a partner of Mr. Rankin. The latter died not long 
afterwards. Mr. McCrary was made first Secretary of War and afterwards United 
States Circuit Judge, and the firm was continued under the name and style of 
Hagerman & McCrary, composed of James Hagerman and Jasper McCrary. 

I had intended to enlarge this statement showing among other things the 
rough method of administering justice in the earlier days of our territorial 
existence. But I will not do this at present. Should you think it within the scope 



^^/h^rifif®®^^'' purpose I may add a supplement hereafter of that nature, in case 
my health and strength shall permit. But I will not attempt to do so now. 

I enclose herewith a copy of an open letter addressed to Gen. A. C. Dodge at 
the time It bears date. Much of it relates to matters personal to myself and will 
not be of interest to you and especially can have no relation to the work in which 
you are now engaged. It is not sent with any such intention, but it embraces many 
historical facts illustrative of the times to which they relate and I venture to 
submit them for your general information, to be dealt with as you may deem 

I am, sir, Yours very respectfully, 

T-.J J TT ^^■, Charles Mason. 

Edward H. Stiles, Esq., Ottumwa, Iowa. 
January 23, 1882. 

After the receipt of the foregoing, knowing his feeble condition and that the end 
could not be far off, I scarcely expected anything further from him. But in a 
short time after his death I received an additional manuscript, unfinished by reason 
of his failing condition, accompanied by the following letter from his daughter, 
dated March the II th, 1882: 

Dear Sir: My father. Judge Mason, prepared the accompanying manuscript 
for you, dictating it to me as he lay on his lounge. It was written at intervals as 
he felt able, but was not finished to embrace all the points he intended to com- 
municate. I send it hoping that it will in some measure answer the purpose for 
which it was written. I wish to make a copy of the manuscript sent you a few 
weeks ago for myself, as a pleasant reminder of one of the last services I per- 
formed for my father. If you will kindly send me the paper I will return it 
promptly. Yours very truly, 

Mary J. Remey. 

The picture thus presented of this venerable man, enfeebled by age and infirmities, 
dictating, as it were from his death bed, this final contribution to the early history of 
his beloved State, excites the highest veneration for his memory. 

Here is the additional manuscript: 

Burlington, February, 1882. 
Edward H. Stiles, Esq. 

Dear Sir: To illustrate our early judicial history when it was in process of 
formation, I have concluded to give you some information as to occurrences which 
then took place. 

In April, 1838, the first court in the Third Wisconsin District was held at 
Farmington in the County of Van Buren, Judge Irvin presiding. Mr. Rorer and 
myself started in a buggy the day previous to the opening of the court and after a 
toilsome journey reached West Point about nightfall, where we became guests for 
the night of Col. William Patterson, now a resident of Keokuk, who was then the 
keeper of a public house. The next day about noon we reached the seat of justice 
and preparations were soon made to commence the business of tlie court. I was 
appointed prosecutor pro tem, a grand jury was empaneled and several indictments 
found, two of which were for murder. One of these was tried and the defendant 
acquitted — the other never was tried. 

There were also several civil cases tried, and the whole week allotted to that 
county was taken up with these various trials. 

As soon as supper was finished each day most of the guests of the hotel stole 
off to bed, it being well understood that the first three who took possession of a 
couch had a pre-emption thereto, no one expecting a less number of occupants. 
Some of us preferred later hours and taking our chances — the consequence was 
that almost, If not quite every night there were five men left with only one bed 


for them all. This was spread lengthwise before the fire, and we lay across it 
with our feet to the fire. I was generally fireman and kept a rousing fire in the 
broad, old-fashioned chimney, replenished from time to time during the night, 
David Rorer and Philip Veile, of Fort Madison, were usually two of my bedfellows 
— I forget who were the others; but we had a rather gay time after all. Youth 
and health compensated for many inconveniences. The next court was to be held 
at Mount Pleasant commencing the following Monday. Sunday morning after 
gaining the best information as to our route within our reach, we started oft 
without guide or compass, over the trackless prairie. Fortunately we had 
sunshine to aid us. Our main purpose was to strike the Skunk River at a point 
some six or seven miles from Mount Pleasant, where there was the only known 
ferry across that river for twenty miles up and down its course. About noon we 
reached a farmer's cabin, where we found no means of satisfying our own appe- 
tites, though we found an indifferent feed for our horses. I think, however, we had 
anticipated this difficulty before leaving Farmington, and provided ourselves with 
a lunch. This cabin was nearly, if not quite on the identical ground where the little 
town of Hillsborough afterwards stood and still stands. Some time before sunset 
we reached the river at the very point where the ferry-boat was running, after 
which we followed on as best we could the routes leading to Mount Pleasant. To 
our dismay, however, the little horse we were driving, after traveling some three 
or four miles, refused to budge another foot and we were compelled to leave him 
with a farmer, to be brought in with the buggy the next day. Thus we became 
separated from all our traveling companions. Arriving at Big Creek, we found it 
very much swollen. I endeavored to find someone who would carry us over on 
horseback, and while I was parleying with a settler with that intent, Mr. Rorer 
became impatient and plunged into the stream, though the water came up to his 
middle, while I by waiting a few minutes was enabled to go across dry shod. 

After the business of the court at Mount Pleasant was finished, we started for 
home at about the middle of the day. No such thing as a bridge was known on 
that route, and the spring rains had rendered the prairie sloughs next to 
Impassable. There was a public house at New London, where we ought to have 
stopped for the night, but a Burlington acquaintance had recently purchased a 
house at Quaking Asp Grove two miles further on, which we reached a little before 
sunset and where, in accordance with the universal practice of the country, we 
expected to find accommodations for the night. But to our mortification and 
astonishment we learned on inquiry that our acquaintance, although he was 
occupying his domicile, had never unpacked his goods, so that It was Impossible 
for him to accommodate us. We therefore had no alternative but to press forward. 
By this time it was sunset, and we had not proceeded a mile when we were met 
by a thunderstorm which came directly in our faces. There was then no highway 
leading to Burlington near the line afterwards traveled, the settlements being in or 
near the timber, and the road followed In the same direction. Dense darkness 
rendered eyesight useless except when the occasional flashes of lightning enabled 
us to see our way imperfectly. When these ceased to aid us I went ahead of the 
huggy, and where I found the deepest mud supposed myself in the right way. 
About nine o'clock at night we reached the habitation, where having dried and 
refreshed ourselves, we slept soundly at night, and the next morning by ten 
o'clock we found ourselves safely at home. These and like experiences, though 
lightly regarded at the time, were probably laying the foundation for the bilious 
fever which in August following came very nearly terminating my earthly existence. 

Turn we now the wheels of time along for a period of eight years, till April, 
1846. The territorial government of Iowa was formed In June, 1838. To me as 
one of the Judges of the Supreme Court was assigned the First Judicial District, 
composed of the two southern tiers of counties, which during all that time em- 
braced more than half the population of the whole Territory and from whence 
emanated a proportional share of the legal business. The counties of Jefferson, 
Wapello and Davis had been in succession fully organized. That of Monroe, at 
first called Kishkekosh, had just been legally organized but no court had ever been 
held therein. The seat of justice had been fixed at Princeton, since changed to 
Albia, and after the termination of our spring term of court at Ottumwa we started 
to organize the first term In the' new county prior to continuing the circuit to 


Bloomfield, in Davis County. Our cavalcade was composed of Dr. Gideon S. Bailey, 
the United States Marshal of the Territory; Edward Johnstone, the United States 
District Attorney, and several lawyers, among whom I particularly remember J. C. 
Hall, who was never absent on such occasions. We reached Eddyville before night 
the first day, where we concluded to remain over night, not thinking it prudent to 
venture further into this terra incognita at that late hour. 

We started next morning on our journey of exploration with such instructions 
as could be obtained, and followed on as best we might in our journey of discovery 
of the new seat of justice in this newly organized County of Monroe. The 
country was just being settled and instead of a scarcity of roads there was a 
superabundance. Most of these, however, were then called "rail roads," under- 
stood to mean roads formed by the settlers to haul out rails for improving their 
farms. Several times we were misled by the difficulty in distinguishing between 
the public highway and these private roads. But about noon we reached the 
neighborhood of the new seat of justice. On inquiring at a cabin we were pointed 
in the direction of Princeton not half a mile away, but not a house nor even a stable 
could we see. By close observation, however, we perceived a multitude of stakes 
which designated the lots of the new city. We were informed, however, that it was 
contemplated to hold our first term of court at the house of Wareham G. Clark, 
about two miles farther on, which locality we soon reached. We there found a 
moderate sized cabin surrounded by a small enclosure, in almost every fence corner 
of which was hitched a horse, and on knocking at the door of the house we 
found it filled with human beings who had collected to witness the ceremony of 
holding the first court in the county. The wife of Mr. Clark was the only female 
about the establishment, but she was a host within herself. She soon prepared us 
a dinner, sufficient to satisfy the wants of hungry men. She then caused the 
occupants of the room to stand to the right and left so as to furnish a dim light 
from the only small window in the cabin — but sufficient to answer our purpose. 
The question then arose as to a courthouse, of which there was not a sign in any 
direction. I should have taken an out-of-door stand for this purpose, but by this 
time the storm that had been brewing all the morning was pouring down upon us, 
which interfered with this calculation. 

Mr. Clark, however, had erected nearby a small building intended for a stable, 
which although entirely open between the hewed logs was roofed overhead, but it 
had neither door nor window. This difficulty, however, was soon overcome — two 
axemen were sent out who in a short time made an opening sufficient for our 
purpose. A flre was built at one end of the room, of chips, which the green state 
of the logs prevented doing any injury to the structure, and the upper portion of 
the building was soon enveloped with smoke — and In this primitive courthouse the 
first court in Monroe County was organized. There was not a seat or a desk or 
even a dry-goods box in this new courthouse. The judge took his stand at one 
side of the building and directed the sheriff to open court with all due formality. 
The grand jury were called, empaneled, sworn and charged and the court adjourned 
till the following morning. The grand jury held their session in the same building, 
where they found one or two bills of indictment and then adjourned to give place 
to the horses, who were its more rightful occupants. The strangers who were 
attending the court were billeted out among the neighboring farmers and found 
themselves more pleasantly situated than they had any reason to expect. The 
next morning the horses were removed from the stable, and the court was put 
in possession, the grand jury made their report and were discharged, and as it 
was not desirable to have any trial civil or criminal at that time, the court was 
adjourned and we were soon on our way to Bloomfield, in Davis County. I will 
merely add that some three or four years later I was traveling through that section 
of the State and stayed over night with my friend Clark. By this time he was 
occupying the former stable as a dwelling house, and I slept very comfortably in 
the same tenement that had once been used as an improvised courthouse. 

This will serve to illustrate the rough methods through which civilization 
found its way into one of the most fertile and wealthy counties of our great State. 

I will now invite your attention to some incidents in our intermediate terri- 
torial history which may be of interest to you. You have heard of a war with 
Missouri on the question of boundary which threatened to be more than a mere 


abstraction. Governor Lucas, our first territorial executive, had been Governor 
of Ohio at a time when the question of boundary similar to ours threatened a 
bloody collision. He was now on the other side of the same question, and exhibited 
all the zeal of a new convert. The laws of Michigan Territory enacted specially 
to meet that emergency had traveled around through the statutes of Wisconsin 
and were still in force in Iowa. The zeal which prompted many of our Iowa 
patriots and especially Governor Lucas, was sometimes fearful to contemplate, 
threatening the bloodiest results. 

You are probably aware that the difliculty grew out of a clause in the first 
Constitution of Missouri in regard to its northern boundary. That boundary was to 
extend one hundred miles north of the point where the western boundary of the 
State crossed the Missouri River, and thence eastwardly so as to pass through the 
rapids of the River Des Moines, till it struck the Des Moines River, and thence 
down that river to the Mississippi. Here were two incompatible calls, and it was 
correctly contended that as far as there was a disagreement in those calls the 
line drawn through the fapids of the River Des Moines should have a paramount 
force and effect. What was meant by the rapids of the River Des Moines, was the 
all-important question at issue. 

Shortly after the organization of the state government of Missouri an author- 
ized survey was made as to this northern boundary. The western line of the State 
was measured one hundred miles north of the Missouri River at the mouth of the 
Kansas River and the northwest corner of the State was thus fixed. From that 
point a line was run due eastwardly (as was supposed) to the Des Moines River, 
but the surveyor having failed to realize the fact that the variation of the needle 
was all the while changing as he was proceeding eastward, had made this boundary 
a bent line instead of a straight one, and what was more, it passed through no 
"rapids of the River Des Moines." It was therefore manifest that it was not the 
exact line intended by the call in the Missouri Constitution. This was known, 
however, as the Sullivan Line, and as far as counties had been organized on either 
side of it, they were bounded by that line. About the year 1836 or 1837 some 
inquisitive spirits in the Missouri Legislature, conceived the idea of enlarging their 
limits on the north. A commission was organized headed by a man named Brown, 
for the purpose of searching the Des Moines River for the intended rapids. They 
selected a ripple in the river near Keosauqua and ran a line due west from that 
point. This was known as Brown's Line and was some ten miles north of the 
Sullivan Line at that point. It was afterwards claimed by the State of Missouri 
that this was its true northern boundary, although this Keosauqua ripple was no 
greater than a dozen others in the same stream, and not as great as several others. 
In fact, the Des Moines River is a continuous rapid from the Raccoon Fork to its 
mouth, falling on an average about twenty inches to the mile. 

On the part of the Territory it was contended that the "rapids of the River 
Des Moines" meant the Des Moines Rapids in the Mississippi River which had 
been known from time immemorial by the old French voyageurs as "Les rapides 
de la riviere Des Moines," in contradistinction with the rapids near the mouth of 
Rock River which were known as "Les rapides de la riviere de la Roche." These 
designations were afterwards abbreviated respectively into the "Rock River 
Rapids" and the "Des Moines Rapids." 

If the line were to run west from the Des Moines rapids, it should have been 
from a central point in those rapids, which would have carried it several miles 
south of the Sullivan boundary line. But the Territory of Iowa never claimed to 
exercise jurisdiction south of the Sullivan boundary, but was satisfied to leave 
thmgs as they had remained quietly for more than fifteen years. In the winter 
of 1839 the Missouri authorities took steps to enforce their jurisdiction northward 
to Brown's Line, which resulted in an earnest, practical opposition on the part of 
the Territory of Iowa. The militia of all the southern portion of the Territory was 
called out and sent to rendezvous on the ground in dispute and there was every 
probability that a bloody collision would be the result. Cooler counsels, however, 
at length prevailed, and the conflict of yiolence was postponed till lowa'became a' 
State, when the controversy was settled in the Supreme Court of the United States 
which sustained the Sullivan Line as the true boundary, and such it will ever 


_ One incident connected with the subject will serve to illustrate the feeling that 
existed in regard to that disputed tract. It was said, hy the by, that many of the 
inhabitants of that disputed tract voted in both jurisdictions and paid taxes in 
neither. About the year 1844 a deputy sheriff was found upon that tract exercising 
what he claimed to be the functions of his oflice within that disputed tract. He 
was arrested by the Iowa authorities under a Michigan law which, as before ob- 
served, had traveled down to us through the Territory of Wisconsin. He was 
indicted in Davis County, where he was brought to trial, found guilty and sentenced 
to a term in the Iowa penitentiary. He seemed ambitious to become a martyr on 
account of the advantages he expected to result from thence in future elections in 
his own State, but just in proportion as the crown of martyrdom was thus sought 
by him was I determined that he should never wear it. Delaying the sentence till 
just before the court adjourned, I directed the sheriff to proceed very leisurely in 
taking him to Fort Madison. Hastening to Burlington, where the Governor then 
resided, I procured his pardon, which met the sheriff long before he had committed 
his charge to the felon's cell. This was very much to the disappointment of the 
culprit, from whom I never heard afterwards. 

You are doubtless to some extent aware of the troubles inflicted upon us 
through the Jlormon fraternity. Upon their being driven from Missouri they con- 
gregated at Nauvoo, Illinois, where they attempted to make their permanent head- 
quarters. They soon came in conflict with the surrounding Gentiles — first in 
Illinois and afterwards in Iowa. About 1842, they commenced building their 
famous temple, and men seeking an asylum flocked to them from all quarters. 
They welcomed all adherents and, as might be expected, no small proportion of 
their new acquisitions was composed of men of the worst character. The peculiar 
doctrines for which they have since become notorious, were not at that time 
publicly proclaimed by them. It was not until 1849, when they had to a great 
extent emigrated from our State, that they publicly promulgated the doctrine in 
regard to the plurality of wives. In the spring of 1844, however, they had become 
so obnoxious to the people of Illinois that violence became threatened and executed. 
Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were induced by public pledges to place 
themselves in the hands of their enemies, by whom they were shamelessly 
murdered in jail. 

In the meantime and subsequently Nauvoo became a city of refuge to some of 
the worst characters that ever existed in the West, and it became very difficult 
to punish them for their crimes. They made their incursions especially in different 
parts of the adjacent County of Lee, entering the habitations of peaceful in- 
habitants while they slept, obliging them to cover their heads with their bed- 
clothes while they were being robbed of everything portable and valuable in the 
house. If followed to Nauvoo and there arrested, they found plenty of testimony 
to prove their innocence. The most remarkable of the victims was an old preacher 
by the name of Miller, who with his two sons-in-law and their respective families 
were occupying a cabin with one single room, a few miles from West Point. The 
stout-hearted old man sprung to his feet, seized his rifle and wielding it as a club 
succeeded in driving his assailants from the house, when, just as they were 
leaving, a stroke from a bowie knife laid him dead at the very threshold of his 
door. In the intermediate flght, one of his sons-in-law received wounds from which 
he died not long afterwards. The robbers were three in number, and circumstances 
led to the identification of two young men by the name of Hodges, who were 
followed up and arrested in Nauvoo. The third conspirator escaped. The two 
Hodges were indicted in Lee County, and by a change of venue were tried at 
Burlington In June, 1845. They were convicted and executed in July following. 
The very day after the conviction, Irvin Hodges, an older brother of the convicts 
who had attended the trial, returned to Nauvoo, and was assassinated in the streets 
of that town; and although he had full opportunity to make known the perpetrator 
of that crime, he refused to make any revelation and died with the secret in his 

While the young Hodges were in jail waiting the execution of their sentence, 
a party of four or five young men from Nauvoo passed through Burlington on their 
way to Davenport. On the 4th of July they broke into the house of Mr. George 
Davenport (after whom the city was named), which was situated on Rock Island, 


while his family were all absent, and he became the victim of their atrocity, though 
the shot which subsequently put an end to his existence was believed to have been 
accidental and to have produced its fatal result rather through the nervous shock 
to his system than from its necessary consequence. Three of those young men 
were arrested, convicted and executed. 

All these executions brought such results that the people of Iowa and Illinois 
were in a great degree freed from the terror in which, for several months, they had 
been living, and the peculiar danger of these times has never been known since. 

Some circumstances accompanying and following the trial will serve to illus- 
trate more fully the peculiar character of this Hodges family. Amos Hodges, 
another brother of the culprits, had been indicted in Lee County and did not dare 
to show himself in Iowa at the time of the trial of his brothers, but his wife, who 
was comparatively a woman of integrity, was sent up as a witness in the case. 
During the progress of the trial, she sent for Mr. Hall,. the leading counsel for the 
defense, and besought him most earnestly not to call her as a witness. She said, 
among other things, "I have been sent as a witness to swear that these young men 
were in Nauvoo at the time the murder was committed, and if I must, I must, but 
it is not true, and for God's sake do not call me to prove it. They were gone all 
night, came home in the morning, said they had been unsuccessful, and perhaps 
got themselves into trouble." Mr. Hall assured her she should not be called, and 
the trial went on without her testimony. I was not satisfied with the character of 
the evidence on which they were convicted. One of the chief items to fix guilt 
upon them consisted of a cap left on the field of battle at Miller's cabin. One of 
the Hodges boys had lived in Burlington some two years previous, and witnesses 
were brought forward who swore that the cap Just found was the identical one 
that the Hodges boy had worn at Burlington. Now I did not believe that any 
witness could swear intelligently as to the identity of a cap after so long a period, 
and in fact Amos Hodges' wife assured Mr. Hall that the cap in evidence was the 
identical one she had made herself for this Hodges boy some time after he left 
Burlington. This fact, however, I did not know until afterwards. 

After the conviction, Mr. Hall, observing that I was uncommonly serious, took 
me aside, and stating that he saw i was doubtful as to the correctness of the verdict, 
and as he had no idea of applying for a new trial, he would say for my satisfaction 
that the young men were guilty, informing me at the same time of his interview 
with Mrs. Hodges. This certainly afforded me no inconsiderable relief, as I was 
somewhat suspicious that a strong popular prejudice had wrought the conviction. 

Upon the trial a younger sister of the Hodges became a witness and swore un- 
hesitatingly to the presence of her brothers in Nauvoo at the time of the murder. 
Not long after the trial an Iowa acquaintance abandoned his wife and family and 
fled with this young girl to Texas, where he took up his abode. About ten years 
afterwards, while I was Commissioner of Patents and had charge of what has since 
developed itself into the Agriculture Department at Washington, I sent an agent' 
to Texas to procure some vines of the native grapes of that State with the view 
of obtaining new varieties of grapes adapted to our climate. On his return he 
informed me that he had met an old acquaintance — naming him — who was living 
in one of the principal cities of Texas; that he had made inquiries in regard to his 
wife and family, and that he became convinced that the Hodges girl was the matron 
of the establishment. He learned that she was a leader of fashion in the town and 
a promoter of the benevolent institutions that were organized there — a fitting 
illustration of the tangled web of which human society is composed. 

In addition to his other accomplishments. Judge Mason was skilled in higher 
mathematics and engineering. He was instrumental in providing for the City of 
Washington a more efficient system of drainage; the plan of which was clearly set 
forth in printed pamphlet a copy of which I have in my possession ; thus repaying in 
this as well as in other ways his indebtedness to the Nation for the education he had 
received at its Military Academy. 


I desire in this place to clear his character from the aspersion that some thought- 
less men attempted to throw upon it by charging that he was tainted with disloyalty 
and that his sympathies were with the Southern Confederacy. In the excitement of 
the Civil War frequent charges of this kind were made by the hasty and unthinking 
against thoughtful and conservative men like Judge Mason who sought so long as 
hope was possible, to avoid the terrible catastrophe of a civil war, the result of which 
no man could foresee, and which in the event of failure on the part of the Government 
would be the death knell not only of the Union but to liberty throughout the world. 
Such charges were as base as they were groundless so far as Judge Mason was 
concerned. No truer patriot lived than he, and when he saw that all efforts of ad- 
justment had proven futile, he formally tendered his services to the Nation, as will be 
seen from an extract of the correspondence to be presently referred to. 

In a former part of this article I referred to the fact that notwithstanding his 
seeming austerity — for indeed it was but seeming instead of real — he possessed a 
warm and kindly heart. James Woods (Old Timber) says that he was a kind- 
hearted mem cmd very considerate of the feelings of others ; and this statement is fully 
confirmed by Professor Theodore S. Parvin, Judge Thomas S. Wilson, Daniel 
Miller and other of his contemporaries. He was particularly kind and helpful to 
meritorious young men who were striving to gain honorable position in life. This, as 
well as the lovable traits of his private life and character, is admirably shovwi in the 
correspondence contained in the valuable article contributed by the distinguished 
artist, George Yewell, and published in the October, 1901, and the January, 1902, 
numbers of the "Annals of Iowa." These latter relate to the private side of Judge 
Mason. I would like to embody them in this work, but that would be beyond its 
scope, and I must content myself with the use of a few extracts to both illustrate and 
confirm what I have said. 

As preliminary to such extracts, and to throw a strong light on the situation, I 
must here introduce the following statement of Mr. Yewell in relation to it : 

My acquaintance with Charles Mason began at Iowa City, my boyhood home, 
in December, 1848. Born October 24, 1804, he had recently passed his forty-fourth 
year, and I was just nearing my eighteenth birthday. In the iprevious month of 
January, Judge Mason, together with William G. Woodward and Stephen Whicher, 
had been appointed by the legislature, commissioners to prepare a code of laws for 
the State of Iowa, and were then holding a session at the old Capitol Building in 
Iowa City. Judge Mason's attention had been directed to me through certain rude 
political and local caricatures, the work of my youthful pencil, in which some 
strong exaggerations of character and ridiculous situations appealed to a native 
sense of humor that he always manifested in a quiet way. He came one day to 
our house and left word for me to call upon him at his hotel, and bring with me 
some of my drawings for him to look over. His colleague, Mr. Woodward, whom 
I had known form my early boyhood, was in the room when I presented myself, 
and introduced me to Judge Mason, whose dignity of bearing impressed me strongly, 
while, at the same time, I was drawn to him by a kindliness of manner and an 
evident desire to befriend and help me. He examined my boyish efforts in pencil 
and watercolor, and told me, finally, if I would like to become a painter, and 
would let him have some of my drawings, he would show them to some artists in 


Washington, where he was going in the following spring, and whose opinions he 
would get as to my apparent fitness for the study of art. I selected some of those 
I considered best for the purpose and gave him, and he told me at parting that 
when he returned to Iowa City he would let me know the result of his inquiries. In 
February, 1851, Judge Mason called upon me again and told me that my sketches 
shown to several Washington painters had seemed to them to indicate enough 
talent to warrant my taking up painting as a serious study. He told me he was 
going to New York in May and, if I wished, he would make inquiries with reference 
to my establishment there as a student of art. He was on the point of leaving 
Iowa City, and I could write to him at his home in Burlington, Iowa, when my 
decision was made. This I did. 

On August 7, 1851, Judge Mason thus writes him: 

I arrived here this morning and have been to see several persons in your 
behalf. 1 called on Mr. Durand, but he was in the country and would not return 
for several days. 

Among others, I have talked with Mr. Bryant, the poet, and with Mr. Ingham, 
the painter. They both assure me that there will be no difficulty In your getting 
admission into the Academy of Design. Mr. Ingham assured me that this was your 
best chance. 

On August 3 1 St of the same year he writes him : 

I returned home yesterday and found yours of the 24th awaiting me. I am 
highly gratified to learn of your final determination, and particularly with the spirit 
with which you are about to commence your arduous undertaking. I entertain 
great hopes that you may attain high eminence in your profession. I send you a 
letter of introduction to Mr. A. H. Dana, whom you will find at No. 27, Wall Street. 
His office is in the third story. He will be able and willing to render you assistance 
in the way of information and advice. I send you another letter to William 
Thurston Black, the artist of whom I wrote in my last letter. He was at No. 74, 
Chambers Street, but will be found at the Academy of Design, probably, before 
you reach New York. 

I should be glad to hear from you when you get settled down in New York, if 
not before. If you ever have occasion for fifty or one hundred dollars, let me know, 
as I shall be very glad to make you some advances of that kind that I may secure 
some of the specimens of your skill as an artist after you have attained that 
excellence to which you aspire and which I believe you will attain. 

That these acts of Judge Mason proved highly serviceable to Mr. Yewell is 

shown by the following statement of the latter: 

Through Judge Mason's letter I found an excellent and helpful friend in Mr. 
William Thurston Black, who assisted me in many ways. The other letter to A. 
H. Dana, Esq., was instrumental in procuring for me a note of introduction to his 
relative Mr. Charles A. Dana, then assistant editor of The New York Tribune, who 
talked encouragingly to me and gave me a letter to his friend, Thomas Hicks, the 
artist, who, a little later received me as a pupil. At the same time I entered the 
Antique School of the National Academy of Design, and settled myself down to a 
winter of serious study. 

On January 25, 1852, Judge Mason writes him: 

I hope all your expectations will be realized. I take great interest in your 
success, and am expecting something extraordinary as the result of your studies 
and efforts. Let nothing dishearten you. The pursuit is a noble one. I trust you 
will strive to stand in the first rank among artists. In your profession, as in all 
others, there must frequently be causes and occasions of discouragement, but per- 
severance and determination will be sure to carry you through triumphantly, if 
your health does not fail you. 

How are your financial affairs? Let me know whether you need anything on 
that score. Your expenses are not great, but I hope you will not deny yourself 
anything necessary to your progress in your studies. 


The opportunity finally came for young Yewell to go and study in Europe. 
How it came about he thus relates : 

With a growing desire each year to go and study in Europe, the opportunity 
finally came, through Judge Mason, in the summer of 1856, and it was settled that 
I should go abroad, in a letter I received from him May 29th of that year, in which 
he also invited me to spend a month with them at Washington before I sailed. 

As touching the tender of his services to the Government soon after the com- 
mencement of the Civil War, he thus writes on November 1 , 1 86 1 : 

I have long since offered my services to the government whenever they are 
needed, but have not been called on and probably shall not be. 

As further confirmatory of my statement as to his kindness and helpfulness to 
young men, Mr. Yewell says: 

Very few people knew of the many young men he befriended and assisted with 
money. I know of one for whom he did that and more, for to me he stood in the 
place of a father, giving me not only advice and money, but that which was better 
and more precious — affection. 

In order to throw an additional light on George Yewell and thereby on the 
point under consideration, I may add that he was the son of a widow living in Iowa 
City; that Judge Mason, whose attention had been called to his youthful drawings, 
furnished the money to give him an education in New York and Europe along that 
line; that Yewell became a distinguished artist and painted several prominent men 
of Iowa which now adorn its capitol: thus adding an instance to the saying that 
"Man is the creature of circumstances," which does not conflict with the other one 
that "Every man is the architect of his own fortune," nor with the higher one that 
"God helps those that help themselves," for this young man exerted all his energies 
to avail himself of the circumstances within his reach. 

But from what has been said it must not be inferred that Judge Mason was 
altogether dove-like in his make-up. On the contrary he was quick, sensitive, iras- 
cible, high spirited, and Woods says, when angry, "violently grand." He was a 
natural student and delved for knowledge to the end of his life. He was versed not 
only along the best lines of literature but of science and philosophy as well. He lived 
a pure and upright life and died without a stain upon his character. 

If Iowa shall ever erect appropriate monuments to perpetuate the memory of its 
founders, surely that of Charles Mason will be no inferior one, nor will those of his 
associates on the bench, Joseph Williams and Thomas S. Wilson of whom I come 
now to speak. 

Associate Justice Joseph Williams. 

Of the early judges who have adorned the bench of the Supreme Court of Iowa 
the memory of none has been more keenly kept alive than that of the subject of this 
sketch. By reason of his strongly marked individuality, he was always a center of 
interest and observation with the people of his own time, and traditional influences 


have in great measure perpetuated that interest down to the present. Instances illus- 
trating his unique traits, his versatile talents, his varied accomplishments, his keen 
sense of humor, his easy transition from the grave to the gay, his amusing anecdotes, 
his charming presence, his delightful talks, what he did and said on certain occasions, 
and even what others said about him, his strong sense of justice, his unbounded gener- 
osity, have been variously told and retold, orally and through newspaper and 
periodical for half a century. And while it is hkely that some of these narrations 
and incidents were overdrawn, or fictitious, or colored by personal or political con- 
siderations, I am firmly of the opinion, that, taken altogether, the characteristics they 
exhibit largely account for the great popular esteem in which Judge Williams was 
held while living and the affectionate regard cherished for his memory since his death. 

What I have just said is illustrated by an article which recently appeared in one 
of the newspapers of the State, in the course of which the author erroneously says, 
that of the boyhood and youth of Judge Williams but little is known. The article 
was evidently written in good faith; but some of the statements therein contained, to 
point out which would serve no useful purpose, were founded on mere hearsay, which 
is not admissible in a court of justice even when only the most trivial rights are con- 
cerned, and in this case must have been without any foundation in fact upon which to 
rest, as I think will clearly appear from the considerations hereinafter presented. 

It was my good fortune to become acquainted with Judge Williams when I was 
a young man, more than fifty years ago. The spirit of history, whether of individuals 
or events, must be the spirit of truth, and in sketching him now, it is my endeavor to 
draw as true and faithful a picture of him as my poor ability and limited space will 
permit. He was born in Huntingdon, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, eis were 
his brothers William and Robert. The first of these became Major WilHam 
Williams — a name as familiar as a household word in Iowa — ^who went with the 
United States troops in 1850 to establish a fort where now stands the city of Fort 
Dodge ; who, after the troops removed, purchased the site upon which that beautiful 
city was built, laid out the town, gave it the name it now bears, and labored a quarter 
of a century in its upbuilding. Through the deeply packed snow-drifts of the track- 
less prairies, and in the face of the most difficult conditions, he led the troops that 
went to the relief of the settlers at the time of the Indian massacre at Spirit Lake, and 
was subsequently appointed by Governor Kirkwood to defend that frontier of the 
State. His daughter became the wife of another distinguished lowan, whose name is 
closely identified with the history of the State, and whose services were invaluable in 
its development and in the molding of its laws and institutions, that splendid gentle- 
man, John F. Duncombe, one of the strongest lawyers and ablest men the State 
ever had. 

The other brother mentioned, Robert Williams, also removed from Pennsyl- 
vania to Iowa in an early day and for many years was an honored citizen of Musca- 


line, where he died some years ago. From the daughters and a son of Robert, still 
residmg b Muscatine, and from the only surviving child of Judge Williams. Mrs. 
William C. Brewster, of New York. I learn, through the kindness of Judge W. F. 
Brannan. of Muscatine, whose name and long judicial services are well known to 
Iowa lawyers and whose high character is a perfect guaranty of the reliability of the 
medium, that Joseph was born in 1801 ; that he was the junior of William and the 
senior of Robert; that their father died in 1822, when Joseph was about twenty-one 
years of age, and that the latter had lived at home and under the direction of his 
father until that time; that the children were devotedly attached to the father and he 
to them, and that Joseph was always distinguished for his kindness and affection. 

As to just what his educational training was I am unable to say. It probably 
did not reach beyond that furnished by the common schools, rounded off, perhaps, by 
a term or two at the Academy, but in any case it must have been reasonably good, 
judging from the correct and virile use he made of the English language in his pub- 
hshed opinions, in his utterances from the bench, in conversation, and on all occasions ; 
and judging also from the fact that he was deemed sufficiently equipped to enter as a 
law student, soon after his father's death, the office of Chauncy Forward, one of the 
most celebrated law^rers in Pennsylvania. In this office he found for a fellow-student 
Jeremiah S. Black, who afterward became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of 
Pennsylvania, and later Attorney-General of the United States, and established an 
enduring national fcune as a great lawyer and a great man. Between these two 
students there was formed a strong personal friendship that lasted and grew stronger 
to the end. For a number of years after their admission they were rivals in practice 
at the Somerset bar, one of the strongest in the State, and that Mr. Williams was 
considered a formidable one by Mr. Black will be clearly shown farther along. 

It is proper to note that we now see Mr. Williams in a situation most favorable 
to legal learning and development; his school, the office of a distinguished lawyer; 
his instructor, that lawyer himself; his fellow-student and friend, one of the most 
talented young men of the nation. How could a student as bright and intuitive as 
young Williams fail to legally thrive under such circumstcmces ? That he did 
thrive is shown by his years of successful practice in Pennsylvania before the Pres- 
ident placed him upon the Supreme Bench of Iowa, and by the regard in which he 
was held as an able lawyer by such a distinguished man as Judge Black. 

After the death of that great man, his daughter, Mary Black Clayton, prepared 
and published a book entitled, "Reminiscences of Jeremiah Sullivan Black," In 
this she states that her hather commenced to write an autobiography which was never 
finished, but from which she quotes as follows: "My competitors were exceeding- 
ly formidable men; half a dozen of them achieved great reputation in public life, 
and some of them were well known for their talents. I need not give you any ex- 
tended account of them, but I will enumerate them and mention some of their char- 


acteristics." He then proceeds to mention, first, Chauncy Forward, next, Charles 
Ogle. I now quote from what the daughter herself says, which comes imme- 
diately after what her father has said of Ogle in the autobiography referred to: 

The next person mentioned as a rival at the Somerset bar Is Joseph Williams, 
afterwards Chief Justice of Iowa. Many years after they had lived together in 
Somerset, he called on the Chief Justice of Pennsylvania at a New York hotel. 
Not finding him in, he left on his table the following: 

"Salutations of the Chief Justice of Iowa to the Chief Justice of Pennsylvania. 
"Oh, Jere, dear Jere, I have found you at last, 
Now memory, burdened with scenes of the past. 
Restores me to Somerset's mountains of snow, 
When you were but Jere, and I was but Joe." 

She then quotes from the autobiography what her father had set down therein 

concerning Judge Williams as follows: 

Joseph Williams was a practicing lawyer whose ready tact was very dan- 
gerous to an opponent, and he was well up in the books. After he left Somerset he 
became Chief Justice of Iowa, and later he was a federal judge in Kansas. He 
never got over his fondness for fun, but he performed his judicial duties worthily 
and well, for he was a sincere lover of justice. These are the men whose com- 
petition I had to face; my seniors and superiors in everything that makes practical 

In 1856 David Paul Brown, the great criminal lawyer of Philadelphia, pre- 
pared and published a book entitled, "The Forum," contained in two volumes. His 
references were mostly to men who had gained a reputation at the bar. From pages 
375 and 376, Vol. 2, I quote the following to show that Mr. Williams was re- 
garded as one belonging to that class, as well as to illustrate Mr. Williams himself 
in the role of a practitioner : 

Before Mr. Williams was appointed United States Judge for the Territory of 
Iowa, he was defending a client in the interior of Pennsylvania, against the claim 
of a quack doctor who professed everything and knew nothing, and who had insti- 
tuted a suit for surgical services, and had marked the suit to the use of another, in 
order to become a witness. The following was the cross-examination: 

Mr. Williams— "Did you treat the patient according to the most approved 
principles of surgery?" Witness — "By all means — certainly I did." 

Mr. Williams — "Did you decapitate him?" Witness — "Undoubtedly I did — that 
was a matter of course." 

Mr. Williams — "Did you perform the Caesarian operation upon him?" Witness 
— ^"Why, of course; his condition required it, and it was attended with great 

Mr. Williams— "Did you, now. Doctor, subject his person to an autopsy?" 
Witness — "Certainly; that was the last remedy adopted." 

Mr. Williams — "Well, then, Doctor, as you performed a post-mortem operation 
upon the defendant, and he survived it, I have no more to ask, and if your claim 
will survive it, quackery deserves to be immortal." 

I have thus particularized, not only for the purpose of throwing light upon the 
personal history of my subject and properly sketching him, but to remove doubts 
which have sometimes been expressed by the uninformed as to whether a man so 
variously gifted that he could play the violin, the flute, the fife, sing well, lecture 
entertainingly, tell funny stories, and charm every company he entered by his con- 


versation and wit, could really have had the time or inclination to become much of 
a lawyer before he was elevated to the bench. I do not, myself, think he was a 
plodding student, or as described by Milton, "Deep versed in books, but shallow in 
himself;" but that he was a well-equipped and well-read lawyer, there can be no 
manner of doubt. Judge Black put it as we have seen, that he was "well up in 
the books." Certainly every lawyer and presumably every layman knows what 
that means. Not only this ; Judge Black in the unfinished autobiography referred 
to, declares him to have been one of the most formidable rivals he had to contend 
with. The foregoing would seem sufficient to forever put a quietus upon any 
doubts that may have been entertained on the subject of his prior qualifications. 

Let us now turn to his career on the bench. Upon the organization of the 
territory in I 838, President Van Buren appointed as the Judges of the Supreme 
Court, Charles Mason, Joseph Williams and Thomas S. Wilson, Mason being 
named as the Chief Justice. As the subject of the length of service of these judges 
and their immediate successors seems to have been somewhat mixed in the different 
narrations, I will quote what Judge Mason says concerning this in a manuscript re- 
lating to the Bench and Bar and Leading Public Men of Early Iowa, which he was 
kind enough to prepare and send to me when he learned I was collecting material 
for future publication on that subject. Judge Mason says : 

The first information I had on the subject was that the bill organizing the new 
Territory had passed and that I had been appointed by President Van Buren, Chief 
Justice, with Joseph Williams, of Pennsylvania, and Thomas S. Wilson, of 
Dubuque, as my associates. We were all reappointed in 1842 by President Tyler 
and again in 1846 by James K. Polk. 

Upon the organization of the State Government in December, 1846, the con- 
dition of the parties in the Legislature was such that it was found impossible to 
elect Judges or Senators, and accordingly under a provision of the State Constitu- 
tion, which had been adopted, the Territorial Judges held over as Judges under 
the State Government. In May, 1847, however, I resigned my office and Judge 
Williams succeeded me as Chief Justice, the vacancy being filled by the appoint- 
ment of John P. Kinney as an associate. In December, 1848, the deadlock having 
been removed, Senators and Judges were elected and Joseph Williams thereby 
became Chief Justice with John F. Kinney and S. C. Hastings as his associates. 
A new election of Judges was held two years later and Joseph Williams, as Chief 
Justice with John F. Kinney and George Greene as his associates, became the 
Judges of our Supreme Court. 

I must be pardoned for saying a word, en passant, of that tribunal as thus con- 
stituted. Charles Mason was a man of towering intellectuality; Thomas S. Wilson, 
though the youngest of the three, was a decidedly able and well-trained lawyer, and 
Joseph Williams we have already had a glimpse of. They were all men of dig- 
nified bearing on the bench, typical gentlemen of the old school. I venture to state 
that not any of the numerous territories organized by the government, ever pre- 
sented a court more prepossessing in character and appearance or more able and effi- 
cient in execution. Their services were invaluable in the formative period of Iowa 
and none of them should ever be suffered to lapse into oblivion. 


Joseph Williams served as Judge of the Supreme Court from 1838 to 1855, a 
period of about seventeen years, and the last eight years of this period as Chief Jus- 
tice, when he was succeeded by Judge George G. Wright. His opinions will be 
found in the Reports of Morris and Greene. 

After my own connection with the Supreme Court as the Reporter of its de- 
cisions had been terminated, I prepared and gave to the profession a Digest of all 
the decisions of that court from the earUest territorial period to that time. It became 
my duty to digest with care every opinion that had been delivered and published in 
the Reports. And I can say without hesitation and with emphasis, that if there 
be any one who doubts that Judge Williams was a clear-headed and able judge, 
let him study that judge's opinions as closely as I did in the course of that work, 
and his doubts will be thoroughly dispelled. Taken as a whole, they display acu- 
men, clearness, learning and force, and some of the more important ones, remarkable 
intuitiveness and wonderfully quick appreciation of the points presented and the 
conditions surrounding them. I personally know that this estimate has been held by 
some of the best lawyers Iowa has had. For instance, during a recent visit to Iowa, 
I met at Ottumwa my old friend and co-worker, William McNett, who is well 
known as one of the ablest lawyers of the State. In our conversation, we touched 
upon Judge Williams. He thereupon remarked that he had in hand an important 
case in which was involved a difficult question ; that to properly solve it, he had gone 
to many decisions and authorities and at last had found one that went to the bottom 
of the matter and contained a clearer solution of the question involved than all the 
others, and this was an opinion by Judge Williams in Third Greene's Report. He 
also recalled an incident, of which we were both witnesses, that occurred at the 
opening of the Supreme Court Room of the new Capitol at Des Moines. Many 
visiting lawyers were present. Among them was Judge Samuel F. Miller of the 
United States Supreme Court, the greatest constitutional lawyer the nation ever had, 
excepting, always, John Marshall. He made some remarks on the occasion, in the 
course of which he referred in the most earnest and touching manner to Judge Joseph 
Williams. He said he regarded him as one of the clearest, most intuitive and best 
judges that had ever graced the bench of the Supreme Court of Iowa, and that his 
decisions had operated as an important factor in properly moulding the jurisprudence 
of the State. What higher compliment could any judge wish for than that?* 

*Note — Since writing the above I have received the following letter from Mr. 
McNett in reply to one I wrote him on the subject, which I deem it proper to set 
forth in this note : 

My Dear Stiles : 

I have your letter of the 23d instant. The case I refer to Is the first case in 
3 G. Greene, Taylor v. Galland, page 1, and the particular feature of the opinion 
to which I was attracted, will be found on pages 20 to 25 inclusive. 

Here he considers and states one of the main important principles of the law 
of evidence, as I conceive it, in as clear and terse a manner as it ever has been 


Of him Judge Mason says in the manuscript hereinbefore referred to, "Judge 
Wilhams was one of the most companionable and entertaining men I have ever 
known, and although perhaps not what would be termed a very close student, was 
a man of exceedingly quick parts and arrived at just conclusions as if by intuition." 

In 1857 he was appointed one of the Federal Judges for the territory of Kan- 
sas and continued to act in that capacity until the State was admitted. He was 
also appointed by the President in 1 863. Judge of the Court established at Mem- 
phis under military authority. In these positions his duties were discharged with 

I distinctly remember the announcement of his death before the Supreme Court 
in 1 870 by Henry O'Connor, who was the Attorney-General of the State. In the 
course of his remarks, Mr. O'Connor said : 

His character was above even tlie eulogy of gratitude. The simple story of 
his life is his highest eulogy. An able and learned lawyer, a just and upright 
judge, a patriot beyond the reach of suspicion, a citizen above reproach, an honest 
man, and a friend whom adversity did not frighten. It may be said of Judge 
Williams what can be said of few men, that he made a friend of every one with 
whom he came in contact and that he never lost one by desertion or neglect. His 
reputation and fame were national. The sunshine of life seemed to be in his 
keeping, and in every company of which he formed a part, he dispensed its light 
and warmth with a hand as lavishly generous as its sources were inexhaustible. He 
had no thought of the morrow, cared not what he should eat or wherewith he should 
be clothed. His faith in humanity was less only than his faitlj in God. 

Judge George G. Wright, on behalf of the court said : 

By the aid of conversational powers unsurpassed, and social qualities which 
charmed and captivated the high and the low, the learned and the unlearned, and 
yet making no one the less mindful of the sacred duties and obligations of life, 
he made impressions which will last while the State endures, and left monuments 
which will remain so long as our judicial records shall be read. Such a life is a 
proud part of our State and professional inheritance. 

A multitude of amusing stories have been told about him which will be reserved 
for a more appropriate occasion. I cannot refrain, however, from relating one that 
illustrates his kindness of heart, and another, the charm of his conversation and man- 
ners. This one is from Judge Brannan: 

The term of the Supreme Court had closed at Iowa City, Judge Williams had 
paid his hotel bill and had left barely enough money to take him to Muscatine. 
Travel was then by stage and passes were unknown. A man whom Judge Williams 

stated anywhere. You will appreciate this by consulting^ the leading case of Seitz 
V. Brewsters' Refrigerator Co., 141 U. S., 510. 

I cannot recall with much distinctness what Justice Miller said about Judge 
Williams at the dedication of our new Supreme Court room, and do not remember, 
and have no data to refresh my recollection, as to just when that was. 

I do remember of his speaking of Judge Williams in very high terms, as a man 
of culture and high legal attainments. He also spoke of his comprehensive grasp of 
legal principles, and the clear and terse manner in which he stated them in his 
opinions. I do not think there was any one of the Iowa judges to whom he 
referred in higher terms of praise and commendation than to Judge Williams. 

Yours truly, Wm. McNett. 


did not kno*', came to the Judge in apparent distress and asked him to give him 
money to go to Muscatine, saying that it was necessary that he get there at the 
first opportunity. The Judge looked at him for a moment, put his hand in his 
pocket and handed him the money he needed for his own passage, and then pro- 
ceeded to borrow the amount he had just given to the other man. 

This is the other one. The appointment of the judges in 1 838 wras but for 
four years. When that period had expired, John Tyler had become President by 
the death of General Harrison. As some opposition was being made to the reap- 
pointment. Judge Williams was sent to Washington to look after the matter. It 
was before the days of retilroads and the way was made partly by boat and partly 
by stage. One morning in the latter part of the voyage he found seated opposite 
him in the stage a handsome and charming lady. During the long journey they 
naturally became acquainted, or engaged in conversation. They were congenial 
and, in a social sense, mutually attractive, insomuch that the Judge disclosed to her 
his name and the object of his visit to Washington ; but when the lady reached her 
stopping place, Baltimore, and they parted company, the Judge had not learned her 
name and did not know who she was. After reaching Washington, he sought an 
interview with the President who received him with great cordiality, and proceeded 
to converse with him in the most affable manner. The Judge was embarrassed at 
this unexpected effusion and personal kindness, but after a while ventured to suggest 
the nature of his business. "Oh, that matter has already been attended to and my 
Secretary will hand^ou your commission," said the President. "But," said Wil- 
liams, after recovering himself sufficiently, "I should not want the position unless my 
associates were also reappointed." "Oh, that has been attended to also and their 
commissions will be handed you along ■with your own," said the President. "And, 
by the way," he resumed, "there is a lady acquaintance of yours in the next room 
who would like to see you." Whereupon the folding doors were opened and Judge 
Williams was led into the presence of Mrs. Tyler, who was delighted to meet him 
again. She had arranged matters in advance with her husband, the President, and 
the Judge went his way home rejoicing. 

The fact is. Judge Williams, by reason of his great versatility, was a genius, 
and if time and space would permit, I could more thoroughly demonstrate it. It has 
been said that the drafts which genius draws upon posterity, although they may not 
always be honored so soon as they are due, are sure to be paid with compound 
interest in the end, and if. I have in this limited attempt faintly verified the truth of 
that statement, I shall be content. Joseph Williams was not only an able Judge 
who served well the State, but a kind and compassionate gentleman, whose sweetly 
fragrant memory will be affectionately cherished by the few contemporaries who still 
survive him, and by them and through their efforts be wafted to their posterity. Of 
him may be fittingly said what was said of Charles York, Lord Chancellor of Eng- 
land: "His moral and intellectual worth and legal renown, and, more than all. 


his gentle goodness and attaching quaUties of heart, will shed a calm and placid 
light over his memory, like the pure ray of some distant star which the mists of earth 
for a time obscured from our view." 

Associate Justice Thomas S. Wilson. 
I know nothing of the ancestry of Judge Wilson. I have not been able to ob- 
tain any mformation respecting it, and the autobiographical narration embraced in 
this sketch fails to throw any light upon it. save that it discloses that he was given 
an academical education, from which we naturally infer that at least his parents 
were fairly well circumstanced and able to give their son a suitable education; and 
beyond question, he belonged to a strongly intellectual family. He had three 
brothers who, as well as himself, attained more or less pre-eminence as men of abil- 
ity. His brother George was an officer of repute in the regular army and a mem- 
ber of General Zachary Taylor's Regiment. His brother David, whom I knew 
well, and who was a most companionable and delightful man. was an able lawyer, 
and for a number of years. Judge of the District Court in the District embracing 
Dubuque County, and his brother, Samuel Wilson, was one of the most distinguished 
lawyers in California. The latter had two sons who became leading lawyers in 
San Francisco. While in California quite a good many years ago, I was told 
that Wilson was the greatest land lawyer in the State, particularly along the line of 
Spanish grants. He was regarded as very able. I might also add that Judge 
Wilson had a nephew that I knew in Missouri, George Wilson, a banker at Lex- 
ington, who was a man of decided intellectual parts; that he had another nephew 
in Kansas City, Missouri, B. Wells, a learned lawyer, who was one of Edwin M. 
Stanton's Secretaries during the War of the Great Rebellion; that he had a niece 
at Dubuque, Rebecca Wells, one of the brightest, as well as one of the loveliest of 
women, who became the wife of the distinguished Iowa Editor, M. M. Ham, of 
the Dubuque Herald — both long since dead; and that he himself had a daughter 
who was regarded as one of the most charming and gifted ladies in Dubuque. I 
know not whether she be living. 

Thomas S. Wilson enjoyed many offices of trust, and in every one he exhibited 
perfect fidelity ; among them, that of Prosecuting Attorney of Dubuque County, and 
of Grant County while we were a part of Wisconsin Territory, and he was one of 
the Commissioners to settle the title to the Half Breed Tract. After the organ- 
ization of the Territory in I 838, he received the first nomination for Congress. But 
pending this, the news came of his appointment as one of the Judges of the Terri- 
torial Supreme Court which he concluded to accept, and in consequence declined 
the nomination for Congress. He came within one vote of being elected United 
States Senator when George Wallace Jones was chosen for that office. In 1852, 
he was elected District Judge of the Second Judicial District and re-elected in 1 85 7, 
serving in that capacity for eleven years, making in all a judicial service on the Ter- 


ritorial and State Bench of twenty years. He several times represented Dubuque 
County in the Legislature. In every position he proved an able, true and useful 
servant of the people. He was the early and constant friend of Dubuque and a 
protector of its rights. He was ever the friend and ally of the early settlers and 
exerted himself on all needful occasions to defend their rights. He was selected to 
represent them at Washington when their titles were threatened by Congressional 
action, and on all occasions showed his fidelity to the people who had braved the 
perils of the wilderness to found a State, and for him, in return, they always cherished 
an appreciative regard. 

When appointed as one of the Supreme Judges he was scarcely twenty-five 
years of age and by several years younger than his associates. Not only young in 
years, but in appearance, his slight form and stature accentuated his boyishness ; he 
hardly filled the preconceived idea of what a Judge should look like. This, as well 
as his innate good nature, is.illustrated by the following relation of Professor Parvin: 

At the date of the organization of the Territory, Judge Wilson was the only 
one of the Judges on the ground. Judge Mason was absent from Burlington and 
Judge Williams had not yet arrived at Bloomington (Muscatine). Having attained 
my majority, I was anxious to be admitted to the bar and repaired by steamer to 
Dubuque that I might be sworn in by Judge Wilson. Arriving at Dubuque I 
sought the residence of Judge Wilson without delay. Reaching the open door, for 
it was midsummer, and the whole scene now, after forty and eight years have 
passed, seems like a "midsummer's dream" — ^we were met by a pleasing and 
youthful looking gentleman who invited us in. Taking him for a son of the old 
Judge, I asked for his father. He had no father, he said, and even blushed at my 
embarrassment. Rallying in a moment, we stated that we had called to see 
His Honor Judge Wilson, of the Supreme Court of the Territory of Iowa; and were 
surprised, as well as more embarrassed, when informed that he was Judge Wilson. 
Could it be possible that this young man was one of the Supreme Judges! Three 
months later when the first term of the Court was about to close at Burlington, 
a steamer from below was announced. Judge Wilson, desirous of returning to his 
home at Dubuque, requested the United States Marshal, General Francis Gehon, 
who also lived in Dubuque, to go and secure him a berth. The general, an old and 
large man, went to the steamer and engaged a room for the Judge and so reported. 
A few minutes later Judge Wilson hastened aboard with his grip-sack, and having 
the number of his room, at once went to it. The captain stopped the Judge at 
the door and said, "Hold on, young man, you can't have that room." "This is the 
room I've engaged," blandly remarked the Judge. "No, sir," said the captain, a 
tall, middle-aged man of the world, "that room is reserved for the old Judge who 
is going to honor me with his company to Dubuque, and I am waiting his coming. 
I will give you a good room, but not that one." The Judge, taking in the situation, 
good humoredly replied: "I know the Judge well; he and I are good friends and 
always travel together." Just then the Marshal came in, and seeing the Judge 
outside the door, asked: "Did you find your room?" "Yes," said the Judge, "but 
the captain won't let me in." The Marshal coming forward, at once introduced to 
Captain Throckmorton his friend, Judge Wilson. The captain, more surprised than 
we had been upon a former occasion, looked down upon the young Judge and then 
to the old Marshal and said: "What, this young man Judge of your Supreme 
Court! In my country they make judges of old men, not boys." Grasping the 
young boy-judge by the hand, he cordially led the way to his room and laughed 
heartily afterward at his mistake. 

It will go without saying, that the appointment of one so young to such a high 
and responsible office, shows that he must have been regarded as a young man of 


superior attainments. In 1881, I earnestly requested him to assist me in the pres- 
ent work by sending me a brief autobiographical sketch, together with such other 
information respecting the early times as he might be pleased to give. In kindly 
response, he sent me the following narration which I feel assured will prove of 
interest : 

I was born at Steubenville, Ohio, October 13, 1813; graduated at Jefferson 
College, Pennsylvania, in 1832; commenced the practice of law there in 1834; left 
for Wisconsin the first of October, 1836. Edwin M. Stanton and myself were about 
the same age. Our parents were neighbors. When children we went to the same 
school (our first) and slept with our heads resting together on the lap of the 
schoolmistress. When I left Ohio for the West he came from his home at Cadiz 
to bid me farewell. He told me that he would move to Steubenville to fill my place 
at the bar, which he did. When he was Secretary of War he made it a point to 
bestow favors upon his early friends. He inquired of my brother David, who called 
upon him in Washington, why I had not been to see him. My brother remonstrated 
with me for not having done so, saying that Mr. Stanton had remarked that I 
was the only early and intimate friend on whom he had not bestowed an office, 
and he told David that he wanted me to come and see him. Having business in 
the East a few months after that, I called at the War Oflace to see him. It was 
during the Civil War. The ante-room was filled with Generals and other officers 
waiting for an audience. I sent in my card. He immediately sent for me to come 
to his room. I was conducted in. Upon entering he took me by the hand, gave me 
a hearty greeting and after some friendly and reminiscent conversation, insisted 
that I should go home with him at five o'clock and remain his guest during my 
stay in Washington. He said he desired to send me South on important business 
for the Government. I told him that I greatly appreciated his kindness, but that 
as my wife was very near her end with consumption I could not leave her or be 
absent longer than possible from her and that I must leave for home on the next 
train. I had a high regard for him and deeply regret that I did not see more of 
him in his later years. He was one of the most extraordinary men in history. 

When I came to Wisconsin I landed with my wife at Prairie du Chien, as my 
brother, George Wilson, who was a lieutenant in General Taylor's regiment, was 
living there. George advised me to settle either at Mineral Point or Dubuque. I 
visited the former place, but did not like its appearance. On my way back to 
Prairie du Chien, feeling homesick and melancholy and much perplexed as to 
which of the two places would be the most desirable, I alighted from my horse at 
one of the Piatt mounds and tossed up a dollar, saying to myself, if heads turn up 
I will go to Dubuque, if tails, to Mineral Point. It turned up heads and I started 
on a canter for Prairie du Chien. The steamer which made biennial visits to 
the town had made its fall visit and we were obliged to put our baggage into a 
canoe, and by this means of conveyance to make our way to Dubuque. We reached 
Cassville the first evening, and Dubuque on the second, eating our midday lunches 
on the island. 

I immediately opened an office, soon acquired a practice, and in a short time 
was appointed prosecuting attorney. Judge Irvin, one of the Judges of the Supreme 
Court of Wisconsin Territory, was assigned to the Judicial District composed of 
the counties on the west side of the Mississippi; Judge Dunn, to the counties of 
Grant, Crawford, Iowa and Greene; and Judge Frazer, to the eastern counties. 
There were then but two counties on the west side of the river, viz., Dubuque and 
Des Moines. The boundary line between them on the river was a few miles below 

I brought a suit of forcible detainer in favor of a client against Antoine Le 
Claire, of Davenport, to recover the possession of a farm adjacent to that town. 
The suit was tried before Warner Lewis, a Justice of the Peace in the town of 
Dubuque. Stephen Hempstead, W. W. Chapman, Peter H. Engle and myself were 
the only practicing attorneys at Dubuque. Thomas P. Burnett, a very talented and 
experienced lawyer of Prairie du Chien, had one side or the other of every case 
in the counties of Iowa, Grant, and Crawford, in 1837-8. 


In 1837, I was appointed by Governor Henry Dodge prosecuting attorney of 
Dubuque County, and by the court prosecuting attorney of Grant County, but 
soon resigned as I disliked the business of prosecuting. 

As soon as the bill organizing Iowa was passed, the northern counties held 
mass meetings for the nomination of a Delegate to Congress, and I was nominated. 
W. W. Chapman, who had removed to Burlington, was a candidate also. After my 
nomination, at the suggestion of friends, I prepared to canvass the lower counties 
of the Territory. When I arrived at the steamer to take my passage to Burlington, I 
was informed by the clerk that I had been appointed one of the Judges of the 
Supreme Court of Iowa. When I expressed my doubts about it, he took me into the 
office and showed me a copy of the Missouri Republican, which contained a 
notice of it. I then returned home to consider whether I should a,ccept. After 
a few days' consideration I concluded to do so, and declined the nomination for 

The most important law suit with which I ever had any connection either as 
judge or lawyer was the suit in which was tried the validity of the Spanish and 
Indian Grant to Julien Dubuque for the land including the present city of Dubuque, 
and running from the mouth of the little Maquoketa to a point nine miles west, 
thence south in a parallel line to the Mesquibenanques Creek (now called "Tete 
des Mortes"), thence east to where that creek empties into the Mississippi River. 
Julien Dubuque was an Indian trader, a Canadian Frenchman, whose trading house 
and dwelling were located at the mouth of Catfish Creek, about one and a half 
miles below Dubuque City. He purchased his goods from Mr. Choteau, of St. 
Louis, a prominent member of the American Pur Company. In the year 1788, 
Dubuque, at Prairie du Chien, procured a grant for the same land from the Indians 
(Sacs and Foxes), and presented it in 1796 to Baron Carondelet, the Spanish 
Governor of the Territory of Louisiana, at New Orleans, for confirmation. The 
Baron endorsed upon the petition of Dubuque the words, "Granted as prayed for," 
and signed it. A grant was first procured from the Indians who then occupied the 
country, as the Spanish Government never allowed any intrusion upon their lands 
without their consent, and it is worthy of note here that it never sold an acre of land 
in its American possessions, but granted the land to settlers upon their petition. 
It never surveyed the lands, but its rules required that persons who obtained grants 
of land should, unless a plat of survey was presented with the petition for the 
grant, have a survey and plat made, and these were recorded in the books of the 
Governor's Office. 

Dubuque never had this survey made. Being indebted to Choteau for Indian 
goods, he conveyed to the latter the south half of the lands in his grant. Dubuque 
died at his trading house on the land in the year 1810, and after his death the 
Indians occupied the land. The Territory of Louisiana was ceded by Spain to 
Prance and by Prance to the United States. When Iowa was organized as a Terri- 
tory, the public lands were surveyed, and the sale of lands commenced. But for 
years after other lands on the river were sold, the lands described in the grant to 
Julien Dubuque were not opened for sale. These lands were kept from sale by the 
influence of the Missouri members of Congress, Thomas H. Benton, Lewis P. 
Lomax and others, who interfered at the request of the Choteau family, which had 
great influence in Missouri. The pretext was, that the validity of the Dubuque 
claim should be settled before a sale of the land. But in the course of time, the 
Commissioner of the General Land Office ordered the lands, including these, into 
the market, commencing as in all other sales, with a public sale. Before the date 
of the sale Congress met, and the Missouri Senators introduced a senate resolution, 
which passed, requesting the President to hold these lands from sale. This caused 
great trepidation among the settlers here who had settled upon and improved the 
lands, for the postponement of the sale depreciated the value of the lands and 
prevented their settlement. Further, it retarded the settlement of the town of 
Dubuque, and kept its population below that of Burlington and Davenport. Having 
a large farm on this tract on which I resided, I was called upon by many of the 
settlers to go to Washington, in order to prevent any interference with the sale. 
I did so, and had an immediate interview with S. C. Hastings and Shepherd Leffler, 
our members of Congress. We had then no representation in the Senate. I 
presented the situation to them, and it was agreed among us at my suggestion. 


that Judge Hastings should call the next morning on the President, and ask him 
not to interfere to postpone the sale, but that if he thought he could not disregard 
the Senate resolution, then to ask him if he would not permit the sale to proceed if 
the lower house should pass a resolution requesting it. The President replied that 
he would. As soon as the House met, Judge Hastings introduced the resolution. 
It was opposed by the Missouri members, and as the vote was taken viva voce it 
was difficult to decide whether it had passed or not. But Judge Hastings, after the 
House adjourned, went to the clerk and asked him for a copy of the resolution 
"which had just passed." The clerk replied, "It did not pass, did it?" Hastings 
replied, "Certainly, it passed," and the clerk gave him a certified copy, which was 
presented to the President, and the sale proceeded. With great joy we entered our 
lands, but the Choteaus soon brought a suit to test the validity of their claim. I 
was at the first selected as the victim defendant, but as they were not certain on 
which part of the grant my farm was situated, they selected P. Malony, the owner 
of a large farm, as defendant. He employed me as his attorney, and I commenced 
the study of Spanish grants and Spanish law applicable to the case. This opened 
up a new field of research to me and to Judge Dyer, the United States District 
Judge here, before whom the suit was pending, and we spent much of our time for 
two years in the investigation. The case was decided, as a matter of form in our 
favor in the court below, and was appealed to the Supreme Court of the United 
States. The accomplished gentleman, Reverdy Johnson, was the attorney for the 
plaintiffs, and I employed Piatt Smith, Esq., to assist me in the defense. On the 
trial of the case in the Supreme Court Mr. Johnson made a powerful speech for the 
appellant; one which surprised and alarmed Mr. Smith and myself, as we did not 
think that so good an argument could be made in so weak a case. The case was 
submitted and we waited at Washington many days anxiously for the decision. I 
was stopping with my wife at Brown's hotel, as also were United States Supreme 
Judge McLean and his family. I should have stated before, that in the conclusion 
of my argument to the court, in order to call its attention to the imiportance of the 
case, and to inform them that the controversy was not about a tract of wild and 
unsettled land, I remarked that a decision of the case adverse to my client, would 
place hundreds of families at the mercy of foreign, heartless speculators, turning 
them from house and home; that these men, women and children would be turned 
into the wilderness and be in a worse predicament than were the children of 
Israel when they were in the wilderness, for the latter had the "pillar of cloud by 
day and the pillar of fire by night" to light their path and direct their wanderings, 
and their hunger was satisfied by manna from Heaven, while our poor settlers 
would have no such blessings, and hunger, poverty, destitution and death would 
mark their lonely way. 

One morning while we were thus anxiously waiting for the Court's decision, 
my wife and I were at the breakfast table, when Judge McLean entered with his 
family, and seated themselves near us. Judge McLean then said to my wife in a 
playful manner, "Mrs. Wilson, are you ready this morning to pack up and start 
into the wilderness?" alluding to my argument. She replied, "No, Judge, and I 
hope the Court will not make any decision that will render that necessary." 
Without finishing my breakfast, I hastened to the room of my colleague, Piatt 
Smith, who was sleeping soundly, and said to him, "Smith, wake up, we have 
gained our case." "What makes you think so," said he. I related to him what 
Judge McLean had said at the table, adding that Judge McLean was too much of a 
gentleman to joke with us upon the subject if the decision had been against us. 
We hastened immediately to the oflice of the clerk of the Supreme Court to 
inquire about the decision, and were informed that the Judges had made a decision 
in their room the day before, but what it was, was not known. In a few days a 
decision by a unanimous Court was handed down in our favor, based on the ground 
that there never was a legal survey of the grant, and that the paper signed by the 
Baron Carondolet was merely an inchoate grant. 

I may add here that for my services in the case, including two years of labor 
and the expenses of two winters' sojourn in Washington, waiting for the cause to 
be reached and then trying it, I received the enormous fee of $800 in city warrants, 
which I had cashed for $700. The land in controversy was nine miles wide and 
twenty miles long situated on the banks of the Mississippi River, including the 
City of Dubuque. 


Julien Dubuque had great influence with the Indians, and sometimes resorted 
to unworthy measures to maintain his influence over them. At one time he was 
desirous of obtaining a favor from them, which was refused by them after three 
days' solicitation. On the evening of the third day he told them that if they did 
not grant his request he would set fire to and burn up the Mississippi River the 
next morning. In the night he took out a barrel ot turpentine and poured it on 
the still waters of the creek near its mouth. The turpentine like oil floated on the 
surface. In the morning he set fire to the turpentine, telling the Indians that, to 
show them that he had power to fulfill his threat to burn the river, he would bum 
the creek. He touched fire to the turpentine and the blaze, to the great astonish- 
ment of the Indians, spread over the surface of the water in the creek. He then 
called out to them, "Will you grant my request, or shall I burn up the river?" 
They immediately cried out that the request was granted and besought him to put 
out the fire. He ordered the fire to stop in a certain number ot minutes, giving 
time enough for the turpentine to burn out. It was said to be the great object of 
his life to find out how many Indian wives he could get, but he never keipt but one 
at a time. 

As an accompaniment to the foregoing narration, he sent me an additional paper 
containing some incidents and observations concerning the period, from which I give 
the following excerpts: 

I have associated with two generations of men and it is my opinion that the 
first settlers were far superior to their descendants of the second generation. Their 
necessities and the privations they endured drew out and strengthened their best 
qualities. There was no communication with the Bast except steamboat via the 
Ohio and Mississippi rivers. It was a two weeks' trip even to Wheeling or Pitts- 
burg, and from thence to Washington almost an interminaule one. There were but 
two counties in Iowa, Dubuque and Des Moines, Davenport being included in 
Dubuque County. There were at Dubuque but three or four stores. These fur- 
nished the common necessaries. If we wanted anything further we had to go to 
Galena. The Indians had at that time ceded only a strip of land about sixty miles 
wide along the river. There was not a railroad nor telegraph in the United States. 
When navigation closed our only communication with the East was by mail carried 
on horseback via Chicago. When traveling on the river was not safe we went on 
horseback to the Supreme Court and Legislature at Burlington, following the bank 
of the river. General Taylor, afterward President, was stationed at the Indian 
agency of the Sacs and Foxes at Prairie du Chien. On the Neutral Ground were 
ihe Winnebagoes with their hereditary chiefs. One Bye and Waukonda De Korry; 
after the latter of whom were named the towns of Waukon and Decorah. General 
Taylor landed with his regiment at Dubuque on his way to the Florida War. He 
had his family in a Mackinaw boat. I suggested to him the propriety of his em- 
barking to St. Louis on a steamer which was then at the wharf. He replied, "I 
always travel with my men"; and he did, in the boat all the way to New Orleans, 
his men going in accompanying boats. 

At the trial of Chegaweyscum, a Chippewa Indian, for the murder of a half- 
blood trader, Burnett was emiployed to prosecute and I was appointed by the court 
to defend. While the prisoner was being conducted by the marshal from the jail to 
Lhe court room he was under the impression that he was to be immediately hanged, 
and requested the marshal to shoot him instead. When he entered the court room 
he sang as he marched to his seat the Indian death song, which translated was, 
Is It true; IS it true; is it true, that I must die? Great Spirit, give me your hand." 
stretching his hand toward heaven, and bracing himself with Indian heroism to 
meet the death which he instantly expected. Upon his acquittal he desired to go 
to Dubuque and serve me; and did. But being annoyed by some Winnebagoes, he 
finally returned to his nation. On leaving, he took my right hand in both ot his, as 
a manitestation of gratitude, and pressed it against his heart until its rapid pulsa- 
tions could be felt. He subsequently sent word to me by a trader that he had for 
nie two handsome Indian girls as presents for wives. My wife very unreasonably 
objected and the presents were not sent. 


I hunted over the ground where the City of McGregor now is. There was then 
no settlement there. Alexander McGregor sold eighty acres of land in Chicago, 
where the Wells Street depot now stands, to buy at McGregor. The Chicago prop- 
erty is now worth many millions. The first court ever held in Iowa Territory alter 
its organization was held by me in that county in September, 1838, at Prairie 
Laporte, from which the county seat was afterwards removed to McGregor.* 

The first term of court in Jackson County was held by me in an unoccupied 
building belonging to Mr. Heffley, a grocer. A hogshead of molasses which was in 
the room was rolled against the side wall, with the end upward. Judge Grant was 
trying his first case in that county and the following ludicrous incident illustrates 
one of his well-known peculiarities. While addressing the jury the high-pitched, 
shrill and piercing tones of his voice, for which he was distinguished, reached far 
and near the ears of the loungers on the outside, who thinking there must certainly 
be a row on hand rushed pell-mell for and into the court room. The bailiff, a short 
man, mounted on top of the hogshead to restore order, but while in the act of 
doing so at the top of his voice, the head of the cask gave way and he went down 
chin-deep into the molasses. The effect of this on the court proceedings can be 
imagined better than described. 

My personal acquaintance with Judge Wilson commenced in 1 864, and was 
actively renewed in and continued from 1867 to 1875, during the spring and fall 
sessions of the Supreme Court of the State at Dubuque, which I invariably attended, 
and indeed, was required to attend for the purpose of hearing the arguments, under 
the law relating to the Reporter's office. 

During this latter period, he was in the neighborhood of 60 years of age. Time 
had naturally wrought its changes. But he was the same amiable, kindly, thought- 
ful man that he has always been described as being. He was generous and char- 
itable to a fault; he had not amassed a fortune, and was still in the hard-working 
professional harness. He was employed in important litigation, and continued ac- 
tive professional life to a late period. 

He was in many respects quite in contrast with his associates. While he was short 
and slight, they were both tall and comparatively large. One of them was thirty-two 
when appointed, the other older, while he was only twenty-five. He had neither the 
dominant qualities of Judge Mason nor the vivacious ones of Judge Williams. But he 
was a rare man nevertheless; rare in the soberness of his judgment, in his general 
equipments and ability as a lawyer, in his industry and usefulness as a Judge, in the 
fidelity of his friendships, and in his unfailing kindness of heart and manner. He 
was a natural-born gentleman ; his tokens of heraldry were from the Almighty ; he 
belonged to the old school of which there are scarcely any specimens left. He was 
able and efficient, both as a Trial and Associate Judge, and he laid aside his judi- 
cial robes as unsullied as when he put them on. 

* It must not be understood that this was a session of the Supreme Court, but 
of the nisi prius or district court of that division, the Territory being judicially 
divided into three districts, which were assigned to the Judges respectively. Judge 
Mason had the lower district. Judge Williams the middle district. Judge Wilson the 
upper district From the decision of any one of these district courts an appeal lay 
to the Supreme Court of the Territory, which was composed of the three Judges 
in banc. 


In view of his great and well-known industry, coupled with his unquestioned 
ability, it has been a matter of surmise as to why a greater number of the published 
opinions did not emanate from him. His explanation which I cheerfully give, is 
contained in the following letter: 

Dubuque, Iowa, July 22, 1886. 
Hon. E. H. Stiles. 

Dear Sir: Your letter of the Wth. was received yesterday. My statement as 
to the authorship of the opinions of the Court as contained in Morris Reports is 
that at least one-third of them was written hy myself. When I wrote out those in 
cases left with me, I procured L. A. Thomas, Esq., an attorney of this place, to 
copy them for me, and forward them to Mr. Morris, the Reporter. This he did, 
but neglected .to note by what Judge the particular opinion was written. Mr. 
Thomas and I afterwards talked the matter over together and he remembered well 
how the mistake occurred. The printer, where no Judge was named as the 
author, credited them to the Chief Justice. 

I think justice should be done me in the premises by some public notice, 
especially as a certain gentleman has referred to it as an evidence of my indolence. 

Yours truly, T. S. Wilson. 

After having given the subject a pretty close examination, it is my deliberate 
opinion that the statement of Judge Wilson is perfectly correct. Indeed, if it 
were not, it is morally certain that it would never have been made. One impor- 
tant thing is clear from Judge Mason's statement, that upon full hearing and con- 
sultation they nearly always agreed. 

Judge Wilson died in Dubuque in 1 894, after a continuous service as lawyer 
and judge for a period of sixty years — from 1 834 to 1 894. He was a pure and 
lovable man, and in the entire history of the commonwealth it has never had a more 
faithful and heroic servitor. His name and memory should be perpetuated in its 
annals, and this I have in my feeble way endeavored faithfully to do. 



Ansel Briggs. 

The first three Governors of the State of Iowa — Ansel Briggs, Stephen Hemp- 
stead and James W. Grimes — were all New Englanders by nativity. Ansel 
Briggs, the first Governor, was born in Vermont in 1 806. Here he was reared, 
receiving his education at the common schools, supplemented by a course at Norwich 
Academy. When about twenty-four years of age, in 1 830, he removed with the 
family to Cambridge, Ohio, where he actively engaged in establishing and success- 
fully operating stage lines. In 1 836, when he was thirty years of age, he sold out 
his interest and removed to what is now Iowa, two years before it was organized 
as a Territory, settbng at Andrew, in Jackson County, where he again became en- 
gaged in establishing and operating stage lines for the conveyance of passengers be- 
tween different points, and carrying the mails under contracts with the general Gov- 
ernment — sometimes driving the stage himself. In his early life he had affiliated 
with the Whig Party and was its unsuccessful candidate for Auditor of Guernsey 
Coimty not long after his coming to Ohio. He later became a Democrat, and al- 
ways acted with that party after coming to Iowa. In 1 842 he was elected from 
Jackson County to the House of Representatives of the Fifth Territorial Legisla- 
ture which convened at Iowa City, December 6, 1842. Among his associates 
were many strong men. He was subsequently elected and served as Sheriff of 
Jackson County. In all his relations he made steadfast friends by the simplicity 
and fidelity of his character, his honesty of purpose, his strong practical common 
sense, and in doing creditably whatever he undertook. 

As to just what the controlling causes were that brought about the nomination 
of Mr. Briggs for Governor, has been the subject of various surmises. The Dem- 
ocratic Party was in the ascendency but only by a slight majority, which might be 
lost to the Whigs by the nomination of a candidate who had personal enemies in its 
ranks. The liquor question, the license or non-license of its sale, was a perplexing 
one to handle. It would seem that it continued to be and that non-license was 
favored by some of the Whig leaders in order to gain party strength, from the fol- 
lowing extract from a letter of Thomas H. Benton, Jr., to Governor Briggs, written 
in April of the year following his election: "In addition to other things the license 


question had been brought forward and has absorbed everything relative to the elec- 
tion. Indeed, I believe it is a trick on the part of the Whigs to divert the attention 
of the Democrats. Some of the Whigs have become very temperate all at once, and 
do not get drunk more than once a week." But the one question, which absorbed 
all others in the political campaign which resulted in the nomination and election of 
Mr. Briggs, was that relating to the establishment of banks — a State bank with 
branches. Steps to accomplish this were favored by the Whigs and opposed by the 
Democrats. It was thought that the following toast offered by Mr. Briggs at a 
banquet shortly before the nominating convention, and which was made a party cry 
throughout the State, did more to bring about his nomination for Governor than any- 
thing else: "No banks but earth ones, and they well tilled." 

To other causes that brought about his nomination may be added the able man- 
agement of his campaign by Phillip B. Bradley, of Jackson County, a faithful 
friend and admirer of Mr. Briggs, a lawyer of wide repute, and oiie of the shrewd- 
est politicians in the State. Mr. Woods (Old Timber) says that Bradley was the 
right hand man and confidential adviser of Governor Briggs, both before his election 
and during his administration. In this Phillip Bradley was ably seconded by Dr. 
H. M. Clark, another of the close friends of the Governor. 

The nominating convention was held at Iowa City on September 24, 1846. 
Its functions were to nominate two Congressmen as well as State Officers. The 
convention was called to order by Frederick D. Mills, the highly distinguished young 
lawyer of Burlington, who became a Colonel in the Mexican War, and gallantly 
lost his life in one of its battles. William Thompson (commonly known as Black 
Bill on account of his complexion) , of Henry County, who afterwards represented 
the State in Congress, was made President of the Convention, and J. T. Fales, of 
Linn County, Secretary. Among the delegates were many able men, men who 
afterwards became prominent in public affairs: A. McCleary, of Louisa County; 
J. E. Goodehow, of Jackson County; J. J. Dyer, of Dubuque County, who after- 
ward became United States District Judge, the immediate predecessor of the able 
and beloved Judge James M. Love; Phillip B. Bradley, of Jackson County, after- 
wards State Senator, and to whom reference has before been made; James Rush 
Hartsock, of Johnson County, afterwards Grand Master of the Masonic Order in 
Iowa; Enoch W. Eastman, of Des Moines County, a widely-known lawyer who 
afterward became Lieutenant-Governor of the State; Shepherd Leffler, of Des 
Moines County, one of the first Congressmen of the State; Josiah H. Bonney, after- 
wards Secretary of State; Theodore S. Parvin, who had been the Private Secretary 
of the first Territorial Governor (Robert Lucas) , State Librarian, one of the early 
and able lawyers of the State, and Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Ma- 
sons; A. H. Palmer, then Editor of the Iowa Capitol Reporter; Francis Gehon, of 
Dubuque County, who had been United States Marshal of the Territory; George 
Green, of Linn County, afterwards Judge of the Supreme Court of the State; 


Stephen Hempstead, of Dubuque, afterwards Governor of the State. Mr. Briggs 
had two rivals for the nomination, Jesse WilHams, of Jefferson County, and Wil- 
liam Thompson, before alluded to, of Henry County. On the first ballot Briggs 
received 62 votes, Williams 32, and Thompson 31 . On the announcement of the 
vote, Williams and Thompson both withdrew, and Briggs was nominated by ac- 
clamation. S. C. Hastings, of Muscatine, afterwards a Judge of the Supreme 
Court, cuid Shepherd Leffler, of Burlington, were nominated for Congress. Elisha 
Cutler, of Van Buren County, was nominated for Secretary of State; Joseph T. 
Fales, of Linn County, for Auditor of State, and Morgan Reno, of Johnson County, 
for State Treasurer. 

The opposing Whig candidate of Mr. Briggs was Thomas McKnight, of Du- 
buque County. The election was held on the 26th of October, I 846. The en- 
tire Democratic ticket was elected. The small majorities indicate how closely the 
parties stood. Ansel Briggs received 7,626 votes, his competitor, Thomas Mc- 
Knight, received 7,379, giving Briggs a majority of 247. The administration of 
Governor Briggs, the term of which was then four years, was a successful and com- 
mendable one. He kept in accord with his Party, and committed no act which 
could justly subject him to censure. It was peaceful, comparatively harmonious, 
without any startling events save that which grew out of the dispute as to the bound- 
ary line between Iowa and Missouri, which created a considerable war spirit, but 
was afterward peacefully adjusted. 

Governor Briggs was twice married; to his first wife soon after he came to 
Ohio. She died soon after. His second wife, to whom he was married in Ohio, 
was Nancy M. Dunlap, a daughter of Major Dunlap, who had been a distinguished 
officer in the War of 1812. From all accounts she was a rare and charming wom- 
an, well-educated, refined, graceful and generous: "Endowed by nature with such 
womanly tact and graice as to enable her to adorn the high estate her husband had 
attained. She dispensed a bounteous hospitality to the stranger and a generous 
charity to the poor, in which gracious ministration she was always seconded by her 
benevolent husband, the Governor." ^But sad to relate, the Governor was also 
bereft of her in the second year of his administration. This affliction was severe 
and almost overpowering to him. By her he had eight children, all of whom died 
young except a son, John S. Briggs, who became an editor, removing from Jackson 
Coimty to Omaha where he resided for several years, and later to Idaho where he 
became the Editor and Publisher of the Idaho Herald. I do not know whether 
he is now living or not, but was in 1894, and he and his wife, Mary E. Briggs, 
joined in a letter to the Pioneer Law Makers' Association, which will be found in 
the proceedings of the Reunion of that year, and in the proceedings of the Reunion 
of 1 886 and I 890, page 63, will be found a fine poem written by Mary E. Briggs, 
entitled "Every Year," and dedicated by her to the Association. 


At the close of his administration Governor Briggs continued to reside for many 
years in Jackson County where he had on every hand a host of ardent personal 
friends — friends that never forsook him. In 1860 he made a trip to Colorado 
during the mining excitement. Returning home, he went to Montana in 1 863 with 
his son, John, and remained there until 1865, when he returned. In 1870 he re- 
moved to Council Bluffs. He became one of the founders of the town of Florence 
on the Nebraska side of the Missouri River, a short distance above Council Bluffs, 
and which for a time was an active business rival of Omaha. During the last years 
of his life he resided with his son, John, at Omaha, where he died in 1 88 1 . I first 
met Governor Briggs in 1860, and again at Council Bluffs in 1870, and later at 
Omaha. He was of medium height, with a rugged, but pleasant face; perfectly 
plain and unpretentious in manner. He was an honest man and a patriot, and use- 
fully served the State. So great was the general respect for Governor Briggs that 
on the day following his death. Governor John H. Gear issued a proclamation an- 
nouncing his death, reciting his services to the State, ordering half-hour guns to be 
fired, and the National Flag on the State Capitol to be placed at half mast during 
the day of the funeral. 

Stephen Hempstead. 

Stephen Hempstead, the second Governor of the State, was the first lawyer who 
settled in Dubuque, and I think from the evidence on the subject, that Thomas S. 
Wilson was the next, though it would seem that Peter H. Engle was a close con- 
temporary, for Judge Wilson, in speaking of a suit tried before Warner Lewis, a 
Justice of the Peace, soon after he (Wilson) came there in 1836, says: "Stephen 
Hempstead, W. W. Chapman, Peter Engle and myself were the only practicing 
attorneys at Dubuque." It would also seem from this statement that Chapman, 
who has always been associated with Burlington as the first lawyer there, was for a 
time located at Dubuque. I think, however, that this would be a mistake, as Chap- 
man located at Burlington in 1835, so that his practice at Dubuque must have 
been simply as a visiting lawyer who had come up from Burlington on a steamboat. 
Thomas P. Burnett was also a visiting lawyer, and a very talented one, living at 
Prairie du Chien. Hempstead and Wilson settled in Dubuque the same year, in 
1836; Hempstead in the spring of that year, while Wilson's location must have 
been in the fall, for it will be seen from his autobiographical narration contained in 
my sketch of him, to be found in the chapter relating to the Judges of the Terri- 
torial Supreme Court, that he did not leave Ohio for Wisconsin until the first of 
October, and hence could not have arrived until late in the fall of that year. 

Stephen Hempstead is a historical character of high consideration in the annals 
of both the Territory and State of Iowa, for he came there while it was still a part 
of Wisconsin Territory, lived through its experience as Iowa Territory, and was 
prominent in both the State and Territorial Councils. 


He was born in New London, Connecticut, in 1812, and lived there until he 
was sixteen, when he came with the family to Missouri and settled upon a farm 
near the city of St. Louis, in 1 828. Two years later he became a clerk in a com- 
mission store at Galena, Illinois. During the Black Hawk War he enlisted and 
was made an officer in an artillery company organized to protect the place. At the 
close of the War he entered Illinois College at Jacksonville, where he remained two 
years. He then returned to the family in Missouri, and entered upon the study of 
law, finishing his course under Charles S. Hempstead, a relative, and a lawyer of 
prominence at Galena, Illinois. In 1 836 he was admitted to practice in all of the 
courts of the Territory of Wisconsin, which then embraced Iowa, and the same 
year located, as already indicated, at Dubuque, and became the first lawyer who 
commenced practice there. 

Upon the organization of the territory of Iowa out of that before composing a 
part of Wisconsin, in 1 838, he was elected to represent Dubuque, Jackson and Clay- 
ton Counties in the Legislative Council (equivalent to the present Senator) of the 
First Territorial General Assembly. His associate was Warner Lewis. Another 
of his associates, though in the House, was James W. Grimes, of Burlington. Mr. 
Hempstead was made Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, a post of honor as well 
as responsibility. This legislature assembled at Burlington on the 1 2th of Novem- 
ber, I 838, and adjourned on the 25th of January, I 839. He was elected to the 
Council of the next legislature and was honored by being chosen President of the 
Council. Warner Lewis was his associate in this session. It convened at Bur- 
Imgton in November, I 839, and adjourned January I 7, 1 840. In 1 845 he was 
elected to the Council of the Eighth General Assembly and again honored by being 
chosen its President. He was a Democrat and chosen as the representative of that 
party. This session convened at Iowa City on December I, 1845, and adjourned 
on the 1 9th of January, 1 846. In I 844 he was elected one of the delegates to 
frame a constitution for the admission of the State, and took an important part in 
its proceedings. They formed a constitution well suited to the times and wise in 
most of its provisions, but Congress narrowed the boundaries of the State as fixed 
therein, and thus changed, sent it back to the people to be ratified. It was de- 
feated, and the constitution upon which the State was finally admitted was framed 
by the constitutional convention of 1 846. In 1 848 he was with Judge Charles 
Mason and William G. Woodward, appointed Commissioner to revise the laws of 
the State; the result of the commission was known as the Code of 1 85 1 . In 1 850 
he was elected Governor of the State and was the last Democratic Governor until 
the election of Governor Horace Boies forty years afterwards. Had his party 
continued in power he would doubtless have continued to receive its highest honors. 

Stephen Hempstead held the office of Governor for four years. In 1855 he 
W9S elected County Judge of Dubuque County, and administered its affairs in the 


most eifective manner for some twelve years and until the court was abolished by 
an act of the legislature. Under his administration the principal county buildings 
were erected, bridges built and the highways greatly improved. He died at the 
home of his daughter, Mrs. B. M. Richmond, on the 1 6th of February, 1 883, at 
the age of 7 1 . Some twelve or thirteen years before his death he met' with an ac- 
cident which doubtless had the effect of weakening his constitution and shortening 
his life. While walking on a slippery sidewalk of the city he fell and broke one 
of his legs, and mortification setting in, it was found necessary to amputate the 
limb, which somewhat crippled him and obhged him to use an artificial one. In 
1871 he retired from public life, and his wife dying about that time, he went to 
live with and spent the remainder of his days with the daughter before mentioned. 
On the occasion of his death, public meetings of the bar and of the citizens were 
held to show their respect for his memory which was cherished with affection by 
every old citizen of Dubuque. 

As a member and presiding officer of the early legislatures of the Territory and 
State and as a Governor of the latter, he exercised a powerful influence in directing 
and moulding the laws and institutions of the commonwealth from the very first, and 
to his efforts the State is greatly indebted for its early and subsequent prosperity. He 
was a sound lawyer and a pure and incorruptible statesman. It has been said that 
when a man is living we envy him his riches, and that when he is dead, his good 
name. To the former class Stephen Hempstead does not belong, for his unbounded 
generosity, his open-handed charity kept him poor to the end; but to the latter he 
does belong, and his good name will be cherished by all who desire to know the 
history of Iowa throughout the years to come. 

. When I became acquainted with him he was well along in years. We were 
both natives of Connecticut and were always interested in discussing incidents that 
were common to us both. He was a natural gentleman, pleasing in address, highly 
interesting in conversation. His oil portrait, which during my days, hung in the 
office of the Executive, and I suppose does yet, displays an uncommonly handsome 
and prepossessing face and plainly shows that he must have been a man of highly 
attractive personality. 

James W. Grimes. 
In view of the thorough, detailed and comprehensive "Life of James W. 
Grimes," by Dr. William Salter, pubHshed not many years ago, it would be a 
work of supererogation and, indeed, of presumption on my part to attempt elabora- 
tion in this sketch, and I shall therefore content myself by simply adding a few 
touches to the picture which has been so ably drawn, that may possibly throw some 
additional light upon the personality of Mr. Grimes. 

In the latter portion of his life, when partisan spirit ran inconsiderately high, he 
was unjustly berated on account of the stand which he took against the impeacji- 


ment of President Andrew Johnson, but subsequent events and the sober second 
thought of the people have reversed the partisan judgment then pronounced against 
him and placed his name among the first of heroic statesmen. Of the seven Repub- 
lican United States Senators who voted against the impeachment, Mr. Grimes and 
William P. Fessenden were the most prominent. Between him and Mr. Fessen- 
den a close intimacy existed. Both were great men and amid the tumult of the 
hour exhibited a composure and reflection which served to avert a catastrophe to the 
country, that would have certainly followed if the impeachment had carried. I may 
say that such is the general judgment of the country today. The opposition which 
his position and vote on this question excited among the political leaders of his party, 
and some of his general views relating to the condition of the country and the cor- 
rupting political elements of the time, I have set forth in the sketch of General Fitz- 
Henry Warren, together with some of the correspondence that passed between Mr. 
Grimes and Mr. Fessenden, to which the reader is respectfully referred. 

In character and intellect he was profound; in temperament, imperturbable; in 
action, far-seeing and superlatively executive; taken all in all, he was perhaps the 
greatest statesman that has thus far been seen in Iowa history. He was the first 
Republican Governor in Iowa elected as a Whig, and the greatest single factor in 
achieving the first victory of the Republican party in the State. He was an able law- 
yer emd took a leading position at the bar, but his greatest sphere was that of a broad, 
strong and philosophic statesman. The abuse heaped upon him by party leaders on ac- 
count of his stand in the impeachment proceedings, the ingratitude exhibited by many 
of the men whom he had politically befriended, the misconception as to his reasons 
and motives, which then prevailed, denunciations of the organs of the party of which 
he had been the foremost builder, the bitter tirades against him of former political 
associates, doubtless had the effect of breaking down his health and bringing him to 
the grave. 

His economical habits and business sagacity led to the accumulation of consid- 
erable individual wealth for that time, but his amassments were the result of clean 
and honest ways, and all the wealth of the world, if laid at his feet, could not have 
induced him to do a corrupt or dishonest act. It was sometimes said that he was 
wanting in tender and sympathetic traits, but it is clearly shown by Dr. Salter in 
the work referred to, that this was a misconception of his real nature.* In the Iowa 
Historical Record of January, 1888, Mr. L. P. Winterstein relates a single in- 
stance confirmatory of Dr. Salter's estimate. He says: 

In the summer of 1837, my father, Nicholas Winterstein, settled on a claim a 
short distance above the little village of Burlington, in what was then called the 
Black Hawk Purchase. Owing to financial misfortunes growing out of security 
debts, his stock and farm were sold at sheriff's sale. Mr. Grimes, then a struggling 

* Note — Dr. Johnson was fortunate in having for his biographer, James 
Bos well; James W. Grimes was equally fortunate in having Dr. William Salter 
for his. 


young lawyer, attended the sale and bought the farm. The second day after, he 
sent word to my father to come and see him. He came and Mr. Grimes Insisted 
on turning over to him the fifteen head of cattle that had been purchased by him 
along ■with the farm at the sale. My father protested, but Mr. Grimes insisted, 
stating that he had sold the farm to a Mr. Westfall for enough to re-imburse him 
for the money he had paid and as the cattle had therefore cost him nothing, it was 
his duty and pleasure to give them to my father. He said that in fact Us motive 
in buying the farm was to save something for my father. My father was simply 
a chance aoauaintance who never figured in politics and who would never likely be 
able to repay the kindness in anything but friendship. 

That he was not a man of impulse, and that he was capable of deep and lasting 
opposition to men and measures he disliked, is beyond question. It is well known 
that he did not like Ben Wade nor Charles Sumner. There was no affinity between 
their make-up and his. Let me illustrate this by an instance. While he was in the 
Senate I had some business in Washington, which obliged me to go before Edwin 
M. Stanton, Mr. Lincoln's famous War Secretary, who had the reputation of being 
a man of moods, in some of which he was likely to give a visitor a rather fierce re- 
ception. I called upon Mr. Grimes and stated my object and my fears. He kind- 
ly volunteered to pave the way by going with me to Mr. Stanton, which he accord- 
ingly did. And so much has been said of the gruifness of Mr. Stanton, I may be 
pardoned for this divergence before coming to the main point. I was introduced by 
Mr. Grimes to Mr. Stanton with the remark by the former that I was the Reporter 
of the Supreme Court of Iowa. Mr. Stanton greeted me with the utmost kindness, 
remarking that he was once the Reporter of the Supreme Court of Ohio. I said 
I knew that and referred to "Stanton's Reports." I was treated throughout with 
perfect civility, and since I have made this divergence, I feel constrained to add 
another, which will serve to illustrate one of the opposite moods of Mr. Stanton and 
which was related to me by a nephew of Judge Thomas S. Wilson, Mr. B. Wells, 
who was Mr. Stanton's Private Secretary. Mr. Wells told me that one day he 
was sitting at the table with Mr. Stanton when a man who was seeking some ap- 
pointment within the scope of Secretary Stanton's administration, came with a note 
from Mr. Lincoln requesting the appointment of the bearer. Stanton took the note, 
read it and said very abruptly, "I shall not make the appointment." Whereupon 
the man said, "You see that the President has requested my appointment. What 
shall I tell him about your refusal to grant his request?" Stanton's reply was: 
"You can tell Mr. Lincoln that I say he is a darned fool in such matters." Where- 
upon the man returned to Mr. Lincoln and said, "Stanton refused to appoint me, 
ignored your recommendation and said you are a darned fool." Whereupon Mf. 
Lincoln said, "Well, my observation has been that Stanton is generally right in such 
matters." After this interview, I went to the Senate Chamber with Mr. Grimes 
and he pointed out to me several distinguished personages in that body. Pointing 
his finger, he said, "There is the greatest man in the Senate, WilUam P. Fessen- 
den." I said, "Where is Charles Sumner?" He pointed and said, "That is Sum- 
ner over there." I easily recognized him from the portraits I had seen. Mr. 


Grimes then said, '*I suppose you people out in Iowa think he is the greatest man in 
the Senate, but we think he is one of the smallest in this body. He is impracticable 
and lacks usefulness. He originates no measures, but simply makes two or three 
rather Sophomorical set-speeches during the session." His remarks certainly had 
an iconoclastic effect upon my previous opinion in respect to Mr. Sumner. 

There was not the slightest trace of vanity or superciliousness in Mr. Grimes' 
personality — not the slightest inclination to vaunt himself or his achievements. As 
confirmatory of this, I give a short memoir furnished by him in response to a request : 

There are no events in my lite wortliy of record. I have done nothing to dis- 
tinguish me above the great mass of my fellowmen. 

I was born in the town of Deering, Hillsboro County, New Hampshire, on the 
20th of October, 1816. My parents were John Grimes and Betsy Wilson, both of 
whom were born in the same town, and both sprung from Scotch-Irish parentage — 
the mother from the settlement at Londonderry, New Hampshire, and the father 
from a small band of Scotch-Irish Presbyterians, who settled in Boston in the 
early part of the eighteenth century. My father was a farmer. I was the youngest 
of a family of seven children. 

I was prepared for college at Hampton Academy, New Hampshire, then under 
the charge of Reverend Roswell Harris, and entered Dartmouth College in August, 
1832; remained in college two and a half years, and then commenced the study of 
the law with James Walker, Esq., in Peterboro, New Hampshire. I settled in Bur- 
lington — then Michigan, afterwards Wisconsin, and now Iowa — in May, 1836, and 
have resided here ever since. The Territory of Iowa was created July 4, 1838, and 
at the first election, in the month of August following, I was elected a member of 
the First General Assembly, and was chairman of the Judiciary Committee in the 
House of Representatives, all laws for the new Territory passing through my hands. 
I have been several times elected to the Territorial and State Legislatures, though 
1 have always been in a political minority in the county. 

In August, 1854, I was elected Governor of Iowa for the term of four years. In 
January, 1858, I was elected Senator of the United States from the State of Iowa 
for the term of six years from the 4th of March, 1859. 

I have done nothing and said nothing to justify you in placing my name in your 
book. I am only entitled to a place there, if at all, by the accident of my election 
to the Senate. 

His grandfather on his father's side was Francis Grimes, who settled at an 
early day near Boston, Massachusetts; and on his mother's side, David Wilson, 
who was a native of Londonderry, New Hampshire.* In studying Latin and 
Greek, his tutor was the Rev. Eber Child, pastor of the Congregational Church at 
Deering. He boarded with the pastor's family, and in order to show the kindly 
traits which lay at the bottom of Mr. Grimes' character, the following particulars 
respecting her husband's pupil are furnished by Mrs. Childs, his widow: 

Mr. Grimes was but a lad when I knew him, over forty years ago. But I can 
think of no young man out of my own family of whom I have such vivid recollec- 
tions. I remember the tones of his voice, and his smiling countenance. James 
always laughed with his eyes. He had a happy disposition, and an uncommon flow 
of spirits. I have no recollection of ever seeing him angry or put out at anything. 
If for nothing else, I should love his memory — he was so kind to my children. He 
would often undress our youngest child, and put him in his cradle— to hear him 
sing his lullaby. After the child's death he went to his scrap-book and cut out some 

* Note — His middle initial indicated his mother's side of the house. 


beautiful lines written over the grave of a child of his age. I kept them a great 
many years. He did not like his studies, still I think he always got his lessons. 
My husband thought a great deal of James, and was proud to hear of his success 
in life. When my husband died (December, 1847), I was left in a land of strangers, 
with my family of little ones, to get through the world as best I could. But 
the God of the widow and the fatherless has never forsaken me. My husband left 
a small farm of unimproved land in Rock Prairie, Wisconsin, but mortgaged for all 
it was worth at the time of his death. I managed to clear the incumbrance, and 
went on it to make a home. I needed money, and wrote Mr. Grimes asking a loan 
of a hundred dollars, to which he readily responded. In his letters to me he never 
alluded to self in any shape, only the state of his health and his family, but always 
remembered his old friends and relations with unabated interest and affection. 
In one he said, "Could you see my gray hair and wrinkled face, you would not 
recall the gay, rollicking boy I used to be." In the dark hours of the Nation's 
peril, when I read, in a description of the Senate, "There is Senator Grimes — he is 
always found in the right place," I thought, James has not altered any. The 
boy is father to the man. When the disappointment of "impeachment" flashed 
over the land, I told a neighbor I was confident there was one that decided accord- 
ing to the evidence. I knew Mr. Grimes and his father before him, and he had 
not swerved from what he thought was right and duty. 

In further confirmation of his natural kindliness, I beg leave to call attention 
to the letter from Mr. Grimes, introducing me to Major-General Grenville M. 
Dodge, near the close of the Civil War, contained in the annexed note. General 
Dodge was in command of the Department of Missouri. Young Miller, a soldier 
and son of a respectable farmer of my county of Wapello, had under pressing con- 
ditions committed an offense, for which he was court-martialed and sentenced to the 
military prison. I was induced by his father and other friends to go to St. Louis 
and intercede for his pardon. I was a young man not known to General Dodge, 
but slightly acquainted with Senator Grimes. He was under no sort of obligation 
to me, but I ventured on my way to St. Louis to call at Burlington and ask for such 
a letter of introduction to General Dodge as he might be pleased to give me. He 
generously gave me the letter referred to, which enabled me to accomplish the ob- 
ject of my mission.* 

In the sketch of General Fitz-Henry Warren, I have gone more extensively into 
the partisan feeling against Mr. Grimes on account of his vote on the impeachment 
question, than I have here. But in addition to the opposition against him on ac- 
count of this, his attitude on some questions connected with what was then called 

„ * N,°*?~: ^ , Burlington, Iowa, May 19, 1865. 

General G. M. Dodge, United States Army. 

My Dear Sir: I beg herewith to introduce to your favorable attention and 
consideration, E. H. Stiles, Esq., of Ottumwa, Wapello County, in this State Mr 
Stiles IS a prominent lawyer in our State, represented his county in the last Gen- 
eral Assembly of the State and is a gentleman of worth and deserves your con- 
sideration. He visits St. Louis in the interest of some young Iowa soldier who 
has been committed by a court-martial and sentenced to the penitentiary I know 
nothing of the facts except as he details them to me, but now that the law has 
been vindicated by his conviction, I hope you will be able in consonance with your 
sense of justice and military discipline to aid Mr. Stiles in accomplishing the 
purpose of his trip to your city. I am, 5 >- ■= 

Very truly, . Your obedient servant, 

James W. Grimes. 


"Reconstruction" in the Southern states and especially as to unlimited and unqual- 
ified negro suffrage, furnished occasion for small and violent politicians to impune 
his party fealty ; and it was pretty well understood that he was opposed to making 
that question a political issue in the State. 

Under these conditions, the Republican Convention of 1 865 met at Des Moines 
on the 1 4th of June. I was a member of that convention and took the floor to oppose 
the fourth resolution of the platform reported by the committee, which recommended 
the amendment of the State Constitution by striking out the word "White" in the 
article on Suffrage. Hiram Price, who had been an old-time radical abolitionist 
and who would have been a fierce fire-eater if he had belonged to the South, was 
a member of the Committee on Resolutions and undoubtedly the author of that 
plank. He probably thought that I was only a partially converted fledgling who 
had been reared in the Democratic school of politics, and attempted to and prob- 
ably did sit down upon me in a very scathing and heated speech in reply to my own, 
to which I rejoined in the same spirit. The result was considerable heat in the 
convention, but the platform and report were eventually carried. I was that fall 
nominated as the Republican candidate for Senator from Wapello County, and, of 
course, had to stand by the platform. The contest was very close and I knew that 
if I were elected it would be only by a slight majority, as Wapello County had a 
record for being one of the banner Democratic Counties of the State. Under these 
circumstances I desired the utmost political harmony, and learning that reports were 
being circulated that Mr. Grimes was lukewarm, on account of the Negro Suffrage 
Plank alluded to, I wrote him concerning his attitude and received from him the 
following reply, which speaks for itself and indicates very definitely what his polit- 
ical views were: 

Burlington, September 14, 1865. 

My Dear Sir: I am astonistied to learn as I do by your letter of tbe 12th instant 
that anyone has asserted or believed for one moment that I do not fully, freely 
and as enthusiastically as I am capable of doing it, support the entire Republican 
ticket in the pending canvass. You say the report is that I am indifferent to the 
result "on account of the uncalled for and unwise action of the Union Convention 
on the suffrage question." I certainly did regard that action as uncalled for and 
impolitic, and had I been a member of the convention, I would have opposed the 
introduction into the platform of any new issue upon any subject however just I 
might believe the principle to be. I would have opposed it because I believe 
that there has been no time during the last four years when it was more necessary 
that the union party of the nation should present an unbroken front and stand 
as a unit than at the present moment, and I would have done nothing — consented 
to nothing, that would have a tendency to repel a single voter from a support of 
the union party which is the support of the Union itself. * * * 

The very fact that in my view the convention erred by introducing a local 
issue into the canvass when the minds of the people are very properly engrossed 
by the transcendently great national issues pressing upon them, so far from 
begetting "indifference" would give me much greater anxiety as to the result of 
the election and would call forth a corresponding exertion did not I know that the 
people of Iowa thoroughly understand the questions before them and cannot be 
diverted from their support of the government by any side issue like that of 


negro suffrage In this State. There is not an intelligent man in the State who 
does not perfectly comprehend all of the subjects legitimately embraced in this 

Wounded almost to the death by the ingratitude and abuse of many of the 
leaders of the party of which he had been the most prominent builder ; disgusted by 
the official corruption and venality of the times and of some of the members of his 
own party with whom he would have to affiliate — in short, for the reasons stated in 
his letter to Mr. Fessenden, October, 1 869, to be found in the Warren sketch re- 
ferred to — ^he resigned his seat in the Senate and went to Europe with the hope that 
the change would benefit his declining health. He remained abroad two years and 
returned in apparently improved health and spirits in September, 1871 ; but in the 
following February he was suddenly stricken with an attack of the heart and died in 
a few hours. 

In addition to what has been said of him in Salter's "Life," and herein, allusions 
have been made to him by Judge Mason, Mr. Woods, Professor Parvin and Judge 
Springer in connection with my sketches of those personages. I may add the fol- 
lowing conversation I had yesterday (December 3, 1911) respecting him with Ex- 
United States Circuit Judge Henry C. Caldwell, who took occasion to say: "As a 
rule public speakers convert no one; they simply serve to awaken interest and to stir 
enthusiasm; they rarely change the judgment; but to this general rule I have known 
two exceptions, one was in respect to James W. Grimes, and the other Samuel J. 
Kirkwood. The speeches of these men were at once so logical, persuasive and 
convincing as to occasionally convert hearers of the opposite political faith." 

The gifted Benton J. Hall, a great lawyer, a Democratic Congressman, and 
Commissioner of Patents under President Cleveland, and who was a long-life polit- 
ical opponent of Senator Grimes, said of him in the State Senate of which Mr. Hall 
was then a member: 

Perhaps no other man had the opportunity, or used it with the avail that 
Senator Grimes did to form and mould the State and its institutions. He was one 
of the living men in the territorial legislation and early state history. Afterwards 
we find the same master mind moulding the affairs of the National Government. 
I doubt whether any Senator ever impressed himself in a greater degree upon the 
Government in all directions. Whether in regard to the navy, or army, or foreign 
relations, he made himself master of the subject, and left his impress upon almost 
every page of the history of the Nation. 

His name will be associated with that of Iowa so long as Iowa has a history. 

He left no descendants. 

Ralph P. Lowe. 

Ralph P. Lowe, the fourth Governor of the State, was Chief Justice of the 
Supreme Court of the State when I became the Reporter of its decisions. Before 
his accession to that bench, he had served with distinction as Judge of the District 
Court of the First District from 1852 to 1857, when he resigned to enter upon his 
office as Governor, to which he had been elected. He was the first Governor under 


the new constitution. He served but one term, being succeeded by Samuel J. Kirk- 
wood. Why he was not nominated for a second term instead of Governor Kirk- 
wood may be easily told. When the nominating convention met in 1859, there 
were evident presages of the great conflict that was to ensue between the North and 
South, and it was feared by those who did not thoroughly know Governor Lowe 
that his apparently docile and lovable qualities were not equal to the great emer- 
gencies that were likely to ensue. Charles Aldrich has thus lucidly summed up the 

Ralph P. Lowe succeeded James W. Grimes as Governor of Iowa In 1858. Mr. 
Lowe had served in the first Constitutional Convention (1844), and In other useful 
and honorable positions. His name is often met with in the public journals of 
early Iowa. He had become so generally known and esteemed that he was 
easily nominated for the Governorship by the Republicans in 1857. In this high 
office he made an excellent record, and had the "piping times of peace" promised 
to continue he would undoubtedly have been renominated for a second term, in 
accordance with the political precedents of those days. Personally, he combined 
a gentle graciousness of manner with high dignity. He immediately placed every 
one who came into his presence at ease. He was a reliable and abiding friend, 
wherever his friendship was bestowed. His portrait in the Capitol, from the easel 
of George H. Yewell, shows a most kindly face and one to be wholly trusted. How- 
he would have succeeded had he become "War Governor" of Iowa can at this time 
be but a matter of opinion, and opinions upon the subject are not likely to be 
called out at this late day. Those, however, who knew him well had the highest 
confidence in his ability to meet any emergency likely to arise. But if the clouds 
of war were not already gathering in the Southern horizon when the State 
Convention of the dominant party assembled at Des Moines in 1859, there were 
many alarming portents of the great crisis which came in 1861. Previous to its 
assemblage there had been some discussion relative to the fitness of Governor 
Lowe for the stern emergencies not unlikely to arise. Kirkwood came into the 
State in 1855, but during these four years he had given evidence of the possession 
of great ability both in the State Senate and upon the stump. He had become in 
a large degree a popular representative of the feeling and determination of loyal 
Iowa. But Governor Lowe was not disposed to stand aside for any man. An 
early settler of the State, one who had been largely influential from the start, 
it seemed to him in the matter of just deserts, no man ought to stand before him. 
In contrast with him Mr. Kirkwood was comparatively a newcomer. But the 
feeling in favor of Mr. Kirkwood developed very rapidly upon the gathering of 
the delegates in Des Moines. Among other powerful influences, according to 
Henry W. Lathrop, his biographer, he had the powerful support of Ex-Governor 
Grimes. It soon became a matter of great doubt whether Mr. Lowe could be re- 
nominated — for the simple reason above stated. At this juncture his name was 
proposed for Judge of the Supreme Court and it immediately became apparent 
that if he would accept it there would be no question of his nomination. The 
matter was presented to him, and though he was at first most reluctant to yield his 
claims to the executive office, he finally gave his consent, and so both men were 
nominated — Mr. Kirkwood for Governor and Mr. Lowe for Judge of our highest 
court. In this latter position Governor Lowe drew the short term, and became 
Chief Justice January 12, 1860. He was re-elected in 1861, serving until January 1, 
1868. He was Chief Justice in 1860, 1861, 1866 and 1867. 

As for my own part, I coincide in the opinion of those who knew him best, that 
he would have been fully equal to the stirring events that occurred and borne him- 
self successfully through the crisis he would have been called upon to pass, for while 
he was one of the most amiable of men, the events of his life from its earliest period 

* Note— Annals of Iowa, Third Series, Vol. 4, p. 547. 


clearly showed that he was also one of the most heroic. Some of these events have 
been depicted by Theodore S. Parvin as given in connection with my sketch of that 
gentleman. With those who were not fully acquainted with Governor Lowe's 
antecedents and with his innate bravery, it is not strange that they should have 
feared that he might lack in qualities necessary for the hour. I can say without 
hesitation, he was in his everyday life and bearing, the gentlest of men ; and yet, as 
many occurrences in his history demonstrate, he was perfectly fearless and quick to 
resent and punish affronts,* so much so that Judge Wright in his jocular manner 
frequently used to refer to him as "the fighting member of the Court." He was as 
guileless as a child, a believer in the common honesty of men and treated everybody 
on that principle until he found out otherwise. Though a Presbyterian, he was 
charitable to the opinions of men who might differ with him. He was instinct with 
human kindness and dispensed with an open hand to the needy and suffering. I 
think if any man deserves deification in these respects, it is Ralph P- Lowe. In his 
whole career, under the fire of political opponents, not a single word or act derog- 
atory to his excellence could be found against him. 

He was not only one of the first, but one of the greatest lawyers of Muscatine, 
not only of Muscatine, but of the Territory and State. Hawkins Taylor, writing 
of the early period, says of him: "Lowe ranked as the first lawyer in that part of 
the state at that time." Just when he came to Muscatine has been left in some 
doubt. Governor Gue places it in 1 840, but I think it is clear from contempora- 
neous data that it was in 1 838. In a sketch of Stephen Whicher, by George 
Meason-Whicher, appearing in Volume 4, Third Series of the Annals of Iowa, 
there appears a letter written by Stephen Whicher, dated November 1 4, I 838, in 
which he says: "Messrs. Lowe and Douglass arrived here about a week ago. They 
were both in good health and spirits and have both made purchases here." 

He was born in Warren County, Ohio, in 1805, and was a graduate of Miami 
University. He became prominent as a lawyer and a participator in public affairs 
soon after his settlement in Muscatine, then known as Bloomington. In 1 844, he 
was a member of the First Constitutional Convention, in which he took a prominent 
part and exercised a controlling influence. He was subsequently District Attorney, 
then District Judge, then Judge and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, then Gov- 
ernor, and then again. Judge and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. He removed 
to Washington City in 1 874, where he resumed the practice, devoting a portion of 
his time in the prosecution of a claim of the State of Iowa against the Federal Gov- 
ernment, which accrued during the period of his administration as Governor. He 
died in that city on Saturday, December 22, 1883. at the age of seventy-eight 

* Note-Por instances illustrating this, see Address of Governor C C Carnenter 
m Proceedmgs of Pioneer Law Makers' Association, 1892, p. 37. i-arpenter 


years. On the occurrence of that event, Buren R. Sherman, then Governor of 
Iowa, issued a proclamation announcing his death in the following language : 

Ex-Governor Lowe was a lover of his country and a diligent and faithful servant 
of the people. In the prime of his life he was called to serve in earnest political 
contests, but in his old age the asperities of the past were forgotten and he enjoyed 
the sincere respect of men of all parties — a tribute fairly won by his sterling 
worth as a man. In respect to his memory it is hereby ordered that the national 
flag be displayed at half mast on the State Capitol and the Executive Department 
be closed on the day of the funeral. 

He was one of the organizers of the First Presbyterian Church of Muscatine 
in 1 845, and was elected as one of its first Trustees. He was one of the organizers 
of the State Orphan Asylum in 1 863. In I 845, he joined with others in a petition 
to President Polk protesting against the appointment of non-residents as Executive 
Officers of the Territory. As a member of the Board of Education which con- 
vened in its first session in December, 1858, he rendered useful services to the 
State. T. B. Perry, who was also a member of the Board, says: "He gave the 
subject of education his hearty support and was an active Member of the Board."* 
In 1845, he was the Whig candidate for delegate in Congress; but the territory 
wcis then largely Democratic and he was defeated by his opponent. General A. C. 
Dodge. In every position he served the people with the greatest fidelity and no man 
deserves a more affectionate remembrance at their hands than he. A contributor to 
the "State Register" of January 9, 1885, thus speaks of him: "Lowe seemed 
fated to ill-fortune in finance and his fame rests on his native kindness of heart and 
deep religious convictions, which were a key to his popularity as a Citizen, Governor 
and Supreme Judge. Equity was to him as the 'higher law' before which quacks 
and legal quibbles were swept away. He felt ill-used in the denial of a second 
gubernatorial term, but manifested a greater desire for self-respect than for the fame 
of an adroit political manager, thus gaining more in admiration for his high charac- 
ter than he lost by political misfortune. Grimes and Lowe served the state in 
moulding its political opinions and inaugurating its fiscal state policy with ease, skill 
and patriotic devotion. Over their graves there is no imputation of dishonor." 

I am tempted to here relate an incident illustrative of Judge Lowe, which should 
properly have intervened before this point in the narrative. During the course of an 
argument before the Supreme Court, while he was Chief Justice, a certain Burlmg- 
ton lawyer had been sarcastically severe on his opponent, and the latter, in his reply 
retorted with still greater severity on the Burlington lawyer, in the course of which 
he applied to him a quotation from Shakespeare. Whereupon, the latter, who was 
noted for his irascibility, smarting under the castigation, asked the Court to call him 
down on the ground that he was traveling out of the record and that his remarks 
were too personal. "No," blandly remarked the Chief Justice, "Shakespeare is 
always in order in this Court." 

* Note — Annals of Iowa, Third Series, Vol. 3, p. 203. 


Samuel J. KirliTfood. 

Concerning Samuel J. Kirkwood, the fifth Governor of the State, so much has 
been written that has become a part of the historical literature of the State, that I 
shall attempt to give only a mere outline of his career and the personal impressions 
that I received from seeing and becoming acquainted with him. The first time I 
saw him was in a notable period and on a notable occasion. It was in the Iowa 
Gubernatorial Campaign of 1859, when he and General Augustus C. Dodge were 
opposing candidates for Governor. It was in the old Courthouse at Ottumwa, the 
scene of so many early public events. It was when the question as to whether 
slavery might or might not be extended into the territories was every day deepening 
and intensifying. The men themselves were in most respects the personal antipodes 
of each other. Kirkwood had been reared in a different school. He had no 
tinge of the old regime, no aristocratic traits, none of the tone or discipline of army 
associations or southern manners. He was homely in dress, farmer-like in personal 
appearance, blunt and sledge-hammer-like in speech and expression. 

General Dodge was in striking contrast with Governor Kirkwood in these char- 
acteristics, as well as in personal appearance, as will be seen in my sketch of him. 

As touching the personal appearance of Governor Kirkwood, I may confirm 
and illustrate my impressions of him by the following quotation from the remarks of 
W. H. M. Pusey, former State Senator and member of Congress before the Pioneer 
Law-Makers' Association in 1 892, touching the Senate of the 7th General Assem- 
bly, of which Senator Pusey was a member: "The Standing Committees were 
announced, and I found myself placed, among other committees, on the Committee 
on Banks. At the close of the morning session, an old farmer back in the corner 
of the old Senate Chamber, arose, offering a resolution instructing the Committee on 
Banks to bring in two kinds of bills, going into particulars as to the restriction, 
scope and power of that Legislature. I turned to a friend of mine and remarked, 
'Who is that Senator?', and says he, 'He is an old farmer that don't know anything 
about banking. Let's just go for him.' And thereupon there was instituted a very 
lively debate which covered the whole question and scope of banks, and the finances 
and condition of our State, and the result was, a resolution or instruction was passed 
as a compliment to that old farmer, and he was unanimously put upon the Commit- 
tee on Banks. My informant, who was the young and guileless Judge H. H. Trim- 
ble, and myself, found that there was but one thing more exciting than hunting a 
Statesman who happened to have farmer's clothes on, and that was when the States- 
man turned around and hunted you. That farmer was Samuel J. Kirkwood." 

In the course of time I became quite intimately acquainted with Governor Kirk- 
wood. As a member of the State Senate in 1 866, I ardently supported him in his 
notable contest with James Harlan for the United States Senatorship — for both the 


long and short term of which I have already given some account in my sketches of 
James Harlan and Clark Dunham, elsewhere found in this work. 

As my be inferred from what has been said. Governor Kirkwood was exceed- 
ingly plain and old-fashioned in appearance, dress and manners. He was also 
plain and old-fashioned in his characteristics, and as independent as he was old- 
fashioned. He lived in the prohibition period (more nominal than real in the large 
cities of the State) but he had been used to the toddies of the earlier period and 
carried a little of the material along to meet emergencies in his campaigns, and was 
not afraid to have it known. He was too strong to be either frightened or injured. 
I remember that on one occasion two or three of his friends accompanied him from 
the Courthouse in Ottumwa after he had closed his speech, to his room in the Bal- 
lingall Hotel, to which he had invited us. After we were ushered in and seated, he 
opened a large, old-fashioned leather valise and pulled out a flask, saying that he 
always carried a little along and invited us to take a drink. But few public men 
would have had the courage to do this, but he was too fearless and independent to 
deviate from this old and comfortable habit, which he never abused. Iowa had 
cinother Governor equally as independent in that respect, in the person of John 
Henry Gear. As a matter of fact. Governor Kirkwood was firmly opposed to 
general and absolute prohibition throughout the State, for the reason that he be- 
lieved the measure to be "more honored in the breach than in the observance," so 
far as the large centers of population were concerned. He was in favor of letting 
each community decide for itself under the principle of local option. At the State 
Republican Convention, over which Ex-United States Senator James F. Wilson 
presided (I do not recollect the year) the presiding officer vehemently urged that 
the most radical ground should be taken by the convention on that subject, and a 
Constitutional Amendment recommended. A suitable Committee on Resolutions 
was selected for that purpose, and the convention adjourned until afternoon. In the 
meantime I happened to meet Governor Kirkwood on the sidewalk in front of the 
Savery House (now I believe, the Kirkwood House.) Our views coincided as to 
the ultimate effect of this radical measure on the Republican Party in the State; he 
urged me as a member of the convention to take ground and make a speech in oppo- 
sition to the report of the committee should it prove to be of the radical character 
anticipated. It proved to be of that character, but I recognized that the tide was 
too strong to be overcome by any opposition that could be made against it. I may 
add, however, that the fears of Governor Kirkwood and others of his views were 
realized in the subsequent defeat of the Republican Party and the election of Gov- 
ernor Boies, because of its persistency in the line indicated, and this result would 
have been repeated had the party continued on the same line instead of modifying 
the prohibitory rule by the enactment of the so-called Mulct law. I have men- 
tioned these facts for the purpose of showing Governor Kirkwood, his views and 
independence, as they really were instead of glossing the subject over. He was 


one of the prominent organizers of the Republican party in Iowa. At its first con- 
vention many earnest and sincere men of Iowa strongly urged upon it the endorse- 
ment of prohibition of the liquor traffic and a large body of the anti-slavery wing of 
the old Whig party strongly urged a protective tariff. On the contrary, it was 
urged by men like Kirkwood and men holding his views that as the party was organ- 
ized on the broad principle of opposition to the extension of slavery, embracing men 
of diverse views on minor questions, if an attempt was made to incorporate such 
minor issues in the platform, a union was impossible, and defeat on the one great 
cause of national freedom would be inevitable. Upon this broad platform it was 

He became and is known as the "Old War Governor of Iowa," and well he 
earned that title. Among all the distinguished War Governors of the North 
during that period, he was probably the most distinguished for his constant and un- 
wearied efforts. Under him there were organized and sent to the field more than 
60,000 Iowa soldiers whose welfare he looked after with supreme and affectionate 
care. I cannot, of course, go into details concerning these efforts. They are to 
some extent embraced in copies of letters, official, semi-official and private, written 
by him during the war to numerous people of all degrees and conditions, from the 
President down to the most forlorn private in the guard-house. They embrace al- 
most every conceivable subject relating to the War. Some are answers to wives im- 
ploring news of husbands absent, perhaps in Southern prisons; some applying for 
interposition for release from federal imprisonment for disloyalty; some are recom- 
mendations for appointment to government positions; many contain words of com- 
fort and encouragement for the sick, wounded and weary at the front ; some are firm 
warnings to refractory officials; some conciliating appeals to regimental field offi- 
cers to harmonize differences between themselves and subordinates; some promises 
of immediate or future promotion ; a few stern refusals of favor, and some plain, but 
still eloquent, vindications of the fame of Iowa soldiers. The Governor was jeal- 
ously watchful of the fair name of the State and her troops, as is shown by these 
letters, and if any slight or dishonor were attempted to be put upon the most inferior 
of the brave men from Iowa, he raised over him the broad shield of state executive 
protection.* * 

Many of these letters will be found set forth in the July, 1 886, October, 1 886, 
and January, 1887, numbers of the Iowa Historical Record, to which the reader is 
referred. Some others will be found in Volume three. Third Series of the Annals 
of Iowa, page 308. In this connection I shall not fail to state that in all his efforts 
of organizing, providing for and looking after the Iowa soldiery he was aided by 

. * mV?'-.^c?®'? "^^l^^ °J^ ^^^ "^"^ ^^^ Death of Theodore Guelich," Annals of 
Iowa, Third Series, Vol. 1, p. 48. 

**Iowa Historial Record, July, 1886, pp. 321, 322. 


cui Adjutant-General who won national distinction in that position. It was General 
Nathaniel B. Baker, formerly the young Governor of New Hampshire, and Speaker 
of its House, who came to Iowa at a comparatively early day and attained even 
higher and more general distinction than he had in his native State. Ex-Governor 
B. F. Gue has left us a fine paper on General Baker, which will be found in the 
Annals of Iowa, Third Series, Volume 1 , Page 81. In the course of this article, 
speaking of Kirkwood and Baker, in this connection he says: 

During the War of the Rehellion, two Iowa men, each in a sphere to whicli 
he had been called, achieved national reputation for patriotic services of the 
highest character. I refer to Samuel J. Kirkwood and Nathaniel B. Baker whom 
he selected in that stupendous emergency for the arduous duties of Adjutant- 
General. Each was the natural adjunct or complement of the other. Kirkwood, 
though he did not see a day in school after he was fourteen years of age, had 
become a profound lawyer, possessing wide knowledge of men and affairs, although 
he had spent many of his mature years in rural life. In "the summers of long ago" 
he was a barefoot boy on a Maryland farm. He therefore understood as one "to 
the manor bom" the works and ways, the inner life, the instinctive patriotism of 
the masses of his countrymen. He went about his work coolly and steadily, making 
few mistakes, always meeting emergencies, and never failing to gain and retain 
the confidence of the people. Baker, on the other hand, was a man of action, whose 
impulses were as prompt and instant as they were patriotic. Whatever the 
exigency, or however suddenly it arose, he saw at once, as by intuition, the 
course to be pursued. To a nature at once kindly and generous, for he was a born 
philanthropist, a lover of his race, he united the highest type of the executive 
officer. His equal in the management of the largest affairs, or the smallest details, 
has never appeared in our State, and but seldom in the Nation. On one occasion 
the writer saw him hurriedly paying out coin, early in the War, when hard money 
was still plenty, to a dozen different men, apparently without memoranda. He 
had such ways of transacting business, with little red tape, and yet he never made 
mistakes, or failed to account for the last cent. His accounts remain models of 
system and accuracy. 

Governor Kirkwood was born in Hartford County, Maryland, in 1813. When 
ten years of age he went to Washington, D. C, and was placed in a school con- 
ducted by his uncle, John McLeod, where he remained for four years. He then 
became a clerk and was for several years in a drug store at the National Capital. He 
subsequently taught school in York County, Pennsylvania, for several seasons. In 
1835 the family removed to Richland County, Ohio. Here he assisted his father 
and brother in clearing a farm. In 1 84 1 he commenced the study of law in the 
office of Thomas W. Bartley, and was admitted to the Bar of the Supreme Court 
of Ohio in 1 843. In 1 845 he was elected on the Democratic ticket. Prosecuting 
Attorney of the County, serving with ability in that position for four years. In 
1 850 he was elected as a delegate to the new Constitutional convention, which met 
at Columbus and framed the Constitution of Ohio. He took an active part in its 
deliberations. He practiced law successfully in Ohio for twelve years — from 1 843 
to 1855. In the latter year he came to Iowa, purchasing a farm near Iowa City. 
He subsequently acquired an interest in a large flouring mill on the Iowa River. 

He commenced his political life as a Democrat and continued to co-operate with 
that party until the great slavery agitation produced by the Kansas-Nebraska Act 


and the repeal of the Missouri compromise. In the breaking-up of party afiilia- 
tions caused thereby, he at once associated himself with those who were founding 
the Republican party. He was one of its prominent organizers and joined in the 
call for the first State Convention of that party, which was held at Iowa City on the 
22d of February, 1856. He was chosen as a delegate from Johnson County to 
that convention. He was one of the most impressive speakers of that historic 
meeting and it immediately brought him into prominence as one of its most influen- 
tial leaders. In the fall of that year he was chosen State Senator from Johnson 
County and his services in that body brought him into still further notice. At the 
close of his Senatorial term he was nominated by the Republican party as its can- 
didate for Governor. He was elected over his Democratic opponent. General A. C. 
Dodge, by a vote of 3,000 majority. At the end of that term he was re-elected 
and served as Governor of Iowa for four years, from January, 1 860, to January, 
1 864. 

During his terra as Governor he was appointed by President Lincoln, Minister 
to Denmark. His appointment was confirmed by the Senate, but Governor Kirk- 
wood declined to accept. In 1 866 he was elected by the Legislature United States 
Senator to fill the unexpired term of Mr. Harlan, a vacancy caused by the appoint- 
ment of Senator Harlan to a seat in the Cabinet. In 1875 he was again elected 
for Governor of Iowa, and before the expiration of his term, was chosen United 
States Senator by the Legislature. Before his term as United States Senator ex- 
pired, he was appointed, on the accession of President Garfield, Secretary of the In- 
terior, and continued in this position until the assassination of that President. Be- 
ing then well along in years, he retired to private life at his home in Iowa City. His 
period of public service had been long and arduous and no man has ever served his 
State eind Country with more fidelity. 

In 1 892 a large number of his old associates and admirers, embracing some of 
the most prominent men in the State, and composed of Democrats as well as Re- 
publicans, assembled to honor him at his home. It was a notable and noble ex- 
pression of the lofty esteem in which this unalloyed old patriot was held. 

He died at Iowa City in 1894, in the eighty-first year of his age, leaving the 
legacy of a career that will enrich his memory and the annals of the State through- 
out all its future history. As the end drew near in anticipation of the assembled 
throng that would honor his remains, he might have said as Mirabeau did when his 
own end approached, that he could almost hear the preparations for the funeral of 
Achilles, for m his obsequies were reverentially mingled, regardless of party creeds, 
promment men from all parts of the State, and its press in like manner poured forth 
unstmted eulogies of the grand old man. The surviving soldiers whom he had 
equipped for the great war fairly worshipped him. 


I have briefly referred to his force as a public speaker. I may add that he was 
not only one of the most popular, but effective ones. He was neither imaginative, 
brilliant nor sentimental, but what he lacked in these respects he made up in strength 
and illustrativeness of argument. He was as plain in speech as in manner. He 
employed no tropes of oratory, but told virile anecdotes and made apt illustrations 
that were far more convincing. The "common people," as Mr. Lincoln called 
them, liked to hear him, and he drew them in crowds to his meetings. What Justin 
McCarthy has said of Sir William Harcourt might be fittingly applied to Governor 

He had a good voice, and never gave his hearer the trouble of having to strain 
their ears or their attention to follow him. His arguments were never subtle 
enough to puzzle the simplest country genUeman for one moment. His quotations 
had no distracting novelty about them, but fell on the ear with a familiar and 
friendly sound. His jokes were unmistakable in their meaning; his whole style 
was good strong black and white. 

William M. Stone. 

William M. Stone, the sixth Governor of the State, succeeded Governor Kirk- 
wood. I have spoken of Governor Kirkwood as the great War Governor of the 
State, but to some extent, honors should be divided between him and Governor 
Stone, for when the latter took his seat in January, 1864, the war was far from 
being closed, and Governor Stone ably took up and carried on the work that per- 
tained to the field, along the same lines that his predecessor had, and in conjunction 
with the same splendidly equipped Adjutant-General Nathaniel B. Baker. 

Governor Stone was a man of remarkable talents. With but few aids he had 
fought his way up from obscurity and poverty to a position of distinction. He was 
very tall, his presence commanding and his confidence in himself supreme. His 
education had not been a liberal one, but he could both speak and write with el- 
egance. Upon the hustings he was one of the most effective political orators that 
the State has ever had. In his personal and familiar bearings he was sometimes 
thought by the critical as lacking in that sense of dignity properly incident to one 
occupying his position, and that sometimes he was not only a little "rude of speech," 
but a little unseemly. This may be accounted for by the fact that he was uncon- 
ventional in manners, highly social in disposition, talked with everybody regardless 
of rank, that he was a wonderful story teller, and some of his stories, like some of 
those of Mr. Lincoln would hardly bear telling in the drawing-room. 

On the platform, addressing a vast political audience, his bearing became lofty, 
his attitudes graceful, his utterances, propelled by a powerful voice and well meas- 
ured in good English, stirring and effective. On the rostrum or in the forum, he 

♦History of Our Own Time, Vol. 4, p. 336. 


talked in much the same style as he wrote; and what that style was is happily 
shown in the following quotations from his inaugural address to the Tenth General 
Assembly : 

For nearly three years this deplorable war, inaugurated by the mad treason 
and ambition of Southern men, has progressed with its varied results. Though 
disaster has sometimes overtaken our advancing columns, the triumps which have 
crowned their heroic efforts, in the glorious cause of the country, have far out- 
weighed all the reverses they have sustained. We have penetrated the insurgent 
country from almost every point, by land and sea, and rescued from their grasp 
the most productive and populous States of the South. Today the ancient flag 
waves again from the battered walls of Sumpter. The rebel armies, defeated and 
demoralized, are being rapidly driven to a common center; their currency worthless 
and their credit gone; their pretended jurisdiction reduced to nearly one-third 
of its original limits, and a surplus population crowded within them to subsist upon 
their meager harvests; impending death or exile to the leaders, ruined fortunes 
and desolated homes to the unwilling masses — this is the end of treason and the 
doom of traitors. There is no longer middle ground where loyal men can stand 
and find refuge from the stern and positive obligations of the hour. The times 
are fraught with mighty events, involving the welfare of the present and future 
generations and impose the most solemn duties upon every patriot in the land. 
It is not the mere dominion of a political party, nor territory, nor empire, but 
liberty, and the eternal principles of natural justice, born of God and under him 
established on this continent by our fathers, which are staked upon the issues of 
the struggle. It needs no words of mine to show that the vigorous and successful 
prosecution of this war is life to the Republic, in which to hesitate for a single 
hour, upon any pretext whatever, or stop short of the unconditional recognition of 
the federal authority by all the revolted States would be but a hollow truce and 
death to our nationality. 

Great and holy Interests are involved in the contest. There is no longer any 
hope of their preservation by the ordinary modes of adjustment. They are, there- 
fore, to be saved or lost by the arbitrament of battle. In the terrible ordeal through 
which we are passing, many old conditions are likely to be rejected and some things 
which have been, may not be again, but the patriotic heart may find reasons for 
its faith, that all such as are good and substantial will he retained and consecrated 
In the new life of the Nation. Let us hope that enemies in the disguise of 
friends will never occupy the high places of power; that the people's treasury will 
not again be robbed by official hands; their arms, their arsenals and fortifications 
turned against their own government; that the blighting curse of human slavery 
will no longer receive protection by the statutes of the land, nor exist in any form 
under the national flag, and that traitors may never again sit In the council 
chambers of the Nation, nor plot their treason beneath the dome of its Capitol. 
Let us pray to a righteous God that such scenes may never again stain the coming 
annals of the Republic, and If need be that the havoc of bloody, desolating war 
may abate not until the day of regeneration shall come. 

Again, in speaking of the emancipation proclamation and the events which led 
up to and justified it: 

The period at length arrived when, to insure success to our arms and make 
the overthrow of the Rebellion a speedy and certain event, an effectual blow at 
this formidable element of rebel power was imperatively demanded. Our authority 
over the subject was broad and ample and the necessity for the step no longer 
doubtful. Why hesitate to terminate the War and save the Union by losing slavery? 
It became obvious that amid the throes of this mighty revolution, one or the 
other must go down. The Union and slavery cannot both be saved from the wreck, 
for the same power which rescues the one must inevitably crush the other Which 
is the more valuable for preservation? After all its manif'^ld crimes agafnst Ey 
and humanity against God and his holy laws, what claim has slavery upon this 
Government for protection and perpetuity? To this reckoning hid the Nation 
come on the 1st day of January, 1863. iNaiion 


I thank Almighty God that at this momentous juncture we had a man at the 
helm of this Government who fully realized the situation and possessed the sublime 
courage to perform his duty and place the seal o£ condemnation irrevocably and 
forever upon this convicted criminal of mankind. The deed is done; the righteous 
judgment has been pronounced, and from his honest heart the author tells us "it 
cannot be retracted." No earthly power can send back to slavery 3,000,000 of 
freedmen, for between them and such power stand more than 20,000,000 of other 
men to defend the broad seal which that proclamation bears. In its diminished and 
attenuated form, slavery still lingers, but it is robed in the habiliments of the 
grave, waiting only for the rights of sepulcher. The victim of a morbid and trea- 
sonable ambition, slavgry has been murdered in the house of its friends. Upon 
them, not us, the respohsibility of its death must ever rest. The Union as it was, 
the people of the North were willing to maintain and abide by, but as the South 
has determined otherwise, it is our duty to insist upon the Union as it should be, 
and as our fathers intended it. 

What was thought of it at the time was shown by the following resolution passed 
by the house, introduced by Hon. W. J. Moir, of Hardin County: 

Resolved by the House of Representatives. That in the inaugural address of 
Governor William M. Stone, delivered to the General Assembly of the State of 
Iowa, on the 14th day of January, 1864, we recognize an able, an eloquent, patriotic 
and statesman-like document, second to none ever presented to a state legislature. 

I can say that this resolution was enthusiastically and unanimously passed, for I 
was a member of that assembly and heard the inaugural address as it fell from the 
lips of the Governor. The war did not end, however, as soon as anticipated, for 
the surrender at Appomattox was not until the following April. 

At the age of twenty-nine Mr. Stone had become so potential as to secure the 
nomination and election for District Judge. While he was holding a term of his 
court in Washington County, the news came of the firing on Fort Sumter. He im- 
mediately adjourned his court, declaring that his country had a higher call upon him 
as a soldier in her defense. He at once organized a company for the Third Infantry 
and entered the struggle. He was subsequently promoted to Major of the regiment. 

At the bloody battle of Blue Mills Landing, where our forces were pitted 
against more than four times their number, and led with a courage that was sublime 
by Lieut.-Col. John Scott, afterwards the Colonel of the Thirty-Second Iowa and 
Lieutenant-Governor, Major Stone was wounded and at that of Shiloh was taken 
prisoner and confined for a while in a Confederate prison. On his exchange he 
engaged in raising the Twenty-Second Regiment and became its Colonel. He dis- 
tinguished himself for gallantry in several battles, and in the attack on Vicksburg 
was again severely wounded. Coming home, seemingly to await the healing of his 
shattered arm, he arrived there as the Republican State Convention of 1863 was 
about to meet. He attended the convention, and the night before the ballot was 
taken, made a speech of thrilling eloquence. 

There had been but two gubernatorial candidates in the field — Fitz Henry 
Warren and Elijah Sells. It was generally conceded that Warren would receive 
the nomination overwhelmingly and that he ought to so receive it by reason of his 
eminent ability and services. It was thought that the office of the convention, in 


naming Warren as its candidate, would be little more than perfunctory, but when it 
was learned that Stone's name had been brought forward, the matter assumed a 
different look, and when the hero himself walked down the aisle of the convention 
with his wounded arm in a sling he was greeted with uproarious applause. The 
feeling became infectious and his nomination was made in a whirlwind. He was 
then the most rapidly rising man in the state. 

At the end of his first term of Governor, he was r^ominated and again elected. 
At the close of his administration he returned to the practice of his profession; but 
his brain had become so filled with political thoughts and aspirations as to seriously 
interfere with his professional success. He sought the nomination for Congress in 
his district and had aspirations for the United States Senate, but his rapid advance- 
ment and control had made enemies whose opposition conspired with other causes 
in the accomplishment of his defeat. He removed to Colorado. He commenced 
the practice of his profession in Pueblo and engaged in some importemt mining pro- 
jects there. In the end this failed, and he returned to Iowa, considerably broken 
in health and spirits by his ill fortune. During the administration of President Har- 
rison he was appointed Assistant Commissioner of the General Land Office, and la- 
ter was appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate as Chief Com- 
missioner of the General Land Office and served to the end of the administration. 

I saw him in Washington about this time. He had been seriously ill, but had 
so far recovered as to resume the duties of his office. He seemed cheerful and con- 
fident that his recovery was permanent, but I could plainly see that the hand of death 
was upon him. He did not survive long after the close of the administration. He 
removed to Oklahoma, where he died in July, 1 893. 

Why it was that this star that had so brilliantly burst upon the political heavens 
so soon waned to its setting, various reasons have been ascribed, among them, that in 
his triumphs he had failed to properly remember his friends. From my long acquaint- 
ance and observation I do not think this judgment is justified, though I have lived 
long enough to know that politics is hke the fabled river Lethe, and apt to wash 
away friendly remembrances. I think the principal causes of his failure to realize 
his congressional and senatorial aspirations after he ceased to be Governor, were, 
first, an unfortunate incident that occurred during his administration. It was a di- 
version of a portion of the swamp land Indemnity Fund awarded by the Government 
to the State under act of Congress of March 2, 1855. Warrants for the amounts 
due the different counties were forVarded by the Treasury Department at Washing- 
ton to the Governor of Iowa, enclosed in envelopes and directed to him through the 
mail at different times during the first part of the year 1 855. These warrants came 
into the hands of the Private Secretary of the Governor. This Private Secretary, 
m whom the Governor had implicit confidence, without the knowledge or authority 
of the Governor endorsed the Governor's name on these warrants as they came into 


his hands, turning a large part of them or their proceeds over to the State Treasurer, 
and a part into certain Des Moines banks, which cashed them on the strength of the 
endorsement. It soon became known that certain counties had not received the por- 
tion of the Indemnity Fund to which they were entitled and a rumor was circulated 
that there had been some malfeasance in the Governor's office in connection with that 
fund. This coming to the ears of the Governor, he at once requested an investiga- 
tion at the hands of the Eleventh General Assembly which convened at Des Moines 
in December, 1 866. Responding to this request of the Governor the following 
joint resolution was passed: 

Resolved. In accordance with the recommendation of the Governor of the 
State, that a Committee of five on the part of the House, with such as the Senate 
may join, be appointed to investigate the alleged diversion of the Swamp Land 
Indemnity Funds, and that said Committee have power to send for persons and 

Thereupon a joint committee was appointed, consisting of Edward H. Stiles, 
B. B. Richards and Nathan Udell on the part of the Senate, and William Hale, 
W. T. Barker, John Russell, W. C. Martin and Leander Clark on the part of the 
House. The joint committee immediately entered upon the work of investigation, 
cmd commenced taking testimony on the 1 6th of January, 1 866, which was con- 
tinued with little intermission until March 1 7. As Chairman of the Senate Com- 
mittee, the present writer was by courtesy made Chairman of the Joint Committee, 
examined most of the witnesses on the part of the State and wrote the Report, which 
with all the evidence that had been taken was delivered to the Senate and House in 
a pamphlet containing 244 printed pages, and which will be found among the State 
papers pertaining to the Eleventh General Assembly. When it was designated 
that I should write the report the members of the Committee were in complete accord 
as to the main facts and conclusions, but for reasons, perhaps satisfactory to them- 
selves, the members belonging to the political minority, after I had prepared a 
unanimous report, concluded to dissent and subsequently filed a minority report. On 
the main conclusion, however, there was no difference of opinion on the part of the 
committee, and that conclusion was, that there was a deficit in the Indemnity Fund 
of $33,994.83, and that this deficit had been caused by the unauthorized endorse- 
ment of Treasury warrants, the proceeds of which the Secretary had failed to fully 
account for. The testimony clearly showed that the acts of the Secretary had been 
wholly unauthorized and unknown to the Governor. Governor Stone was a man 
of honor and integrity. His only fault in the matter was in placing too much faith 
in his Private Secretary, and his failure to exercise that scrutiny necessary to one in 
high official position. Notwithstanding his complete exoneration, as the result of the 
investigation and the deliberate approval of the committee's report by both the Senate 
and House, the affair raised a political hue and cry against him, which had the ef- 
fect of impeding his further political ascension for the time. 


In the second place, he lacked that proud patience which the gods are said to 
love, the willingness to further bide his time, which in the end would have fully re- 
trieved his disappointments, instead of removing in somewhat of chagrin from the 
State; and finally, his broken health, the heritage of his army experience, which re- 
sulted in his death. 

The principal events of his life may be briefly summarized: He was born in 
Jefferson County, New York, in 1827. When he was an infant the family re- 
moved to Lewis County in that State, and six years later to Coshocton County, Ohio. 
It is said that he never attended a school of any kind more than twelve months.* In 
his boyhood he was a team driver for two seasons on the Ohio Canal. At seven- 
teen he was apprenticed to learn the chairmaker's trade, which he followed for sev- 
eral years, studying law in the meantime. He was admitted to the Ohio Bar in 
1 85 1 , and practiced three years in Coshocton in company with his preceptor, Hon. 
James Matthews, who became his father-in-law. In 1854 he came West, settled 
in Knoxville, purchased the Knoxville Journal and took editorial charge of it. He 
was one of the prime movers in the organization of the Republican party, and it is 
said that he was the first editor to suggest the State Convention, which met at Iowa 
City in February, 1856.* * He was chosen one of the presidential electors on the 
ticket headed by John C. Fremont for President, and stumped his district in a 
strikingly effective manner. In April, 1 85 7, he was elected Judge of the Eleventh 
Judicial District. When the new constitution went into effect he was, in 1 858, 
elected Judge of the Sixth Judicial District, and was on the bench when he left it 
for the army as hereinbefore stated. He proceeded to enlist a company and was 
made Captain of Company "B," Third Iowa Infantry, and was subsequently pro- 
moted to Major of the Regiment. It was in this capacity that he was engaged and 
wounded at the Battle of Blue Mills Landing, before mentioned. In the Battle of 
Shiloh he commanded the regiment and was taken prisoner. Being paroled and 
afterwards exchanged as a prisoner in August, 1 862, he was appointed by Gov- 
ernor Kirkwood, Colonel of the 22nd Iowa, and participated in the battles of Ft. 
Gibson, Champion Hill, Black River and in the charge on Vicksburg, where he was 
again severely wounded, receiving a gunshot in his left arm, when he came home to 
recuperate and was nominated for Governor as hereinbefore stated. For a full 
account of his military career the reader is referred to Stuart's Iowa Colonels and 
Regiments, page seven. He was breveted Brigadier-General on account of gallaijt 

John H. Gear. 
As John H. Gear was the last of those who might be properly termed "early 
Governors," with whom I was much acquainted, I shall close the present chapter 
with this sketch. 

* Stuart's Iowa Colonels and Regiments, page 7. 
** History of Marion County, 1881, page 613. 


John H. Gear was what might be termed a good fellow, free, easy and ap- 
proachable in disposition and a good mixer. He liked company, was full of life, 
good fellowship and was generous to a fault. He was what might be termed "a 
child of the frontier." His father had been a clergyman of the Protestant Episco- 
pal Church in western New York. He subsequently migrated to Galena, Illinois, 
which had become a point of attraction on account of the discovery of lead mines 
there. While there, he was appointed a chaplain in the United States Army and 
stationed at Fort Snelling. Here, in close touch with frontier life and wild condi- 
tions, the son grew up. In my sketch of Territorial Governor John Chambers, I 
have noted an instance which will throw quite a strong light upon the heroic and 
sturdy character of young Gear. He had displayed such brave and trustful qual- 
ities that at the age of seventeen, he was sent from the commanding officer at Ft. 
Snelling with important dispatches to Governor Chambers at Burlington. He made 
his way on horseback and it lay through a wilderness inhabited for the most part by 
savages. I refer the reader to that sketch, as it is illustrative of the times and con- 
ditions, as well as of Governor Chambers and John H. Gear. The relation I refer 
to was obtained by me directly from Governor Gear, himself, and may be, there- 
fore, regarded as authentic. He not only became Governor of the State and sub- 
sequently one of its United States Senators, but enjoyed other offices of high trust 
and responsibility. In accounting for the successes of some men, it is difficult to 
determine how much should be attributed to native ability and how much to for- 
tuitous circumstances. But I think that it is not difficult to arrive at an approx- 
imately close result in the case of Mr. Gear. He was reared among the hardships 
of pioneer life, which had a tendency not only to discipline and strengthen his heroic 
qualities but to make him acquainted with different conditions of men. He was 
born at Ithaca, New York, in 1825. He had a natural desire for knowledge, but 
was obliged to acquire his education from reading books, instead of in school. The 
country about him was a wilderness. His father was a native of New London, 
Connecticut, who after being ordained in 1816, emigrated to New York and settled 
at Onondaga Hill. He became quite a distinguished Episcopal clergyman and 
served various congregations in western New York until 1 836, when he came to 
Galena and from thence to Ft. Snelling as already stated. Here the son remained 
until he was in his nineteenth year, when he came to Burlington in 1 843, where he 
resided until the time of his death in 1901. He began life as a merchant's clerk. 
As such, he first became associated with the wholesale firm of which Arthur Bridge- 
man was the head; subsequently with W. F. Coolbaugh, who was then the leading 
merchant of eastern Iowa. At the end of five years, he became a partner of this 
establishment, which took the name of W. F. Coolbaugh & Company. At the end 
of another five years, he purchased the whole interest and became the head of the 
concern. It was in this position that I first became acquainted with him. He later 
Aifted into politics and attained the honors referred to. To trace briefly his political 


career: In 1852, he was elected Alderman; in 1863, Mayor of Burlington; in 
1 85 7, he was chosen President of the Burlington, Cedar Rapids & Minnesota Rail- 
road Company. And his efforts highly contributed to the success of that enter- 
prise. He wrote a pamphlet entitled, "Five reasons why the people of Iowa should 
encourage the building of narrow-gauge railroads." It was strongly written, had a 
wide circulation and did much towards the construction of this new system. In 
1871, he was elected a member of the Fourteenth General Assembly; in 1873, to 
the Fifteenth General Assembly. This was during what was termed the "Granger 
Period" in Iowa politics, a movement instituted by or in the interests of the farmers, 
and was joined in by members of all political parties. It greatly reduced the over- 
whelming Republican majority of the State and made the political contest of that 
year a comparatively close one. Mr. Gear was nominated by the Republican 
Caucus as its candidate for Speaker of the House. Jacob W. Dixon, of Wapello 
County, was nominated by a Caucus of the Granger Party as their candidate for 
Speaker of the House. Both of these candidates were conspicuously strong men. 
Dixon had been a member and a leader in the Senate of the Eighth and Ninth Gen- 
eral Assemblies. He had abilities of the highest order and was a remarkably 
skillful diplomat. In the closeness of the contest, it required a strong man to over- 
come him. When the time for election came, the House was in a deadlock. Neither 
party could summon votes enough to elect their candidate, and this condition con- 
tinued day after day for the space of more than two weeks, with Gear and Dixon 
as political Titans struggling for the mastery. At its close, Mr. Gear was elected 
Speaker of the House. In this position, he served with eminent ability and with 
suqh great popularity that at the close of the session all of the members of the 
House, without regard to party, joined in a resolution of thanks, which was en- 
graved and presented to him. In 1875, he was again elected to the House of 
Representatives, and chosen its Speaker over John Y. Stone, who was a strong op- 
ponent. In 1877, he was nominated by the Republican Convention for Governor 
of the State, and triumphantly elected. At the close of that term, he was again 
nominated and re-elected Governor by an increased majority. In 1887 he was 
elected to Congress from the First District; re-elected in 1889, and again in 1893. 
In 1894 he was elected by the Legislature, United States Senator, and re-elected 
to the same position in 1 900, but died before he had finished his first term, in July, 


In each and all of these official positions, he served with great efficiency. As 
Governor, prompted by his inherent energy coupled with his desire to serve his peo- 
ple, he thoroughly investigated and made himself perfectly familiar with the affairs 
of each Department of the State. The State never had a Governor who excelled 
him in these respects. While his early educational advantages had been meager, 
owing to his isolation and his connection with frontier life, nevertheless, by reason of 


his great mental activities, he became, as it were, a self-made scholar ; and among all 
the numerous State papers which he wrote, none will be found which are not models 
of perspicuity. 

To my mind, the qualities I have indicated reasonably account for the successes 
he attained. The most difficult to account for are those which he attained after 
what was termed Prohibition became the pretty well settled policy of his party and 
the State. Everybody knew who had any interest in making the inquiry, that John 
H. Gear was not a Prohibitionist and that, under a local option policy, he favored 
high license and close restriction instead of attempted prohibition in the larger cen- 
ters of population. That this man whose views were so well known should be 
elected and re-elected Governor and United States Senator of an essentially pro- 
hibition State might, to the ordinary observer, seem enigmatical, but to the closer 
one, it was natural enough. He belonged to the old-fashioned, sturdy element that 
had founded the State and brought it from a primitive condition into one of ad- 
vanced prosperity. He was in no sense what is termed a modern reformer, and it 
was not to be expected that he should or honestly could, abandon the views of a 
life-time, which his own observation convinced him were sound. In addition to 
this, he was a man of great popularity and with as little assumption as any man I 
have ever known. He carried no false colors, he was perfectly independent, and 
yet so diplomatic and reasonable in his views respecting the opinions of others that 
he gave no offense. He was so placable and kindly that the humblest man in the 
community felt no reluctance in approaching him. Of him might be aptly said 
what the historian Gibbon has said concerning his father : 

Such was the pleasing flexibility of his temper that he could accommodate 
himself with ease and almost indifference to every class — to a meeting of lords 
or farmers, of citizens or fox-hunters, and was everywhere beloved as a companion 
and esteemed as a man.* 

With the possible exception of Governor Kirkwood, I do not believe that Iowa 
ever had as universally popular a Chief Executive as was Governor Gear. They 
were popular for like reasons. They had both learned the uses of adversity in 
their early experience. They joined to solid and statesmanlike abilities a strong 
common sense and carried themselves through all the avenues of life without pre- 
tense or self-sufficiency. They were plain, strong, reflective men, who were just 
what they seemed to be, whose whole aim was to serve the people wisely and well. 
Governor Gear was not what would be termed a society man, though he bore him- 
self finely in any company, and was exceedingly genial, sprightly and entertaining in 
conversation. In person, he was tall, straight and commanding, but without the 
least egoism in bearing. He was eminently social and both he and Mrs. Gear 
were fond of entertaining a few congenial friends at their apartments at the Aborn 
House, while in Des Moines. His son-in-law, J. W. Blythe, who became General 

* Note — The Autobiography of Edward Gibbon, London, 1897. 


Counsel for the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Company, and myself 
were particular friends and in course of time, the Governor and myself became such. 
I was frequently in Des Moines in attendance on the Supreme and Federal Courts, 
and while there, I rarely failed to call upon him and he rarely failed to invite me, 
with two or three friends, to while away an evening with him at his apartments. He 
liked and needed little diversions like this. He was quite fond of a social game of 
cards, which we occasionally indulged in and endeavored to enliven with racy con- 
versations. Coming to Iowa when it was in its territorial period, he was familiar 
with the prominent men and prominent incidents of the whole line and could describe 
them in a manner both graphic and interesting. On these occasions, Mrs. Gear in- 
variably lent the charm of her presence. She was one of the most sensible and de- 
lightful ladies it has been my fortune to know. In personal appearance, she was 
not pretty, but supe'rb and queenly. She was above the medium size in height, 
rather stout, but not unduly so. Her broad forehead, her deep and lustrous eyes 
bespoke a superior intellect, while her meditative and amiable face fairly shone with 
the kindly fires that lighted it. "She moved a Goddess, and she looked a Queen." 
She had the golden quality of silence in such measure as to make her sometimes seem 
somewhat reserved, but she was nevertheless an interesting conversationalist, whom 
it was always agreeable to hear. She was a woman of broad charities and her 
constant aim was to make others happy. On the occasions referred to, she seemed 
to take great pleasure in serving those present with some kind of refreshment during 
the course of the evening, with her own hands. I think she outlived her husband 
only about two years. They left no sons, but I think, two daughters, one of whom 
married Mr. Blythe, before referred to, and the other a son of E. D. Rand, who 
was one of the earliest and largest lumber merchants in southern Iowa. 

I thought it due to the fine qualities of this woman, with whom I had the honor 
of a personal acquaintance, to pay her this brief tribute in connection with my men- 
tion of her husband. 



Augustus C. Dodge. 

The two first United States Senators from Iowa were Augustus C. Dodge and 
George Wallace Jones. The first time I saw General Dodge was in public debate 
in the campaign of 1 859 when he and Kirkwood were opposing candidates for 

General Dodge, though warm-hearted and approachable, was highly dignified 
■and courtier-like in his bearing. He was of southern extraction, had associated 
much with southern gentlemen both in the army and in Congress, and carried with 
him much of southern manners. He was tall, exceedingly upright, courtly and com- 
manding in appearance. As compared with the perfect simplicity and plainness of 
Kirkwood, he seemed by the very contrast, somewhat over dignified, and I think this 
tendency had been somewhat accentuated by his experience at the Court of Spain. 
Kirkwood was at home with the plain people and was one of the readiest, off-hand 
speakers, as well as one of the most forcible ones in the whole history of Iowa. These 
qualities General Dodge did not possess in a closely proximate degree, and though 
his language was forceful, he labored at a disadvantage with Governor Kirkwood 
before a mixed political audience. Besides, Kirkwood had the easy side ; Dodge 
the difficult one to maintain. 

My sympathies were with General Dodge on this occasion for I was on that 
side of the poHtical house. The next time I met him was in the Douglass Presiden- 
tial Campaign of 1 860. I was perhaps the youngest Democratic orator on the 
stump, while he was one of the oldest. We both addressed an out-door meeting at 
Agency City in Wapello County. I met him again during the same campaign at 
Burlington where, at his invitation, I addressed a meeting which he had kindly ar- 
ranged. A warm personal and political relation became established between us. 
Our personal friendship continued to the day of his death, but our political relations 
were suddenly severed by the inauguration of the great Civil War, when I felt 
obliged to support the administration of Mr. Lincoln and that of the Republican 
party, as better calculated to bring about a speedy suppression of the rebellion. But 
his patriotism was just as great as my own ; we simply looked at the situation from a 


different point of view. I had no faith in the idea that war could be averted or its 
continuance prevented by any sort of compromise. On the other hand, General 
Dodge hoped to the last that it could, and exerted all of his influence to bring about 
a peaceful result. But when the last hope was dispelled and the continuation of 
the war was inevitable, his entire and ardent sympathies were with the Union. The 
whole course of his life, the influence of heroic ancestors, the hardships that he had 
endured in the service of his country, and for the benefit of his country-men all along 
the eventful years of a most eventful career, his every act of public service as soldier 
and statesman demonstrate in the clearest manner that he was a man of exalted 

Nor let it be inferred from what has been said that he was not an efficient and 
accomplished orator, for he was, and able to express his views in well chosen lan- 
guage and enforce them with power. In these respects, and as a noble gentleman, 
he took rank among the ablest of his compeers in the Senate of the United States, by 
whom he was universally respected and beloved. 

He was born in 1812 at St. Genevieve, Missouri, then in the territory of Lou- 
isiana, the oldest settlement west of the Mississippi River. It was settled in 1 785 
by French people from Kaskaskia. French manners and customs and a patois of 
the language are said to prevail there to this day. His grandfather, Israel Dodge, 
was a soldier in the Revolution, and afterwards shared the exposures and perils of 
the "dark and bloody ground" in the settlement of Kentucky. Upon the purchase 
of Louisiana, he was present at St. Louis when our flag was unfurled there in March, 
1 804. His father was the celebrated Governor Henry Dodge, who had been an 
Indian fighter in the Black Hawk War, a Colonel in the army. Governor of Wis- 
consin, a delegate of that territory to Congress, and subsequently its United States 
Senator, when that Territory became a State.* The wife of Governor Henry 
Dodge was Christiana McDonald. She was born near Bardstown, Kentucky, and 
came with her parents to Upper Louisiana in 1 796. They had thirteen children, 
nine of whom grew to maturity, among whom was Augustus, the subject of this 
sketch. "The only school this boy attended, for a few months was kept in a log 
schoolhouse, in which light came through greased paper in a horizontal aperture. 
Pencils were made from bullets beaten into shape and hammered to a point; pens 
were made with a barlow knife and ink from the boiling of butternut bark or gun- 
powder."* * 

* Note — Dr. William Salter in Iowa Historical Record, January, 1887, to whom 
I am indebted for much of the data herein contained. 

** Note — The following extract from a sketch of Henry Dodge by Dr William 
Salter in the October, 1889, number of the Iowa Historical Record will shed 
light upon the family genealogy and will also serve to show how important a 
factor Henry Dodge was in the early history of the country: 

"The settlement and growth of the territory northwest of the Ohio river is 
one of the marvels of American history; it cannot be better told than in the lives 


In 1 827 the family determined to move to the lead mines near Galena. Augustus, 
accompanied by his mother and sisters, took passage on the steamboat, "Indiana," 
from St. Louis, the father going on horseback, conducting a train consisting of horses 
and cattle, the household effects and the slaves he had inherited from his father. On 
account of low water, the passengers on the steamboat could not ascend the Lower 
Rapids and had to make their voyage from thence on a keel boat. "The boat was 
pulled against the current by thirty or more French boatmen ; sometimes they walked 
along the shore with a long rope drawn over their shoulders ; where there was proper 
depth of water they 'polled' ; where they could catch hold of limbs and brush, they 
'bush-wacked.' Indians were the sole occupants of the country on both sides of the 
river. At the present site of the city of Rock Island, they saw Black Hawk, Keo- 
kuk, Poweshiek, Wapello, Mahaska, and other chiefs and braves of the Sacs and 
Foxes, decked in gaudy attire, seeming like lords of the soil. It was the largest 
Indian town in the Northwest." On arrival at their destination, they found 
Galena in a state of excitement from fear of the hostile Winnebagoes, who had com- 
mitted a number of murders and were threatening to exterminate the miners. Henry 
Dodge was waited upon and requested to take command of the forces for the de- 
fense of the mining district. He did so and cooperated with Governor Cass and 
General Atkinson in overawing the Indians. Young Augustus was eager to share 
in the fray. It was thought that he was too young and not large enough to carry a 
gun, but was finally allowed to do so, and joined the forces. 

He marched with W. S. Hamilton's Company (a son of Alexander Hamilton, 
of New York) from Gratiot's Grove to English Prairie, where they swam the 
Wisconsin river, and again swam it at the portage, and on their return, re-swam 
it at both points. His life-long friend, George W. Jones, afterwards his compeer 

of its pioneers. Prominent among them, a heroic man, was Henry Dodge. Born 
in that territory at Post St. Vincents (Vincennes), October 12, 1782, his life covered 
nearly the whole of the first century of its settlement. The Canadian French had 
been earlier upon the ground, but he was the first 'American' child born in what 
is now the State of Indiana. He was a leader in putting an end to the Black 
Hawk War. 

"Among his papers, which were preserved by his son, Augustus C. Dodge, is a 
package bearing the simple inscription in his handwriting, 'Commissions in the 
Service of My Country.' There was also included in this package the commission of 
his father, Israel Dodge, as sheriff of the District of St. Genevieve, signed by 
William Henry Harrison, Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the Indiana Terri- 
tory and of the District of Louisiana, John Gibson, secretary, October 1, 1804. 

"The commissions of Henry Dodge cover a long period of public service. They 
embrace the signatures of six Presidents of the United States, and of many other 
distinguished men. It is doubtful if there exists another collection of equal interest 
and value in the documentary history of the West, unless it may be in connection 
with the life of William Henry Harrison, or the life of Lewis Cass, who were illus- 
trious pioneers. They were not born, like the subject of this memoir in the West; 
but they filled with honor some of its highest stations." 


in the United States Senate, was with him in this expedition, and at the semi- 
centennial celebration at Burlington, gave this account of it : 

He and I campaigned together. We slept, and sweetly, too, o'er nights, with 
our saddles for pillows, resting upon the under saddle-blanket, with no other cover 
than the upper saddle-blanket, save the starry heavens; frequently we swam rivers 
together, drawing our hastily constructed rafts, laden with men who could not 
swim; at one time for several days our only rations were fresh beef killed and 
butchered upon the ground, the hard-cooked and burnt part being used as bread, 
we having none of the staff of life, and being without flour to make it. 

After the restoration of peace, Henry Dodge with his family, settled in the 
place subsequently named in honor of himself, Dodgeville, the present county seat of 
Iowa County, Wisconsin. There he engaged in lead mining, assisted by Augustus, 
with all the energy and industry that marked his subsequent career. The latter, 
after he had reached his twenty-first year and made an enviable record as a soldier, 
returned to St. Genevieve and entered the school of Prof. Joseph Hertic, an educated 
Swiss gentleman, which was patronized by the old families of St. Louis, who sent 
their sons there for a thorough education. Here he first learned to write, his teacher 
being the young daughter of Professor Hertic. A mutual affection sprang up be- 
tween them. In March, 1837, they were married. He returned to Mineral Point, 
Wisconsin, where he remained until appointed Register of the United States Land 
Office at Burlington in June, 1 838. His rare tact in dealing with the early settlers 
and his amicable efforts in adjustment of disputes arising out of pre-emption of lands, 
frequently allayed strife and prevented trouble among the settlers who thronged into 
the Black Hawk Purchase. His kind and effectual offices soon gained recognition 
among the pioneers, and in 1 84 1 he was elected a delegate to the Twenty-seventh 
Congress. In 1 843, he was elected to the Twenty-Eighth Congress, over his com- 
petitor, William H. Wallace. In 1845, he was elected to the Twenty-ninth Con- 
gress, over Ralph P. Lowe. He served the people with such signal efficiency and 
fidelity that upon the organization of the State, he was chosen by its General Assem- 
bly one of the first United States Senators. George Wallace Jones was chosen as 
his colleague. There he found and served with his father. General Henry Dodge, 
who had been chosen United States Senator from the State of Wisconsin. I knew 
of this co-incidence and had often heard it spoken of as the only case in which 
father and son sat side by side as United States Senators from different States. But 
I did not know until quite recent investigation that they had in like manner before 
sat as delegates to Congress ; but such is the fact, for after Mr. Dodge took his seat 
in the Twenty-Seventh Congress in September, 1 84 1 , he welcomed on the seventh 
day of the following December, his father, to a seat by his side as delegate from 
the Territory of Wisconsin. So that we have the instances, and the only ones of 
father and son representing at the same time their different States in the National 
House of Representatives, and afterwards as fellow members of the United States 


It is also noteworthy that Augustus C. Dodge was the first person born west of 
the Mississippi River, who became a Senator of the United States. Upon his elec- 
tion to the Senate, he was thus congratulated by Mrs. Freemont, the daughter of 
Thomas H. Benton, and the wife of General John C. Freemont, the first Repub- 
lican candidate for President of the United States: "General, I am sure you will 
be the best behaved man in the Senate, for a dutiful son will be exceedingly decorous 
in the presence of his father." 

His term in the Senate "covered the exciting questions growing out of the 
addition to the National Territory which followed the war with Mexico, embracing 
the admission of California, in connection with Mr. Clay's 'Omnibus Bill' — the 
compromise of 1850. He supported that compromise. He voted against Mr. 
Jefferson Davis' proposition to make void the prohibition of slavery that had existed 
under Mexican law, and extend the Missouri compromise line of 1 820, so as to 
authorize slavery south of it ; and he voted for the admission of California under her 
Constitution prohibiting slavery." 

He served as Chairman of the Committee on Public Lands and in February, 
1853, delivered in the Senate a speech of great strength and replete with historical 
information in support of the Homestead Bill. From it, the following brief ex- 
tracts are taken: 

The principle upon which the bill is based is one dear to my heart; it has 
grown with my growth, and strengthened with my strength. Having lived upon 
the extreme frontier, next to the aboriginal inhabitants, I have been enabled to 
learn something personally of the dangers, hardships and difficulties incident to the 
settlement of the public domain, which every individual has to encounter before he 
reaches a homestead. * * * 

The Government stands in the position of a political parent, whose duty it is 
to watch over, guard and protect the interests of every citizen. That duty requires 
that we should enable every one within the limits, washed by the Atlantic and 
Pacific oceans, to secure a farm or homestead for himself and family. The Home- 
stead Bill is emphatically a measure of progress, and, if enacted into a law, is 
destined to benefit our whole country. I have long been of the opinion that the 
best interests of the Republic demand an abolition of the auction or private sales 
of the public domain, and that it should be conveyed only to those who design to 
settle upon and improve it. The soil of a country is the gift of the Creator to 
his creatures, and, in a government of the people, that gift should not become the 
object of speculation and monopoly. Springing from the earth and destined to 
return to it, every man desires to possess some of it, wants a spot that he can call 
his own. It is a deep and absorbing feeling which no people have manifested more 
strongly than the American. If you desire to render this Republic indestructible, 
to extinguish every germ of agrarianism, and secure for ages the quiet enjoyment 
of vested rights, you should give an interest in the soil to every man who asks 
it. If every quarter section of the public land was the bona-fide property of an 
actual settler, it would do more to perpetuate our liberties than all the constitu- 
tions. State or National, which have ever been devised. 

The following instance well illustrates the fidelity and moral heroism of the 
man. It was thus related by Col. John W. Forney in his paper — the "Philadel- 
phia Press:" 

In the course of debate on the 25th of February, Senator Brown, of Mississippi, 
had said that "there are certain menial employments which belong exclusively to 


the negro," etc. I was in the Senate when this rhapsody was uttered, and was not 
surprised when Senator A. C. Dodge, a young man not older than Mr. Brown, and 
a Democrat without reproach, took the floor in prompt reply. He was very much 
excited. His straight Indian figure, his strong features, his defiant air, added 
effect to the loud tone which rang out like a trumpet call through the chamber. 
Mr. Dodge said; 

"Mr. President, I have heard with mingled feelings of astonishment and regret 
the speech which has just been made by the Senator from Mississippi (Mr. Brown). 
No sentiments to which I have listened during my Senatorial career have ever made 
so unfavorable an impression as those which have Just fallen from him. With 
perfect respect for the Senator and the Senate, I desire that he and it shall know 
my opinions upon some topics connected with the subject under consideration, and 
to which I think he has improperly alluded. Upon those matters, I wish to say, 
that I differ from him widely as the poles are asunder. Sir, I tell the Senator from 
Mississippi — I speak it upon the floor of the American Senate, in the presence of 
my father, who will attest its truth — that I have performed and do perform when 
at home, all of these menial services to which the Senator referred in terms so 
grating to my feelings. As a general thing, I saw my own wood; do all my own 
marketing. I have driven teams, horses, mules and oxen, and considered myself 
as respectable then as I do now, or as any Senator upon this floor is." 

What added to the interest of the occasion was the fact, that as the son spoke 
those glowing words, he called as his witness his venerable father, Henry Dodge, 
then Senator from Wisconsin, and in his seventy-second year, who had been an 
Indian fighter in the Black Hawk War, a colonel in the army. Governor of Wis- 
consin, and Delegate when it was a Territory. His romantic history, white hair, 
and Roman dignity formed a striking contrast with the impetuous manner and 
vigorous eloquence of the young black-haired Senator, his favorite and devoted son. 

As touching his qualities as an effective speaker, I beg leave to make the follow- 
ing quotation from a letter written to him by former Governor Stephen Hempstead 
at the time the Bill was pending for the organization of Nebraska and Kansas in 

I have attentively and carefully read your speech. I have no end to gain by 
flattery, and have too much respect for you and myself to attempt it. But I do 
say what is only the simple truth, that you have made the best speech on that 
question — and that is saying a great deal; for on no question which has come 
before the Senate, of late years, have the debates been as high-toned, able and 
eloquent as on the Nebraska Bill. I have read all the speeches, and I give yours 
the preference; and I do not stand alone. 

On the 8th of February, 1855, he resigned his seat in the Senate, and on the 
following day President Pierce nominated him to be Minister Plenipotentiary to the 
Court of Spain. In the May following, he sailed with his feimily to take his post 
at Madrid. In that position, he served with signal distinction for several years. 
Upon his appointment, he immediately began the study of the Spanish language, and 
acquired such mastery of it that in a year he understood it in conversation perfectly 
and could read it as well as he could read English. He was the first American 
Minister that addressed the Court in the Spanish language when delivering his val- 
edictory address. This certainly speaks much for the ability and industry of a 
man, who had not learned to write until past his majority — under the tuition of the 
lovely girl who afterwards became the most devoted and exemplary of wives and 
mothers. His services as Ambassador at the Court of Spain were such as to bring 
him distinction in diplomatic circles and make him universally popular with his 


countrymen, who had occasion to visit that country. As a souvenir of his services, 
portraits of the King and Queen, beautifully painted in miniature, were presented to 
him by the latter, on his departure from that land. On taking his leave of the 
Court, he addressed a farewell letter to the Queen, phrased in her own language, to 
which she graciously replied. She had the penetration to discern in him the marks 
of true nobility, which no heraldry can confer, and the graciousness to warmly rec- 
ognize it. The following are extracts from a translated copy of her letter : 

Mr. Minister: I regret that the desire to return to your native country, as 
expressed by you to the President of the United States, and kindly accepted by 
him, puts an end to your mission here. 

The frankness and dignity with which you have discharged your trust, have 
contributed to maintain the close relations which are dictated to both peoples by 
a common interest. 

You well understand the people whom Providence has placed under my care, 
and knowing that they appreciate loyalty and frankness, you will not doubt that 
they will always preserve an agreeable recollection of your name, with which 
those noble qualities are united. 

The consideration which I have shown you, and my especial appreciation of 
yourself and family, will follow you to your own country. 

In confirmation of what has been said regarding his efficiency at the Court of 
Spain, I make the following quotation from one of the "Letters from Spain," writ- 
ten to the Press of that time by Wm. Cullen Bryant, the poet: 

The American minister, Mr. Dodge, is very attentive to the convenience of 
his countrymen, and a great favorite with such of them as come to Madrid. He 
is on excellent terms with the people of the country and has done what I think but 
few of his predecessors have taken the trouble to do — acquired their language. He 
has sent his resignation to Mr. Buchanan, that there may be no hesitation in giving 
the embassy to any other person; but should the resignation be accepted, it is not 
likely that the post will be so well filled as it is now. 

And this to the same point from the remarks of Senator George Wallace Jones 
at the Semi-centennial celebration, hereinbefore referred to: 

As representative to the Court of Spain, General Dodge was spoken of by Lord 
Howden, Her Majesty's Envoy at the same Court, in a letter to Secretary Cass, 
as the man above all others whom he (Howden) would select as his counselor and 
advisor, on account of his firmness, intelligence, and thorough understanding of 
his duties. Not long anterior to his death, I met Ex-President Pierce at the Astor 
House, New York, and in the course of a conversation with him, he stated that of 
all foreign appointments made during his administration, he believed that of 
General Dodge as Minister to Spain to have been the best. 

In the summer of 1859 he returned to the United States and during the same 
year was nominated by his party for Governor; but with all his strength and pop- 
ularity, he was not able to overcome the strong majority then existing. At the Joint 
Convention of the Legislature held in January, 1860, he received the unanimous 
votes of the Democratic members for United States Senator. In 1 872, he ad- 
vocated union with the "Liberal Republicans" in support of Horace Greeley for the 
Presidency. In 1 874, he was elected Mayor of Burlington by a spontaneous move- 
ment of citizens, irrespective of party. In 1875 he was appointed by the Governor 
and served on a Commission to investigate alleged abuses in the Reform School at 


Eldora, and aided in introducing a more humane discipline into that Institution. 
He was an ardent friend of young people and constantly aided them in their strug- 
gles for education.* 

His habits were exemplary, he discountenanced the drink habit by consistent 
example, and looked to the invigoration of men's moral sense for the suppression or 
intemperance ; not to prohibitory legislation. 

At meetings of pioneers and old settlers he was an honored guest, and never 
wearied in commemorating their exploits and labors. He presided over the Semi- 
centennial Celebration of the settlement of Iowa on the 1st day of June, 1883, at 
Burlington, and gave surpassing dignity and zest to that occasion. It was a sight 
which can never be looked upon again, to see that illustrious pioneer of Iowa, at 
the age of more than three score and ten, pour forth from his capacious, accurate 
and ready memory treasures of information concerning the beginnings of the 
Commonwealth. He seemed as if inspired with a religious zeal to snatch from 
oblivion the memory of our founders for the instruction of after times. 

He had been a man of sorrows as well as successes. His only brother, Capt. 
Henry L. Dodge, after having been Sheriff of Iowa County, Wisconsin, an officer 
in the Black Hawk War and United States Agent for the Navajos, was captured 
euid burned at the stake by Indians in New Mexico. Four of his seven sisters had 
died; one of them, the wife of the Territorial Governor, James Clark, who, with 
her husband and son, perished in the cholera epidemic of 1850. Of his own fam- 
ily, he had lost three daughters and two sons in early life. Of his remaining 
children, two have passed away since his death, leaving as his sole decsendant, his 
son, William W. Dodge, a lawyer of Los Angeles, California, and three promising 
grandsons, children of the latter.* * With almost unbounded opportunities along the 
line to have become rich, he died poor. In these times of commercial greed and 
political plunder, to turn the back upon so many opportunities, makes poverty an 
ornament. He gave his time and services to his country, and turned his face against 
using his offices as means of speculation. He served as Register of the United 
States Land Office, when opportunities for speculative gain were open, and laid down 

* Note — Among the floral offerings at his funeral was one from the children of 
the North Hill Public School, accompanied by the following touching note which 
throws a strong sidelight on the character of this lovely old man: 

"For many years past General Dodge has been in the habit of visiting North 
Hill School at least once a year; and on such occasions interesting its pupils with 
reminiscences of his long and eventful life, and also counseling and advising them 
in regard to their future, and now that his voice is hushed in death and we never- 
more shall hear his kind admonitions, we desire to express our great sorrow, and 
to tender his bereaved family the united sympathies of our young hearts. We' also 
as a last token of our regard send for this sad occasion a design of beautiful flowers 
— faint emblems of the loveliness and purity of the great life now lost to us 
forever. — Teachers and Pupils of North Hill School." 

**Note— William W. Dodge inherited many of the traits of his illustrious father. 
He was born at Burlington in 1854. He was a graduate of the Notre Dame Uni- 
versity of Indiana and of the Law Department of the Iowa State University. He 
commenced practice at Burlington. He was frequently a delegate to Democratic 
State Conventions and a Delegate at Large to the Democratic National Convention 
that resulted in the second nomination of Grover Cleveland for the Presidency 


his staff at the end as poor as when he entered, and without the smell of smoke upon 
his garments. A poor man, he was three times elected to the National House of 
Representatives, and twice to the United States Senate, without the aid of money 
to boost his claims or bribe Legislators. A poor man, he was appointed on his 
merits Minister Plenipotentiary to Spain. With what distinction to himself and 
honor to his country, he served, we have seen. 

The death of no public man during my day has caused so spontaneous an out- 
burst of veneration and regret as flowed from the Iowa Press. The majority of 
these newspapers had been the political enemies of General Dodge throughout all 
the years, and yet, from friend and foe alike came the unstinted tribute of veneration 
for his memory and for his services to the State. 

The following from the pen of the gifted and lamented Samuel Clark, of the 
"Gate City," one of the foremost Republican papers of the State, and which had 
always opposed General Dodge politically, may be taken as a sample of the others : 

I remember that about six or seven years ago, the late James B. Howell, who 
had been a leader and fighter in the great anti-slavery contest, and who had hurled 
many a political broadside at General Dodge, said to me: "One thing can be said 
of General Dodge: he has been all his lite as honest a man as ever lived." That 
was his noblest trait, but he had many others. He was brave and gentle, kind 
and courteous, of unsullied purity and of unfailing graciousness to all he met. His 
manners were like a benediction. He was a gentleman, and put a splendid nobility 
and exaltation into his personal and social intercourse. His faults were his 
party's; his virtues were his own. And these made for him a splendid monument 
in the hearts and memories of all that knew him. 

An eloquent eulogium upon his life and public services was pronounced before 
both Houses of the General Assembly of Iowa by Hon. B. J. Hall on the 21st of 
March, 1884. 

He was born a hundred years ago. He lived through the most eventful period 
of the world's history. He had come to be the most striking figure in the State and 
one of the most so in the whole nation. In him were embodied in a sense, the prin- 
cipal events of Iowa's entire history. He had been a leader in its affairs for a 
longer period than any other man. 

In 1885, he was eleced to the State Senate from Des Moines County, and by re- 
election, served in the Twenty-flrst, Twenty-second, Twenty-third and Twenty-fourth 
General Assemblies, a rather unusual occurrence in the consecutive senatorial 
service of the State. He was an influential member, took a leading part in legis- 
lation and was the author of several important measures, among which was the 
Bill prohibiting the employment of children under fifteen years of age in factories, 
workshops and mines, and the one making the first Monday in September a holiday 
to be known as Labor Day. He built up a successful law practice in Burlington 
and attained an excellent standing in his profession, but on account of impaired 
health determined to remove to the more favorable climate of Los Angeles, where 
he engaged in the practice and soon became well and favorably~known in the 

I omitted to say that he was one of the two members selected by the Senate to 
investigate charges made against the administration of the State University; and 
that in 1890 he was appointed on the staff of Governor Boies with the rank of 


He was an incorruptible statesman of the old school, whose pathway was un- 
sullied by the breath of suspicion and unmarked by the trail of the serpent; a sage 
with a wonderful memory of the past and a prophetic vision of the future ; a humani- 
tarian of active sympathies; a patriot who strove with undivided purpose for the 
highest interests of his country and her people. It was well said in the tribute paid 
him by the old settlers, that when in the course of political transition, he was relieved 
from official life, his descent from position was upward rather than downward, and 
as beautiful and creditable as had been his elevation. Disappointment had no ten- 
dency to sour his nature or make him less kindly toward all mankind. Somewhat 
late in life he became a member of the bar, and as said by Judge P. Henry Smythe, 
elevated it by having his name placed upon its roll. Leaving an absolutely stainless 
life behind him, he died at his home in Burlington on the 20th of November, 1 883. 
His last words were, "Bless the Lord." 

George Wallace Jones. 

George Wallace Jones is certainly a striking figure in the early history of Iowa, 
and it may be said, of Michigan and Wisconsin, for he was a public man of note 
in each while they were territories. His father, John Rice Jones, was a native of 
Wales, a graduate of Oxford University, and a lawyer by profession, who came to 
Philadelphia at the close of the Revolutionary War and engaged in the practice. 
Thence he removed to Vincennes, Indiana, where he became eminent in his profes- 
sion. He subsequently removed to St. Genevieve, Missouri, became a member of 
the Convention which framed the Constitution of that State, was appointed Chief 
Justice of its Supreme Court, and held that office until his death in St. Louis in 
February, 1 824. 

The son, George Wallace Jones, was born in Vincennes, Indiana, in 1804; 
marched the streets of St. Genevieve as drummer boy to Captain Linn in raising a 
Company for the War of 1812; graduated at Transylvania University, Lexington, 
Kentucky, in 1 825 ; studied law in the office of his brother-in-law, John Scott, then 
a member of Congress from Missouri; and in 1826 was appointed Clerk of the 
United States District Court of Missouri at St. Genevieve. On account of delicate 
health he removed in 1827 to Sinsinawa Mound, then within the territory of Mich- 
igan, but subsequently in that of Wisconsin, where he engaged in mercantile busi- 
ness and smelting lead ore. He purchased lead of the Sac and Fox Indians where 
Dubuque now stands, the mines having been opened by Julian Dubuque in I 787. 
Here he established a smelting furnace and opened stores in Dubuque and Peru. 

In 1832 he was a valiant and adventurous soldier in the Black Hawk War, 
and Aide-de-camp to the great Indian fighter. General Henry Dodge — afterwards 
the Governor and United States Senator of Wisconsin, father of Iowa's distinguished 
United States Senator, Augustus C. Dodge, and grandfather of William W. Dodge, 


now of Los Angeles, California. In 1833 he was appointed by the Governor of 
Michigan Territory, Judge of its western District. He remained on the bench till 
October, 1835, when he was elected Delegate to Congress from Michigan Terri- 
tory, which then embraced what now forms the States of Michigan, Wisconsin, 
Iowa and Minnesota, and the vast territory lying west of them to the Rocky Moun- 
tains. In the contest for Congress his competitors were Judge Woodbridge, of De- 
troit, afterwards United States Senator from the State of Michigan; Judge James 
D. Doty, afterwards delegate in Congress, Governor of Wisconsin, and member of 
Congress from that State, and Honorable Morgan L. Martin, subsequently delegate 
in Congress from Wisconsin Territory. During this session of Congress Mr. Jones 
drew up and secured the passage of the bill establishing the Territory of Wisconsin, 
and gave to it its name. In this, through his tact, perseverance and popularity he 
secured the aid of General Jackson, Daniel Webster, John C. Calhoun, Thomas H. 
Benton, James K. Polk, and other able statesmen then at Washington, who became 
his personal friends. He procured large appropriations from Congress for roads 
from Green Bay towards Chicago, from Milwaukee and Racine to the Mississippi 
River, from the northern boundary of Missouri, via Dubuque, to Prairie du Chien, 
and thence to Green Bay; an appropriation of $5,000 for each of the towns of 
Racine, Milwaukee, Sheboygan and Green Bay; $20,000 for the erection of pub- 
lic buildings in Wisconsin, and $40,000 for the improvement of the Lower Rapids 
of the Mississippi. He secured also large appropriations to purchase from the Sac 
and Fox Indians an extent of territory which now forms some of the richest and 
most populous counties of Iowa, and for the purchase of the Winnebago country 
east of the Mississippi, and grants of 640 acres of land for each of the towns of 
Fort Madison, Burlington, Bellevue, Dubuque, Peru and Mineral Point. 

In 1 837 he was re-elected to Congress and at the session that followed he pro- 
cured the passage of the bill establishing the territory of Iowa. At the celebration 
of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the settlement of Iowa, held at Burlington in June, 
1 883, General A. C. Dodge in introducing Senator Jones to the audience, grasped 
the hand of his old colleague, and holding it up said: "In early days the pioneers 
always estimated a workman by his chips. Here, ladies and gentlemen, is the hand 
that chipped Wisconsin out of Michigan; that chipped Iowa out of Wisconsin; 
that chipped for us six hundred and forty acres of land covering this original town 
at a mere nominal price ; and to the same hand more than any other man or repre- 
sentative, we are indebted for our railroad grants." At this session he procured 
the passage of several measures for the benefit of Iowa, which in this limited space I 
cannot undertake to enumerate. 

At the election for Delegates to Congress from Wisconsin Territory, September 
1 0, 1 838, Mr. Jones was again a candidate for re-election, but was defeated by 
James D. Doty. The principal cause of this was the unfortunate part he took m 


being second for Cilley in his duel with Graves. His consent to this was only ot.- 
tained under great pressure. Upon this subject, Lewis F. Linn, United States Sen- 
ator from Missouri, wrote soon after the affair a letter to the Galena Democrat, in 
which he said : 

General Jones only consented to become second after earnest solicitation on 
the part of Mr. Cilley and his friends, and because that gentleman could not obtain 
the aid of any other friend that could be relied on. Our friend is blameless in 
this unfortunate affair. 

Touching the same subject, Franklin Pierce, afterward President, in a letter 
to General Jones says: 

I have never doubted for a moment that a full development of all the facts 
would completely exonerate you in the public mind from the unjust and injurious 
expressions which have been made concerning the affair. 

It was indeed an unfortunate affair, and in these days would be considered whol- 
ly unjustifiable; but such occurrences were not infrequent in those days, though the 
northern spirit had grown to be much against it; but if William J. Graves, who gave 
the challenge, had been fatally wounded instead of Jonathan Cilley, the feehng 
would have been very different.* 

The causes which led to this duel and the circumstances connected therewith, 

as narrated by General Jones himself, were substantially as follows : James Watson 

Webb was editor of the New York Currier and Inquirer, and a staunch advocate 

of Henry Clay. Cilley, a brilliant Democratic member of Congress from Maine, 

had reflected severely on Webb in a speech. Webb, who was himself a duelist, 

and in after years carried a bullet in his leg, received in a duel, immediately went 

to Washington and sent Cilley a challenge by the hands of William J. Graves of 

Kentucky, who was also a member of Congress. This challenge Cilley refused to 

receive on the ground that Webb's character was so infamous that he could not 

notice it. This, Graves construed as an insult to himself, as being equivalent to a 

charge that he was the associate of a scoundrel, and accordingly challenged Cilley 

himself. Cilley professed great respect for Graves personally, but the latter and 

his advisors insisted on the meeting which Cilley sought to avoid, and the duel took 

place with the fatal termination stated. General Jones said he consented to act as 

Cilley's second at the earnest solicitation of Franklin Pierce, and that if the second 

of Graves had not lost his head and insisted on continuing the fight after the first 

shot had been exchanged, the fatal result would not have occurred. As it was, it 

was thought that a chance shot had produced the fatal termination. 

In this connection I am tempted to ^ve the following instance related to by 

venerable William Graham, of Dubuque, who originally located in Jackson County, 

in a letter received by me from that gentleman during the present month of June, 


In the early summer of 1861, before the battle of Bull Run, a gentleman came 
to my office in Bellevue, and introduced himself as Mr. Graves, of Lexington, Ken- 

* Andreas Atlas, 254. 


tucky. His business was to sell two hundred and forty acres of land lie owned m 
Clinton County. I think he was the most splendid specimen of manhood I have 
ever seen. I had considerable conversation with him, and after he had left the town 
I was informed that he was a son of the survivor of the "Cilley duel." I afterward 
learned that, during the same year, he committed suicide — led to it by dwelling on 
the tragedy in which his father had such an important part; a tragddy that also 
shortened the father's life.* 

Upon the organization of Iowa territory, its people in recognition of the valuable 
services Mr. Jones had performed in their behalf, and his eminent fitness for the 
position, strongly recommended him through mass meetings held at different places, 
for Governor of the new Territory. This was seconded by many petitions from 
Representatives and Senators, but the President had scruples about making the ap- 
pointment of a member of Congress during his term of service, and appointed Ex- 
Governor Lucas of Ohio. 

In 1 838 he procured the establishment of the two first Land Offices in Iowa — 
one at Burlington, the other at Dubuque; and through his untiring efforts during the 
same session, the bill creating a Surveyor-General's Office at Dubuque was passed. 
The office was first filled by Albert C. Ellis, of Green Bay, and upon his resigna- 
tion President Van Buren appointed General Jones, who held it until his removal 
under the Whig administration of President Harrison, in 1 84 1 ; but, in 1 848, he 
was restored to it by President Polk. On the seventh of December, I 848, he was 
elected to the Senate of the United States, and by re-election was continued in that 
office until the fourth of March, 1859. 

His colleague was General Augustus C. Dodge. They were Iowa's first 
United States Senators. Here, soon afterward, upon the admission of Wisconsin 
as a State, he welcomed the father of his colleague, the former General Henry 
Dodge on whose staff he had served as Aide-de-Camp in the Black Hawk War, later 
Governor, and then United States Senator of Wisconsin. The portraits of all 
three appear in Healy's celebrated painting of "Webster's Reply to Hayne," a copy 
of which hangs on the wall before me. 

His highly useful services during this lengthy senatorial term I shall not attempt 
to enumerate. They belong to a wider domain. Major C. D. Ham in the Du- 
buque Herald at the time of Mr. Jones' death said that Henry Clay was his col- 
lege guardian while at the Transylvania University; that in 1823 he was Sergeant of 
the body guard of Andrew Jackson while on his way to Washington to take his seat 
in the United States Senate, and that when Lafayette visited America the young 

* As showing how late the practice of dueling kept up, the following instances, 
occurring in California where I am writing this sketch, may be referred to. In the 
early fifties, Stephen J. Field, afterward the distinguished Judge of the United 
States Supreme Court challenged Judge William T. Barbour. Field was at the 
appointed place with his second, but Barbour concluded that it would not comport 
with Ms judicial position to enter the field, although he had at first accepted the 
challenge. As late as 1859 Judge David S. Terry, who had recently been on the 
Supreme bench of California, challenged David C. Broderick to the mortal combat 
in which Broderick lost his life. — Shuck's Bench and Bar of California, pp. 154, 2S7. 


student was elected by Congress a member of the Reception Committee that escorted 
the French Patriot through Kentucky. 

Under the administration of Buchanan he was appointed Minister to New 
Grenada, now Colombia, making his official residence in Bogata where he remamed 
for three years, returning during the first years of the great Civil War. Jefferson 
Davis had been a fellow soldier with him in the Black Hawk War, and there had 
been maintained through all the years between them an intimate friendship. This 
friendship together with some friendly correspondence, amid the high wrought feel- 
ings that prevailed during the war times, occasioned in certain quarters a suspicion 
of disloyalty to rest upon General Jones, which finally led to his arrest and impris- 
onment in Fort Lafayette for a period of sixty-five days; upon his discharge from 
which he was given a most enthusiastic public reception by the people of Dubuque 
when he returned. 

He lived to a great age, dying at his home in Dubuque in his ninety-third year, 
and as the years waned, the affections of the people of Iowa for him strengthened, 
so that towards the last he became with them a universal object of admiration and 
esteem. On every hand the greatest respect and attention were paid him by the 
Legislature, by the Pioneer Law Makers' Association, by the Historical Depart- 
ment, and from every quarter. It is said that his father had been a large land- 
holder, and so in turn was he, but it all melted in the stream of his boundless gen- 
erosity, so that at the end he found himself in very straightened circumstances and 
with incumbrances upon his home, from which he was unable to extricate himself, 
and under a foreclosure of which he was about to lose it, when another noble citizen 
of Dubuque, J. K. Graves, learning of the condition, immediately came to the res- 
cue, raising money sufficient to restore to the veteran Senator the unincumbered title 
to his home and make him comfortable during his remaining days. This was char- 
acteristic of J. K. Graves. All honor to his name and memory. 

In personal appearance and address he was one of the most charming of men, 
a real type of old-fashioned courtly politeness. In his time he was the Chesterfield 
of Washington Society. His facile courtesy might be illustrated by an instance 
within my observation. 

Judge George G. Wright was engaged in conversation with a company of gen- 
tlemen, including General Jones and myself, at Dubuque. The Judge referred to 
the polite manners of the Castillians at Bogata while General Jones was our Min- 
ister there. The Judge said that the General had told him on his return that he 
could not understand much of their Castillian tongue, but when it came to bowing 
and scraping he was at home and the equal of any of them. It doubtless was so, 
and the same in any other society. In the ninetieth year of his age he made a call 


upon Charles Aldrich at the Historical Department, and Mr. A'.drich thus wrote 
of him : 

He Is still in the enjoyment of excellent health, and is as fastidious regarding 
the polish of his boots, the twist in his mustache, and the ringlets in his hair (his 
hair was inclined to curl), as deferential in his treatment of ladies, as kind to little 
children, as when the writer saw him gliding about the floor of the United States 
Senate in 1852, throwing salutations to the beauties in the gallery. Our aged 
Ex-Senator has led a useful, active life, but must be one of that class of men whom 
Dryden had in mind when he wrote these lines: 

"Some few, by temperance taught, approaching slow. 
To distant fate by easy journeys go." 
While in the Historical rooms he sat down and quickly wrote a letter, holding 
his pen with a firm, steady grasp, finishing the page without a blot or erasure, and 
prcducing a fine piece of manuscript, to which he signed his name very hand- 

The life of General Jones was perhaps more variously eventful than that of any 
other man connected with Iowa's history. Many of these events will be found in 
his address before the Pioneer Law Makers' Association of Iowa at the Reunion 
of 1 892, and in that at the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Settlement of Iowa, held at 
Burlington in I 883. The reader may also be referred to the old series of Annals 
for April, 1865, page 471 ; April, 1867, 862; October, 1870, 330; April, 1872, 
126; January. 1874, 7 and 13. 

James Harlan. 

Augustus C. Dodge was succeeded by James Harlan as United States Senator. 
The life of James Harlan is so interwoven with Iowa and the nation itself that it is 
unnecessary for me to give little more than a general outline. It is generally sup- 
posed that Mr. Harlan at the outset of his career was a Methodist Clergyman and 
not a lawyer. This popular belief is incorrect, as the following facts relating to 
his early life will show. He was born in Clark County, Illinois, in 1 820. He 
was a son of Silas Harlan, who with his family moved from Illinois to Park County, 
Indiana, when James was three years of age. He early displayed remarkable tal- 
ent, a thirst for knowledge ; he was fitted for college and graduated in 1 845 from 
Asbury University, Greene Castle, Indiana, which was then under the presidency 
of the renowned Bishop Simpson. The following year he proceeded farther west- 
ward and located in Iowa City where he read law, was admitted to the bar and 
entered upon the practice which he continued there for several years and until 1 853, 
when he was elected President and Professor of Moral and Mental Philosophy of 
the Iowa Wesleyan University at Mount Pleasant. This statement that he was 
admitted and practiced as a lawyer is fully verified by biographical references all 
along the line.* * In addition to the authorities quoted in this note, it is stated in 
the annals of Iowa for October, 1874, that in the first case tried in the District 

* Annals of Iowa, Third Series, Vol. 1, 154. 

**Gue, Vol. 4, 118; United States Biographical Dictionary, Iowa, 1878, p. 29. 


Court of Johnson County— in 1 85-3— in which William E. Miller, afterwards a 
Judge of the Supreme Court of Iowa, was engaged: "James D. Temphn and 
James Harlan, two reverend lawyers of that day, appeared for the plamtiff in the 
action." Miller was for the defendant. The case was hotly contested. In addi- 
tion to this, Harlan's name appears on the roll of attorneys admitted to practice m 
the Supreme Court and will be found in the list of lawyers attached to the nmeteenth 
Iowa Report. From all the information to be gathered on the subject, it is clear 
that Mr. Harlan was a practicing lawyer from the time of his admission to the bar 
to the time he was elected President of the Wesleyan University; that is to say, 
from 1847 or 1848 to 1853, though a portion of this time he was principal of the 
school known as the Iowa City College, which was afterwards succeeded by the 
State University. 

In politics he was a Whig, and between the time he commenced practice and 
the time he was elected President of Wesleyan University, he was twice elected Su- 
perintendent of PubHc Instruction; first, in 1847, as an Independent candidate, 
espoused by the Whigs, he was elected for three years, but at the end of the first 
year, through a species of political legerdemain, the election was declared void; then 
in I 848 he was nominated by the Whigs and in fact, re-elected, but some votes were 
cast for James Harland, and some for James Harlin, and on account of this dis- 
crepancy these votes were not counted for him by the Democratic Election Board, 
and by reason thereof the election was given to his Democratic opponent, Thomas H. 
Benton, Jr. In the first election, that of 1847, Mr. Harlan's opponent was Charles 
Mason who had been the distinguished Chief Justice of the Territorial Supreme 
Court, and held over after the state organization by reason of the failure of the 
Legislature to elect new officers. Inasmuch as some doubts were expressed by a 
writer in Volume 6, of the Annals of Iowa, third series, p. 634, as to Judge Ma- 
son's connection with this election, I quote from an article entitled "Early History of 
Iowa by Charles Negus," in the October, I 873, number of the Annals of Iowa, 
p. 591: 

For Superintendent of Public Instruction the Democrats nominated Charles 
Mason, who was considered one of the best qualified men of the State for the 
position. The Whigs nominated for their candidate James Harlan.* Harlan was 
a forceful speaker and as soon as he received the nomination he commenced can- 
vassing the State, making speeches wherever he could get an audience, and as he 
belonged to the Methodist Church, many of that body took a deep interest in his 
election. Mason still retained his position on the bench, owing to the failure of 
the Legislature to elect Judges, and never left his judicial business, and made no 
effort to secure his election, and the result was that Harlan was elected. This was 
very mortifying to the Democrats, and soon after it was officially known, Elisha 
Cutler, Secretary of State, promulgated that the election was of no effect, from the 
fact that the law creating the oflBce of Superintendent of Public Instruction was not 
in force at the time of the election. 

* Note — This is a mistake as Harlan announced himself and ran as an Inde- 
pendent candidate. 


Further along in the same article Mr. Negus says : 

The Supreme Court having decided that the school oflflcers elected at the 
April election had no authority to discharge the various trusts for which they were 
elected, it became necessary to have another election for Superintendent and other 
officers. Harlan was the Whig candidate, while the Democrats selected Thomas H. 
Benton for the position. Upon the counting of the votes it was declared that 
Benton had received a majority of 17. The Whigs made a great clamor about the 
election, claiming it was not fair and that Harlan was cheated out of the office. It 
was considered by many that Harlan had not been fairly dealt with by the Demo- 
crats in being turned out of office, and this created a feeling in his favor and made 
him the prominent man in the Whig party in the State. 

The foregoing reproduction of Mr. Negus not only clearly states the situation, 
but throws some strong sidelights on Mr. Harlan. 

In 1 849 he had by force of his extraordinary talents made such a profound im- 
pression upon the people that he was nominated by the Whig party as its can- 
didate for Governor, but as he was then scarcely twenty-nine years of age, he was 
compelled to decline this nomination on the ground of ineligibihty. In 1855 he was 
elected United States Senator to succeed Gen. A. C. Dodge. This election was 
made by the Legislature of the Fifth General Assembly, and was a most notable 

The passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1 854 had produced a revulsion 
on the part of many who belonged to the Democratic Party. This element had its 
representation in the Legislature which elected Mr. Harlan. It was known as the 
Free Soil element. There was also the so-called Know-Nothing element, and the 
joining of these two with the Whigs resulted in the election of Mr. Harlan. Fitz- 
Henry Warren was the regular Whig candidate. Ebenezer Cook of Davenport, 
and Milton D. Browning, of Burlington, were also Whig candidates, but could 
not get all of the Free Soil votes. This election was contested in the United States 
Senate on the ground that the joint convention of the Iowa House and Senate, which 
had elected Mr. Harlan, did not constitute the required quorum, and the election 
was declared void by a party vote of the United States Senate in January, 1857. 
Mr. Harlan's term had commenced on the fourth of March, 1855, and his first 
speech before that body, on the admission of Kansas, which was delivered on the 
eighth of March, 1856, made a deep impression on his fellow members and estab- 
lished him as a young man of great force and power. He was then thirty-six years 
of age. Upon his seat being declared vacant he repaired immediately to Iowa City 
where the Legislature was in session. By this time the Republican party had be- 
come the ascendant one in Iowa and had a majority in the Legislature. He was 
accordingly re-elected the next day after his arrival, returned to Washington, was 
resworn, and resumed his seat on the twenty-ninth day of the same month in which 
his former one had been declared vacant. These events and the remarkable ability 
that he had already displayed brought him into conspicuous public notice. From 
this time on his progress was until near the end of his career a succession of personal 
and political triumphs. 


I am unable to state what his preparatory studies if he had any aside from his 
religious training for the ministry were, but that he preached occasionally with great 
power was well recognized in the early part of his career. In fact, if he had not 
possessed considerable learning in the theological field, it is not likely that he would 
have been elected President of Wesleyan University. Charles Negus who has 
contributed much to the history of the State, in speaking of him as the Whig nom- 
inee for Superintendent of Public Instruction in 1847, says, "The Whigs nominated 
for their candidate James Harlan, who was a young Methodist preacher. The 
editor of the Iowa Historical Record published by the State Historical Society at 
Iowa City in April, 1885, in speaking of the Fifth Legislative Assembly and the 
election of Mr. Harlan in 1855 to the United States Senate had this to say: 

The most memorable event in the history of this General Assembly was the 
election of James Harlan to the United States Senate. Mr. Harlan, in earlier life, 
had been a Methodist minister. There is no profession like the ministry, and no 
denominational branch of the ministry like the Methodist, to develop the latent 
powers of oratory. As a Methodist minister, Mr. Harlan had discovered this 
power, and had transferred it to the stump, where he made it felt right and left, 
chilling into dejection the ranks of the Democracy and warming into enthusiasm 
their opponents. He was consequently stubbornly opposed at every step by the 
Democratic party, and seemed, moreover, attended by an evil star of bad luck. 
Whenever he had succeeded by a scratch in apparently securing a nomination or 
election, it was either found that he was ineligible on account of age, or that 
there had been fatal irregularities in the methods of his election. He had been 
selected for Governor, and forced to decline on the score of ineligibility. He had 
been apparently chosen State Superintendent of Public Instruction, and counted 
out on a technical irregularity. The same evil destiny hovered over him now. 

Many ineffectual ballots had been taken from day to day for United States 
Senator in the joint convention of both Houses. There were the united Democrats 
with their candidate, and the opposition, forked into two branches, Americans and 
Free-Soilers, each with theirs. This was satisfactory to the Democracy, who had 
no hope of securing the prize for themselves, and were contented with negative 

When Mr. Harlan took his seat as United States Senator, his Iowa colleague 
was George Wallace Jones who had been re-elected in 1 852 for a term of six 
years and was the last of the Democratic United States Senators from Iowa. At 
the ejcpiration of Senator Jones' term James W. Grimes took his seat as the first 
Republican United States Senator from Iowa and became the colleague of Mr. 
Harlan and so continued through the course of many years. It may be safely said 
that no state in the Union had an abler representation in the United States Senate 
than Iowa had in the person of these two men. The names of Grimes and Harlan 
will stand out with brilliant superiority throughout all the future of Iowa and of the 
nation as well. It would be superrogation and beyond the scope of this work to 
detail the important measures in which Senator Harlan played a leading part. That 
belongs to a more general history. 

To resume the thread of his general career, he was in 1861 elected for a second 
term, but after serving until the 15 th of May, 1865, he resigned his seat in the 
Senate to accept a seat in President Lincoln's cabinet as Secretary of the Interior. 


He had been offered the cabinet position in March, but did not enter upon the d^es 
pertaining to that office until he resigned his seat in the Senate in May as before" 
stated. In the meantime President Lincoln had been assassinated and was succeed- 
ed by Andrew Johnson as President of the United States. On the first of Sep- 
tember of the same year Senator Harlan resigned his seat in the cabinet. The rea- 
sons which led him into this resignation do not seem to have been clearly set down, 
but I should say that the principal one was the lack of harmony between his views 
and those of President Johnson and some of his cabinet on what were termed the 
Reconstruction Measures pertaining to the States lately in rebellion. 

The resignation of Mr. Harlan of his seat in the Senate so near the close of his 
term imposed upon the Legislature the necessity of electing a Senator to fill the un- 
expired portion of that term and for a new term succeeding it; in other words, as it 
was called, for the long and short term. Mr. Harlan accordingly entered the field 
to be his own successor for both terms. Ex-Governor Kirkwood was strongly 
brought into the field as his competitor for these honors, and the contest was waged 
with a good deal of severity. It was urged with great force, that Mr. Harlan had 
already served for some nine years in the Senate, and that after having resigned his 
seat there, he should not so soon re-enter the field to regain what he had voluntarily 
laid down. I was a member of the State Senate at that time from Wapello County 
and with many other Senators took that view of it. It was also urged against Mr. 
Harlan that his united support by the Methodist churches and church members came 
too near violating the principal that there should be no alliance between church and 
state. This, however, was a sword that cut both ways, as we shall hereafter 
briefly notice. The ultimate result of the contest was that Governor Kirkwood was 
elected for the short term and Senator Harlan for the long one. 

A word now as to Mr. Harlan's connection with the Methodist Church and its 
influence in his political career. I think it may be truly said that from the outset of 
that career he had the general support of both the laity and clergy of that church. 
This was not strange nor to the discredit of Mr. Harlan. As a young man he was 
powerful as a public speaker and his great natural abilities waxed and extended as 
the years advanced. These extraordinary abilities were sustained by the integrity 
of his character and his human sympathies. The Methodists of Iowa were naturally 
proud of him and always gave him their united and cordial support. It was 
charged that his appointments or those he was instrumental in securing, especially 
along the lines of the Revenue Service following the years of the war, were very 
frequently conferred on members of his church. This may have been true, but it 
was not strange. Party leaders quite naturally are partial to those who have given 
them undoubted support. The fact is that Mr. Harlan may be properly regarded 
as a great man, with great personal influence and magnetism, and it is my opinion 
that if he had been a Democrat he would have had just as strong and faithful a 
following as he did have as a Whig and Republican. 


But this attitude and the charge which it gave rise to, created some prejudice 
against him and was undoubtedly one of the factors that led to his defeat when 
Senator Allison was elected; and it came very near leading to the defeat of his 
party's candidate for Lieutenant-Governor, as the following incident will show. 
As prefatory. I may say that during the war the Methodist preachers were nearly 
all Republicans and nearly all prohibitionists — some of them of the most radical 
and unreasonable order. In the campaign of 1 859 when the gubernatorial candi- 
date of the Republican party was Samuel J. Kirkwood, his "running mate," the 
candidate for Lieutenant-Governor was Nicholas J. Rusch of Davenport. He was 
a German by birth, had been a member of the Legislature and had worked or used 
his influence for a modification of the prohibitory law. It was charged that Mr. 
Rusch was a beer-drinking Dutchman, that he could hardly speak the English lan- 
guage, and that his nomination was merely made "to salve the wounded feelings of 
his countrymen in the State*;" whereas Mr. Rusch, in fact, was a highly educated 
gentleman, and his nomination a wise one. As is well said by Professor Herriott, 
of Drake University, referring to this campaign, "The discussion of the temperance 
question became positively vicious in its virulence; not even the State's Representa- 
tives in the United States Senate were exempt from gross attack. The Junior Sen- 
ator (Mr. Grimes) was openly charged with being the owner of a beer garden in 
Burlington,* * and the Senior Senator (Mr. Harlan) was flouted as the "mighty 
Ajax of the Maine law" with the assertion made on the stump that he was found 
imbibing in a saloon in Des Moines at the Republican State Convention."* * * The 
incident referred to occurred at the opening of the campaign and is thus related by 
Professor Herriott: 

"Reverend Mr. Jocelyn, a Methodist Minister, had been engaged to deliver a 
series of lectures, sermons and speeches upon temperance before the congregations of 
churches or members of temperance organizations in Central Iowa roundabout Des 
Moines. He evidently viewed the prospects with a gloomy eye, and with reason. 
The action which follows drastic sumptuary legislation, as the Maine Law, had set 
in strong. The open, as well as the surreptitious violation of the statute was in- 
creasing. Public sentiment in its favor was waning and its opponents were gaining 
ground. Vigorous defensive measures were clearly imperative as Mr. Jocelyn re- 
garded the situation, and he spoke with vigor, carrying the war into Africa. He 
attacked the candidacy of Nicholas Rusch, who being a German, was a representa- 
tive of the population that especially protested against the prohibitory law. Mr. 
Jocelyn was quoted as saying that he would rather vote for the most ultra-slavery 
progagandist than to vote for Rusch. His hard hitting had immediate efi^ect. The 
Republican leaders, both local and state, became alarmed, for grumbling and 

* The Herald, Dubuque, July 21, 1859. 

** Iowa "Weekly State Reporter, June 8, 1859. 

*** The Herald, Dubuque, September 14, 1859. 


threats were heard among the faithful. The queries and rejoinders were, Are the 
Methodists to cut the ticket? We will make it cut both ways. If you cut Rusch, 
we cut the Methodist. This latter meant Senator Harlan. His friends were in- 
formed that if Mr. Jocelyn was not stopped, the friends of the ticket supporting Mr. 
Rusch would fight Senator Harlan's re-election the following January."* 

This incident reminds us of the fatal alliteration of the Rev. Dr. Burchard in his 
New York speech wherein he said that the Democratic Party chiefly represented 
"Rum, Romanism and Rebellion," which lost the State of New York and the 
Presidency to Mr. Blaine. 

But combining with these causes that led to the defeat of Mr. Harlan by Mr. 
AlUson for the United States Senate in 1 872 was a more serious one. It was the 
charge that he was connected with the Credit Mobilier Scandal and had received 
money from Mr. Durant, the Vice-President of the Union Pacific Railway Com- 
pany, $10,000, to support its interests. This charge was applied to a number of 
Senators and Congressmen and a Committee of United States Senators composed of 
Whigs and Democrats was appointed to investigate the charges of corruption which 
were made in connection with this scandal. Both Mr. Durant and Mr. Harlan 
were sununoned before the committee to give testimony in respect to the charge as it 
concerned Mr. Harlan. From the testimony of both it appeared that they had 
been warm personal friends of many years' standing, and that Mr. Durant, knowing 
Mr. Harlan's circumstances, had made a present to him of $ I 0,000 to aid in the 
canvass for re-election to the United States Senate in 1 866, that it did not come in 
any sense from the Union Pacific Railway Company or from Mr. Durant as its 
Vice-President, but from the latter as a personal and friendly act, and was used 
by Mr. Harlan for electioneering expenses. Notwithstanding the vindication of the 
Committee as to any corrupt motive of Mr. Harlan, these charges which had for 
some time been rife, had the effect in some degree to discredit him, and contributed 
to his defeat in his contest with Mr. Allison. Another cause that contributed to the 
success of Mr. Allison was the fact that the neglected northern part of the State 
unanimously demanded that a successor to Mr. Harlan should be chosen from that 
region, and William B. Allison was the person fixed upon for that choice. 

On the hustings Mr. Harlan was a power, not by any brilliancy or flights of 
oratory, but by sheer readiness. It is said to be dangerous to make comparisons 
or parallels between individuals, but I cannot help making one between Harlan and 
Kirkwood in respect to their force on the "stump." They were much alike in 
style, .expression and, in many respects, in person. Both belonged to the old regime 
of men; both were rugged, perfectly plain in argument. I heard them on several 
occasions, and the parallel I have made was always striking to me. When either 

* Prof. F. I. Herriott, on Iowa and the First Nomination of Abraliam Lincoln, 
Vol. 8, Third Series, Annals of Iowa, 216. 


spoke, crowds flocked to hear him. Both were plain in person, clear in expression 
and strong in presentation, seizing the very points in controversy and enforcing their 
views with irresistible logic, interspersed with illustrations and anecdotes that kept 
the crowd in good humor and frequently provoked roars of laughter. 

Senator Harlan was a magnanimous and just man. He was desirous that jus- 
tice should be done to his political enemies, and he was faithful to his personal 
friendships. When Henry Clay Dean was assailed and vilified from one end of 
the state to the other, Harlan remained his steadfast friend. In speaking of Mr. 
Dean, the Iowa State Register in its issue of February 13, 1887, said: "Among 
his Republican attachments was that for Senator Harlan, which ranked not second 
with any of his friendships in Iowa." When Mr. Dean was an applicant for the 
position for Chaplain in the United States Senate, Mr. Harlan was his friend and 
instrumental in securing him the appointment. For a Republican to be the out- 
spoken friend of Mr. Dean during some years of the war required a good deal of 
heroism, but Mr. Harlan exercised it freely and to his everlasting credit as a man. 
The following is another example, which redounds to the glory of Mr. Harlan more 
than any act of mere statesmanship. During the Civil War party and personal 
rancor ran high. Men of elevated station who adhered to the Democratic Party 
were by the unthinking looked upon with suspicion, and frequently denounced as 
traitors. Judge Chas. Mason had received a military education at West Point. 
He was a prominent Democrat and a revered leader. He fell under the ban. It 
was sneeringly said in an article appearing in the Saturday Evening Post of Bur- 
lington, that but for Judge Mason's love for Jefferson Davis, he would have en- 
tered the Union army. This article came to the notice of Senator Harlan and he 
addressed a letter to the editor, the original of which may be seen in the Iowa His- 
torical Department, wherein he says, "Soon after the commencement of the war of 
the Rebellion, Judge Mason tendered his services to the Secretary of War, in any 
position in which it might be thought he could be useful. I personally know that 
this tender was made. The Judge's letter making it was addressed to me at Wash- 
ington, and no doubt the letter itself is on the files of the War Department. It im- 
pressed me at the time as singularly modest, coming from a man of his recognized 
eminence, and as patriotic as modest." No greater tribute could be paid to the 
patriotism of Judge Mason, and, as well, to the manhood and strong sense of jus- 
tice of Senator Harlan. 

We have seen him serving for nearly eighteen years in the United States Sen- 
ate ; years that covered the most eventful and the most critical periods of our history 
— the gathering of the clouds that foretold the Civil War, the tragic and sometimes 
darkly foreboding incidents of that long conflict, the re-construction of the states 
which had been in rebellion. The exigencies of these periods invoked the highest 
statesmanship, and Mr. Harlan proved himself equal to every emergency. He was 


associated with and had for his compeers and rivals the most distinguished men of 
the nation, among the greatest of whom he was always a peer. 

The following incident will illustrate his power of speech and the strength of 
his advocacy. San Domingo desired to be annexed to the United States, and Pres- 
ident Grant had negotiated a treaty with the San Domingo Government for such 
annexation on favorable terms. Whereupon a combination of Senators opposed to 
it, was formed, at the head of which were Charles Sumner and Carl Schurz, who 
assailed the President in speeches of almost unprecedented violence. Senator Harlan 
was chosen by his colleague to reply. "His speech was considered the greatest 
forensic triumph in that body since the reply of Webster to Hayne in I 832. It was 
the leading event of that Congress. Nor was it the result of long premeditation and 
careful arrangements, for it was late at night when he was waited upon by a number 
of leading Senators who requested him to reply to the abusive speeches that had been 
made against the President."* 

Mr. Harlan was subsequently appointed as the head or Presiding Judge of the 
Alabama Claims Commission, and served in that position from 1 882 to 1 885. He 
was one of the Commissioners who erected the Iowa Soldiers' Monument. 

His last public act was as President of the day in the laying of the cornerstone 
of the Iowa Historical Building on the 1 7th of May, 1 899, on which occasion he 
made a fine and characteristic address. He died in October of the same year at 
Mount Pleasant. He had outlived nearly all of his early contemporaries, and was 
the last survivor of the Senate in which he had taken his seat in 1855. He had 
been the confidant of Presidents, and his finger more than once had helped to mould 
their Cabinets. His wife was Ann Eliza Peck of Maysville, Kentucky, to whom 
he was married in 1845. Of their children none survived him save Mary E. Lin- 
coln, wife of Robert T. Lincoln, son of the martyred President, Abraham Lincoln. 

James W. Crimes, James B. Howell and George C. Wright. 

George W. Jones was succeeded as United States Senator by James W. Grimes 
in 1 859. As the biographical sketch of James W. Grimes has already been given 
in the chapter relating to the early Governors, it is unnecessary to add anything here. 
On the resignation of Senator Grimes, James B. Howell was elected by the Legis- 
lature to fill the remainder of the term in 1 870, and served to the end of the term. 

James B. Howell will be easy for me to sketch, as I shall feel privileged to 
freely draw in that behalf from what his long time associate, Samuel M. Clark, and 
others have said about him. My most intimate acquaintance with Mr. Howell 
was formed during a political speech-making campaign we made together m Van 
Buren, Wapello, Jefferson and adjacent counties early in the seventies. My pre- 

* Charles Aldrige, July Annals, 1899. 


vious acquaintance had been slight, but as we traveled from place to place in the 
same private conveyance, we had become quite well acquainted at the end or our 
work at Ottumwa, where he became the guest of myself and family until the fallow- 
ing day. He was not then in the most robust health, and during the evening was 
so indisposed that, under his direction, I procured some medicine for him. The 
next morning, however, he had sufficiently recovered to take his journey homeward. 
The general impressions concerning him that I received from this acquaintance are in 
accord with what follows. I shall first draw upon Mr. Clark, using the following 
excerpts from what he has said of Mr. Howell:* 

As we look about us and see how many men of great brains, cliaracter and 
attainments there are in all departments of life and affairs and compare them 
with the shallow, frippery character of many men in literature and government 
whose names history preserves, it seems difficult to give a reason for, or to satisfy 
ourselves with, the slight hold that many men of great ability have upon public 
memory. The vastness of modern life with its multiplicity of vocations, consumes 
personalities, as the great smoking factories consume black diamonds of coal. 
Already James B. Howell is almost an unknown name to a great multitude of the 
people of Iowa. Yet there was a time, and that not long ago, when to the people of 
the Territory and later of the young State, his name was a household word. Of 
all Iowa editors, at the beginning, his was the strongest and most dominating 
personality. He was born in New Jersey, near Morristown, July 4, 1816. Three 
years later his father moved with his family to a farm ten miles from Newark, 
Licking County, Ohio. * * * His father was elected Sheriff of Licking County. 
After four years in that office, he was, in 1830, elected to the State Senate, re- 
elected in 1832, and in 1834, was elected to Congress. While the father was filling 
these public places, James fitted himself for college at an academy and entered 
Miami University in 1833 and graduated in 1837. He at once became a law student 
of Hawking H. Hunter, of Lancaster, and in 1839 was admitted to the bar. He 
opened a law office at Newark, but the great West drew him. In 1841, he visited 
Chicago, then an expanse of swamp and lake, but it did not fit his woodland liking 
and he went to Iowa. After visiting Muscatine and some other places, he made his 
home at Keosauqua in Van Buren County. 

Judge George G. Wright, who was at the time of Howell's coming, a young 
lawyer in Keosauqua, has furnished this account of him: 

J. B. Howell, on horseback, having so traveled, as I understood, from Ohio, 
first to Muscatine, thence to Keosauqua, arrived at the latter place in May or June, 
1841. I remember him well, as also our first meeting. I was taking my meals at 
the old Keosauqua House. Going to breakfast, I found this stranger. He had 
arrived the evening before. I was attracted to him, got into conversation, and 
found that he was a young lawyer seeking a home in the new land. I invited him 
to my office and together we spent most of the day. That night I took him to my 
room to sleep, and thus our friendship of years most intimate and close began. 
Very soon he furnished abundant evidence of unusual ability as a lawyer and the 
promise of distinction as a citizen. He formed a partnership with James Hall, 
one of the proprietors of the town, who though not bred a lawyer was a gentleman 
of the most courtly and popular manners. He was a member of the First and Second 
Territorial Assemblies, of the Third and Fourth Territorial Councils and afterwards 
Sheriff of the County. Very soon these two young men had a good business. He 
had a natural taste for politics and in the campaign of the following year took a 
very active part. He was aggressive and courageous, arousing enthusiasm 
wherever he went. He was defiant in manner and caustic in speech and for 
the time was as cordially hated by the opposition as he was loved by the party 
for which he fought. As a lawyer he had tiie same elements and yet was the 

* Note— Annals of Iowa, Third Series, Vol. 1. 


soul of honor under all circumstances. Pew men had better promise in the pro- 
fession and had he continued therein would have taken highest rank. He was a 
candidate against Cyrus Olney for the Judgeship in 1846, but was defeated though 
running ahead of his ticket. About this time, or soon after, he and James H. Cole 
started a Whig paper in Keosauqua and he gradually drifted from his profession 
into journalism, his course culminating in establishing the "Keokuk Gate City." 
He was a most impressive and positive man; this often created the impression that 
he was haughty, dictatorial and dogmatic, and yet few men have had a kinder or 
nobler heart by nature. 

Of him, Mr. Clark again thus speaks : 

The Des Moines Valley Whig had been published some two years at Keosauqua 
when Mr. Howell and J. H. Coles bought it in 1845. Mr. Howell's force in political 
management supplemented with a paper to express his views soon made him a 
power In the Des Moines Valley and throughout Iowa, that had to be reckoned with. 
I was born in Van Buren County, and his was one of the first names I heard and 
remember. I never saw him until I went to Keokuk as a law student in the fall of 
1863, but his name had been for years a household word in our Van Buren County 
home. From 1845 to 1865 he was the most potential maker of newspaper opinion 
in the Des Moines Valley and in Iowa. He took his paper to Keokuk in 1849, and 
as the wave of migration and settlement moved up the Des Moines Valley, and 
to the westward, Howell's Whig went along with it, preparing the popular mind 
for the political change that came to Iowa when James W. Grimes was elected 
Governor, in 1854. While Mr. Howell was always a man of large reading, and 
delighted in books, he did not use many of the graces of literature nor give much 
wealth of learning to his editorial writing. He knew his fact and stated it with 
great clearness; he knew the weakness of the other man's fact and assailed it 
with relentless vigor. He was a man of intensely strong convictions, and in the 
great battles of American politics he took a part in the discussion of every 
question that arose. He was always a partisan. His power of statement and clear 
directness had a good deal of the strength of Horace Greeley. He was not a 
paragraphist. He did not nibble at subjects. He took them in Greeley's way and 
wrote his subjects out, until he had knocked the other fellow down and made the 
reader either his convert or his antagonist. From 1842 to 1870, there were few 
men who held political place in Iowa who did not in some way find their place 
largely related to Mr. Howell, either as supporter or antagonist. While never an 
office seeker for himself, he was as indefatigable as if he had been one, but he 
gave his services to the other man. He was of a fierce and dominating temper, 
imperious in disposition, and could not bear opposition. At the least opposition to 
his will, he stormed like a cyclone. This would have alienated men from his own 
support had he been a self-seeker, but he made himself potential in serving others, 
for his great ability and sagacity were everywhere recognized, and the very fury 
of his advocacy of another man's nomination or election constrained the judgment 
of others. This made him unusually successful in getting his man nominated, but 
it stood in the way of his own advancement, so that the first office that ever came 
to him by election was in 1870, when he was nearly fifty-four years old, when he 
was chosen to the United States Senate to fill the unexpired term of James W. 
Grimes. Short as his service was, he made a noteworthy Senator. At the 
expiration of his Senatorial term, in 1871, President Grant appointed him as one 
of the Judges of Southern Claims, which position he held up to March 10, 1880, 
thus shortly preceding his own death, June 17, 1880. * * * i have known many 
great men in Iowa and out. Plutarch has made many generations of readers his 
debtor for such parallels on the score of interest, but I doubt whether any man's 
real rank has been drawn by later readers from his admeasurements. I do not 
care to make parallel or comparison between James B. Howell and the other 
men I have known as to intellectual rank, but I doubt whether any man I ever 
knew was so wholly wise and had the like wisdom in forecasting events. In his 
political judgments, he was the wisest man I have ever known, the one who saw 
the farthest and with the most unerring accuracy. Towards the end of his life his 
strenuous fighting quality yielded to the utmost placidity and resignation. It was 
a pity that those who had known him and many who had been angered by him in 
the "sturm und drang ' period of his political life when he was a stormy political 


warrior, did not Ijnow liim in those closing years and find how under a coat of mail 
of battle there was the tenderness and gentleness of a child and the utmost Kind- 
ness and forbearance. In the later years of his lite his health had become so frail 
that he was in relation with only a few people. We have never seen any one of 
our friends ripen into death with more gentleness and beauty and Socratic wisdom 
than he. He was a just man, too. Looking back over the years of his strenuous 
political fight in Iowa, he said, in a conversation with us near the end of his life: 
"One thing I can say of those territorial and early State Democratic leaders, hard 
as I fought them, is, that as men nearly all of them were nobly honest and they 
would have scorned to steal or plunder. 

Upon his death, his son, Jesse B. Howell, who had been for many years asso- 
ciated with him, became manager of the "Gate City," and during his connection 
with that paper made a strong impression upon Iowa journalism. He died in 
October, 1896. 

James B. Howell was succeeded as United States Senator by Judge George G. 
Wright whose sketch will be found in connection with lawyers of Keosauqua. 

William B. Allison. 

James Harlan was succeeded as United States Senator by William B. Allison. 
He was born in Perry, Wayne County, Ohio, in 1 829. He died at Dubuque in 
1 908 in the eightieth year of his age. He was reared on his father's farm which 
he helped to cultivate. He received his early education in the common schools, and 
later at Allegheny College, Meadville, Pennsylvania, and the Western Reserve Col- 
lege at Hudson, Ohio. His legal education was acquired in Wooster, Ohio, and he 
was admitted to the bar of that State in 1852, where he commenced and continued 
in the practice, at Ashland, until 1857, when he came to Dubuque. Here he ap- 
plied himself closely to his profession for several years and established a successful 
practice. He actively identified himself with the public interests of Dubuque and 
the State. He early developed the characteristics of a very discreet, prudent and 
able leader. Upon the outbreak of the rebellion he was appointed by Governor 
Kirkwood as one of his aids, and acted with great efficiency in that capacity until 
1 862, when he was elected to Congress. Before that he had become so influential 
in politics that he was made a delegate to the Republican State Convention in 1 859, 
and a delegate to the National Convention which nominated Mr. Lincoln for Pres- 
ident at Chicago, in 1 860. In 1 864 he was re-elected to Congress, and continued 
to be re-elected for several terms. During his four terms in Congress he had won 
such a high reputation, that he was brought forward in I 870 by the northern part 
of the State as its candidate for the United States Senate. His rival was George 
G. Wright, who had been for many years one of the most distinguished Judges of 
the State Supreme Court, and who was probably the most popular man in the State. 
The contest was close and spirited, but it resulted in the election of Judge Wright. 
In 1872 he was again brought forward with greater strength and emphasis as a 
candidate for the United States Senate against James Harlan, who was also a very 


strong and popular man and had won a national reputation during his long period 
of service in that body. He was elected over Mr. Harlan. In 1873 he was re- 
elected, and continued to be re-elected up to the time of his death. He not only 
served m that body a longer continuous period — 36 years — than any other member 
m Its history, but established a distinction that made him one of the most prominent 
national figures. He was not what would be termed a bold, radical and aggres- 
sive Statesman, like Thadeus Stephens or Benjamin Wade, but so wise, prudent and 
safe an one, that in the latter part of his years he came to be regarded as the 
sagest counsellor of that body, and one to be safely followed in matters of great 
public concern. His joint service in the House and Senate covers a period of forty- 
four years, comprising the most momentous events in the history of the Nation. He 
was a most practical and effective Legislator, but I shall not undertake to enumerate 
his various lines of service, save to say that in the Senate he was a member of the 
Appropriations Committee throughout his entire career there, serving as its Chairman 
for eight years, from 1 88 1 to 1 889, and again from 1 895 until his death. He 
also served continuously on the Finance Committee from 1877 until his death. He 
understood finance to perfection, and when talking on that usually dry subject, could, 
by reason of his familiarity with it, and his clearness of demonstration, hold a pop- 
ular audience as attentive listeners to the very end of a two-hour speech. He was 
the only man I have ever heard that could do it. In 1 892 he was Chairman of the 
International Monetary Conference at Brussells. 

He had reached such a high point in the national view, that he was brought 
forward by some of the greatest and wisest men of the Republican party as a can- 
didate for the Presidency at its National Convention in 1888, and came "within an 
ace" of being nominated. This event was thus clearly described by Massachu- 
setts' distinguished Senator, George F. Hoar, in an article contributed by him to 
Scribner's Magazine for February, 1899: 

After several ineffectual ballotings, in which the votes of the different States 
were divided among several candidates, the Convention took a recess at twelve 
o'clock to four o'clock of the same day. Immediately a meeting was called by 
a number of gentlemen representing different delegations, in a room in the building 
where the Convention was held, for consultation and to see if they could agree upon 
a candidate. The Massachusetts delegation had authorized me to cast their vote 
as a unit for any candidate for whom I should think tit, whom sixteen of the 
delegates — being one more than a majority — approved. The New York delegation 
had authorized its vote to be cast unanimously for any person on whom the four 
delegates at large, Piatt, Miller, Depew and Hiscock, representing different shades 
of opinion in the Republican party of that State, should agree. Three of these 
gentlemen, Piatt, Miller and Hiscock were present at the meeting. Mr. Quay, 
chairman of the Pennsylvania delegation, was also authorized to cast the vote of 
the entire delegation as he should think fit. Mr. Spooner, of Wisconsin, chairman 
of the Wisconsin delegation, was present with like authority. Mr. Farwell, chair- 
man of the Illinois delegation, was present with a like authority from his State. 
Mr. Clarkson, chairman of the Iowa delegation, was present with authority to vote 
for Mr. Allison from the beginning. DeYoung, of California, thought he could 
speak for his people, though, I believe, without claiming authority from them. 
Filley, of Missouri, was present also. There were several other gentlemen of 


Influence though not all delegates, and not all entitled to speak for their States, 
but feeling able to assure the company that their State would accede to whatever 
agreement might be made there. The names of several candidates were discussed. 
I made a very earnest speech in favor of Mr. Allison, setting forth what I thought 
were the qualities that would make him a popular candidate and a wise and able 
president. Finally all agreed that their States would vote for him when the Con- 
vention came in at six o'clock. Depew, as I have said, was absent. But his three 
colleagues said there could be no doubt that he would agree to their action and 
there would be no difficulty about New York. We thought it best as a matter of 
precaution to meet again a half hour before the coming in of the Convention, to 
be sure the thing was to go through all right. I suppose that everybody in that 
room when he left it felt as certain as any event in the future that Mr. Allison 
would be nominated in the Convention. But when we met at the time fixed, the 
three delegates at large from New York said they were sorry they could not carry 
out their engagement. Mr. Depew, who had been supported as a candidate by his 
State, in the earlier ballots, had made a speech withdrawing his name. But when 
the action of the meeting was reported to him, he said he had been compelled to 
withdraw by the opposition of the agrarian element, which was hostile to railroads. 
He was then President of the New York Central & Hudson River Railroad Com- 
pany. He said that this opposition to him came largely from Iowa, and from the 
Northwest, where he found the chief support of Mr. Allison; that while he had 
withdrawn his own name, he would not so far submit to such an unreasonable and 
socialistic sentiment as to give his consent that it should dictate a candidate for 
the Republican party. The three other delegates at large were therefore compelled 
to refuse their support to the arrangement which had been conditionally agreed 
on, and the thing fell through. If it had gone on. New York, Illinois, California, 
Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Iowa, and perhaps Missouri, would have 
cast their votes unanimously for Allison, and his nomination would have been sure. 
I think no other person ever came so near the Presidency of the United States, 
and missed it. * * * The result was the nomination of Mr. Harrison. 

It will thus be seen that but for the unstatesmanlike and narrow^ action of Chaun- 
cey Depew, Mr. Allison would have received the nomination. His election as • 
President of the United States would have as surely followed, as did that of Pres- 
ident Harrison. 

I need say no more of Mr. Allison's public career. It is all a part of general 
history. He was a statesman and patriot of the old school, who, by his unpre- 
cedentedly long and meritorious services, gave as great and perhaps greater lustre to 
the State than any other of her distinguished statesmen. 

Personally considered, he was a charming and agreeable gentleman, kindly in 
manner, accommodating in disposition, utterly devoid of hateur and that "insolence 
of office," which is a part of little men. His address was highly pleasing, concil- 
iatory, and so perfectly natural that it required no strain to make it appear so. He 
was not particularly a ladies' man," but one that the ladies thought handsome — 
and so he was. His figure was not striking, neither were his attitudes, but they 
were pleasing, while his face, particularly his eyes, complexion and general expres- 
sion, quickly attracted attention. A noted female correspondent of the time, Mary 
Clymer Ames, wrote that he had the eye of a poet, "in fine frenzy rolling." 

One of the chief obstacles in the upward pathway of a few public men of Iowa 
I have known, was their want of personal fidelity to their friends and appreciation 
of their kindness. Such was not the case with William B. Allison. He was quick 


to recognize their good will and kindly services. A single personal incident will 
illustrate this. While I had opposed him in his unsuccessful candidacy against 
Judge Wright in 1 870, I had warmly supported him in his successful one against 
Mr. Harlan in 1872. Eleven years after this last event, in 1883, when I led-a 
forlorn hope as the Republican candidate for Congress in General Weaver's dis- 
trict, in which there was a very perfect combination between the Democrats and 
Greenbackers, Mr. Allison happened to meet in Chicago our mutual friend. Dr. S. 
D. Carpenter, of Ottumwa, and knowing that I had no money to spare for neces- 
sary campaign expenses, handed to Dr. Carpenter a draft for five hundred dollars, 
with directions that it be delivered to me. We lived in parts of the State remote 
from each other, and he had been for years so firmly seated in the United States 
Senate as to need no help from me. He was far from wealthy, but knew that I 
personally needed the aid he gave. Such an unsolicited act of kindly remem- 
brance is not often met with in public men. 

Unfortunately he died without issue, though twice married — first to Miss Anna 
Carter in 1 854, who died in 1 860, and afterward to Miss Mary Nieally, an adopted 
daughter of Governor and United States Senator James W. Grimes. She died in 

James W. McDill. 

It will have been seen from my sketch of Governor Kirkwood in the chapter 
relating to the early Governors, that during the long term for which he was elected 
to the United States Senate in 1 877, Kirkwood resigned that position to accept that 
of Secretary of Interior in President Garfield's Cabinet in 1 88 1 . To fill the va- 
cancy thus occasioned Judge James W. McDill was appointed in the year last 
named and served until 1883. He was well-known throughout the State for his 
high character and sterling qualities. He filled many public positions and all with 
perfect fidelity and credit. I became acquainted with him when we were both 
young men in 1858. He was a man of lovable traits, mild in character, plain and 
unpretentious, though not lacking in heroic qualities when occasion required. As a 
young and middle aged man — for owing to my removal from the State, I did not 
see him in his advanced years — he had full light or sandy beard and light hair and 
complexion, was rather below than above medium height, heavy set and round in 
figure. The last time I saw him, upwards of thirty years ago, we were associated 
in a case in which his county was a party interested and had been removed for 
trial at Ottumwa, where I was employed by him to assist in the trial of the cause. 
He was an able lawyer and possessed literary and philosophical accomplishments of 
no mean order. 

He was a native of Butler County, Ohio, where he was born in 1 834. He was 
a graduate of Mami University, came to Afton, Iowa, in 1857, and entered upon 
the practice of the law. In 1 858 he was elected County Superintendent of Schools, 


and a County Judge of Union County in 1859. He was made Judge of the Cir- 
cuit Court in 1868, and Judge of the District Court in 1870. He was elected to 
Congress in 1872 and at the end of that term was re-electdd, serving throughout 
both with marked ability. In 1878 he was appointed one of the Railway Com- 
missioners of the State, and in 1881 he was made United States Senator, as before 
stated. He was subsequently appointed by President Harrison, a member of the 
Inter-State Commerce Commission, a place he held until his death in 1 894. 

James F. Wilson. 

James F. Wilson, who succeeded James W, McDill in the United States Senate, 
rose from a saddler's bench to a position of the highest statesmanship and national 
influence. He was born in Newark, Ohio, in 1 828, where he received a common 
school education, and was early put to and learned the harness trade. Nature had 
endowed him with the splendid gifts of earnestness and moral power, coupled with 
an unyielding grasp upon the principals of honesty and right, and crowned with 
superb intellectual gifts. When he became conscious of these endowments he de- 
termined to make the best use of them in his power. He studied law, was admit- 
ted to the bar, and soon attained professional eminence, and so strongly and rapidly 
grew in public favor, that in three years after going there he was elected by the 
people of Jefferson County a member of the convention that framed the new con- 
stitution, which met in the winter of 1856-7. His Democratic opponent was Wil- 
liam G. Coop, one of the strongest men in the county, who in quite a long career 
had never suffered defeat before. In this convention he took a leading part and 
displayed argumentative ability that not only deeply impressed the members of the 
convention, but the people of the State at large. Not long after the close of this 
convention, Mr. Wilson came up to Ottumwa to argue some question before the 
District Court then in session. I was present, and also was Col. George Gillaspy, 
who was one of the most powerful leaders in the Democratic party, and who had 
opposed Mr. Wilson in some of the measures introduced in the convention. I was 
sitting by the side of Col. Gillaspy when Mr. Wilson arose to address the court, 
and as he did so Col. Gillaspy said to me: "That young man is an intellectual 
giant, and displayed great power in the debates of the convention, and my predic- 
tion is that he will make a still greater mark in the future." 

In 1857 he was appointed assistant commissioner of the Des Moines River 
Improvement, and in the same year he was elected by the people of Jefferson County 
to the House, and in 1 860 to the Senate. In the House which was of the 7th General 
Assembly, he was appointed Chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means. In 
1 86 1 he was elected to Congress from the first district, and was re-elected for three 
successive terms, thus serving in the 37th, 38th, 39th and 40th Congresses. This cov- 
ered the most important period of our history since Iowa had been admitted as a 


State. He became one of the most influential leaders in that body, and for six years 
occupied the position of Chairman of the Judiciary Committee. He introduced a joint 
resolution for the amendment of the constitution abolishing slavery, and on March 
first, 1 864, made one of the most powerful speeches delivered in that body. It at- 
tracted the general attention of the country. In the 39th Congress he reported the bill 
extending the right of suffrage in the District of Columbia. He was one of the leaders 
in the same session in support of the Civil Rights Bill, and his speech was universally 
accorded to be among the very strongest delivered. As Chairman of the Judiciary 
Committee he closed the debate in an argument of great pov/er. 

In the 39th Congress the impeachment of President Johnson came under con- 
sideration, and the matter was referred to the Judiciary Committee of which Mr. 
Wilson was a member. In these proceedings from first to last, Mr. Wilson figured 
conspicuously. A majority of the committee were in favor of impeachment pro- 
ceedings, but Mr. Wilson then took a different view, and made a minority report 
which for learning and research has rarely been excelled. In the course of it he 
reviewed the whole line of precedents that had arisen before the British Parliament, 
as well as those before the United States Senate, and elucidated them in the light of 
the principals prevailing before each of those bodies respectively. Subsequently, 
however, when new charges were added based on fresh acts of the President, he 
endorsed the proceedings and was appointed by the House as one of the managers 
to conduct the trial of the President. He and Senator James W. Grimes were 
close personal friends and had generally acted in concert on nearly all great meas- 
ures, but on this they were divided. Senator Grimes was one of the "immortal few" 
who voted against the impeachment, for which he was at the time politically damned 
by the leaders and press of his party, but afterwards sainted by the people.* 

Upon the inauguration of President Grant, Mr. Wilson was tendered a position 
in the cabinet as Secretary of State, which he declined. In 1 882 he was elected by 
the State Legislature United States Senator. In speaking of this event, the Editor 
of the Old Series of Annals, for January, 1 882, the venerable Samuel Storrs Howe, 
says: "It is amusing to see Mr. Wilson ride triumphantly into the United States 
Senate. One candidate after another dropped out of the list, until Wilson stood 
alone in "solitary grandeur." In 1 886 he was re-elected for another term in the 
Senate, and served until March, 1895. 

His tastes and characteristics were strikingly domestic, and in a conversation at 
his house in 1 889, he told me that he fully intended on the expiration of his Senato- 
rial term to retire from public life and spend the remainder of his days among his 
family and lifelong friends at Fairfield; but alas, this hope was frustrated by his 
departure from this life in April, 1895, when he was sixty-seven years of age. 

* See Sketch of General Pitz Henry Warren and Senator Grimes, infra. 


As throwing an apt light upon his characteristics, I have seen fit to give the fol- 
lowing further excerpts from the Annals above referred to: 

His example is worthy of all praise, .and may be quoted for every hard working 
young man. He stands forth a self-made man, having wrought out his own fortune 
to his present state and standing, at home and aljroad. He is comparatively 
young, only fifty-three — just the number of acres in his farm in the suburbs of 
Fairfield. He has constructed a large fish-pond, eighteen feet deep, so that fish 
can live in the winter. A smaller pond he has made to water his select stock, so 
that by turning a faucet he can supply his herd. He makes his own gas of gasoline, 
cheaper than the city can furnish it, at the distance which he lives from town. But 
he pays all town taxes, and warms his house with steam from his own furnace. 
Thus independent, he still consents to serve his adopted State on a wider theater, 
a worthy successor of Grimes and Kirkwood. His late lectures on public occasions, 
partly literary and partly relating to biblical subjects, discover a very nervous 
style, very precise diction, and in every way an earnest and eloquent man, going 
"straight forward" to his aim. He well illustrates Webster's definition of true 
eloquence: "It's in the man, in the occasion, and in the subject." His printed 
papers are worthy of study by young men. 

I was always rather proud in being reckoned as one of his faithful adherents. 
I thoroughly believed in the man; and besides, he had early in my life laid me under 
obligations to him as will be seen in what follows. In the political campaign of 
1 865 the Republican State Convention met at Des Moines on the fourteenth of June 
and made its platform and nominations. On the twenty-third of the following 
August, the so-called "Soldier's" or Anti-Negro Suffrage Convention met, adopted 
its platform and nominated for every one of the offices to be filled, a soldier, nearly 
every one of whom was a Democrat. On the same day the Democratic Convention 
met at the same place and adopted a platform not inconsistent with that adopted by 
the so-called Soldiers' Convention. It, however, made no nominations but sup- 
ported the Soldier's ticket. The Soldier's ticket soon came to be known as the 
"Possum Ticket." Under these conditions I was nominated as the Republican 
candidate for State Senator from Wapello County. I had before the commence- 
ment of the war been a Democrat and had, .as perhaps the youngest Democratic 
Orator on the stump, canvassed the State for Mr. Douglas in company with Henry 
Clay Dean. There was naturally a rather intense feeling against me on the part of 
some of my old associates, particularly the leaders, and no effort was spared by them 
to compass my defeat. The county but a short time before had been known as one 
of the banner Democratic counties of the State. Under these circumstances the 
contest was very bitter and very close. The Democrats had nominated a so-called 
Soldier's county ticket, and Colonel Samuel W. Summers who had been a life-long 
Whig and Republican, and Colonel of the Seventh Iowa Cavalry, was my op- 
ponent. Meetings were largely attended throughout the county, and a general one 
at Ottumwa at the end of the campaign. A large crowd was in attendance. The 
afterward distinguished George R. Peck — lawyer and orator — then a young soldier 
just returned from the war was present. Both sides were well represented, and 
cheering for Colonel Summers vied lustily with those for me. I made the best 
speech I could, and was followed by Mr. Wilson who made one so powerful and 


persuasive that it carried the audience nearly off their feet. It was an outdoor 
meeting. Mr. Wilson in his inimitable way took up the Soldier's ticket. He de- 
nominated it the "Possum ticket;" and said that the Democratic Party was pre- 
tendmg to be dead, just as the possum does, but that it had simply garbed itself in 
and was falsely parading under a soldier's uniform. The exposure was effective, 
and did much to give me my election. 

Years afterward, in 1881, when he had been brought into the United States 
Senatorial contest, he wrote me the following letter : 

Fairfield, Iowa, March 12, 1881. 
Dear Mr. Stiles: Now that I am in the Senatorial race I should be very glad 
to have your help. I want Wapello County, and shall hope to have your aid in 
securing its legislative delegation. I should be pleased to have any suggestions 
from you that will help me do my part of the work. 

Yours truly, James F. Wilson. 

It was with pleasure that I responded to these suggestions, and the delegation 
from Wapello County came solidly to his support. 

But let it not be inferred that Mr. Wilson depended upon political machinery 
or mcmipulations for his political successes. They came to him as naturally as they 
do to all great men of that kind. As a speaker he was not sensational. He dwelt 
in logical fields, emd his pre-eminence was in the greatness of his argumentative pow- 
ers, mingled with enough of wit and satire to make his efforts both telling and at- 
tractive. Had he eschewed politics and devoted his forces to his profession, he 
would in my opinion have achieved as high distinction as a jurist as he did as a 
statesman. In appearance he was of medium heighth, and rather stockily built. His 
head was finely shaped and thickly covered with short-cropped hair which had pre- 
maturely grayed, and showed no parting. His strong and intellectual face, his ad- 
dress and general bearing, though kindly and pleasing, clearly bespoke the firmness 
of his character and the strength of his talents. 



Serranus Clinton Hastings and Shepherd Leffler. 

Our first Representatives in Congress, after the admission of Iowa into the Union, 
were Serranus Clinton Hastings and Shepherd Leffler. 

Both of these men were prominent figures in the legal and political history of 
early Iowa. I have heard many different opinions expressed in reference to Judge 
Hastings. He left the State at an early day. He had some personal enemies; 
many things have been written about him, some of them true, some of them false. 
His real status has therefore been left somewhat in confusion. He was a man of 
strong will and characteristics and in the political and sometimes personal frictions 
that prevailed, he doubtless played a strong and sometimes offensive part. As a 
consequence, he left behind him some personal enemies or at least some who felt 
rather bitterly towards him. Prominently, and I may say principally, among these 
was Hawkins Taylor, who was hostile politically and personally to Hastings. Tay- 
lor was a very peculiar man with many strong points and some unenviable ones. He 
was an unrelenting foe and towards his foes he could not refrain from expressing his 
enmities. Thus prompted, Taylor wrote an article entitled a "Politician 
of the Primary Days," which appeared in the October, 1871, number 
of the Annals of Iowa, which does Hastings great injustice; in fact, outrageously 
misrepresents him. Nothing could be more unjust or scarcely more slanderous of a 
man who had held public office and been greatly honored by the people. The pri- 
vate reasons that instigated this article I have no knowledge of, but that it was ac- 
tuated by unfriendly impulses there can be no doubt. It was very briefly but 
nevertheless effectually refuted by a subsequent article of Suel Foster's appearing 
in the January, 1872, number of the Annals. The fact is that taken all in all, 
Hastings was a very remarkable man, as his career, including both that in Iowa and 
California, fully verifies, and the slanders that were heaped upon him make one 
realize the full force of the lines: 

He who to mountain tops ascends, 

Will find the highest peaks most wrapped in clouds and snow. 

He who surpasses or subdues mankind, 

Must look down upon the hate of those below. 


Though high above the sun of glory glow 

And far beneath the earth and ocean spread, 

Round him are icy rocks and loudly blow 

Contending tempests on his naked head, 

And thus reward the toll that to their summit led. 

That he had weaknesses and especially one common to that time must be admit- 
ted (in view of what Theodore S. Parvin has said of him in connection with my 
sketch of that gentleman) . But if he were to be condemned on that ground, what 
would become of some of the great men of the past, among whom might perhaps be 
reckoned Webster, Clay, Douglass, Arthur, De Quincey, Coleridge, Byron, Poe 
et id omne genus. Men should be judged by their accomplishments. The scrip- 
tural saying "by their fruits ye shall kno.w them," is still in vogue. Gauging him by 
this standard, let us briefly review the principal events in the life of this man. 

He was born in Jefferson County, New York, in 1814. His early years were 
a struggle with poverty, but by extraordinary efforts, he managed to pass the requisite 
tutilage at Gouveneur Academy, from which he graduated with honors. At the 
age of twenty, he became principal of Norwich Academy in Shenango County, New 
York. What higher evidence than this could there be of his conspicuous talents and the 
impression he made upon the community? He subsequently commenced the study of 
law, completing his legal course at Lawrenceburg, Indiana, to which place he had im- 
migrated. He did not immediately enter upon the practice. He became for a 
time the editor of the "Indiana Signal" and vigorously supported Martin Van Buren 
for the presidency. His editorial career was short, but it closed with the triumph 
of his candidate. In December, 1 836, he pushed farther westward — to Terra 
Haute, Indiana, where he was admitted to the bar. In the following spring, he re- 
solved to go still farther west and came to BurHngton in January, 1837. In the 
spring of that year, he came to the settlement of Bloomington, whence sprang the 
city of Muscatine. We were then a part of Wisconsin. Upon the organization of 
Iowa Territory, he had made such a favorable impression upon the people that he 
was elected a member of the House of the first and second Legislative Assemblies. 
In 1840, he was elected to the Legislative Council and by successive elections 
served in the 3rd, 4th, 7th and 8th Legislative Assemblies, with marked distinction, 
and in 1 845 was elected President of the Council. He exercised a wide influence 
in framing the early laws of the Territory. He was associated with James W. 
Grimes in compiling the laws and reported from the committee the statute known in 
the early days and for many years, as the "Blue Book." In 1846 he was elected 
as one of the first Congressmen in the State organization. Shepherd Leffler was the 
Associate Representative. In 1 848 he was appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme 
Court of Iowa. At the end of his term, he removed to California, arriving in that 
State in the summer of 1 849. In a comparatively short time, he had made such a 
favorable impression upon the people and their representatives that he was unan- 
imously elected by the Legislature Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of California. 


In this position he served with distinction and general satisfaction. In I 85 I , the 
people of that state further showed their appreciation of his talents by electing him 
its Attorney-General. After this, he devoted himself entirely to his profession and 
became one of the most widely known and famous lawyers of California. His 
practice rapidly grew upon his hands. He was employed in cases of great impor- 
tance ; among them were some involving the title to large bodies of land under Span- 
ish grants, which he prosecuted with success. Mr. Parvin says that he received in 
one case lands valued at a million dollars. In short, his professional success was 
such that in the end, he became a millionaire. He gave largely to the public, and 
donated $100,000.00 for the establishment of a Law Department in the University 
of California, known as the Hastings Law School. If these successive triumphs do 
not demonstrate that Judge Hastings was a man of great ability and high character, 
then by what test shall men be judged? He died in San Francisco in 1 893, and I 
am gratified by the belief that what I have written may, in a measure, vindicate his 
memory against the aspersions that have been cast upon it in the manner before 

In this connection, I am constrained to embody the following excerpt from the 
reply of Suel Foster to Mr. Taylor hereinbefore referred to. Suel Foster was one 
of the leading citizens of the Stete, distinguished for his exalted character and in- 
tegrity. He lived in Muscatine during all the period that Hastings did and knew 
him intimately. He says: 

Tliat Judge Hastings took a very conspicuous part in politics in the early 
history of the Territory and State, is true; that he drank whisky, and sometimes 
used profane language, is also true. Is Mr. Taylor correcting all of these -evils? 
If so, he has a great undertaking. He is charged by Mr. Taylor with being a lawyer 
for criminals. What of it? What criminal is without a lawyer or what lawyer 
declines to serve in that capacity? He says that Hastings had an "expressionless 
countenance." No man ever walked our fair State with a more expressive counte- 
nance, or was a nobler looking specimen of a man. As a political leader of the 
Democratic party in the County, Territory and State very few men acted with 
better judgment or more profound statesmanlike wisdom. Nor has Mr. Taylor 
pointed out a single dishonest act in Judge Hastings. The latter left in Muscatine 
County an unblemished character for truth, veracity, and honesty. In proof of the 
estimation and confidence the people put in him in the twelve years he lived here, 
he was repeatedly electd to the Legislature, once Speaker of the House, once of 
the Senate, once to Congress and then appointed by the Governor a Judge on the 
Supreme bench. In all these offices of trust he discharged his official duties with 
ability and fidelity. 

It seems to me that Mr. Taylor did not know intimately or had not observed 
closely the personality of Hastings, for he describes him as having "long, black hair, 
dark complexion and expressionless countenance." This is at utter variance with 
what Mr. Foster has said and also, as will be seen by reference, with the description 
given by Theodore S. Parvin, a fellow townsman and an intimate, who says: "Hast- 
ings had red hair, red complexion, was tall, full of good humor and laugh." 

In what has been said, I do not desire to be unjust to Hawkins Taylor, for he 
was an active and useful pioneer and his sprightly writings along nearly the whole 


line of the Annals of Iowa have contributed greatly to the history of the early times. 
But he was an intense political opponent of Hastings, a rabid prohibitionist, and 
exceedingly intolerant as will be readily seen if one follows the course of his writings, 
in which he sometimes indulges in rather unpardonable personalities. 

It should be noted that at this time the State comprised only two Congressional 
Districts, and it remained so limited in its Congressional representation for some six- 
teen years, until the election of William B. Allison in I 862 as the Representative of 
the third district. 

Shepherd Leffler was a native of Washington County, Pennsylvania, but must 
have early removed to Virginia. He came to Iowa in 1835, and settled in Bur- 
lington. He was a man of marked ability, a good lawyer and an able advocate. 
He was a strong and logical reasoner and had he devoted his entire attention to his 
profession, would have taken first rank at the bar. He had been a member of the 
Virginia Legislature several times and of the Wisconsin Legislature. He was elect- 
ed a member of the Iowa Territorial House in 1 839 ; again in 1 84 1 . In 1 842 he 
was elected to the Territorial Council and by re-election served in the Fifth, Sixth, 
Seventh and Eighth General Assemblies. He was a member of the First Constitu- 
tional Convention in 1 844 and the Second one in 1 846. He was elected to Congress 
under the State organization in 1 846 with his compeer, S. C. Hastings. In I 848, he 
was re-elected and again in 1850. In 1856, he was a candidate for Congress but 
was defeated by his Republican opponent, Timothy Davis. Leffler was a very 
domestic man, and in a measure, abandoned politics and the law, retiring like Cin- 
cinnatus to a farm, where he spent his last days. It was only occasionally after 
this that he could be induced to take part in a political campaign. He was nom- 
inated by the Democrats for Governor against Governor Kirkwood in 1875, and 
made a brilliant canvass, but was overborne by the political majority against him. 
He was a kind and devoted husband and father, a good neighbor, a man of great 
personal popularity, of fine personal appearance and winning manners. He dis- 
liked the turmoil of political strife, but when aroused was a host within himself, and 
was always a tried and trusted leader of his party. He exercised a great influence 
in the formative period and left his impress upon the constitution of the State. He 
died at Burlington in 1879, generally respected and beloved. 

William Thompson. 

William Thompson was a native of Pennsylvania, where he was born in Fay- 
ette County in 1818. The family afterwards removed to Ohio where he was 
reared on his father's farm and endured hard work in clearing the forest with 
which it was covered. He studied law with Columbus Delano. In 1 839 he came 
to Montrose, and to Mt. Pleasant about 1841, forming a partnership with J. C. 
Hall, who then resided there. This partnership continued until Hall removed to 


Burlington. Thompson was known as "Black Bill" on account of his swarthy 
complexion, black hair and eyes. He was elected as a Democratic member of the 
Territorial House of Representatives from Henry County. At a subsequent ses- 
sion he was elected Clerk of the House. In I 847 he was elected to Congress from 
the southern district of the State, and re-elected at the close of that term, but his 
election was contested by his opponent, Daniel F. Miller, of Lee County, an account 
of which will be found in my sketch of J. C. Hall. He removed to Burlington 
and purchased the "Burlington Gazette," which he conducted for several years. At 
the breaking out of the Rebellion he entered the service as Captain of Company E, 
1 St Iowa Cavalry, which he had recruited in Henry County, in the months of June 
and July, 1861. Holding this rank until the 6th of April, 1863, he was at that 
time promoted to Major of the Regiment, and in August, 1 864, was made Colonel. 
He was brevetted Brigadier-General for gallant services. At the close of the 
war he was commissioned a Captain in the Regular Army. He was eventually re- 
tired on half pay and resided at Bismark, Dakota Territory. Mr. Woods informs 
me that he was married four times, that he had one son by his first wife, and two by 
his last. His last wife was the widow of Lieutenant Cyrus Hall, of the Regular 
Army, and brother of J. C. and Augustus Hall. He was a man of marked abil- 
ity, a good lawyer, an excellent scholar, a mathematician of the first order, a valiant 
soldier, an expert and prudent politician. I first met and became acquainted with 
him in 1859. He died in Tacoma, Washington, October 7, 1897, at the age of 

Daniel F. Miller. 

Daniel F. Miller occupies a rather unique position in the profession, for he was 
not only prominent among the early territorial lawyers, but continued to be among 
those of the state until a comparatively recent period. He came in I 839, he lived 
and continued active until a great age. He was a man of the strongest individuality. 
He was in some respects a wizard, if that term may be applied to a man of almost 
gigantic stature. He could make a jury cry by crying himself. He knew and 
was on familiar terms with every man in the county; he would call the jurymen by 
name" while addressing them, talk to them in a kindly, confidential way and fre- 
quently allude to some incident calculated to please a particular juryman. He was, 
therefore, a power to be reckoned on in the trial of every case in which he partic- 
ipated. He was particularly effective in criminal cases and rarely lost one. His 
word in all business transactions was as good as his bond and all his dealings scru- 
pulously honest and just, but in the defense of men being tried for their life he fol- 
lowed the tactics inculcated by the great Philadelphia lawyer, David Paul Brown, 
and left no artifice unemployed, no stone unturned, no resource unexhausted that 
might save the life of his client. His name and personality became familiar through- 
out the state. In regard to most men one can generally think of someone else who 


in some respect resembles the person under consideration, but I fail in this case. I 
know of none with whom to compare him. He 'vas over six feet in height, large 
frame, ruggedly built with broad shoulders, deep chest, well rounded body, not lean 
but without surplus flesh, and as straight and stalwart as one of General Jackson's 
soldiers. His head was high, massive, and crowned with very thick, short-cropped, 
grizzled hair. His habits were generally abstemious, his morals excellent; when old, 
he might well have said : 

Though I look old, yet I am strong and lusty, 

For in my youth did I never apply hot and rebellious liquors in my blood, 

Nor did not with unbashful forehead woo 

The means of weakness and debility. 

I have related an incident in my sketch of Judge J. C. Hall, that might 
indicate differently, but this would perhaps not be fully justified in respect to Mr. 
Miller, and besides the occasion was special and the circumstances trying. The in- 
cident spoken of was in connection with the contest between him and William 
Thompson for the seat in Congress, which was finally awarded to Mr. Miller, and 
I respectfully refer the reader to it as highly illustrative of the times, as well as of 
Mr. Miller and his distinguished associates. 

Mr. Miller was a formidable adversary in any case and in criminal ones he was 
probably without a peer in the State. He was distinguished not only as a lawyer and 
forensic orator, but as a rhetorician and author. In 1 882 I took the liberty of 
asking him if he would not do me the favor of sketching a brief autobiography for 
my use in the present work. He kindly responded by sending me the following : 

"I have been in continuous general law practice in Iowa since the spring of 
1839, and am supposed to be the longest in continuous practice of any lawyer in 
the State. I was born near the city of Cumberland in the State of Maryland, on 
the fourth day of October, 1814. My father was a Virginian by birth and my 
mother a native of New Jersey. They were both intense in their hatred of slavery, 
and moved to Ohio when I was less than two years old. My parents never owned 
a slave, and would not remain in the midst of slavery, and so they removed to the 
then wilds of a free state. My father purchased several large tracts of land in 
Wayne County, Ohio, and settled and commenced farming ; and there I received my 
first rudiments of education in the primitive log schoolhouses of those early days. 
When I was scarcely ten years of age, I prevailed on my father to permit me to go 
into a printing office to learn the trade of a printer and publisher, to which my father 
consented, and I found a situation as an apprentice in a newspaper office in Woos- 
ter, the county seat of Wayne County, Ohio. 

"I had been in that office about nine months and was greatly pleased with the 
business, when my father came into the office one day in an angry mood, and said, 
'My son, when you came into this office it was not a political newspaper, but was 
independent in poHtics, and I see by yesterday's issue of the paper that it has taken 


the part of Mr. Adams in opposition to General Jackson for the Presidency, and no 
son of mine shall work for a man who opposes General Jackson for President. 1 he 
proprietor remonstrated and said he and young Dan were getting along well together, 
and he wished him to remain; but my father was unyielding, and compelled me to 
put on my coat and hat and leave the printing of&ce, and it was because of the 
father's act, rather than the son's wish, that the son did not become a printer instead 
of a lawyer. I went home with my father and worked and studied as circumstances 
allowed; and when about fifteen years of age commenced teaching school in Woos- 
ter, and taught there and in a country school near by, for nearly a year. 

"In December, 1830, I conceived the idea of going to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 
and see what might there turn up in regard to my future career. I walked with my 
satchel in my hand to Pittsburgh, one hundred and twenty miles distant, in a four- 
days travel, and arrived there in December, 1 830. Three or four days after my 
arrival there, I secured a situation as clerk in a fruit and eating establishment on 
Market street. After being a year there, I went as clerk in a hardware store and 
in the fall of 1 832 (being then eighteen years of age) , I concluded to resume my 
former occupation as teacher for a time, because it gave me more opportunities for 
education and thought. 

"From my early age on the farm or elsewhere, when my day's work was over, 
I seldom let an evening pass without devoting a portion of it to study of some work 
on art, science or general Hterature. I then taught school continuously in Pittsburgh 
and vicinity until the fall of 1835, when I had accumulated enough money to sup- 
port myself for several years, which would enable me to engage in the study of any 
profession I might prefer. Under, the advice of friends, I concluded to study law, 
and on the fifteenth day of October, 1835, I entered as student in a law office in 
Pittsburgh, and continued in the study of law there for over three years. The law 
of Pennsylvania would have allowed me to be admitted to the bar after two years' 
study, but I thought then, as I still think, that no lawyer should be admitted to the 
bar, until after three years' severe study; and as I had the means to carry me 
through, I concluded to learn as much law as I conveniently could, before I came 
to the bar. The gentlemen who examined me as to my qualifications for admission 
to the bar passed a high compliment on my thoroughness in knowledge generally of 
the law, and especially such as related to land and criminal laws. 

"While a law student, I wrote and published a small work on mental philos- 
ophy of which five hundred copies were disposed of. I lost nothing by the publica- 
tion of the work, but it was not suited to popular reading, and I printed no second 
edition. I had pursued my studies as a law student so severely that upon my admis- 
sion to the bar, I found myself much enfeebled in health and subject to an acute 
form of dyspepsia. My physician directed me to quit all studies and go to the hills 
of Washington County, Pennsylvania, and there with some farmer live a farm life 


until nature could have the opportunity to restore my physical energies. I followed 
the physician's advice, and finding myself in a few months, improved in health, 
though not entirely restored, I concluded to visit what was then known as the "Black 
Hawk Purchase," or "Iowa Territory," consisting of a strip of land fifty miles in 
width west of the Mississippi River, from the northern line of the State of Missouri, 
to what is now known as the north line of the State of Iowa. I came on steamboat 
down the Ohio and up the Mississippi, and my first touch of Iowa ground was on 
the fifteenth day of April, 1 839, at the place where the city of Keokuk now stands. 
Keokuk being at the foot of the Rapids, the boat I was on lay there several hours 
preparing by lighterage for its passage over the rapids, and while there I first saw 
a spice of the border life of those days. Just under the bluffs was a low, lone, log 
buildmg, formerly used by traders as a trading house with the Indians, into which 
was placed one of those sinks of shame and misery, called a "Saloon, or Whisky 
Shop," and quite a crowd of whites and half-breed Indians and a few full-blood 
Indians were there on what seemed to be a big spree. One of the white ruffians 
from the shore came on the boat and sought a quarrel with the cook of the boat who 
was a mulatto, and finally drew a knife and made for him. The cook was not 
daunted, but seized a carving knife from the table and rushed on his assailant. They 
struck and thrust with their knives at each other several times without doing serious 
injury to either, when the ruffian suddenly turned, and fled from the boat. 

"From Keokuk, I went on to Fort Madison, and there stuck out my shingle. 
Twenty years afterwards, I moved to Keokuk, which in the meantime had sprung 
from ravines, rocks and brushwood, to a city of eight thousand people, to-wit, in 
1859. All Iowa, when I landed here, had less than forty thousand people. Lee 
County had in it already four lawyers who had preceded me ; to-wit : Alfred Rich, 
who died in Kentucky in 1 843 ; Judge Edward Johnstone, who now resides in 
Keokuk, but who has been out of the practice of the law many years; Henry Eno, 
who left Iowa about thirty-five years ago, and went to California, where he became 
a Judge; and Philip R. Velie, who died at Fort Madison in March, 1 881 . I express 
the belief that there never have been in Lee County four abler lawyers than those 
four named gentlemen. Judge Viele and Judge Johnstone possessed wonderful 
gifts of oratory, equal to anything I heard in after years in Congress, excepting Clay, 
Webster, Benton and Calhoun ; but neither of these four excelled in the management 
of law cases, seeminglynot inclined to take an interest in the practical details of law. 
Rich and Eno both were thoroughly educated in the principles and practical details 
of law; but while Rich was most artful and successful in the management of a suit 
before a jury, Eno in the trial of a case before a jury, could not put his knowledge 
to continuous, practical account. 

"In the summer of I 839, Hugh T. Reid came from Indiana and settled at Fort 
Madison. He was thoroughly educated in law, and while his voice was very in- 


harmonious as a speaker, yet he possessed such a double share of practical common 
sense in the management of a law suit, that it made him a very formidable adversary. 
"Lee County, in the early days of Iowa, was a great field of legal controversy, 
owing to the litigation over the Half-breed land titles. The Half-breed tract in- 
cludes 1 1 9,000 acres of land, besides the city of Keokuk. Eminent lawyers from 
other states often visited Lee County to engage in its legal contests in the Territorial 
days of Iowa, amongst whom were Francis Key of Maryland (the author of the 
National anthem called the 'Star Spangled Banner'), R. Blannerhasset of St. Louis, 
O. H. Browning, Archie Williams, and Cyrus Walker of Illinois, each a giant in 
law knowledge and its practice. Also David Rorer, J. C. Hall and M. D. Brown- 
ing, of Burlington, Iowa, each noted in his day, as being eminent in his profession, 
frequently attended and participated in law suits in Lee County, in the Ante-state 
days of Iowa. 

"I was engaged as a lawyer in a majority of all the big suits in Lee County 
of those ante-state days, especially of those relating to Half-breed titles, and in 
criminal cases ; and from my associations had favorable opportunities to improve my- 
self in the art of successful legal controversy. In 1872, my views in relation to the 
true status of the colored population was put to a severe legal ordeal. It had been the 
rule with the officers of steamers on the Mississippi River, to require colored passen- 
gers — if women, to eat in the pantry; if men, on the guards of the boat, and they 
were forbidden the table in the cabin. Miss Emma Coger, a young lady of fine educa- 
tion, gentle manners, and considerable elegeuice and neatness of dress, who was one- 
eighth colored and the rest white, who was by occupation a teacher of music, and also 
a teacher of a common school of colored children in Quincy, Illinois, had been at 
Keokuk, Iowa, on a visit and was on her return home to Quincy, Illinois, on a steam- 
er of the 'St. Louis and Northern Line Packet Company.' When dinner was an- 
nounced, she stepped up with other passengers and took a seat at the table. The wife 
of the Captain of the boat, happened to be there, also, and though she and her hus- 
band were natives of the North, she took umbrage at seeing Miss Coger at the table, 
and declared she would not eat at a table where a negro sat. The captain being in- 
formed that Miss Coger was at the table, immediately went to her and told her she 
must leave the table and eat in the pantry. Miss Coger said she was the peer of any 
lady in morals and manners, and refused to get up. The captain called the clerk to his 
assistance, and they forcibly seized her and pulled her from the table and pushed her 
out on the guard of the boat. 

"Miss Coger as soon as she got home to Quincy, consulted with reference to a 
suit against the steamboat company for the assault upon her, but was informed that 
a suit for a wrong done to a colored person on a steamboat similar to the one she had 
suffered, had just been tried in an Illinois court, and the officers of the boat had been 
justified by that court for their action in the premises. She then came immediately 


back to Keokuk, and called on me, stated her grievance, and asked me to act as her 
attorney in prosecuting said Steamboat Company for the wrong done her. I readily 
complied, and sued the company in a civil action for damages, in the Lee County 
District Court at Keokuk. When I commenced the action, there was much prej- 
udice in the public mind against my proceedings; and lawyers generally supposed my 
client would be defeated. The suit was tried in Keokuk and engaged a week's at- 
tention in the court. The Steamboat Company secured an able home lawyer on 
the defense, and also brought to their assistance, as counsel, a gentleman supposed 
to have no superior as an advocate, from a neighboring state. People came to hear 
the trial for twenty miles around, and never was there before or since in Lee County 
such a crowded Courthouse or such a general public excitement about a trial, as that 
event produced. The result was a verdict for plaintiff for two hundred and fifty 
dollars and costs. Defendant appealed to the Supreme Court, and the Supreme 
Court sustained the verdict and ruling of the lower Court. Since the result of that 
trial, respectable colored men and women have the same rights accorded to them 
on railroad cars and steamboats that white men and women have ; though the Courts 
allow the boats to set apart tables in their eating cabins for colored passengers, as a 
proper matter of boat discipline and regulation. I think I may properly say that I 
so managed that trial that before the case was through, the general public sentiment 
of Keokuk changed, and the verdict was generally approved by the community. 

"I may be pardoned for noticing this particular incident. Of my character and 
general career as a lawyer and public man, I must let others speak if they will, and 
with this brief outline I bring this to a close." 

I have referred to Mr. Miller's distinction as a criminal lawyer. His experi- 
ence in that line was extensive and his general success conspicuous. He wrote me 
that he was engaged either for the defense or prosecution — generally the former — 
in forty-nine homicide cases. To this number it is almost certain that subsequent 
cases were added. It is doubtful whether the record of any lawyer living or dead 
can equal this. His practice in that line may be said to have been co-extensive with 
the state. He belonged to and was familiar with the people. He exerted all his 
ingenius powers, and generally with effect, to arouse the pathos of the Jury. He 
entered feelingly into his cause and as hereinbefore indicated, was, himself, some- 
times wrought to the highest emotion. Col. J. M. Reid, in his pamphlet, "Sketches 
and Anecdotes," published at Keokuk in 1877, gives the following anecdote along 
the line I have last indicated : 

Miller was defending the son of the widow Alio for murder. With a long, 
serious face, and pathetic voice, he was reading to the jury from the Bible the 
story of the widow's son, and commenting on it. Tears came to the eyes of many 
bystanders, and jurors, and even some of the lawyers. A son of Mr. Miller's who 
was listening went home and told his mother of the scene, who said to him. 
"Did you cry, my son?" The reply was, "No, mother, I knew pa too well." 


But let it not be inferred that he confined himself to criminal cases, for he had 
a wide general practice, and was able and efficient in both civil and crimmal 
lines. He represented the settlers in the noted Half-breed Tract litigation. He 
gave special attention to mental philosophy and diseases, and was interested in a 
number of will and other cases involving the question of mental unsoundness. 

He began and ended his political life as a Democrat. In 1 840 he was elected 
to the Territorial Legislature. In 1 848 he was elected to Congress. The seat was 
first awarded to his opponent, William Thompson. It was contested by Miller, a 
new election was ordered by Congress and Miller was triumphantly chosen. In 
1840 he went to the support of General Harrison and continued to act with the 
Whig Party until its practical disintegration. He was one of the founders of the 
Republican Party in Iowa, and in its first Presidential campaign was placed at the 
head of the ticket for Presidential elector. In the stirring events preceding the Civil 
War, and with the hope of avoiding that catastrophe, he was strongly in favor of 
the Crittendon Compromise measure. This being defeated, he returned to the 
ranks of the Democracy, and earnestly co-operated with that Party, to the end of 
his life. By it, he was several times called upon to preside over its state conven- 
tions, twice made its candidate for Presidential elector, and once given its unanimous 
vote in the Legislature for United States Senator. 

In 1 860 he was a candidate for Judge of the Supreme Court, but was defeated 
by his Republican opponent. Judge George G. Wright. In 1 893 he was elected 
to the Legislature from Lee County and took his seat fifty-three years after his first 
term of service in that body. 

Among his other writings, he prepared and had published his work on Rhetoric 
from his standpoint and experience at the bar. It was received with the most flat- 
tering notices from the press, from law periodicals, from Presidents of Colleges, dis- 
tinguished lawyers and eminent Judges. He was a man of great kindness, generous 
and liberal, especially to those in poor circumstances. 

In his Congressional Contest with Thompson before alluded to. Congress, as is 
usual in such cases, passed a resolution authorizing the payment of his expenses. But 
he left Washington without drawing the amount. He afterwards donated his right 
to do so to the Fort Madison Library Association, which afterwards received One 
Thousand Dollars in that behalf, as the result of his liberality. 

He was steadfastly faithful to his friends and to his promises. As illustrative 
of this, Ex-United States Circuit Judge Henry C. Caldwell once told me a notable 
instance. The particulars of that relation I had forgotten, and so recently inter- 
viewed Judge Caldwell on the subject. I went to Judge Caldwell's house with a 
stenographer, who took down his narration of the incident referred to, which I here 


reproduce for the purpose indicated, and also to show Judge Caldwell's opinion and 
estimate of Mr. Miller: 

Miller was the Whig candidate and Colonel Thompson the Democratic candi- 
date for Congress at the time that the Mormons had settled at Kanesville, now 
Council Bluffs, on the IWissouri River. Miller got almost the unanimous vote at the 
Kanesville precinct, which for election purposes constituted a precinct of Monroe 
County at the time. During the time that Miller was practicing law in Port 
Madison, Jie performed many kind acts for the Mormons at Nauvoo, who were 
finally driven out, and they reciprocated his liindness by giving their votes for his 
election to Congress. The election officers at Kanesville returned the poll-book of 
that precinct to the clerk of Monroe at Albia, the county seat. On the day 
appointed by law for the clerk to canvass the vote of that county and attached 
precincts, Judge J. C. Hall, of Burlington, Iowa, and Israel Kiester, of Bloomfield 
Davis County (the second Treasurer of the State of Iowa), were present represent- 
ing Thompson. The clerk proceeded with the canvass, which was not concluded when 
an adjournment was taken for dinner. When the clerk returned to his office to 
resume the canvass, the Kanesville poll-book had disappeared, and could not be 
found. Deducting Miller's majority at that precinct, it resulted in giving Thomp- 
son a majority, and he received the certificate of election and took his seat in 
Congress. Miller contested. He proved the loss of the poll-book and the conse- 
quent loss of votes, but a Democratic Congress refused to give him his seat and 
referred the case back to the people for a new election. Miller and Thompson were 
opposing candidates again, and Miller was elected. It was clear enough in the 
evidence before Congress that Miller had been elected, but Thompson and his 
friends represented that if they could have an opportunity to run the race over 
again, Thompson could secure the Mormon vote; and so Congress ordered as 
already stated. 

I want to relate an incident personal to myself, which illustrates Miller's 
personal fidelity and integrity: 

When he was making his first canvass for Congress, he made a speech at 

lowaville in Van Buren County, and came home with my father to stay all night. 

(I was then thirteen years old.) During the night, his horse died and having to go 

the next day to Bloomfield to meet a friend with a carriage to continue his canvass 

across the district to the Missouri River, my father furnished him a horse to ride 

to Bloomfield and sent me along on my pony to bring the horse back home. Riding 

through the Soap Creek Woods that day. Miller asked me what my ambition in 

life was and I told him it was to go to West Point and become an officer of the 

Army of the United States. I had seen the military company at the Agency 

Station and had seen Wash Street, the son of General Street, the Indian Agent, 

when he would come home for his vacation from West Point, where he was a cadet, 

and had become infatuated with the idea of a soldier's life. Miller asked me if I 

knew how to get to West Point. I said I did not. "Well," said he, "the member of 

Congress from the District designates the cadet to be appointed; and now, I'll tell 

you what I'll do, Clay (calling me by my first name), if I am elected and there is a 

vacancy in the cadetship in my district, while I am in Congress, you shall have it. 

Say nothing about this to anyone, but you may rely upon getting the appointment 

to West Point, if I am elected and a vacancy occurs." He said, "I suppose your 

father will have no objections?" I said, "Oh, my father does not want me to go 

there. He is opposed to a standing army, and has a very poor opinion of army 

officers." "Well," said Miller, "I guess it will be all right with him. Clay. You 

prepare yourself, and you shall have the appointment." I never mentioned this 

circumstance to a living soul, but felt sure of the appointment if Miller was elected. 

He was elected, but did not get his seat, and in the meantime I left home and went 

to Keosauqua, to go to school, and later to study law with the firm of Wright & 

Knapp. I had been there two years when, on going to the post office one day, I 

found a formidable official document addressed to me by Charles M. Conrad, the 

then Secretary of War, and upon opening it, I found my commission to West Point, 

with full instructions as to how I should prepare myself to enter that institution. 

Elated beyond expression, I rushed into the office with my appointment, which I 

exhibited to Wright and Knapp, who at once declared that I miist not think of 


going to West Point; and Judge Knapp particularly launched out into vehement 
denunciation and disparagement of West Point and West Point officers in general. 
He immediately wrote to my father to come down and assist him in inducing me 
to give up the idea of going to West Point. In a day or two, my father came down 
and he and Judge Wright and Judge Knapp united their influence and arguments 
to persuade me to give up the appointment, which I very reluctantly did. 

From this incident, personal to myself, and from other actions of Mr. Miller 
that came to my knowledge, I have always regarded him as one of the best and 
truest of men I have ever known. I honored and respected him to the end of his 
life, and I shall honor and respect his memory to the end of my own. The par- 
ticular incident I have referred to shows both the unselfishness and fidelity of 
the man. He could expect nothing from me. I was but a boy, without influence 
and without a vote and I would be in no better condition to assist him, certainly 
at West Point, and he knew my father would be opposed to the appointment. 
Moreover, the place was one eagerly sought by boys, whose fathers possessed large 

Full of years and full of honors, after fifty-six years of continuous practice, this 
Nestor of the Iowa Bar, in whom was wrapped the almost entire history of the 
Territorial and State Period, died at Omaha, Nebraska, in December, 1895, in the 
eighty-second year of his age. For Judge Mason's estimate of Mr. Miller, the 
reader is referred to my sketch of the former. 

Among his other children, he left a son, Daniel F. Miller, Jr., a lawyer of 
ability and at one time a member of the General Assembly of the State. 

Bernhart Henn. 

Daniel F. Miller was succeeded as Representative in Congress by Bernhart Henn 
of Fairfield. He was elected in the fall of 1 850 over his Whig opponent, George G. 
Wright, who afterwards became one of the most renowned Judges of the Supreme 
Court of the State and United States Senator. Judge Caldwell, in my interview with 
him, referred to above, stated to me that, on every principle of political justice as well 
as of precedent. Miller, especially in view of the heroic struggle he had made to gain 
his seat in Congress, should have been nominated instead of Wright, and that the 
latter should have neither sought nor accepted the nomination, and that this feeling 
was so prevalent that it led to Wright's defeat in the election. At the end of 
the term to which Mr. Henn was elected he was again nominated and re-elected in 
the fall of 1 852 over the Whig candidate, Phillip Viele, thus serving in all four 
years in Congress. 

Mr. Henn was a public spirited, and at that time, popular citizen though, as we 
shall presently see, he fell into disfavor by reason of his views on the eve of the 
Civil War and his intense desire to pacificate the South and bring about a peaceful 
solution through conciliatory measures of compromise. He had done much for 
Fairfield and the development of that part of the State. He came to Burlington in 
I 839, the year after the organization of Iowa as a Territory, and became a clerk 
there in the United States Land Office. In 1 844 Mr. Henn was appointed Regis- 
ter of the United States Land Office at Fairfield. He served four years in that 


position with great efficiency and general satisfaction. He was well educated, pos- 
sessed of a strong literary taste, and a pungent political writer. His frequent con- 
tribution to the Burlington Gazette established his reputation as a forceful writer. He 
was a Democrat of the old school, and an active political partisan. He was dom- 
inant in character, and dictatorial in politics. We lived in adjacent counties and I 
came to know him quite well. In the early 50's he organized the banking firm of 
Henn, Williams & Co., which became generally and favorably known throughout 
the State. He was a man of decided merit and decided ability. He, in connec- 
tion with his banking house, laid out what is now a part of Fairfield, and he con- 
tributed in various ways to the development of Jefferson County and its institutions. 

I have adverted to his course in connection with the Civil War. He earnestly 
sought to avoid the horrors of that conflict, which he could readily foresee, by peace- 
ful solution of the difficulties leading to it. To this end he earnestly favored what 
was known as the Crittenden compromise. He was not a Southerner, but a New 
Yorker by birth, who thought the whole difficulty lay in the extremists of both the 
North and the South — the Secessionists and the Abolitionists — and that if their 
influence could be eliminated, the differences between the North and South could 
be amicably adjusted. To this end he strove with all his might and main. In 
February, 1861, he became the leader in a movement designed to promote that end. 
He was foremost in causing a public meeting of citizens to be called. The meeting 
was held in Wells Hall at Fairfield on February 2, 1861. He was made Chair- 
man of the meeting and endeavored to enforce his views upon the assemblage. In 
this he was assisted by David Sheward, who soon after became the editor of a paper 
so virulent in its opposition to the war that it invoked public indignation. The pro- 
ceedings of the meeting, and especially the intense anti-war views and arbitrary rul- 
ings of Mr. Henn, resulted in other meetings throughout the county, all of which are 
graphically described by Charles J. Fulton in an article appearing in the October, 
1913, number of the Third Series of the Armals of Iowa. That Mr. Henn was 
actuated by patriotic motives in his desire to effectuate a compromise and avert civil 
war there can be no doubt. There were many other Democratic leaders in the 
State who were prompted to like action, and were prompted by like motives. And 
had Mr. Henn survived long enough, his true character, his public spirit and fine 
abilities would have enabled him to live down the political temporary unpopularity 
which his course had produced, but he did not long survive the War, and died in 
the prime of life in 1 868. 

He was survived by his wife, a person so useful that she deserves a passing no- 
tice. She was a Marylander, born in Baltimore, in the same year that 
her husband was, in 1 820. They were married at the home of Gen. Augustus C. 
Dodge in Burlington, in 1 84 1. She survived her husband until 1895. It is said 
of her (Annals of Iowa, Volume 2, Third Series, pp. 326) Mrs. Henn was in 


her earlier days a leader in society, and a charitable worker. She was one of the 
founders of the public library at Fairfield, having made the first subscription for its 
establishment. The prominence of her husband in early Iowa history and politics, 
together with her own fine personal qualities, gave Mrs. Henn a state-wide acquaint- 

Lincoln Clark. 
Lincoln Clark was one of the striking figures in the affairs of his time. He was 
highly educated, his life was eventful, and portions of it were spent in four different 
States. He was born in Massachusetts in 1 800, reared on a farm, educated in the 
common schools, taught a while in them, then entered and was graduated from Am- 
herst College. He then went to Virginia, engaged in teaching for a while, reading 
law in the meantime. He subsequently located in Perkins County, Alabama, where 
he was admitted to the bar and commenced practice. At the age of 34 he was 
elected to the House of the Alabama Legislature, where he served three terms. At 
the end of his last term he removed to the capital of the State, Tuscaloosa, con- 
tinuing there the practice of his profession. In 1 839 he was made Attorney-Gen- 
eral of the State, and subsequently a Judge. He came to Iowa and located at Du- 
buque in the later forties, and early became prominent. In the Presidential cam- 
paign of Lewis Cass and General Zachary Taylor, in 1 848, he was one of the 
Democratic electors with Augustus C. Dodge, Joseph Williams, and John J. Sell- 
man. The Whig electors were Fitz Henry Warren, Jesse Bowen, William Wal- 
lace and Stephen V. Shellady. In 1850 he was elected to Congress from the sec- 
ond district over his Whig competitor, John P. Cook. In 1 852 he was again 
nominated for Congress and had for his opponent again John P- Cook. This time 
he was defeated. Cook receiving a majority of 573. In the Lincoln-Douglas cam- 
paign of 1 860 he was one of the Democratic electors. In 1 85 7 he had been 
elected to and served in the House of the 7th General Assembly, in the proceedings 
of which he took a prominent and very serviceable part in adapting the laws of the 
State to the new Constitution, which had just been adopted. He was a Democrat 
of the old school, and during the early part "of my career in Iowa, was looked up to 
as one of the wise and influential leaders of his party. 

Samuel R. Curtis. 

General Samuel R. Curtis, I first saw at Ottumwa, in 1 860, in the Joint Con- 
gressional Debate between him and his Democratic opponent, Chester C. Cole. It 
was an out-of-door meeting; a temporary stand had been erected for the speakers. 
I can recollect the appearance of the two as plainly as if it were but yesterday — 
Curtis, tall, finely though heavily formed, with high forehead, large hazel eyes, de- 
cidedly grave face adorned by side whiskers; in demeanor, serious, deliberate, in 
speech and action, undemonstrative. Cole, on the other hand, comparatively small. 


keen eyed, facile, alert, smilingly cheerful, skilled in debate, ready to either parry 
or thrust. In a contest of this kind, Curtis was not his equal in debate, and there 
were few men in the state or country that were. But Curtis had the right and 
therefore, easy side — though I did not so look at it then, for I was on Cole's side — 
and was triumphantly elected over his able and skillful opponent. There were then 
only two Congressional Districts in the State, the first and second. This was Gen- 
eral Curtis' third term, for he had been elected to Congress from the first district in 
1856 and again in 1858. While he was not an imaginative or eloquent man, he 
was a solid and substantial one in all respects. He was not a flowery advocate, but 
a lawyer that had the confidence of the Court and the Jury. That he was elected 
for three continuous terms to Congress is sufficient evidence that he had the confidence 
of the public. While he was a member of Congress, he performed services highly 
useful to the State, and indeed to the Nation, for he became distinguished in Con- 
gress and throughout the country for his efforts in securing the establishment and 
construction of the Union Pacific Railroad, and in connection with the passage of 
the bill authorizing the same. While others have claimed the honor, he is undoubt- 
edly entitled to be regarded as the father of that enterprise. He was naturally a 
mathematician and his education in that line and in Civil Engineering that he had 
gained at West Point, made him competent to grasp with great ability a project so 
seemingly Himalayan as the construction of a railroad over the Rocky Mountains, 
that should connect the Atlantic coast with that of the Pacific. As a lawyer, he 
was only fairly successful, but as a Civil Engineer, and projector of great enterprises 
requiring the highest faculties, he is entitled to stand among the first in the country. 
His prior experience in Civil Engineering and the construction of public works had 
not been insignificant as will presently be seen from the recital of his previous life. 

He was of New England origin. His parents emigrated from Connecticut to 
the far west in I 807, and settled in Licking County, Ohio, where he was born the 
same year. He was educated at the West Point Military Academy, where it is 
said he was the highest in his class. He graduated therefrom in 1831, with a 
brevet Second Lieutenancy in the Seventh Infantry, and was assigned to duty at 
Fort Gibson in the Indian Territory. He resigned his commission the following 
year, returned to Ohio, studied law, and was admitted to the bar there, and success- 
fully practiced in Wooster for several years. In 1837 he was appointed Chief 
Engineer of the Muskingum River Improvement and served in that capacity until 
1 839. He was engaged in the practice of his profession when war was declared 
against Mexico. He was summoned to Columbus by the Governor, and appointed 
Adjutant General of the State. A little later he was commissioned Colonel of the 
Third Regiment of Ohio Volunteer Infantry and led it to the field. "He served on 
the northern line of Mexico, under General Taylor, and was for a time on the staff 
of General Wool. As Governor, he commanded the cities of Matamoras, Camargo 


and Saltillo."* After the close of the Mexican War he removed to Keokuk in 
1 847, the year in which that city was incorporated. Before leaving Ohio, the posi- 
tion of Chief Engineer of the Des Moines River Improvement Company had been 
tendered to him; he accepted the appointment and served in that capacity for sev- 
eral years. From 1850 to 1853 he was Chief Engineer of the harbor and other 
improvements at St. Louis, and constructed the dike which connects Bloody Island 
to the Illinois shore. While engaged in the practice at Keokuk, he was for a time 
the partner of John W. Rankin. But while his life as a civilian, as we have seen, 
was distinguished, his military career was even more so. His renown as the hero 
of the bloody battle of Pea Ridge, in which he commanded our troops is an imper- 
ishable part of history, as is his fame as a great Commander in planning and vic- 
toriously executing many other important engagements. For his bravery and skill, 
he was commissioned a Major General in thirteen days after the battle of Pea Ridge. 
In September, 1862, he was placed in command of the Department of Missouri, 
and in 1 864, of the Department of Kansas. "While in command of the Depart- 
ment of Missouri, his troops fought the following battles: Cane Hill, Old Town, 
Wayne, Prairie Grove, Springfield, Cape Girardeau, besides capturing Fort Smith 
and Van Buren, Arkansas. There were also many skirmishes and engagements of 
lesser note." Before the Battle of Pea Ridge, he marched against General Price 
and drove him through Missouri and Northern Arkansas. In the course of this 
march there were a number of engagements, the culmination of which was that of 
Pea Ridge. General Grenville M. Dodge, who like General Curtis, was both a 
great Civil Engineer and Military Commander, thus wrote of that battle : 

Probably no one had a better opportunity than I to judge of the battle. My 
command opened the battle and I think was the last to fire a gun. General Curtis, 
the commander of that army, was entitled to the full credit of that great victory. 
The battle virtually cleared up the Southwest and allowed all our forces to con- 
centrate on or east of the Mississippi. General Curtis had under him as the 
division commanders several experienced, educated soldiers, who performed their 
duties with great ability, but it was General Curtis who met and defeated on their 
own ground, three hundred miles away from any base, twice his number. He was 
attacked in the rear and on the 'flank with great force, the fighting lasting three 
days, and he defeated, yes, virtually destroyed Van Dorn's army. 

For further details relating to the military career of General Curtis, the reader 
is referred to Stuart's "Iowa Colonels and Regiments," and Ingersoll's "Iowa and 
the Rebellion," published near the close of the war. 

William Vandevcr. 

William Vandever will long remain a striking figure in Iowa history, though his 
military renown puts somewhat in the shade his civil career. He was born in the 
city of Baltimore, in 1817. The family had been former residents of Philadelphia, 
and when he was ten years of age they returned to that city, where they remained 

* Note — Stuart's Iowa Colonels and Regiments. 


until the son had reached his majority. There he received his education in the 
common schools. In 1839, when he was twenty-two years of age, he turned his 
steps westward and located at Rock Island, Illinois, and remained there until I 85 1 
when he became a resident of Dubuque. During a portion of the twelve years he 
was a resident of Rock Island he was engaged in the survey of the public lands, and 
a part of the time owner and editor of the "Northwestern Advertiser." His first two 
years at Dubuque were spent in the Surveyor-General's office, reading law in the 
meanwhile. He completed his legal studies with Benjamin M. Samuels, and after- 
wards became a partner with him in the practice. For a brief period he was Clerk 
of the Supreme Court of the State. In 1 858 he was the Republican candidate for 
Congress in his district. His able competitor was Mr. Samuels. Despite the eloquence, 
power and popularity of the latter, Vandever was elected. The State had then but 
two Representatives in Congress. His colleague was the afterward illustrious Gen- 
eral Samuel R. Curtis. In I 860 he was re-elected. 

At the commencement of the Civil War both he and Curtis offered their serv- 
ices to the government, which were accepted and they both abandoned their seats in 
Congress to share in the perils of the great conflict that was to ensue. They both 
retained their seats, however, until the close of the extra session of that year, during 
which the disastrous battle of Bull Run was fought. It was the gloomiest day in 
the history of the war. Horace Greeley, in his "American Conflict," thus refers 
to both the day and to Mr. Vandever: 

It is worthy of record, that on this sad day, while Washington, crowded with 
fugitives from the routed Grand Army, seemed to lie at the mercy of the rebels, 
Congress legislated calmly and patiently throughout, and the House, on motion ot 
Mr. Vandever, of Iowa, unanimously "Resolved, That the maintenance of the Con- 
stitution, the preservation of the Union, and the enforcement of the laws, are 
sacred trusts which must be executed; that no disaster shall discourage us from 
the most ample performance of this high duty, and that we pledge to the country 
and to the world, the employment of every resource, national and individual, for the 
suppression, overthrow, and punishment of rebels in arms." 

He at once went to work to recruit a regiment from among his constituents, and 
succeeded. It became the 9th Iowa Infantry and he was commissioned its Colonel, 
and reported with it for service at St. Louis, in September, I 86 1 . It would not be 
wathin the scope of this work to enter into details of his military service. I may 
briefly say that he accompanied General Curtis in his campaign through Missouri 
and Arkansas, and that he commanded a brigade and bore a conspicuous part in the 
famous battle of Pea Ridge. He was especially mentioned for gallantry in the 
report of the commanding general. His regiment was accompanied by the 3rd 
Iowa Battery, whose history was one of signal bravery. He was always highly 
appreciative in his mention of the soldiers and officers of his command. This will 
be particularly seen in his report to Colonel E. A. Carr, of the Battle of Stone 
River, in which he compliments the Dubuque Artillery, Lieutenant Herron, Major 
Coyl, Lieutenant Asher Riley, Captain Dripps and Lieutenant Kelsey, Captain Car- 


penter and Lieutenant Jones, Lieutenant Tisdale, Captain Towner and Lieutenant 
Neff, Captain Bull and Lieutenant Baker, Captain Washburn and Lieutenant 
Bebee, Captain Bevins and a number of other soldiers of his command. In this 
battle he commanded a brigade consisting of the 9th Regiment of Iowa Volunteers, 
Colonel Phelps' Regiment of Missouri Volunteers, the Dubuque Artillery Com- 
pany, and the 3rd Illinois Cavalry. This report well illustrates the soldierly qual- 
ities of General Vandever, and will be found in the January, I 886, number of the 
Old Annals of Iowa. 

In 1 862 he was commissioned Brigadier-General and participated in the Battle 
of Arkansas Post. He was afterwards active in driving the enemy from South- 
eastern Missouri across the St. Francis River. In 1856 he took part in the siege 
of Vicksburg, and after its capture joined in the expedition to Yazoo City. He 
was next in the department of the Gulf, accompanied General Banks in his expedi- 
tion to Texas, and participated in the Capture of Brownsville. He served with 
General Grant, and afterwards with Sherman on the line of operations to Atlanta, 
and from there to Savannah and Richmond. He won particular distinction at the 
Battle of Bentonville, North Carolina, with his brigade, and for it was afterwards 
breveted Major-General. 

He served throughout the war, and it has been well said that while there were 
men who have won a wider renown and louder applause, there were but few 
worthier for arduous and faithful service, and sincere devotation to the cause of the 
Union, from first to last, than General Vandever. He was tall, portly and com- 
manding in person, kindly but dignified in manner. 

After the Civil War General Vandever did not return to the general practice 
of his profession, but engaged in the promotion of various enterprises looking to the 
advantage of his City and State, among others the construction of the railroads 
along the west side of the Mississippi River. Subsequently he filled some impor- 
tant positions under the Government, but eventually retired and settled in southern 
California. The Congressional District in which he had taken up his residence, 
was so hopelessly Democratic that none of the Repubhcan leaders were willing to 
make the race for Congress and called on General Vandever to lead "a forlorn 
hope." The General accepted the nomination, and to the astonishment of himself 
and everybody else, was elected by a large majority, and at the end of his term was 
re-elected, and at the close of his second term as a Representative from California, 
retired to private life and died at Buena Ventura in 1 893 at the age of seventy- 

Hiram Price. 

Hiram Price was a native of Pennsylvania where he was born in 1814. He 
came to Iowa during the Territorial period, settling in Davenport, which remained 


his home for the greater part of his life. I can write of him but briefly. He was 
a thoroughly self-made man with few early educational opportunities, but impelled 
by an msatiable thirst for knowledge, he became a wide reader and thoroughly versa- 
tile in human affairs. In temperament he was conspicuously ardent and intense, and 
pursued with great force every line of effort that he undertook. He became a pro- 
nounced and widely-known radical reformer, a fierce opponent to the extension of 
slavery, an uncompromising advocate of temperance, and of laws prohibiting the 
manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors. Joined to these attributes was a 
deeply religious nature which invested his conduct along these lines with additional 
fervor. He became known throughout the State and the country at large as one of 
the most aggressive of reformatory leaders. 

He was clean cut in figure, rather slim, and the embodiment of activity and 
alertness. He was quick in perception and impetuous in action. I had some ex- 
perience with him once to my discomfiture in the Republican State Convention of 
1 865 to which allusion is made in my sketch of James W. Grimes. He was both 
fiery and formidable, and no man ever left an encounter with him free of scars. 
Taken all in all, he was one of the most remarkable men of his time, especially of 
the class of reformers to which he belonged. His character was without a blemish, 
his integrity perfect, and even his political enemies conceded his sincerity and hon- 
esty of purpose on all occasions. 

I can only relate a few leading events of his life. His forceful talents gained 
him public recognition soon after his coming to Davenport. In 1847 he was made 
school fund commissioner of Scott County. In 1 848 he was elected Treasurer and 
Recorder of the County, and was continued in that office by the people for the period 
of eight years, as long as he was willing to serve in it. He became a leader in pub- 
lic affairs etnd in the development of the natural resources of the country. He was 
one of the principal factors in the construction of the railroad leading from the East 
to Davenport, and of the one leading from the Mississippi to the Missouri Rivers. 
In this latter line, known as the M. & M. R. R., he was remarkably efficient. It is 
SJiid that he traversed its line, procured its right of way, and had charge substan- 
tially of its construction. He was an active participant in the construction of all 
roads leading to or from Davenport. He was one of the organizers of the State 
Bank and one of its presidents at Davenport. At the outbreak of the Civil War 
he generously came forward with his means to assist in the equipment of the first 
two regiments organized for the service. He was the first paymaster of the Iowa 
troops. His congressional service was long and distinguished. In i 862 he was 
elected to the Thirty-eighth Congress, in 1 864 to the Thirty-ninth, in 1 866 to the 
Fortieth, and again in 1876 to the Forty-fifth, and in 1878 to the Forty-sixth Con- 
gress. His active and useful service during this long period made him well known 
throughout the country. In I 88 1 he was appointed by the President Commissioner 


of Indian Affairs and served in that department with general satisfaction for the 
period of four years. He died in Washington, D. C, in 1901. One of his 
daughters was the wife of the illustrious Judge and Lawyer, John F. Dillon, both 
of whom are now deceased. Hiram Price Dillon, a leading lawyer and highly in- 
fluential citizen of Topeka, Kansas, is their only surviving son. 

/. B. Grmnell. 

Josiah B. Grinnell was one of the best known and most active men in Iowa 
during his time. He, like Hiram Price, was radical along the lines of slavery 
and prohibitive liquor laws. A quite elaborate biography of him, by Prof. L. F. 
Parker, will be found in the Second Volume of the Annals of Iowa, Third Series, 
pp. 249. In addition to this, Mr. Grinnell himself prepared and published a book 
entitled "Men and Events of Forty Years." In view of this, it becomes unneces- 
sary for me to add more than a few outlines. I knew Mr. Grinnell quite intimately. I 
helped to nominate and elect him to Congress in 1 862, and again in 1 864. He in 
turn, was a member of the Convention which nominated me for Congress in my 
District in 1 883, was instrumental in giving me his delegation, endorsed my nomina- 
tion in a speech in the convention after the nomination was made, and assisted me 
in the speech making canvass that followed. I considered this very generous con- 
duct in view of the fact that I did not support his nomination in Congress against 
William Loughridge in I 866. Having reason to believe that Mr. Grinnell would 
not again be a candidate, I had obligated myself to the support of Mr. Loughridge 
who was a warm, personal friend, and in the court, of which he was the Judge, 
I frequently practiced. Mr. Grinnell decided to be a candidate and wrote me on 
the subject. I told him frankly what is here stated, and I will say that it never 
seemed to affect our subsequent mutual friendship. 

He was a man of peculiar and restless temperament, full of life and robust 
energy. He was a bundle of versatile activities and was constantly busy, in the 
fullest sense of the word, along his chosen lines. He took a lively interest in pub- 
lic affairs, in the improvement of conditions relating to the public, and in everything 
going on about him. He was decidedly a man of action, impulsive, quick of move- 
ment and decision, and prompt to express himself — sometimes it was thought too 
vehemently. This proclivity led to an unfortunate rencontre between himself and 
General Rosseau, of Kentucky, while they were both members of Congress. He 
was a man of extraordinary talents and achievements who it may be truthfully said, 
did great things for the State. 

He was born in New Haven, Vermont, in 1 822, liberally educated, a college 
graduate, studied for the ministry, became a Congregational clergyman, had a pas- 
torate at Union Village, New York, for three years, then at Washington, D. C, 
where it is said he preached the first anti-slavery sermon delivered in that city, and 


subsequently became the pastor of a church in New York City where he remained 
until 1 854. He then organized an association to estabhsh a colony in the far West, 
and dunng that year acquired a tract of several thousands acres in Poweshiek Coun- 
ty, established the town of Grinnell, and laid the foundation of that notable institu- 
tion, Iowa College, commonly known as Grinnell College, which will survive to 
perpetuate his name through all of Iowa's future. He was one of the leaders in 
calling the convention which organized the Republican Party in Iowa in 1 856, and 
from this time on he became an active factor in the political affairs in the State. In 
the fall of that year he was nominated and elected as a Republican Senator for his 
District, serving four years. His supreme and decided talents brought him prompt- 
ly into notice. In 1860 he was a delegate to the Republican Convention which 
nominated Abraham Lincoln for President. In 1862 he was elected to Congress 
from his District, and re-elected in 1864. He was one of the promoters of the 
Central Railroad of Iowa, the President of that Company, and also a Director of 
the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railway. He was a notable and magnanimous 
gentleman whose like is not often seen in this day and generation. 

John A. Kasson. 

John A. Kasson was one of the most brilliant, as well as diplomatic men of his 
time. He came to and entered upon the practice at Des Moines from St. Louis in 
1857. He had gained prominence at the St. Louis bar and soon attained prom- 
inence at that of Des Moines and the State. He was, however, more inclined to 
politics than law, and in that line became eminent in a comparatively short period. 
Scarcely any man of his time figured so variously in pubHc affairs. He was of 
Scotch-Irish extraction. The progenator of the family in this country was Adam 
Kasson, who came over in 1 722 and settled in Litchfield, Connecticut, from whence 
some of the sons scattered to seek new homes on the unoccupied lands of Vermont, 
New York and Pennsylvania. Mr. Kasson's father was John Steele Kasson. His 
mother's maiden name was Nancy Blackman. Both were of Revolutionary stock. 
He was born in Charlotte, Vermont, in 1 822. His father died when he was but 
six years of age. In 1 836 the family removed to Burlington, Vermont, where he 
obtained his preparatory education, and entered the University, from whence he was 
"graduated in 1842. Upon his graduation he began the study of law with his 
brother, Charles D. Kasson, a distinguished lawyer of Burlington. He continued 
his legal studies at Worcester, Massachusetts, in the office of Emory Washburn, 
afterwards Governor of the State, Professor of Law at Harvard, and author of 
Washburn on Real Property. In 1844 he was admitted to the bar and began 
practice in New Bedford, Mass. In 1 848 he was sent as a delegate of the "Free- 
Soil" Party to the convention at Buffalo. On his return he was nominated for 
Congress, but declined the nomination. In 1 849 he desired to seek a wider field. 


He came to and entered upon the practice at St. Louis. He soon became favorably 
known for the talents he displayed, and in 1 852 was selected to deliver the address 
of welcome to the Hungarian Patriot, Kossuth, who was then visiting the chief 
cities of the United States. His practice in St. Louis had become lucrative, but he 
was determined to sacrifice it for a home in a State where slavery did not exist, and 
came to Des Moines, as before stated, in 1 857. He took a prominent part in pol- 
itics of Iowa, served as Chairman of the Republican State Central Committee, and 
in 1858 was commissioned Special Examiner of the departments of the State Gov- 
ernment, which had just been removed from Iowa City to the new capital. In 1 860 
he was a delegate to the Republican National Convention at Chicago, which nom- 
inated Abraham Lincoln. He was appointed a member of the Committee on 
Resolutions, and of the Sub-Committee that shaped the platform. Horace Greeley 
declared in his paper, "The Tribune," that Mr. Kasson was the principal author of 
that document.* During the campaign that followed he was conspicuous in pro- 
moting the election of Lincoln, and in recognition of his efficient services, the second 
nomination sent by President Lincoln to the senate was that of John A. Kasson for 
the office of First Assistant Postmaster-General. From that time down to his final 
retirement he was in public life. 

During his short term as First Assistant Postmaster-General, he accomplished 
an enormous amount of work in re-organizing the postal service, disordered by the 
war, and made thousands of new appointments of Postmasters in order to place the 
control in loyal hands. He also codified all the postal laws, scattered through 
many and various acts of legislation, and devised a plan for uniformity in postal 
intercourse between this country and foreign nations, whereby the foreign postal 
rates might be greatly reduced and international postal accounts be abolished, in 
which the United States was a large debtor for annual balances in gold. The plan 
involved the assembling of an international postal conference to consider these and 
all allied questions. Postmaster-General Blair approved the plan, and invitations 
therefore were issued by the Secretary of State, Mr. Seward. Fifteen governments 
accepted the invitations, and their delegates met in Paris in 1 863, Mr. Kasson 
representing the United States. This was the first general conference of nations 

* The sub-committee unanimously endorsed Mr. Kasson's declaration "That the 
normal condition of all the territory of the United States is that of freedom." All 
resolutions submitted were referred to this sub-committee whose province it was to 
agree upon the central topics that were to be embraced in the platform. At mid- 
night it seems that all of the members save Kasson and Greeley had become so 
exhausted that they were compelled to retire, leaving Kasson and Greeley to com- 
plete the work. In the morning Mr. Kasson reported the platform to the general 
committee, and it was approved by unanimous vote. The New York Tribune of 
May 22d, said editorially: "The platform presented, so generally satisfactory as it 
has proved, is eminently due to John A. Kasson, of Iowa, whose efforts to reconcile 
differences, and to secure the largest liberty of sentiment consistent with fidelity 
to Republican principles, were most effective and untiring. I think no former 
platform reflected more faithfully the average convictions of a great national party." 


ever held for facilitating peaceful intercourse and closer relations between different 
governments cind alien peoples. A common basis was agreed upon for international 
postal intercourse, and a vote of thanks was tendered Mr. Kasson for his govern- 
ment and for himself in initiating this advance step in civilization. Out of this first 
conference has grown the admirable Postal Union of today, perfected by successive 
conferences. In 1867 he was again appointed commissioner to negotiate postal 
conventions with Great Britain, France, Belgium, Holland, Prussia, Switzerland and 
Italy, in accordance with the principles settled at Paris, and completed the work 
with all the states named except France. 

In the fall of I 862 he resigned his position at Washington, to accept a nom- 
ination for Congress in a district at that time representing twenty-three counties. His 
service in Congress embraced six terms, to which he was respectively elected, cover- 
ing the years 1863-67, 1873-77, 1881-85. He was a member of the Ways and 
Means Committee on Foreign Affairs; he was the First Chairman of the Committee 
on Coinage, Weights and Measures, organized on his motion in the 39th Congress, 
and drew the bill which introduced and legalized the metric system in this country. 
An amendment to the bankruptcy act, whereby the homestead of the debtor was 
reserved to his family, was carried by his advocacy. Following his first two terms 
in Congress, he was elected by Polk County for three successive terms to the Iowa 
Legislature, serving from 1868 to 1872, and conducting the famous fight for a new 
State Capitol to a successful conclusion. Speaking of this subject, Charles Aldrich 

Opposition to the new building was at once powerful and bitterly unreasonable. 
It was denounced as a "corrupt job," and the State was alleged to be filled with 
"barefooted women and children" who would be still further crushed to earth it 
this extravagance was undertaken. So powerful was this opposition, so well 
organized and so ably led, that Mr. Kasson only secured the passage of the bill by 
two majority. * * * The obligation the people of Iowa are under to Mr. Kasson 
for securing this magnificent edifice, for the accomplishment of this grand step in 
the progress of our State, will not soon be forgotten.* 

On the accession of President Hayes, Mr. Kasson was offered his choice be- 
tween the missions to the Courts of Madrid and Vienna. He accepted the latter 
and went as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Austria-Hun- 
gary, remaining at this post during 1877-81. Then followed two more terms of 
service in Congress. But before the expiration of his second term, in 1 884, he was 
unexpectedly to himself, nominated by President Arthur as Envoy Extraordinary and 
Minister Plenipotentiary to Germany, where he served until the change of adminis- 
tration under President Cleveland, and was successful in restoring the amicable rela- 
tions between the two governments, which had for a brief period been interrupted. 
Prince Bismarck paid him the unusual compliment of requesting the new admin- 
istration to continue him in his post at Berlin. In 1 884 he was also commissioned 

* Annals of Iowa, Third Series, Vol. IV, 149, 150. 


as Special Envoy to the Internal General Conference, held at Berlin upon invitation 
of Prince Bismarck to establish the Congo Free State and regulate its external rela- 
tions. The Germans gave the United States the credit of playing a part in that 
conference second in influence only to that of Germany. In 1 889 he was sent by 
General Harrison as Special Envoy of the United States to the "Samoan" Confer- 
ence at Berlin, where he brought about a settlement of the serious differences between 
Germany and the United States with honor to his government. In 1897 President 
McKinley appointed him a Special Plenipotentiary to negotiate Reciprocity Con- 
ventions under the provisions of the Dingley Tariff Act. After successfully ne- 
gotiating twelve or fifteen such treaties, and finding the Republican Senate had aban- 
doned the policy laid down in the Dingley Act, as well as in the National Party 
Platform of 1 896, he tendered his resignation to the President, who declined to ac- 
cept it. Again, later, he expressed to the President his unwillingness to draw a sal- 
ary for useless labor, and the President then authorized his withdrawal from the 
work, "subject to recall." This was but a few months prior to Mr. McKinley's 
assassination, and the incident closed Mr. Kasson's official career. But during this 
last period President McKinley had also appointed him one of the five United 
States Commissioners on the Anglo-American High Joint Commission to settle ques- 
tions of dispute with Canada ; and he attended the sessions of that distinguished body, 
both in Quebec and in Washington. In 1870-71 Mr. Kasson, who had already 
made several visits to Europe, made an extended tour through southern Europe, 
visiting also Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Turkey and Greece, and studying everywhere 
the social, religious and political conditions of the lands through which he passed. 
In 1887 he was President of the Interstate Centennial Commission, which had di- 
rection of the three days' celebration in Philadelphia 6f the One Hundredth Anni- 
versary of the formation of the Constitution of the United States. At the request 
of the Commission he prepared a condensed history of its formation, which is pub- 
lished in Volume One of Carson's History of this celebration, and has received high 
praise from jurists and scholars, and has been recommended as fitted for use in law 
schools and universities. In 1 890 he delivered a course of lectures before the 
Lowell Institute, Boston, on the Historical Evolution of Diplomacy, and has since 
given two similar courses at Johns Hopkins University by request of that institution. 
Of political writings, besides a multitude of printed speeches and addresses, the 
following papers may be cited from "The North American Review:" History of 
the Monroe Doctrine, September and December, 1881; Municipal Reform, Sep- 
tember, 1 883 ; The Congo Conference, February, 1 886 ; Bismarck, August, 1 886 ; 
The Hohenzollern Kaiser, April, 1888. He also wrote for the "Century" Mag- 
azine. He was a member of sundry social and scientific bodies — the National 
Geographical Society, the Washington Academy of Sciences, the Columbia His- 
torical Society, and the Metropolitan Club, having been President of the last named 
bodies. In 1 882, just fifty years after his graduation, he accepted an invitation to 


deliver the oration before the Vermont Alpha of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, and 
took as his theme, "The Permanent Causes Operating to Produce a Higher Civ- 
ilization." It was a strong and scholarly paper. 

I have entered more into particulars than I intended, for the purpose of not only 
giving a clear gHmpse of Mr. Kasson, but also to demonstrate that he was not a 
statesman of "glittering generalities," but a utilitarian, and a master of details as 
well as a diplomat of the highest order. Nor can I omit to say something of his 
personal side. He had for a time some bitter enemies, the causes of whose enmities 
need not be inquired into. But he also and always had a host of friends, and his 
long-tried ability and public service enabled him to pretty constantly carry the arms 
of triumph. He was a man of great composure, of polished address, and his 
pleasing suavity was perpetual. 

But it was said in substance by those who did not like him, that his suavity was 
but a French glaze and without warmth beneath; that he was at heart cold and 
forgot his friends. My observation and the personal incidents connected with his 
life constrain me to a different opinion. In the early part of my life which was 
considerably tinctured with politics, I had more or less to do with Mr. Kasson. I 
have never found a man more obliging or helpful. More than fifty years ago, in 
1 864, I wrote him asking him to come and make a speech at Ottumwa. I give his 
reply as illustrative of the man and the times. 

Des Moines, September 26, 1864. 
There is no point I should be more gratified to visit and address the people, 
than Ottumwa. 1 am now in the midst of a joint campaign witli my competitor for 
Congress, and after the present week I shall not be at liberty until after October 
26th. The last part of that week, or in the following week, I could meet you. It 
will be impossible before that time. I only returned last night, or your letter would 
have been answered before. The good work goes bravely on. Never have the 
loyalty and patriotism of the people been more manifest, or more decided in ex- 
pression. Lincoln's majority will be overwhelming. Our armies are crushing our 
enemies in front, thank God, and our other patriots will terribly crush their 
sympathizers in the rear. 

He eventually complied with my request; and when I W£is a candidate for 
Congress he volunteered to come into my District and make several speeches in my 
behalf. He always seemed to me to be the personification of obliging kindness. I 
have spoken of his diplomacy. In many respects he might be well called the 
Tallyrand of America. He had all his bewitching manner and pleasing address, 
as well as his consummate skill. He was the most popular Minister we ever had at 
the Court of Vienna, with the exception, perhaps, of the present one, Richard Kerens. 
More than a quarter of a century after Mr. Kasson's ministry there, I spent several 
months at Vienna, and found that his remembrance was yet kindly alive with the 
Viennise. I never failed to call upon him on my visits to Washington, and was 
always received and treated in a most gracious manner by him. In i 898 I sent him 


a copy of the proceedings containing my address before the Pioneer Law Makers 

Association, and his acknowledgment I give as characteristic and confirmatory of 

what I have said : 

Washington, D. C, February 20, 1898. 
I have to thank you for your letter and your enclosure of the address before 
the Pioneer Law Makers. Much of the talk before our Association is a sort ot 
gossip about men and things, and does not attain the real object of the Society — 
which is verified history. You have lifted the standard to the historical demand, 
and added the charm of style. I hope your work will be continued in a wider field. 
As to my humble self, I cannot answer your inquiry. There have been various 
things hastily written by various people, but I hardly know where you will find 
them. I think Charles Aldrich (Historical Department at the Iowa Capitol) will 
know more about it than anybody else. When you come to Washington do not 
fail to find me. My address is given above; and my work keeps me during the 
day at my room in the State Department. Our old friendly associations are vividly 

His attachment to the profession and its members never ceased, and whenever a 
memorial service was held for any deceased member of the bar, he never failed, if 
in Des Moines, to be present. On the death fo Judge Stockton, he presented, with 
an accompanying address to the Supreme Court, the resolutions that had been pre- 
pared, both of which will be found in the Appendix to one of the Iowa reports of that 
period. It may truly be said that he died full of years as well as honors, in his 
eighty-ninth year, at Washington, in May, 1910. 

William Loughridge. 

I became somewhat acquainted with William Loughridge soon after my admis- 
sion to the bar at Ottumwa in the county adjacent to his. I became better acquaint- 
ed with him after his accession to the bench of the 6th Judicial District. William 
M. Stone, afterward Governor of the State, had previously occupied the bench, but 
on the breaking out of the war resigned his seat to enter the army and Loughridge 
was appointed by Governor Kirkwood to fill the vacancy thus occasioned, in 1 86 L 
At the fall election of that year he was elected for. the remainder of the term, and 
in the fall of 1862 re-elected for a full term and served until January, 1867, when 
he resigned to accept the position of Congressman from the 4th Congressional Dis- 
trict, to which he had been elected in the fall of 1 866. The district comprised the 
counties of Appanoose, Monroe, Wapello, Keokuk, Mahaska, Marion, Jasper, 
Poweshiek, Iowa, Johnson, Benton and Tama, and was said to be the most pop- 
ulous district in the United States. His democratic opponent was John P Irish of 
Iowa City. He served until the election of his successor, Madison M. Walden, of 
Centerville, who took his seat in March, 1871. In 1872 Mr. Loughridge was 
again elected to Congress from the 6th District which comprised the counties of Ap- 
panoose, Davis, Monroe, Wapello, Keokuk, Mahaska, Marion and Jasper. He 
served in Congress altogether six years^ — -in the 40th, 4 1 st and 43d Congresses, and 
made an excellent record. 


He was born in Youngstown, Ohio, in i 827. His father was a cabinet maker, 
and under him William learned that trade and fallowed it for two or three years, 
studymg law in the meantime as opportunity offered. In 1 850 he entered the law 
office of Judge James Stewart, a distinguished lawyer of Mansfield, Ohio, and in 
the fall of the same year was admitted to the bar, and practiced in Mansfield until 
he removed to Oskaloosa, Iowa, and entered upon the practice there, in 1 852. In 
1 855 he was elected Mayor of Oskaloosa, and it is said that he was prouder of thai 
honor than any of the other numerous ones he received. 

As already indicated, his opportunities for an early education were limited; they 
were confined to those conferred by the common schools. He was not a wide gen- 
eral reader, but he was an industrious student of the law and in the lines of that 
profession. After he engaged in politics he developed into a public speaker of force 
and influence. When he confined himself to argumentative facts he was strong and 
convincing, but when he undertook to soar in dramatic or fanciful flights, which he 
sometimes, but not often, did, he detracted from rather than added to his force of 
speech. He had an excellent legal mind, became a good lawyer, an excellent 
Judge, and, as already indicated, a forcible public speaker. As such he was an 
able exponent and defender of the principles and policies of the Republican Party 
and a public man of high character and wide influence. 

As a politician, he had many elements that served to make him popular. He 
was always approachable, good natured, ingratiating, and possessed the elements of 
general good fellowship. It was these qualities combined with strong practical sense 
and adaptability that largely enabled him to defeat J. B. Grinnell in the contest for 
the Congressional nomination in 1 866. Mr. Grinnell had already served two terms 
in Congress. I was a supporter of Mr. Loughridge in that contest, having previous- 
ly pledged myself to him in the course of our friendly acquaintance and professional 
association. With all his suavity Mr. Loughridge possessed great energy and force 
of character. He was strongly built, and of extraordinary height. His habits 
were excellent, temperate in all respects, and gave every evidence of a long and vig- 
orous life. But notwithstanding these favorable appearances he was stricken in his 
prime with an incurable disease, from which he did not long survive. Had his 
health and life been prolonged, he would have exercised a still greater power in 
public affairs than that which he actually achieved in this limited time. 

James B. Weaver. 

General James B. Weaver was the son of Abraham Weaver, one of the first 
settlers and public officers of Davis County, where the family came from Ohio in 
1843. He commenced the study of law two years before he was of age, after- 
wards entered the Cincinnati law school and was admitted to the bar at Bloomfield 
in 1856. He was born in Dayton, Ohio, in 1833, and achieved both state and 


national fame. He gave early pronzise of becoming a great orator, and his career 
fulfilled the promise. I early became acquainted with him, as we lived in adjacent 
counties. The first time I saw him, he was making a Republican speech at a 
meeting assembled in a grove that then stood on the hill at the junction of Court and 
Washington streets in Ottumwa, in 1858. This was one of his first efforts, and a 
good one. He was a handsome young fellow, well and symmetrically shaped and 
strikingly heroic in appearance and forceful in expression. Not long after this, he 
became the District Attorney of our District and served four years in that office with 
signal ability, and with a fairness towards persons he was called upon to try that 
justly raised him in the public esteem. 

He was making excellent headway in his profession when the Civil War com- 
menced. Soon after that event he enlisted in Company "G" of the Second Iowa 
Infantry and was made First Lieutenant. As a soldier he displayed great bravery 
on every occasion, and especially in the battles of Fort Donalson and Shiloh. For 
his gallantry he was successively promoted to First Lieutenant, Captain, to Major 
and finally to the Colonelcy. His commission as Major was received after the 
Battle of Fort Donalson and the day before the first day's fight at Corinth, and that 
of Colonel, in the latter part of the same month. That the charge upon Fort Don- 
alson was one of the most desperate in the history of the Civil War, is well known. 
At the Reunion of the Pioneer Law Makers' Association in 1 904, General Weaver 
thus referred to it: 

As Port Donalson has been alluded to, I want for a moment to speak of the 
kind of heroism that gave the country that vi<;tory. When we received the 
order to make the charge, the order was delivered in the presence of the regiment 
from the commanding general to Colonel Tuttle. He said to Colonel Tuttle, 
"Advance with the left of the regiment in front, with the right following about 
fifty yards in the rear; half of the regiment is enough to be sacrificed at once." That 
was said in the hearing of every man in the regiment. It was a pretty solemn 
announcement to deliberately charge on a fortified position, but it did not seem 
to deter the men at all. Captain Charles C. Cloutman, of Company "K" was stand- 
ing near me just as we were about to make the charge and said to me: "Lieutenant, 
I have a strong impression that I am to be killed going up that hill, and if I am, 
be sure and send my watch to my wife." We started upon the charge and about 
half way up the hill a bullet pierced him near the heart; he turned around immedi- 
ately in my presence, sank down upon the earth, folded his hands over his breast 
and straightened himself as straight as an Indian, and was instantly dead. That 
is the kind of men that gave this country that great victory at Fort Donalson, 
which virtually was the beginning of the end of the War, for it threw back the 
entire Confederate line from the Potomac to the Mississippi river. I wanted to 
just mention that so that we may keep fresh in our memories the kind of men who 
saved the Union and gave us that notable victory. 

A single instance that occurred at the Battle of Shiloh well illustrates his hero- 
ism. While the 2nd and 7th lowS were running that terrible gauntlet, in the after- 
noon of the first day's fight. Captain Samuel A. Moore fell in the front, shot through 
both legs, and Lieutenant James B. Weaver stopped under a galling fire to pick him 
up and bear him from the field, as "Aeneas did from the flames of Troy the old 
Anchises bear." 


He remained in command of his regiment until the close of the war. receiving 
a commission as Brigadier-General by brevet, for gallantry, in March, 1865. 
During the same year he was a prominent candidate for Lieutenant-Governor before 
the State Republican Convention, receiving the highest vote next to the successful 
candidate. In 1 866 he was elected District Attorney as before stated. In 1 867 
he was appointed by the President Assessor of Internal Revenue for the First Iowa 
District, serving in that capacity six years. In 1875 he was a candidate in the 
Republican State Convention for Governor. So strong had he become, that it was 
generally conceded that he would be overwhelmingly nominated ; but at the last mo- 
ment, and as the only possible way to defeat General Weaver, the name of the old 
War Governor, Samuel J. Kirkwood — a name to conjure with — was brought before 
the convention in a way so dramatic that it caused a stampede which resulted in the 
nomination of Kirkwood and the defeat of Weaver. How this unjust event, which 
caused General Weaver to bid adieu to the Republican Party, was brought about, 
and its effect on the subsequent career of General Weaver has been so well told by 
the former gifted editor of the State Register, J. S. Clarkson, in the January, 1913, 
number of Annals of Iowa, that I can not refrain from giving the following excerpts 
therefrom : 

The convention met in Moore's old opera house or hall, with the house so 
crowded that several of the delegations had to be seated on the stage. There was 
much gossip and speculation among the delegates as to what was to be done, and 
the whole convention was plainly nervous and expectant of something sensational 
going to happen. There was no chosen leader to take charge of the Kirkwood 
boom, or to openly antagonize the Weaver majority. Suddenly one of the smallest 
counties, Audubon, and not a saloon county, presented the name of Kirkwood by 
casting a vote for him, and as Audubon was at the head of the alphabet, this 
brought on the expected sensation at once. Instantly the convention grew greatly 
excited, and all the delegations from the different counties began to discuss the 
matter. The Dubuque delegation was seated on the stage, and was plainly the 
most excited and apparently the most surprised of all the delegations. It held a 
hurried consultation and then one of its members, General Trumbull, as I remember 
it, left the delegation and walked clear down to the front of the stage and leaning 
over the foot lights and pointing his hand at the Audubon delegation, which sat in 
the parquette not far from the stage, demanded to know "by what authority is the 
name of Governor Kirkwood presented?" Then arose in the Audubon delegation 
the veteran Ballon, tall, gray, impressive, and looking as one of "the prophets of 
old," and in a voice of peculiar power and magnetism, thundered back, "By the 
authority of the great Republican party of Iowa." The climax had come, the 
tornado was on, and swept everything before it. The anti-prohibition and pro- 
corporation delegates went with it, but I believed then, and believe now, that 
their action was the wisdom of instantly utilizing a way opened to them in a time 
of great need, and not the wisdom of having originated the movement. The con- 
vention in its highly wrought condition and excitement was hypnotized, as so 
many large popular bodies frequently are, and enough of General Weaver's 
delegates were swept off their feet and carried along by the storm to furnish the 
votes needed to make a majority for Kirkwood — and the great prize that General 
Weaver had so ardently coveted, and had so clearly and honestly won from the 
people themselves, was swept out of his hands and his whole course in life changed. 
•^ * * I personally know that two Republican Presidents desired and proposed to 
appoint him to some of the high national or international commissions, both to 
secure the service of his great and unquestioned ability, and as a final and con- 
spicuous compliment that as soldier and statesman he deserved from the Republic. 


They were only prevented from doing this by the protests of some narrow Repub- 
licans in official places, men incapable from their own deficiencies of appreoiaung 
either the actual greatness of the General's character and ability, or the noo""^ 
of his nature. I have no doubt that this desire to do justice to General Weaver 
in his later years, and to testify in every way to the esteem and affection m wnicn 
his fellow citizens held him, was particularly true of the people of Iowa also. He 
was among Iowa's greatest men, and honored the State even more than it honored 
him. His name will be held in both the State and Nation in unceasing pride and 
admiration as the years shall pass. 

I can fully endorse all that Mr. Clarkson has said in respect to the proceedings 
of the State Convention alluded to, for I was present at and a member of it. I can 
also freely endorse all that he said respecting the subsequent regret of many who had 
been carried away in the stampede. I think, however, that Mr. Clarkson has omit- 
ted one element of the opposition to General Weaver's nomination. It was thought 
and I heard it expressed by some that the General's ambition was too vaulting and 
that he was too active in enforcing his aspirations. That he had a right, however, 
to aspire to high places by virtue of his extraordinary ability, must be conceded in 
view of the accomplishments he reached. 

After General Weaver left the Republican Party he became a leader in the 
National or Greenback Party, and was its most famous orator. In 1878 he was 
elected to Congress from the Sixth District. In I 880 he was nominated for Pres- 
ident of the United States by his party. In 1 884 he was again elected to Congress 
and re-elected in I 886. In I 892 he was nominated for President by the People's 
Party, receiving a total of 1 ,042,531 votes and 22 electoral votes. While in Con- 
gress he was regarded as one of its ablest men. He was a great debater in en- 
forcing the views of his party in respect to the national currency. I heard General 
Benjamin F. Butler say in a private conversation that General Weaver understood 
that subject better and could talk more forcibly upon it than aiiy man in the United 

I concur in all that Mr. Clarkson has said regarding the personal attributes of 
General Weaver. He satisfactorily demonstrated by his career that he was entitled 
to be classed as a great man. There was a complete revolution in the public feel- 
ing towards him. One of many evidences of this is, that while he was still living, 
the Legislature of Iowa placed his portrait in one of its halls. The venerable Isaac 
Brandt, in speaking of this event at the 1 909 Reunion of the Pioneer Law Makers' 
Association said that he had never witnessed such a day and such enthusiasm as 
prevailed when General Weaver's picture was received by the Legislature. 

General Weaver was mainly instrumental in securing the organization of Okla- 
homa, in opposition to the efforts of the so-called land barons who herded their 
cattle on its fertile plains and valleys. Edward H. Gillett,* who served with Gen- 
eral Weaver in Congress, at the Reunion above referred to, read a paper in which 

* Edward H. Gillett was the son of Francis Gillett, a distinguished citizen of 
Connecticut, once a United States Senator from that State and the Free-soil 
candidate for Governor in anti-slavery times. He lived in the town of Bloomfield, 


he graphically referred to General Weaver's action in that behalf, from which I 
make the following excerpts, as it throws a strong light on General Weaver's daunt- 
less character and his influence in Congress: 

General Washington was called the "Father of his country," then thirteen 
States, many of them small ones. General Weaver Is the father of one great State 
which is larger than the six New England States of Washington's thirteen. About 
a quarter of a century ago, a million people wanted homes in that beautiful 
wilderness, now known as the State of Oklahoma. A few hundred cattle kings 
had control down there, and used the vast territory to raise bullocks, while the 
people, begging for homesteads, were held at bay by proclamations of the President 
and by United States troops. A large lobby, well equipped with money was kept 
at Washington by the cattle kings to block any attempt in Congress to open the 
country to settlers. General Weaver, then in Congress, said that Oklahoma should 
be opened; that as between bullocks and babies, he would stand for the babies. 
He introduced a bill to organize and open the Territory, worked it in through the 
committee, got it onto the calendar, and pressed it for consideration but could never 
get it up for a vote; something else was always ahead of it. Just before the close 
of the session his bill was sent back to the committee who reported it. This was 
a death blow, secured by the cattle men, who had boasted that nobody could dis- 
lodge them. Now came the battle royal. The cattle men, watching from the 
gallery, to see the impudent lowan. Weaver, knocked out. General Weaver 
demanded that his bill should be reinstated and considered. He was laughed to 
scorn. Thereupon he stood up and moved that the House do now adjourn, and 
upon that motion demanded the yeas and nays, and by other dilatory motions 
stopped the whole law-making machine for four days. Not a bill could be passed. 
Threats and persuasion were tried upon him in vain; he stood like the Greek 
Leonidas at the pass of Thermopylae — stood against all comers. At last the 
Speaker was alarmed and came to General Weaver for terms. His answer was: 
"My terms are unconditional surrender. Let the committee on rules meet at 
once and name an hour when my Oklahoma bill shall be considered." These terms 
were accepted to save an extra session of Congress. The bill passed, went to the 
Senate, passed, — but almost too late. Unless the president's name was affixed 
before the clock struck twelve, the bill would die. Not a moment was to be lost. 
General Weaver seized his bill, jumped into a waiting carriage, and drove a mile up 
Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House with running horses ; then past the guards 
with his bill into the presence of the President, who promptly affixed his signature. 
The victory was now won. The cattle kings were routed, the great Southwest was 
thrown open, and a million bullocks marched out, and a million homeless Americans 
marched into the new Eldorado, Oklahoma. I say to you that General Weaver's 
slnglehanded battle for Oklahoma on the floor of the House, in which the despotic 
rules of the House were used to defeat the despots who made them, required more 
nerve, more bravery, more skill than did the battles of the War. I say to you that 
no other man ever before or since has undertaken such a fight. If the people of 
Iowa paint General Weaver for this hall of fame, the people of Oklahoma should 
chisel him in marble and place his statue in their Capitol with this legend upon it; 
"General James B. Weaver, the Father of Oklahoma." 

I have always felt that General Weaver was unjustly treated by the Conven- 
tion, and that his defeat told perhaps more severely on the Republican Party than 

which was adjacent to that of Granby, Connecticut, where I was born and reared. 
His house, which I many times passed, was conspicuously situated on the highway 
leading from Granby to Hartford. I remember distinctly when he was the Free-soil 
candidate for Governor of Connecticut, and this house was pointed out and noticed 
as his residence by persons going to Hartford from Granby, Bloomfield lying inter- 
mediate between the two places. The son, Edward H., was born there in 1840. He 
was highly educated, and became a leader in the National or Greenback party. In 
1878 he was elected by it to Congress and served with General Weaver in that body. 
He was an earnest and continual advocate of popular rights and one of the most 
eloquent public speakers of his time. 


it did on him. Most men would have sunk under the defeat he sustained, but not 
so with him. He immediately became the leader of a new party, and for years the 
Republican Party in his district suffered defeat in the Congressional elections. I had 
a taste of that myself in 1 883, as did others before and after me. As I have said, 
his defeat in the convention would have disheartened most men, for what a prospect 
at that time seemed to lie before him ! If he had been elected Governor, his elec- 
tion to the United States Senate would have followed, and his superior mentality and 
great powers of debate would have perpetuated the renown Iowa had gained through 
the services of its United States Senators. 

It is but just to say that the induction of the old War Governor's name into the 
convention was without his knowledge or consent, and had he followed his own 
inclinations, would have declined the nomination. General Weaver died at the 
residence of his daughter, Mrs. H. C. Evans, in Des Moines, February, 1912. 

Marcellus E. Cults. 

Marcellus E. Cutts was a striking figure in the Iowa of his time. He had re- 
markable talents, and a nervous organization so intensely active that in the end 
his physical forces were no longer able to withstand his intellectual fires. I knew 
him intimately, for, through the course of many years we practiced law together in 
adjacent counties, and in addition to this we were fellow members in the State Sen- 
ate of the 1 I th General Assembly. He was a most influential, and, with the excep- 
tion of General Fitz Henry Warren, the most conspicuous member of that body. He 
• was a natural-born satirist, and there was scarcely an occasion on which he failed to 
show his inclinations in that respect. In sardonic ridicule and irritating invective 
he was without a peer, and when these were poured without stint on the object of 
his attack, in that grating voice of his, the effect on the victim was harrowing. And 
yet, everybody admired him, and everybody liked to hear him, except the victim who 
smiled and writhed and writhed and smiled during the operation. There was but one 
man in the Senate competent to hold his own with him in these tilts, and that was War- 
ren, to whom I have alluded, and of whom a sketch will elsewhere be found. Cutts 
was not only a very able lawyer, but an unrivaled debater as well. As was once said 
of Lord John Russell: "He became not indeed a great orator, but a very keen de- 
bater, who was especially effective in a cold, irritating sarcasm, which penetrated the 
weakness of cm opponent's argument like some dissolving acid."* 

But over all and under the most exciting circumstances, he managed to preserve 
his temper and serenity, and at all times was cheerfully open to questions from any 
quarter, but the answers he gave rarely failed to contain the most pungent forces of 
his argument, and bring discomfiture to the questioner. His efforts were frequently 

* .Tiistin McCarthy's History of Our Own Times, Vol. 1, p. 40. 


invested with dramatic power of no ordinary character. This latter quality is well 
exemplified in the descriptive scenes which John A. Kasson gave in his paper, read 
before the Pioneer Law Makers' Association in 1 896, of the struggle, in the I 3th 
General Assembly, over the appropriation bill for the new capitol building, and to 
which, under then existing conditions, Mr. Cutts was opposed. Mr. Kasson says: 

Of our old and irreconcilable enemies, J. W. Traer, of Benton, Charles Dudley, 
of Wapello, Joel Brown, of Van Buren, were all back again, and were now strongly 
re-enforced by a new and able leader, M. E. Cutts, of Mahaska County. * * * He 
was argumentative, sarcastic, bold in statement, and persistent, refusing all 
concessions. * * * He far more loved to attack than defend any cause. 

In describing the most exciting debate of all that had taken place, Mr. Kasson 
further says : 

After John P. Irish (who was in favor of tlie measure) came Cutts, the Ajax 
of the opposition. He made a long speech of mingled wit, vaporing and argument, 
and dealt especially on the amount of delinquent taxes in different counties, as 
evidence of the poverty of the treasury and the people. He displayed this poverty 
in picturesque language, and portrayed little children running around with tlieir 
knees protruding through their pants, their coats ragged, tattered and torn, their 
caps with the fore pieces off, their fathers gone to the county seat to pay out the 
last half-dime, which was to go into that magnificent State House. He rehearsed 
the picture of English taxation where everything is taxed from the cradle, and 
even added some embellishments to that. He appealed to every element which 
might create timidity in the members, excite their prejudices, and turn them by 
both these influences against the bill. He aroused the apprehension of the miembers 
from the institutional counties lest money should be lacking for their home wants. 
It would be difficult, indeed, to surpass that speech in its artful adaptation to 
intimidate fearful members and prejudice doubtful ones against the entire 

After serving as State Senator from Poweshiek County where he then resided, 
in the I 1 th and 1 2th General Assemblies, and as a member of the House from Ma- 
haska County, to which he had removed, in the 1 3th General Assembly, he was, in 
February, 1872, appointed, by the Governor, Attorney-General of the State to fill 
a vacancy caused by the resignation of Henry O'Connor; in the fall of the same 
year he was elected by the people for a full term, and re-elected to the same posi- 
tion in I 874. His services of five years in this position were characterized by ex- 
traordinary ability. In 1880 he was elected to Congress. In 1882 he was re- 
elected for another term, but died before entering upon it, and your humble servant 
was nominated to fill the vacancy, but luckily for the people and himself, was de- 
feated by a few votes in the fusion between the Democrats, the Greenbackers and 
the idiots. 

Mr. Cutts was a rising man, and had he lived until the full maturity of his 
pow«rs and a wider range of their exercise, he would in my opinion, have become 
one of the most distinguished men in the nation. He died in the prime of life, in 
1883; but he lived long enough to demonstrate that he was a lawyer of great 
ability and a man of most extraordinary and brilliant talents. He had no predeces- 
sor nor has he had any successor with whom he might be aptly compared m the 
leading traits to which I have briefly adverted. 


' He was born in Vermont, in 1 833. He was well, but not classically educated. 
When twenty years of age, in 1853, he took his way westward, locating at Sheboy- 
gan, Wisconsin, where he engaged in teaching for two years, reading law at the 
same time. He came to Iowa in 1855, locating at Montezuma, in Poweshiek 
County, where he successfully practiced his profession until his coming to Oska- 
loosa in 1 866. 

To me, Mr. Cutts was always an attractive personality. He was a man of 
kindly heart and high principles ; broad in his general views, a friend of the people, 
firm in his convictions and bold enough to openly maintain them. In person, he was 
slender, and under the strain of continued tensity his not physically rugged forces at 
last gave way. 

He left surviving him, his widow and some children, among whom was his most 
lovable and charming daughter. Miss Lizzie Cutts, who inherited many of her 
father's traits and talents. She was a rare lady. Upon my nomination to fill the 
vacancy caused by the death of her father, she sent me the following congratulatory 
letter which gave me a personal satisfaction so great that I may be pardoned the 
vanity of here giving it: 

Oskaloosa, September 19, 1883. 
Do not think me presumptuous in extending to you my congratulations upon 
your nomination for Congress. Knowing you to have been a friend of my father, 
there is no one whom I should rather see occupy his seat in Congress than yourself. 
My mother and brother join me in their best wishes for your success. Hoping the 
health and strength which was denied my father may be granted to you, I am 

Very respectfully yours, 

David B. Henderson. 

David B. Henderson was a native of Scotland, where he was born in 1840. 
The family emigrated to America in 1 846, locating near Rockford, Illinois. In 
1852 they removed to and settled in Fayette County, Iowa, purchasing a large 
tract of land, which became known as Henderson's Prairie. He was reared on his 
father's farm, attended the common schools and finally entered the Upper Iowa 
University, where he remained until the commencement of the Civil War, when he 
enlisted as a Private, in September, 1 86 1 , and was elected First Lieutenant of Com- 
pany "C," of the I 2th Regiment of Iowa Infantry. He participated in the battles 
of Fort Henry, Donelson, Shiloh and Corinth. He was wounded in the Battle of 
Fort Donelson, and so severely in that of Corinth that it necessitated the amputation 
of one of his legs. In consequence of this he was obliged to leave the service in 
1 863, but when the 46th Regiment was organized in June, 1 864, he had so far 
recovered as to use a wooden leg in place of the one amputated, and such was his 
invincible courage and will that he insisted on re-entering the service and again taking 
up arms for his country. He was appointed Colonel and assumed command of 
that regiment. After his return from the army he studied law with F. E. Bissell 


and O. P. Shiras (Bissell & Shiras), and was admitted to the bar in 1865. During 
the same year he was appointed Collector of Internal Revenue for the Third Dis- 
trict of Iowa, and served in that position until 1867, when he resigned and became 
a member of the law firm of Shiras, Van Duzee & Henderson, the death of Attor- 
ney-General Bissell having made a vacancy in the previous firm. He was subse- 
quently appointed Assistant United States District Attorney for the northern dis- 
trict of Iowa, and served in that capacity for two years. In 1 882 he was elected 
to Congress from his district, and was continuously re-elected to that position for a 
period of twenty years. At the opening of the 56th Congress in December, 1899, 
he was unanimously nominated as the Republican candidate for Speaker of the Na- 
tional House of Representatives and was elected to that position. 

He was a man of tremendous energy in everything he did or undertook to do; 
I remember no man more characteristically so. The single instance, in the outset of 
his career, of his insisting on re-entering the service after he had lost a leg, illustrates 
his unconquerable spirit. He was full of drive; it appeared in all of his actions. 
In his younger days it was hard for him to be serene. He was a stormy petrel. 

He was a born leader of men. He inherited the dashing qualities of his High- 
land ancestry. I could never refrain from picturing him in the plaided garb of a 
Highland chieftain leading with uplifted claymore and inspiring shout, his followers 
to the onset. But underneath the impetuous surface there were stores of deep 
thought, profound reflection. From a daring and intrepid soldier, he developed into 
a quick and brilliant student, an able lawyer, a distinguished statesman, achieving 
the highest office open to a foreign-born citizen and placing his name high upon the 
roll of national honor.' Had his military services not been interrupted by the loss 
of his limb, it is more than likely he would have won equal renown as a soldier. 

As a lawyer, he gave brilliant promise from the start, and won professional 
laurels of no ordinary kind. His judgment of men, his keen insight of human na- 
ture, his superior mental alertness, his dominant executive forces, gave him auxiliary 
equipments as a lawyer, and especially as a trial lawyer, not often combined in the 
same person. Of him in this respect, one of his old professional brethren, the ven- 
erable William Graham thus wrote me: 

In Colonel Henderson a splendid trial lawyer w&s spoiled by his becoming a 
Congressman. Had he lived in a State where his party was in the minority, I think 
his career as a lawyer would have even surpassed his achievements as a statesman. 

I shall not undertake to recount his prolonged services as Congressman and states- 
man. They cover a period of nearly twenty years — the longest continuous service 
of any Iowa Congressman. He was ambitious of success, and he attained it in no 
common measure. But Ah! he fully realized 

How hard it is to climb 

The steep where Fame's proud 

Temple shines afar. 


His own nature was highly strenuous, and so likewise were the course and cir- 
cumstances of his whole life. The wounds he had received at Donelson and Cor- 
inth began to tell upon his once powerful forces. The first amputation of his leg 
was followed by subsequent operations made necessary long afterward. These, with 
the continuous suffering he endured, combined with his long and wearing Congression- 
al service, so seriously sapped his health and strength that he felt compelled to resign 
the proud position he held and retire to private life. With the hope of regaining 
his strength, his beloved wife and daughter went with him to southern California. 
But it was of no avail, and he was brought home to die after months of slowly 
failing strength. He expired at his home in Dubuque in February, I 906. 

In personal appearance he was the type of manliness, of good height, full chest- 
ed, athletic in build, erect in bearing. His oval, cleanly shaven face — save for the 
heavy mustache — was strongly expressive, heroic, open as the day, without trace of 
furtiveness or deceit. In disposition and manner he was hale, outspoken, vehement 
in expression, emphasizing on rare occasions his speech wath what General Fitz Hen- 
ry Warren used to call the "energetic idiom," open-hearted, open-handed, with a 
personal magnetism that drew everybody into his good fellowship. I knew him 
well, and always felt a real pleasure in meeting him. 

Difference of politics constituted no barrier to his personal friendships. For in- 
stance, he and James Burns, of Missouri, one of the Democratic leaders of the 
House, were strong personal friends, and when the latter died. Colonel Henderson 
went all the way to St. Joseph, Mo., to attend his funeral. His generous nature 
made him liked by all classes, and his death was sincerely mourned by political foes 
and friends alike. Iowa has had many notable Congressmen, but none more 
strongly marked and individualized. 

Since writing the above I have received from that distinguished 
octogenarian of the Dubuque Bar, William Graham, a communication in which 
he relates the following incident, highly illustrative of Colonel Henderson and to 
some extent of General William Vandever. Using Mr. Graham's own language, 
he says: "I will mention an instance which I relate on the authority of my friend. 
Major Myron H. Beach, whose family was intimate with the Vandevers." Here 
is the incident. General Vandever was too generous to enable him to lay up much 
money and he died in far from affluent circumstances. His son, Charles, who was 
an active business man in San Francisco, and a family support, died suddenly about 
the time of his father's death. This left Mrs. Vandever and her two daughters in 
rather straightened circumstances. General Vandever's California successor in Con- 
gress strived to get a bill passed giving Mrs. Vandever a pension of fifty dollars per 
month, but was met with objection every time he tried to call it up. Colonel Hen- 
derson was at this time in Congress, and, although there had always been some 
friction between himself and General Vandever, he determined to get the bill 


through if it were possible by any means in his power. He waited and watched for 
an opportunity. It came one day when he received a note from Speaker Thomas 
B. Reed, that he had gone to New York, and designating him. Colonel Henderson, 
as Presiding Officer of the House for that day. As soon as the Colonel got to the 
capitol he sent for the principal objector to pension legislation, and appealed to him 
as a personal favor not to object to the calling up of the bill. This his friend would 
not promise, but agreed to be opportunely absent at lunch when it should be brought 
up. The Colonel then sent a note to the California member to the effect that he 
would recognize him for the purpose of calHng up Mrs. Vandever's pension bill. 
As soon as the Colonel observed that the seat of the principal objector was vacant, 
he, as the Speaker ad interim, recognized the member from California, and imme- 
diately called the second principal objector to the chair, and taking the floor himself, 
made one of his characteristic speeches — reminding the members that the General 
had several times been a member of that body, and had done valiant service in the 
field, but that he would not urge the passage of the bill on that particular ground, 
but on that of his widow. He then went on to eloquently tell how Mrs. Vandever 
had left her own children and gone down to the scene of warfare, and taken charge 
of the sick and wounded and made no distinction between Union and Confederate 
soldiers, and how many of them had recovered their health under her tender min- 
istrations and care, and returned to their friends. When he closed his speech, the 
bill passed by a unanimous vote. 

A few days before, the California member had written Mrs. Vandever that ow- 
ing to objections made, he had no hope of the bill getting through that session. While 
Mrs. Vandever and her daughters were in despondency over this news, a messenger 
came to the door with a telegram which read : 

Mrs. Vandever: Your pension bill passed the House today, and will pass the 
Senate and be signed by the President tomorrow. God bless you. Henderson. 

John F. Lace]). 

Major John F. Lacey, from humble beginnings, became one of the most dis- 
tinguished lawyers and constructive statesmen that Iowa has produced. His strength 
lay in his constant persistency and tireless industry, backed by strong resolution, 
sound judgment and an eminently practical mind. He was born in New Martins- 
ville, West Virginia, in 1 84 1 . He was educated in the schools of his native place 
and in those of Oskaloosa, Iowa, his parents removing to the latter place in 1855. 
when John was fourteen years of age. Though not a collegian, he became a man 
of learning. His eager spirit, his thirst for knowledge, and his quite wide reading, 
made him one of the most accomplished men in the State. In his profession, he was 
the most persevering and industrious of lawyers. In that respect, I do not think he 
had his equal in the State; the nearest approach to him, so far as my observation 
goes, was William McNett, of Ottumwa. Major Lacey was not rugged in ap- 


pearance, and to look at him the unacquainted observer would not think him capable 
of enduring long and trying strains of professional labor. But such a judgment 
would be erroneous in the highest degree, for in that respect, I have never seen his 
superior. For many years he had a wide practice and was engaged in many cases 
of the greatest importance. He worked unceasingly while carrying on a large prac- 
tice and engaged in intellectual exertions that would have exhausted most men. But 
he never flagged ; and in the midst of his ardent professional labors, he prepared a 
general digest of the railway decisions that had been made in the United States, 
which appeared in two volumes, under the title of "Lacey's Railway Digest," which 
came into general use and made him known throughout the country. The first edi- 
tion of his work was published in 1875. Before that, he had prepared and pub- 
lished in one volume, a Digest of the decisions of the Supreme Court of Iowa, sup- 
plementing the prior digests, each in one volume, of Judge John F. Dillon and Pro- 
fessor William C. Hammond. I may remark as a matter of legal history, that 
these were supplemented by the Digests prepared by the writer, in four volumes, 
containing the decisions of the Supreme Court from the earliest Territorial period to 
the 5 7th Iowa report ; which in after years was, in its turn, superseded by the Digest 
of Judge Emlin McClain. 

What has been said will, without entering into details, illustrate not only his 
extraordinary ability and deep learning as a lawyer, but also his working powers and 
great endurance. To exemplify the latter qualities, I may, however, refer to the 
case of the State against Pleasant Anderson for the murder of Chris McAllister, 
referred to in my sketch of Daniel Anderson, and which attracted wide public at- 
tention. I was employed to assist the District Attorney, John Donnell, of Sigour- 
ney, in the prosecution; Major Lacey, with Judge H. B. Hendershott and Daniel 
Anderson, appeared for the defense. The case was tried at Oskaloosa, on change 
of venue from Wapello County, and Major Lacey was active in conducting the de^ 
fense. The trial lasted two weeks with both day and night sessions, and at its 
close each and all the lawyers engaged showed evident signs of exhaustion, except 
Major Lacey. He seemed to me as fresh and vigorous as at the beginning. 

He had been a youthful soldier and officer in the great Civil War, and he has 
unconsciously disclosed much of his own heroic career in those he has drawn of 
General Samuel A. Rice.* and Major-General Frederick Steele.* * While in those 
sketches he modestly refrains from saying scarcely anything of himself, the halo he 
has shed upon the career of his subjects reflects itself upon his own, for he was an 
active participant in the scenes he describes. 

To the Oskaloosa Daily Herald of October 4, 1913, I am indebted for many 
of the details of his military services. On the outbreak of the Civil War, when not 
fully out of his teens, he was among the first to respond to the President's call for 

* Annals of Iowa, Third Series, Vol. 2. 
** Annals of Iowa, Third Series, Vol. 3. 


volunteers, and was the fifth person to get his name down upon the enhstment muster 
roll. He left Oskaloosa on his twentieth birthday, May 30, 1861, to enter the 
service as a private in Company "H" of the third regiment of Iowa Infantry. This 
regiment was sworn into service at Keokuk, Iowa, in June, 1861. The details of 
its service will be found in Stuart's Iowa Colonels and Regiments, page 83. Its 
early service was in North Missouri and its first severe battle was that of Blue Mills 
Landing, on the Missouri River, not far below Kansas City, and nearly opposite the 
town of Liberty. The command was under the gallant Lieutenant-Colonel John 
Scott. The engagement was a severe one, and Lacey among others was taken pris- 
oner, and carried to Lexington, Mo. He was later paroled, and discharged as a 
paroled prisoner, in November, 1861. He was fully released by subsequent ex- 
change of prisoners. 

He had commenced studying law before he entered the service, and upon his 
return to Oskaloosa, resumed his legal studies, under the already civilly distinguished 
Samuel A. Rice. In August, 1862, Rice himself entered the service and was 
commissioned Colonel of the 33rd Regiment of Iowa Infantry, and young Lacey 
again laid down his law books to enlist as a private under the command of his pre- 
ceptor, in Company "D" of that regiment. He was soon made Sergeant-Major of 
the Regiment, and in May, I 863, was promoted and commissioned First Lieutenant 
of Company "C," and later served as Acting Adjutant of the Regiment. Upon 
the promotion of Colonel Rice to the position of Brigadier-General, Adjutant Lacey 
was promoted to a position on his staff, and continued as such officer until the death 
of General Rice, resulting from the mortal wound he received at the Battle of Jen- 
kin's Ferry. When the General received that wound. Major Lacey was by his 
side and helped to carry him from that bloody field. He was then appointed on the 
staff of General Frederick Steele as Adjutant-General and served in that capacity 
until after the fall of Richmond. During this service he was breveted Major for 
gallantry on the field of battle at the siege of Mobile, Alabama. This special pro- 
motion was made at the personal request of Major-General Canby. Shortly after 
the fall of Richmond, General Grant, anticipating some trouble with Mexico by 
reason of circumstances not necessary here to relate, sent an army of about 40,000 
men under General Steele to make observations on the Rio Grande. Major Lacey 
accompanied this expedition as Assistant Adjutant-General. The headquarters of 
the Army of the Rio Grande was Brownsville, Texas. From there Major Lacey 
was transferred to the staff of General Phil Sheridan, commanding the division of 
the Southwest, at New Orleans. In releasing Major Lacey from his staff. General 
Steele addressed the following communication to General Sheridan: 

The undersigned deeply regrets losing from his staff so gallant and meritorious 
an officer, and from his military family, so amiable and accomplished a gentleman 
as Major Lacey. He entered the service at the age when most young men have not 
left school, and by his energy and good sense soon became distinguished as a staff 


He served for four years and until the end of the war with conspicuous gallant- 
ry, and participated, among others, in the following engagements: Battle of Helena, 
the Yazoo Pass Expedition; the campaigns against Little Rock and Camden; the 
Battles of Terrenoir Creek; Elkin's Fort; Prairie d'Anne; Poison Springs; Jenkin's 
Ferry, and finally in the last engagement of the war, the storming of Fort Blakley, 
opposite Mobile, on April 9, 1 865, the day of Lee's surrender. 

Upon his return to Oskaloosa he re-opened his law books, was admitted to the 
bar and entered upon the practice at Oskaloosa in 1 866. 

I turn now to briefly advert to his political career. He was a strong, but al- 
ways conservative Republican. In 1 869 he was elected on that ticket to the lower 
house of the Legislature, and became an influential leader in that body. He also 
served a term or two as City Solicitor of the City of Oskaloosa. In 1 888 he was 
elected to Congress from his district. This was the commencement of his long 
Congressional career. He continued to be re-elected until he had served for a period 
of sixteen years — in the 51st, 53rd, 54th, 55th, 56th, 57th, 58th and 59th Con- 
gresses. But few, if any, members of that body accomplished more for his State 
and the country at large, than did he. I shall not undertake to detail his services in 
that behalf. They will be found in the Congressional record of that period, and in 
the different measures which he originated or was instrumental in having passed. Of 
him President Roosevelt, in one of his speeches said: 

In public life generally, we are not apt to find the man whose efforts go to 
the whole country. I wish to congratulate this district in having in Congress a man 
who spends his best efforts for the welfare of the whole United States. I can ask 
Mr. Lacey to come to me or I can go to him on a matter of consequence to the 
Nation, with the absolute certainty that he will approach it simply from the 
standpoint of public service. I regard this as high praise for any man in public life. 

Again, in a personal letter to Major Lacey, President Roosevelt thus wrote : 

I desire to say to you how much it means to any man who believes in hard, 
intelligent and disinterested public service to see such a career as yours has been 
in Congress. It has been my privilege to be closely associated with you and to 
watch the many different ways in which, without hopes of or expectation of per- 
sonal reward, you have rendered efficient public service.* 

Major Lacey was a lover of nature. He was food of the fields, of the woods 
and of all the natural beauties which the Almighty has spread about us. Above 
all, he loved the birds that gladden with their songs. He was the author and se- 
cured the passage of what is widely known as the "Lacey Bird Protection Act." 
Our forest reserve system is due to his efforts. He drew the bill under which the 
Yellowstone National Park is managed and governed. As was well said by the 
Oskaloosa Daily Herald : 

His judgment and foresight established a conservation policy for the Govern- 
ment far in advance of its present advocates. His services in connection with the 
public lands committee has been of inestimable worth to the country and will be 
all enduring. 

* Oskaloosa Daily Herald, October 4, 1913. 


And of him the Sac City Sun said : 

While on most matters political he lined up with what is known as the "old 
guard, an exammation of his work will show that he was one of the original 
conservationists. He had a prominent part in securing legislation to protect the 
lives of coal miners in the territories. He was a forceful factor in establishing 
our system of forest reserves. It was also he who prepared the law for the 
government and protection of Yellowstone Park and of other noted national objects 
of mterest. He was also the author of a measure for the protection of birds 
adopted many years ago. Major Lacey will be remembered as one who has 
contributed worthily toward the welfare of his countrymen. 

Of him, Congressman S. F. Prouty said: 

Major Lacey was one of the brainiest men I ever saw. For twenty years we 
were thrown constantly together in our law practice, he at Oskaloosa and I at 
Pella. We differed on politics, but were warm personal friends. Major Lacey 
was one of the most Influential men in Congress. He was an indefatigable worker 
He was an authority on forest reserves and was active in the conservation flght 
As chairman of the Committee on Forestry he framed most of the laws dealing 
with forests and wild animal preservation. 

As already indicated, he was a RepubHcan of the uncompromising conservative 
order, and without doubt would have been indefinitely continued in Congress, and 
probably elected United States Senator, but for the split in or weakening of his 
party by what was known as the "Progressive Movement," with which he had no 
patience. Through this, he lost his seat in Congress, and was defeated for the 
United States Senatorship by Governor A. B. Cummins, after a close and some- 
what embittered contest. He was more than once called upon to be a candidate 
for the office of Governor, but steadily declined this honor. After the close of his 
political career he fully resumed the practice of his profession from which he never 
separated himself and which had been ably sustained by the help of his partner and 
brother, W. R. Lacey, under the firm name of Lacey & Lacey. In the height of 
his professional and personal activities, he was suddenly stricken with death, on Sep- 
tember 29, 1913. He left his office a little after the noon hour, walked down the 
street in his accustomed sprightly manner, stopping on the way to converse with 
friends. Arriving at his residence, he was met by a member of the family to whom 
he said, "I am not feeling well. I believe I will lie down for a few moments. 
Please bring me a glass of water." The water was at hand almost instantly. He 
held the glass for a moment, then his hold relaxed, the glass fell to the floor, and 
Major Lacey dropped back on the couch, dead. It was a painless end, which one 
with such a background might well have wished. He needed no time for prepara- 
tion ; his noble life was a sufficient one. 

The death of no public man has caused more general grief in Iowa than did his. 
Political enemies and friends shared in it alike. At his funeral there was an im- 
mense gathering from all parts of the State. 

To no other citizen or resident of Oskaloosa has been paid the signal honor 
that was accorded the memory of John F. Lacey. Every flag was at half mast 
and business was suspended during the afternoon. From two o'clock practically 
every office, store and shop was closed. Thousands of people were at the home. 


Almost everyone in town was at the place of funeral and the throng was swelled by 
the visiting hosts who came by train, by auto or other conveyance. The crowd at 
the residence at the hour of service has been variously estimated. Gathered 
together at one time on the Lacey lawn were enough people to fill the largest 
auditorium in the city several times over. In addition the streets in all directions 
from the home were lined and crowded with people a block distant. People stood 
about the business streets, and when the procession moved to the cemetery the 
streets leading thereto were all occupied by a moving mass of humanity.* 

The universal sorrow that prevailed, and the esteem in which he was held, was 

voiced by the entire press of the State — Democratic as well as Republican. To 

confirm what I have said of him and to aid in giving a graphic picture of the man, 

I can do no better than give a few brief extracts from this source. 

Thus the Oskaloosa Herald: 

■• Oskaloosa never had another citizen who had won such great distinction in so 
many fields of labor. In every walk of life and wherever he might be, he was 
always alive to the best of the situation. He was observing, keen and witty, ever 
the life of the group about him. His triumph in politics and his victories in court 
never changed the character of the man. He was persistent and bitter in a fight, 
but never harbored a spirit of retribution. He never hesitated to express his 
opinions nor wavered from his fixed ideas of right, but he respected the beliefs 
and principles of others. As a citizen he was plain "John" to his associates, 
and he lived the life of the true gentleman and friend. 

He was a Protestant, and a member of the Episcopal Church, but Father Lof- 
tus, of St. Mary's Catholic Church, of Oskaloosa, did not hesitate to pay him this 
tribute : 

John P. Lacey in his life and in his death has been visibly and signally dealt 
with of God. He blessed him with a high purpose, an ambition to live a noble life. 
God blessed him in his search for material out of which to construct the edifice of 
that life. * * * The very suddenness of his death, coming with a sure swiftness 
and brilliancy of the lightning flash, rifted the clouds 'that obscured our view; 
pulled back the curtains and we beheld in all the refulgence of transfiguration, 
Lacey, as he was before his God, the perfect masterpiece of the highest and noblest 
in American life. 

Iowa City Citizen : 

That Major Lacey was one of the ablest Congressmen Iowa has sent to 
Washington is conceded. As a debater he had few equals. If he leaned to what 
seemed conservation in his later years it was not from any lack of courage or 
progressive ideas, but merely from the habit of considering good what he had 
helped to fashion and believed to be based on sound and enduring principles. 

Council Bluffs Nonpareil: 

Major John F. Lacey was one of the grimest political fighters in Iowa. He 
gloried in his standpatism. -His political beliefs were convictions of the most 
sincere character. Lacey defended these with the ardor of a crusader. He disliked 
a trimmer and never did such things himself. He made political enemies and he 
retained political enmdties. But Lacey was as honest as he was sincere. And he 
fought his political battles -on the square and accepted results with soldiery 
courage. As a man and citizen he commanded the respect of both political sup- 
porters and opponents because both knew that he was prompted by the best of 

* Oskaloosa Daily Herald, Saturday, October 4, 1913. 


Oskaloosa Times (Democrat) : 

Whatever of honor or distinction may have come to Major Lacey, the soldier 
lawyer and politician, was far overshadowed by the record of Major Lacey the 
citizen. The writer had known the Major for many years, and though we differed 
from him in politics, there never was an hour in all our acquaintance that we did 
not recognize him as Oskaloosa's foremost citizen and most kind and generous 
neighbor The kindly advice, the encouragement and counsel he has given to his 
friends at home, the countless deeds of kindness and of love to his neighbors 
will build for him a monument in the memory of his friends higher and more 
enduring than any marble shaft. 

Dave Brant, in the Iowa City Republican: 

In Congress Major Lacey was a natural leader. He was not a political 
legislator. He stood in Congress for something better than politics He was 
constructive. He was called a standpatter, but there was never a moment in his 
career when he did not stand for something new, something of benefit to the 
people. Few men are there but would have weakened when defeat was before them 
But John F. Lacey was the exception. He retired from public life rather than 
surrender his principles. Today when we have weathervane men in Congress from 
nearly every district in the State, with the same kind of men in most of our 
public places, it is refreshing to pay tribute to one who never faltered. 

Lafayette Young, in the Des Moines Capital, has given a fine summary of 
Major Lacey's leading qualities, from which the following extracts are given : 

It was a wonderfully active, purposeful and achieving life which closed at 
Oskaloosa yesterday. Indolence was entirely foreign to John P. Lacey's nature. 
In the three score and ten years which came to him those who knew the man will 
readily testify that he had no idle hours. Work was one of the dominating passions 
of his life and it was always notable the ease with which he could glide from a long 
tenure of office-holding to the active practice of his profession. Some men go to 
Washington, serve a few terms in Congress and return to find their law practice 
has passed into other hands. We believe this was less noticeable in the career of 
Major Lacey than that of any other lowan identified with public life. He was so 
thorough in everything he undertook that he was constantly equipped and his 
services were always in demand. 

He early displayed the abilities which single out men for public service and he 
lived to a day when he was recognized as one of the most constructive statesmen 
at Washington. Appointed to committees having in charge important affairs 
affecting the public domain he became an ardent student of the public lands 
question, Indian affairs, forestry and conservation and the most of our present laws 
pertaining to these issues bear the imprint of his painstaking work. He was a 
great lover of birds and the Audubon societies were highly appreciative of his 
support of legislation for their protection. Major Lacey was a Republican of the 
old school. He knew just what he believed. He knew how his conclusions had 
been reached, and he could defend himself whenever the occasion required. He 
was never rattled in a congressional debate and he loved the antagonism of a 
law suit. He was ready to face the spirit of contest anywhere. 

But now this gallant old soldier has fallen in the ranks. He had breathed 
the atmosphere of his law office and pressed the leaves of his favorite law books 
on the very day that the summons came. He dropped upon his couch at the noon- 
tide hour — as he probably thought, for a brief rest. The voices of his faithful wife 
and children were the last earthly sounds which he heard. Prom that couch of 
rest Major Lacey had passed into the dreamless sleep. 

James M. Mansfield, belonging to the Oskaloosa Herald's staff, gives a delight- 
ful picture of Mr. Lacey's lovely traits and home life, from which I make the fol- 
lowing brief extracts : 

As I gazed into his death-stilled face, my memory reverted to when I was a 
lad of twelve years of age, and employed at the Lacey home; and many of the 


scenes and incidents of that time came before me as vividly as though it were but 
yesterday. Though then young in years, I seemed to realize that Mr. Lacey was a 
great and good man, and it naturally followed that I watched him closely, and 
admired him. His exemplary routine and kindness about his home were so in- 
stilled on my youthful mind that as the years passed on, I came to a true realization 
of the noble man's worth. No man ever loved and worshiped his family more than 
Mr. Lacey. He held the sacredness of his home above all else in the world. His 
legal and other professional business, which were of inexhaustible volume, were 
a secondary consideration. His home and family came first. He was the kind 
of a husband and father that God intended man to be, kind, loving, devoted, and 
pure. And often with childish envy have I watched his children run to the old 
front gate, as I called it, to meet him at the noon hour, and how a smile would 
illuminate his face as he gathered them in his arms and caressed them, and I feel 
safe in saying that there were never happier moments in this good man's life than 
to hear the prattle of his little ones coming to meet him. His home-coming was 
looked forward to with joy by his family. I knew it. He was happy in their 
presence. I could see it with my own eyes. He was loath to leave them; they 
hated to see him depart. I see him again in the library of his home at evening 
time, — which, by the way, was his favorite room — with his family gathered about 
him, and I often tried to conceive of a prettier, more sublime picture of happiness 
and contentment. Such were the environments that made the Lacey home an 
ideal one. And it can also be truthfully said, that never was a needy one turned 
from the door of the Lacey home empty-handed. 

Perhaps more than enough has been said to properly typify the character and 
accomplishments of Mr. Lacey ; but I could not forbear the elaboration I have given, 
for the reason that the memory of a public man so useful and deserving should be 
perpetuated in a manner broad enough to encompass his various traits, and disclose 
the consensus of public and private opinion concerning him. 

In person, he had a well-rounded, but not apparently robust figure of medium 
height. He was always well dressed and I never saw him, save in a tightly buttoned 
Prince Albert coat of dark material. He was poHte in manner and his agreeable 
address was well calculated to ingratiate him in the favor of any company in which 
he might be placed. The last time that I saw him was, I think, in 1 908. In com- 
pany with his then unmarried daughter, he called at my law office in Kansas City, 
Missouri, where he found me and my partner, Ex-Governor Thomas T. Crittenden, 
with whom I think he was previously acquainted. He seemed as vigorous and 
sprightly as when we separated at the close of the Pleasant Anderson murder trial, 
more than twenty years before. We had a delightful little visit, and bade each 
other, as it proved, a last farewell. 

His writings, particularly his sketches of Generals Rice and Steele before al- 
luded to, show that if he had devoted himself to purely literary pursuits, he would 
have attained distinction in that field. 

He was in his 73d year at the time of his death. He left surviving him, his 
widow, whose maiden name was Martha Newell, a most interesting and lovable 
lady, and two daughters, Mrs. James B. Brewster, of San Francisco, and Mrs. Car- 
roll E. Sawyer, of Oskaloosa. 



John J. Dyer. 

The Federal Court of Iowa before the creation of the Eighth Circuit embracing 
states and territories west of the Mississippi River was the United States District 
Court. The first Federal Judge under the State organization was John J. Dyer, of 
Dubuque, who was appointed United States District Judge for Iowa in 1 846. He 
died ten years after his appointment, in 1856. Many years ago, I talked with a 
number of his survivors, who knew him intimately. They all spoke of him in the 
highest terms, both as a judge and a man. The following description, furnished 
me by James W. Woods (Old Timber) concerning him, is in keeping with the 
general estimate of Judge Dyer: 

Judge John J. Dyer was a Virginian. He married a sister of Ben Samuels, 
and resided in Dubuque. He was the first Federal Judge after the State organiza- 
tion. He was appointed in 1846, United States District Judge for Iowa. He was 
a man of marked ability and one of the purest men that ever graced our judiciary. 
He was small in stature, but large in soul, which beamed constantly. He had been 
on the bench only a few years before he died. He was succeeded by James M. Love. 

In the first Democratic Convention of the State, which was held at Iowa City 
on the twenty-fourth of September, 1 846, before his appointment as United States 
District Judge, he was a member. The first Governor of the State, Ansel 
Briggs, was nominated at that convention. 

Among other important cases in the trial of which Judge Dyer presided, was 
that of the noted Fugitive Slave Case of Ruel Daggs vs. Elihu Frazier, tried at 
BurHngton, June term, 1850. The proceedings in this case were taken down by 
George Frazee, a member of the Burlington bar, who was then one of the few short- 
hand reporters in the world. This case I have referred to in my sketches of J. C. 
Hall and David Rorer. In it, both of those gentlemen made speeches of extraor- 
dinary power, which were taken down and reported in full by Mr. Frazee. The 
case was brought to recover compensation for the services of nine slaves, who had 
escaped from Missouri into Iowa, and whom it was claimed the defendants had as- 
sisted in their concealment and final escape. The proceedings referred to will be 


found in Volume 6, Third Series, The Annals of Iowa, Page 9. The instructions 
or charge of the Court give ample evidence of a clear head and forceful mind on 
the part of Judge Dyer. 

Judge Dyer also presided on the trial of the case of Chouteau against Maloney, 
which was one of absorbing interest to the people of Dubuque, who claimed title 
through persons who had purchased the lands at the United States Public Land 
Sales. The adverse claimants were the assignees of Julien Dubuque, who, it was 
claimed, derived title under a Spanish grant. The . nature of the case and its 
great import is clearly set forth by Thomas S. Wilson, one of the Territorial Judges 
of the Supreme Court, in connection with my sketch of that gentleman. The case 
involved the study and effect of Spanish grants and Spanish law applicable thereto, 
and it is stated that Judge Dyer, as well as Judge Wilson, spent a long period in 
the investigation of these subjects. Judge Dyer in a learned and forcible opinion 
upheld the settler's title and adversely to the validity of the claim advanced by the 
successors in interest of Dubuque. The case was carried to the Supreme Court of 
the United States, where the whole history of the claim of Dubuque was presented 
for consideration in connection with the legal points involved, as appears from the 
briefs of counsel and the opinion of the Court, which was reported in the Sixteenth 
Howard — United States Reports, 203. The decision of Judge Dyer was fully 
sustained. M. M. Ham, who was for many years the highly accomplished editor 
of the Dubuque Herald, in an article published in Volume 2, Third Series, Annals 
of Iowa, P 338, thus refers to this case and incidentally to Judge Dyer: 

This law suit in its day was one of the most celebrated in the whole United 
States, because it involved the title to all the land in an entire city, and its terrors 
are well remembered by all early settlers. It was the only legacy Dubuque left 
the people who were to come after him, except his name. He made claim to all 
the land, not only where the city stands, but for seven leagues up and down the 
west bank of the Mississippi river and for three leagues back. This is a distance 
of twenty miles in length and nine miles deep, and included all the lead mines, all 
the farms and homes of the people settled upon it. It was a source of great vexa- 
tion and annoyance, and so continued for twenty-three years after the first settle- 
ment, and until it was finally settled by a decision of the Supreme Court of the 
United States in 1853, in favor of the settlers and against the Dubuque claim. * * * 
In the course of time Dubuque became largely indebted to Chouteau; and being 
pressed for a settlement, in October, 1804, conveyed to Auguste Chouteau, of St. 
Louis, seven undivided sixteenth parts of this body of land, said to be about 73,324 
acres. * * * On the 17th of May, 1805, Dubuque and Chouteau, as his assignee, 
jointly filed their claim with the Government for possession. Thereafter for a 
period of forty-eight years the claim was knocked about before councils, com- 
missions, cabinets, congresses and committees of the same, the courts higher and 
lower, the decisions sometimes being one way and sometimes another, but none of 
them ever agreeing at the same time. It was finally put in the shape, by agreement, 
of a suit of ejectment against Patrick Malony, a farmer of Table Mound Township, 
who held his land by patent from the United States. This suit was tried before 
that learned jurist, Judge John J. Dyer, of the United States District Court for 
Iowa, and judgment rendered for Malony. The case was appealed to the Supreme 
Court of the United States, where in March, 1853, it was finally decided, the judg- 
ment of the lower court being affirmed. This opinion, an elaborate and able one, 
was delivered by Judge J. M. Wayne, of Georgia. Chouteau was represented by 


able attorneys from St. Louis, and by Reverdy Johnson, of Maryland; while the 
Dubuque settlers were represented by T. S. Wilson, Piatt Smith and Attorney- 
General Caleb Gushing. All the members of the Court at that time, all the 
attorneys, all the claimants, are now dead, the last one being Judge T. S. Wilson, 

Judge Dyer was born in Franklin, Pendleton County, Virginia, in 1 809. His 
grandfather was Major Wagner of the Revolutionary Army. He was a graduate 
of the University of Virginia and was admitted to the bar at Stanton. After prac- 
ticing for a time in Pendleton and adjoining counties, he came to and settled in 
Jackson County, Iowa, in 1835. During his term of office, he returned to visit his 
old home, where he was taken sick and died. He was buried at Woodstock, West 

James M. Love. 

Judge Dyer was succeeded as United States District Judge, by James M. Love, 
who was appointed by President Pierce in 1856. I wish I were greatly more 
capable than I am, of portraying his rare qualities. He served not only with great 
distinction, but with a satisfaction so general as to make it extraordinary. After 
an exalted judiciary service of thirty-five years, he died at Keokuk in 1 89 1 . He 
had what may be properly termed, a natural legal mind. This he had enriched by 
the deep and conscientious study of legal principles, and also by historical and lit- 
erary research. Taken all together, he was not only a profound lawyer, but a 
highly accomplished scholar. There were no elementary legal writers with whose 
works he was not familiar, through close and conscientious study. In addition to 
this, he had a great fondness for books, and I venture to say, from my intimate ac- 
quaintance with him, that there was scarcely a single work or production of signal 
literary merit that he had not read. He was, indeed, a great reader, and frequently, 
when there was a lull in the proceedings, or court had adjourned before the ap- 
pointed hour, he would draw out some book he had with him and enter upon its 
reading. I recollect one instance distinctly, as it impressed itself upon my mind in 
connection with an anecdote which he related to me of Mr. Lincoln, with whom he 
was well acquainted, and on whom, he told me, he always called when visiting 
Washington. I was attending an extra session of court at Dubuque in the interest 
of a client who formerly resided in my county. The Court was prematurely ad- 
journed, and the people all retired but myself and the Judge. I remained to have 
a little visit with him — as he had removed some two or three years before from his 
previous home at Keokuk to Ottumwa, where I resided. We both attended the 
Episcopal Church — where, by the way, he sang from his seat and followed the 
service with both unction and harmony. We early became acquainted, and ulti- 
mately warm, personal friends. Upon the retirement of the crowd, he had taken 
up a book and was reading it when I approached him on the bench. It was Tour- 
jee's "The Fool's Errand," which purported to portray conditions in the South fol- 
lowing the Civil War, and especially the treatment of northern men who went there 


to sojourn or abide, and which attracted general interest when it was published. It 
had been denounced by some as extravagantly overdrawn. I asked the Judge what 
he thought of it, and though of southern birth and a Democrat, who might be sup- 
posed to have imbibed some prejudices, he said he could well appreciate that its 
portrayals were correct exempHfications of the conditions and events of which it 
treated. This was indicative of the broad and Catholic spirit of the man. 

Personally and socially, he was one of the most delightful of men, and though 
naturally rather diffident and retiring, when once drawn out, became charmingly 
companionable. To those who possessed his esteem, he was always gracious, and 
never failed to show his appreciation for any kindness or solicitude exhibited by any 
of them towards him, as the following letter will show. I had heard of his illness, 
which proved to be his last, and wrote, expressing to him my sympathy and good 
wishes. To this he replied: 

Keokuk, Iowa, November 18, 1890. 

My dear Mr. Stiles: Your very kind and highly appreciated favor of the 16th 
instant duly received. I thank you from my heart for your kind expression of 
sympathy and although I am like a soldier hors du combat at present, and under 
orders to do no writing of any kind, yet I cannot deny myself the satisfaction of 
offering you my very sincere thanks for the kind expression of your concern for 
my present situation. I am really improving and gaining strength and stability 
dally, and, I believe, on the road to a perfect restoration to my normal condition 
of health; but the distance I have yet to travel is long and the way weary and 

Pray excuse me for using a pencil. It is more suitable to my nervous condition, 
and therefore much more convenient than a pen would be. 

Mrs. Love desires to Join me in kindest regards and remembrances. Wishing 
you, my dear sir, all possible success and prosperity, I remain 
Truly your friend and servant, 

J. M. Love. 

While at the bar, he displayed qualities which insured professional success. He 
brought to every case a patient and exhaustive research, which left no field unex- 
plored to discover the foundation and reason of the law. His constant aim was to 
ascertain its origin, to unfold the causes which brought it into existence emd the 
philosophy of its elements. In proof of this, examples are not wanting. The re- 
port of the case of Miller vs. Chittenden — 2 Iowa, in which his argument is given 
at length, is a lasting monument of his deep research, and critical power in the 
learned, clear and accurate review of authorities, both English and American, as to 
the grounds of equitable jurisdiction over devises to charitable uses, and from which 
he successfully deduced the principle that the exercise of jurisdiction by Courts of 
Chancery, in cases of grants or devises to charties, is not dependent upon the Statute 
of 43 Elizabeth, commonly known as the Statute of Charitable Uses, but existed 
at corrmion law before that Statute. 

With a mind essentially logical in its cast, there was united a power of analysis, 
which gave him a readiness in resolving a complex case into its simple elements, and 
of distilling an argument down to its essence; but above all, he had an almost in- 
tuitive perception of what was radically just and right. 


It was in every way befitting that such talent should be rated at its true worth, 
and that one so thoroughly equipped in forensic qualities and attainments, should be 
promoted to the Bench. When, therefore. Judge Dyer died, Mr. Love's qualifi- 
cations were by many friends warmly and successfully pressed for the appointment. 
His commission bears date the twenty-first of February, 1 856, and at the time of 
his death, he was the eldest in commission of all the United States District Judges in 
the Union. 

The United States District Court of Iowa was in its creation invested with the 
powers of a Circuit Court. These powers it exercised till 1 862, when Congress by 
Act of July 15 th, reorganized the Circuits, and included Iowa in the Eighth Judi- 
cial Circuit as one of its Districts, wherein the Circuit Court was held at Des Moines, 
presided over by Justice Miller, who was assigned to that Circuit. This arrange- 
ment lasted till the creation of the office of Circuit Judges for the various Circuits, 
and the Hon. John F. Dillon was appointed as Circuit Judge for the Eighth Cir- 
cuit ; with both of these Presiding Judges the District Judge was associated. 

For the first two years of Judge Love's incumbency little business occupied the 
District Court. It is but necessary to examine its docket and records, to see how 
meagre was the business transacted. It is also easy to discover from the same 
sources in the years succeeding, how rapidly the business increased, and how multi- 
plied became the subjects of litigation, and the labor and learning and skill de- 
manded for their proper determination. 

With the facilities now afforded to the bench and the bar, in the numerous text- 
books, and reports, and manuals of Federal Procedure, it is hard for one to realize 
the difficulties which at an early day in this District, arose from the want of these 
faciKties, and which compelled a constant recurrence to principles, instead of cases, 
for the regulation of proceedings in the Court, and hence we owe a debt of gratitude 
to the plcistic mind, and wise foresight of a judge who laid the foundations of prac- 
tice, and made precedents to guide in the future. 

As an Associate Judge of the Circuit Court, Judge Love took an active part 
in its business, sharing the labors of the Circuit Judge, and was often called to con- 
tinue the trial of causes, after the presiding Judge was compelled to leave, to open 
the session of his Court in some other District of his widely extended Circuit. But 
not alone to Judicial matters in open Court was the time of Judge Love devoted. In 
the transaction of business in Chambers, his continued presence in the District af- 
forded facilities to parties to apply to him for relief, on preliminary and summary 
motions ; and matters of great weight were then often argued and decided. 

This outline of the duties and labors of Judge Love, throughout a period of 
thirty-five years, the most eventful years of our State and Nation, affords, if any- 
thing can, a test of character, of learning, fidelity and judicial integrity. It is safe 


to say that through this crucial test, he passed unscathed, and that never has a re- 
flection from any source entitled to the slightest weight or respect, been cast upon his 
purity as a man, or his fitness, or his integrity as a judge. Throughout his judicial 
career, his characteristics were a modesty of demeanor almost shrinking, an entire 
absence of all parade and ostentation, and a simple dignity born of innate virtue and 
self respect, which have never failed to conciliate all who came within the sphere of 
his influence, and to call forth their regard and reverence. 

The qualities which distinguished him at the bar ripened and matured by the ex- 
ercise of the functions of a judge into a more complete acquisition of the reason and 
philosophy of the law, and he was distinguished notably in his rulings upon the 
evidence in a cause, for his acute insight into its true bearing, and his convincing 
reasons for which the evidence should be admitted or rejected. The analytical pow- 
ers of his mind had fair play not in advocacy of one side of a question, but to present 
the whole truth in its various forms and colors, and to concentrate its entire light upon 
the point to be elucidated. He was the very antipodes of a mere case lawyer. His 
even temper, gentle manner and unwearied patience in hearing arguments, his modest 
suggestions of doubt and difficulty which court argument, indeed, demand it, his 
quick comprehension of the decisive points of a case, his clear, simple, concise and 
impartial statement of the facts, especially in charging juries, rendered him deserved- 
ly popular with counsel practicing in his court. 

Though his judicial career comprised years in which war raged, when vindictive 
feeling and great political excitement were engendered, he ever held the scales justly 
poised, and no tincture of prejudice or undue bias stained his decisions, or warped 
his judgment. This was in the public prints of the time a theme of commendation 
on the part of his political friends, and a tribute which political opponents were 
prompt to award him. 

Imbued in early life with a love of English History, his study of the subject was 
not relaxed in his subsequent years. His knowledge of the salient events recorded, 
and his generalizations thereon, particularly as to the gradual evolution of the great 
principles of the English constitution, formed one of his most valuable attainments, 
preparing him in an eminent degree to comprehend our own written constitutions, 
both State and Federal, and to expound the principles upon which they are based. 
This wealth of historical information, from which to draw his illustra- 
tions in discussing the topics of the day, made him a most entertaining and 
edifying conversationalist. Nor, as already indicated, was he wanting in familiarity 
with English clcissics. Especially was he an ardent admirer, and a critical scholar 
of the works of the Great "Bard of Avon," whose graphic pictures tragic, dramatic, 
and comic formed his study, while apt quotations illustrative of traits of human char- 
acter in all its phases frequently seasoned his discourse. 


Grave without austerity, severe in his Republican simplicity of habits, without a 
touch of aceticism, dignified and yet always accessible, reserved and retiring among 
strangers, yet ever genial among his acquaintances and friends, a good talker and 
a good listener, appreciating a good anecdote and knowing full well how to tell one, 
these are the qualities which obtained for him a welcome to the fireside of his friends 
and gave a charm to his social intercourse. Withdrawn from the busy mart, and 
the world's traffic, living above the turmoil and strife of the political arena, seeking 
rest in the love and peace of home, or amid the amenities of social life, he came forth 
from this retirement untrammelled by prejudice, unmoved by passion, and unswerved 
by mterest, to deal justly and judge righteously between his fellowmen. 

He was born in Fairfax, Virginia, in 1 820. When he was twelve years of 
age, the family removed to Zanesville, Ohio. There he was educated and studied 
law with an elder brother. He was admitted to the bar and practiced there several 
years. At the outbreak of our war with Mexico, he volunteered, was chosen Cap- 
tain and served valiently to the end. He located at Keokuk in 1 850, soon stood in 
the front rank of his profession, and was steadily advancing to the summit, when he 
was appointed Judge. In I 852, he was elected by the Democrats to the State Sen- 
ate, from Lee County, where he served for four years, and notwithstanding his com- 
paratively short period in the State, he had attained such professional eminence that 
he was appointed Chairman of the Judiciary Committee. 

For some of the foregoing data, I am indebted to his distinguished and intimate 
friend, Edward Johnstone, and to P. T. Lomax, the able Master in Chancery of 
Judge Love's Court, who were kind enough, many years ago, to respond favorably 
to my requests in that behalf. I desire to add, that in the thirty-five years of Judge 
Love's judicial service, but three of his numberless decisions were reversed by the 
Supreme Court. 

Oliver Pen's Shir as. 

Oliver P. Shiras, who was for twenty-one years Judge of the United States 
Court for the Northern District of Iowa, was born in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, in 
1833, being the third son of George and Eliza (Herron) Shiras. In 1838 the 
family removed to a farm on the Ohio River, about twenty-one miles from Pitts- 
burg, on which Oliver remained until he was fifteen years of age, when he was sent 
to Athens, Ohio, and entered in the preparatory department of the Ohio University, 
located at that place. In I 849 he became a Freshman and completed his college 
course in 1853, graduating with the degree of A. B. Thence he went to Yale 
University, first entering the Scientific School, spending a year in the study of the 
natural sciences. Having concluded to make the law his profession, he then en- 
tered the Yale Law School, graduating therefrom in 1856, with the degree of LL. 
B. Thereupon he came to and settled in Dubuque, was admitted to the bar, and 


became the junior member of the firm of Bissell, Mills & Shiras, composed of Fred- 
erick E. Bissell. William Mills and himself. In 1861 Mr. Mills retired from the 
firm, which then assumed the name of Bissell & Shiras. 

Early in the great Civil War he entered the Union Army, in August, 1862, 
and was commissioned First Lieutenant in the 27th Regiment of Iowa Infantry. He 
did not, however, serve with this regiment, as he was, upon the application of Brig- 
adier-General F. J. Herron, at once detailed by order of Major-General Pope, 
commanding the Department, to report for duty to Herron, and to become a member 
of his staff. General Herron was then in command of the 3rd Division of the 
Army of the Frontier which was being organized at Springfield, Missouri, under 
command of Major-General John M. Schofield. He served as Aid and Acting 
Judge Advocate of General Herron's staff through the campaigns of the Army of 
the Frontier, in Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana. 

He continued in the service until General Herron was ordered to Brownsville, 
Texas, when he returned to Dubuque and resumed the practice of his profession. 
In June, 1 867, his partner, Frederick E. Bissell, died, and for a few months the 
firm was Shiras, Ballou & Van Duzee, composed of Mr. Shiras, John M. Ballou, 
and A. J. Van Duzee. Soon afterwards, Mr. Ballou left the firm and D. B. 
Henderson was taken into it, and it then became Shiras, Van Duzee & Henderson. 
This firm continued in active practice until August, 1882, when Mr. Shiras was 
appointed Judge of the United States Court for the Northern District of Iowa. He 
thereupon appointed Mr. Van Duzee Clerk of his Court, and Colonel Henderson 
in November of the same year was elected to Congress. The Eight Federal Judi- 
cial Circuit was very large, containing some eleven states and territories. For 
various causes, and especially by reason of his superior qualifications. Judge Shiras 
was called upon for much service outside of his own district, frequently holding the 
courts in Minnesota, the southern district of Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, 
Nebraska and South Dakota, and upon the creation of the United States Circuit 
Court of Appeals he was frequently required to sit with the other judges on that 
bench. After a service of twenty-one years that had been as arduous as it had been 
distinguished, and having reached the age of seventy, he retired from the bench in 
November, 1903, and died January 7, 1916. 

As will have been seen, he was highly educated. He took a deep interest in 
educational and literary affairs, and other matters relating to Dubuque; and after 
leaving the bench gave much attention to these subjects. He was a Trustee in and 
Chairman of the Administrative Committee of the Carnegie Free Public Library of 
Dubuque; Trustee of the Finley Hospital, and for a number of years Chairman of 
the Park Board of the City. 

Judge Shiras possessed qualities of an exceptionally high order. In him the 
attributes of an indefatigable student, a well-equipped scholar, a learned lawyer, a 


wide reader, a keen observer, were bottomed on a well-balanced mind. His modes 

of thought and conclusions were distinguished for their clearness. He displayed 

these qualities preeminently, both at the bar and on the bench. He had in a high 

degree the rare one of patience, of perennial composure. He was a good listener, 

and free from that inclination, which constitutes the weakness of some judges, of 

talking too much, interrupting counsel, seemingly for the purpose of displaying their 

superior astuteness. Greville, in his Memoirs, says of Lord Brougham:* 

Brougham is a bad presiding Judge, for lie will talk so much to the counsel, 
and does not avoid saying pungent things, which elicit rejoinders and excite heat. 
The extreme gravity and patient attention of Old Eldon struck me forcibly as 
contrasted with the flippant and sarcastic interruptions of the Chancellor. 

Judge Shiras was remarkably free from these faults. His mind was naturally 
reflective; resembling not the shallow brook that babbles on its way, but rather the 
deep and silent stream that flows with resistless current to the sea. I met him often 
at the Federal and State Supreme Court while we were members of the bar. His 
arguments always invoked the closest attention of the court. His appointment as 
Judge of the United States Court received the hearty and general approbation of the 
bar and the people. His integrity was spotless; no combination of interests, power 
or wealth dared approach him, and he laid aside his judicial robes as unblemished 
as when he put them on. 

Personally, he was engaging and attractive; not tall, but shapely and graceful. 
In bearing, he was modest and retiring, and though his career had been highly suc- 
cessful, he was without the least tinge of self-importance or vanity. His smoothly 
shaven face was finely chiseled, placid, but resolute in expression; his head and 
brow fine, his hair dark and luxuriant, his eyes, lucid and penetrating. In fine, his 
whole appearance, the tout ensemble, furnished a ready index to his personality, and 
carried the impress of intellectual strength combined with natural refinements and 
purity of character. 

The opinions of Judge Shiras are models of clearness and brevity and will be 
found in the numbers of the Federal Reporter covering that period. 

He was a younger brother of George Shiras, formerly one of the Judges of the 
Supreme Court of the United States. 

John S. Woolson. 

John S. Woolson was visited by death in the midst of a highly useful and 
promising career as Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern Dis- 
trict of Iowa, to which he had been appointed only eight years before. He was 
born in Erie County, New York, in I 840. He was the son of Theron W. Woolson, 
for many years a prominent lawyer of the Mt. Pleasant Bar, a man of high character 

*Greville's Journals of the Reigns of George IV and William IV. Vol. 2, p. 239. 


and ability, with whom I served as a fellow member of the Iowa State Senate m the 
Eleventh General Assembly. The parents removed from Erie County, New York, 
to Henry County, Iowa, in 1856. John S. Woolson was reared and educated 
here. He was a graduate of Wesleyan University. 

During the Civil War, in March, I 862, he was appointed Assistant Paymaster 
in the Navy, and assigned to service on the sloop of War, Housatonic. He was 
on this ship when it was sunk by a torpedo near Charleston, South Carolina. He 
and other officers and the crew were picked up from the water. He was at the 
attacks on Fort Sumpter, and Fort Fisher, and with his ship on the James River at 
the capture of Richmond. At the close of his naval service in I 865, he again took 
up and completed his legal studies, and was admitted to the bar in 1 866. For a 
number of years he and Judge W. I. Babb were associated as partners in the prac- 
tice at Mt. Pleasant; it was a strong firm and did a wide and successful business. 
He was for many years a member of the State Senate, where he distinguished him- 
self for his efficiency as a legislator. In 1891 he was appointed by President 
Harrison to the position which he held at the time of his death, which occurred in 
1 899. His predecessor on the bench was Judge J. M. Love, with whose services 
his own were placed in contrast. This was a test of no ordinary character, for of 
all the Federal Judges in the Nation Judge Love was among the very best. Judge 
Woolson filled well the position and public expectation, and but for his untimely 
death, which was brought about by his arduous and unceasing labors, would have 
achieved still higher rank as a jurist. 

His character was of the highest order, and his nature charitable. While he 
was sometimes severe with incorrigible offenders, towards young ones and those 
brought before him for a first offense, he was lenient, and gave them the benefit 
of every mitigating circumstance. It is said that when the ends of justice had been 
reached he was always ready to join in a petition for the pardon of the offender. He 
was of a lovely as well as heroic nature, and his intellectual endowments were of a 
superior order. His premature death was a cause of universal and sincere regret. 

Smith McPherson. 

Smith McPherson was appointed by President McKinley to fill the vacancy on 
the bench caused by the death of Judge John S. Woolson. Neither Judge Wool- 
son nor Judge McPherson can properly be classed as among the early United States 
Judges, but as they are both dead, I have thought it proper to speak of them. Nor 
had either of them been on the bench sufficiently long to fully demonstrate his real 
judicial capacity, though both displayed many strong essentials for the position and 
promised well. 

Smith McPherson I knew from the time he was admitted to the bar. We both 
lived on the line of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad, and were it? local 


Representatives in our respective Districts. While he could not be considered deep- 
ly learned or highly educated, he was, nevertheless, a man of striking talents and 
strong capabilities. I always thought that Nature had done more for him than he 
had done for Nature. He was too highly social and fond of pleasant varieties to 
be a constantly close student. If, in his early life, he had been closely disciplined 
in scholarly lines, and his activities been tempered and directed thereby, his course 
would have been more evenly, though perhaps not so strikingly marked. He was 
naturally robust, mentally and physically, and carried in his action perhaps too 
much of the brusqueness of the pioneer. These qualities, however, were of no dis- 
advantage to him in his early career, for they served to initiate him rapidly and fa- 
vorably into political lines. He was in his youth, what is termed a hale fellow well 
met, and this characteristic early brought him clients and political honors. Not- 
withstcmding the disadvantages I have indicated, he constantly added to the stores 
of his legal knowledge euid in the end became justly regarded as one of the ablest 
trial lawyers in his part of the State. He almost necessarily became interested in 
politics in which he took an active and conspicuous part from the time he entered the 
practice until'he was elevated to the bench. He early gained the reputation of being 
an able and successful lawyer for one of his age, and his political progress was 
equally rapid and conspicuous. His talents and career had attracted the attention 
of Governor Carpenter and he was appointed by him in 1 874, within four years of 
his admission to the bar, district attorney of his district to fill a vacancy that had 
occurred, and at the end of that term he was elected by the people for a new one. 
In performing the duties of this office he exhibited talents of so remarkable a char- 
acter that it brought him into quite general notice. His practice increased, his fine 
natural abilities were given a wider sweep professionally, while his keen, active po- 
litical management steadily advanced his popularity in that direction. He had 
become so strong in these respects that in 1 88 1 he was nominated and elected to the 
high and responsible office of Attorney-General of the State, the duties of which he 
discharged in a creditable and satisfactory manner. So strong had he become with 
the people that in 1899 he was nominated and elected to Congress, and in my 
opinion, had he continued in his political career, he would have gained new honors, 
for he was naturally a very potent and skillful political leader. He resigned his 
seat, however, to accept the appointment of United States District Judge. This po- 
sition he filled for some fifteen years and to the time of his death. His service cov- 
ered a period that was at times greatly ruffled by perplexing conditions and ques- 
tions, especially those connected with the efforts on the part of the public and legis- 
latures to reduce railroad rates. Some of his decisions were made the subject of 
criticism. It is likely that no Judge in his place could have escaped some degree of 
censure whichever way he might have decided. From my long acquaintance with 
Judge McPherson and my observation of his conduct on the bench, I have no doubt 
that he dealt with the difficult questions that arose during his period with perfect 


honesty of purpose. He was greatly improving, his judicial knowledge ripening, 
his judicial character being more completely rounded when he was overtaken by 
death. Some of his opinions are conspicuously strong, and gave promise of that 
general perfection which time and experience alone can confer. 

In figure, he was of medium height, somewhat inclined to corpulency, rugged in 
appearemce as he was in character, independent and courageous. In disposition he 
was the personification of good-fellowship, highly social, liked good stories and no 
one could tell better ones. Under his rather brusque exterior, he carried a warm 
and sympathetic heart; kind to the poor, compassionate for the oppressed, generous 
to a fault, and well illustrated what Webster once said that the history of most good 
lawyers could be briefly written — that they worked hard, lived well and died poor. 

He was born in Morgan County, Indiana, in 1 848 ; was reared on his father's 
farm and received his education, attending the' common schools in the winter, while 
he worked on the farm in the summer. Removing to Iowa, he entered the law de- 
partment of the State University, from which he was graduated, was admitted to the 
bar, entered the practice and located at Red Oak, in Montgomery County, where 
he continued to reside until the time of his death. 

Considering the shortness of the time in which his successive triumphs were 
achieved, he may be properly regarded as one of the highly remarkable men of his 


/^ ^m 




Samuel F. Miller. 

On the re-organization of the Federal Circuits in 1 862, and the creation of the 
8th Circuit, embracing states and territories west of the Mississippi, to which Judge 
Miller was assigned on his appointment as Justice of the Supreme Court of the 
United States, he became, ex officio, an associate and presiding judge of the cir- 
cuit, which is fully explained in the sketch of Judge James M. Love. 

Preparatory to writing this sketch, I wrote to Judge John F. Dillon, who had 
been associated with Judge Miller on the Circuit, and who knew him intimately, to 
give me his views concerning him, in response to which he was kind enough to fur- 
nish me an epitome, from which the following excerpts are made : 

"In considering Iowa's contribution to the Constitutional Jurisprudence of the 
United States, there is one name so conspicuous and pre-eminent that it dominates 
the whole legal landscape — the name of Mr. Justice Miller. To appreciate the 
value and extent of his labors in this field, a brief glance at the Constitution as it had 
been evolved 2md as it existed when his services began, is necessary. 

"The Constitutional history of the United States divides itself into two great and 
distinctive periods — the one the period that precedes, the other the period that fol- 
lows the Civil War. 

"Fortunately the first period fell to probably the greatest legal genius the world 
has ever seen — I mean, of course. Chief Justice Marshall, to interpret, construe and 
apply the new instrument and to determine whether it means 'everything' or 'nothing.' 
Whether it was a mere mechanical bond of sovereign States, loosely articulated, or 
whether 'created a vitalized and self-existent Nation, instinct with evolutionary 
force' and clothed with all the powers of sovereignty needful for its growth, 
development, preservation and protection against all hostile comers, foreign and do- 

"By successive judgments of the Supreme Court during Marshall's thirty-five 
years of service, from 1801 to 1835, the question was solved, and the constitution 


received its fixed and permanent form so far as its original provisions are concerned. 
He and his associates established with equal firmness the principle on the one hand 
of nationality in the general government, and on the other, the reserved rights of the 
States and of the people as against the central government. And they also estab- 
lished the doctrine not less vital and important, that the Supreme Court, in Ambas- 
sador Bryce's language, 'is the living voice of the Constitution,' and the ordained 
tribunal peacefully to settle all rival powers and pretensions of the States and Nation 
and all controversies and cases, when presented for judicial decision, arising under 
the Constitution and laws of the United States. 

"A narrow, iron-clad, jealous construction of the Constitution would have 
changed our whole history and perhaps have shipwrecked the Union. No military 
chain binds us together. The only bond of Union is the Constitution. Under Mar- 
shall's views it has been possible for our stupendous national expansion in territory 
and population to take place by the natural process of evolution without any strain 
upon the Constitution, without destruction of the States, and without a division of 
the Nation into rival and hostile republics. 

"The second period of our Constitutional history, with which Mr. Justice Miller 
is so closely connected, commences with the termination of the Civil War and the 
reconstruction of the Union. 

"Justice Miller was appointed from Iowa by President Lincoln to the Supreme 
Bench in 1862, in the 46th year of his age; after about ten years' practice as a 
country physician in Kentucky, and fifteen years practice as a lawyer. He lived 
in the mountainous, sparsely settled region of southeastern Kentucky, in the little 
town of Barboursville. He told me on one occasion how he came to quit the pro- 
fession of medicine and adopt that of the law, namely, his unsuspected powers of 
debate exhibited in a local debating society. 

"He removed to Iowa in 1 850, led to do so by his pronounced anti-slavery 
views. He was a Henry Clay Whig, and was prominent in an unsuccessful attempt 
to amend the Constitution of Kentucky by abolishing slavery. On or before coming 
to Iowa, he emancipated his own slaves. He died in Washington in 1 890, in the 
74th year of his age, after a service of twenty-eight continuous years as a Justice of 
the Supreme Court. He left no fortune, dying a poor man, and his remains rest 
in Keokuk which was his home from 1 850 until his death. 

"The Rebellion showed that the source of danger to the Union was at that 
time in the States and not in the central government. Thirteen states were able to 
combine into a confederacy, form and establish a government, raise armies and wage 
a formidable war for four years against the Union from which they had seceded. 
The natural effect of the failure of the Rebellion was a strong sentiment to enlarge 


and strengthen the powers of the National government and correspondingly to limit 
the powers of the States. 

"First came the 13th amendment abolishing slavery, then the 14th amendment 
directly operating on the states and prohibiting any state of the Union from depriv- 
ing any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law or denying to 
any person, black or white, the equal protection of the law; and then the 15th 
amendment, forbidding a denial of the elective franchise on account of race, color or 
previous condition of servitude. These amendments and the legislation of Congress 
cuid of certain southern States gave rise to an enoromus amount of litigation and to 
new questions as vital, as difficult, as supremely important as any that had arisen 
euid been determined by the Court prior to the Civil War. In the decision of these 
questions Mr. Justice Miller took a most conspicuous, active, influential and often 
decisive part. In Federal constitutional law, he became an acknowledged master, 
and his judgments have given him an established and permanent place in our judicial 
and constitutional history as a great and illustrious Judge, second only to Chief 
Justice Marshall. 

"From the first. Justice Miller's great intellectual powers were recognized by 
his associates on the Bench. As early as 1 869 Chief Justice Chase, in a social 
conversation, said to me, 'I consider the opinions of Judge Miller, of your own 
State, remarkable for their logical power, force, directness and in point of judicial 
•;tyle superior perhaps to those of any member of the Court.' 

"Justice Miller gave special study and attention to constitutional cases and 
questions. During his twenty-eight years of service his recent biographer. Professor 
Charles Noble Gregory, states that Justice Miller wrote 783 opinions, of which 1 69 
are dissenting opinions, and 1 4 1 relate to Constitutional Law. 

"We have it on record that Justice Miller himself told Mr. Kasson that he had 
given during his term on the Bench, more opinions construing the Constitution, than 
all that had been previously announced by the Court during its entire existence. 
(Gregory, 18; Annals of Iowa, January, 1894, p. 252.) 

"Such is the extent of Iowa's contributions from a single source, during a 
period of twenty-eight years, to the Constitutional jurisprudence of the United States. 

"Concerning the extent and value of this contribution. Chief Justice Fuller, at 
Justice Miller's death, in words judicially measured, said: 

The suspension of the habeas corpus; the jurisdiction of military tribunals; the 
closing of the ports of the insurrectionary States ; the legislation to uphold the two 
main nerves, iron and gold, by which war moves in all her equipage; the restoration 
of the predominance of the civil over the military authority; the reconstruction 
measures; the amendments to the Constitution, involving the consolidation of the 
Union, with the preservation of the just and equal rights of the States, — all these 


passed in various phases under the jurisdiction of the Court; and he dealt with 
them with the hand of a master. * * * 

His style was like his tread, massive but vigorous. His opinions running 
through seventy volumes, were marked by strength of diction, keen sense of 
justice, and undoubting firmness of conclusion. 

"Time allows only a few words as to Justice Miller's general views of the Con- 
stitution as disclosed in his opinions. The most important function of the Supreme 
Court is to draw the line between the relative powers of the National and State 
Governments. Concerning this, it may be said generally that Justice Miller be- 
longed to the Constitutional school of Chief Justice Marshall. He believed in 
maintaining in all their force and efficiency the plainly conferred and plainly implied 
powers of the national government as against encroachment by the States, and in 
likewise maintaining as against the national government all the reserved powers of 
the States. Speaking on this subject, he once made to me the important declaration 
that in considering questions of this nature his first and fundamental inquiry was, 
where does the Constitution, fairly construed, draw the line between the powers of 
the general government and the powers of the State ; and when that is determined, to 
hold that there can be no interference, not the slightest, by either with the powers 
or province of the other. 

"It was my good fortune to hear the oration of Mr. Justice Miller at the Cen- 
tennial of the Constitution on 'Memorial Day,' in Independence Square, Philadel- 
phia, September 17, 1887. He put into that production his ripened experience. 
He declared that the Constitution as it stands is 'adequate to the exigencies of the 
Union.' He expressed his solemn conviction in these striking and almost prophetic 
words : 

While the pendulum of public opinion has swung (since the Civil War) with 
much force away from the extreme point of state rights doctrine, there may be 
danger of its reaching an opposite point on the other side. 

"He thus continues: 

In my opinion the just and equal observance of the rights of the States and 
of the General Government, as defined by the present Constitution, Is as necessary 
to the permanent prosperity of our country, and to its existence for another century, 
as it has been for the one whose close we are now celebrating. 

"These words of Justice Miller are words of the highest wisdom." 

In view of what Judge Dillon has so well said in the foregoing, and of Mr. 
Gregory's life of Judge Miller,* it would be unnecessary for me to traverse to any 
considerable extent, the same field, or do more than endeavor to enliven it with some 
instances touching his personality. That he was the greatest constitutional lawyer 
on the Supreme Bench since the time of John Marshall, is universally conceded. 
This is not only the opinion of the general bar, but was that of his associates on 

* Note — Samuel Freeman Miller, by Charles Noble Gregory, A. M., LL. D., Dean 
of the College of Law, State University of Iowa. 


the bench, and to him they delegated the task of framing and pronouncing the deci- 
sions of that august tribunal in cases involving grave constitutional questions. His 
profound and virile mind naturally enabled him to grasp and analyze fundamental 
principles, and lucidly apply them in a manner almost, if not quite, unexampled in 
judicial history; and it was by virtue of this that his associates deferred to him in 
the respect indicated, and that in course of time he came to be regarded as the great- 
est constitutional lawyer of his period. 

Upon his coming to Keokuk, he formed a partnership with Lewis A. Reeves, 
and on his death which occurred a few years afterward, with John W. Rankin, 
who was a very able lawyer, under the firm name of Rankin & Miller. This asso- 
ciation continued until Judge Miller's appointment to the Supreme Court of the 
United States in 1862. With Mr. Rankin, I became more intimately acquainted 
than with Judge Miller, by reason of the absence of the latter from the State, the 
greater portion of his time, after his appointment ; but as, under the then existing law, 
he occasionally sat with the Judge of the Circuit, Iowa lawyers, who had known 
him, were thus enabled to maintain his personal acquaintance. Among the last 
occasions on which I met him was that of the opening of the Supreme Court rooms 
of the new Capitol on the eighth of June, 1886. That was a notable occasion, 
and it called together many of the older lawyers of the state. Judge Miller was 
among those who addressed the Court and its attending audience. He spoke with- 
out notes and without any particular subject being assigned to him. He spoke feel- 
ingly and, as he looked over the audience, upon heads whitened with years, upon 
men, some of whose professional lives had been coeval with the state, and with 
whom he had associated in the early days, he was visibly affected. The quaver of 
his voice and the tears that were seen to start from his eyes denoted plainly enough 
the depth of his emotions and the tenderness of his heart. In speaking of the pro- 
fession, of lawyers of the past, present and future, he said : 

The great lawyers of the future are to he raised up In the agricultural regions, 
and Iowa stands as fair a chance as any other State. In the bar of the cities of 
New York and Philadelphia there are no worthy successors to the great men of 
the past. There are none who equal Seargeant, Binney, nor Ogden, nor Webster 
from the cities in which they lived. The practice consists of motions, attachments, 
Injunctions, and cases referred to referees and seldom is any case tried in the 
good old-fashioned way of argument and evidence under issues of law and fact, but 
each morning in the court appears a row of lawyers, standing in a line, waiting to 
catch the eye of the judge and to ask his signatures to orders and motions which 
control the case. This is not the way that great lawyers are made. In the 
practice of the country towns, in an agricultural population like Iowa, the young 
lawyer has his half dozen cases in a year, has ample time and opportunity to 
make full preparation, both as regards the facts of his case and the law; having 
but a few books, they are necessarily the best, and using them well and thoroughly, 
he investigates the principles at issue in his case, runs them down to their source 
In the common law and in doing this familiarizes himself with the great princples 
on "Which the law is administered. This naturally makes him a lawyer on principle 
with substantial bases of knowledge in the foundations of the law, and to this 
class must the nation look for its future Mansfields and Marshalls. * * * j uq^ 
have to add that the bar of Iowa is equal to the bar of the East in all that pertains 


to the practice o£ law, and to presentation of the principles on which the case is 
founded. Twenty-four years of service have never brought me to be ashamed of 
the bar of my own State. * * * 

As advancing years admonish me that this may be the last time that I snail 
ever address any considerable number of that bar, I want to say that I owe all 
that I have been to my country and to my State to their kindness and consideration. 

His name has given a new lustre to the Judicial Literature of the Nation. But 
his great mental strength was not confined to the limit of courts. He was by nature 
a great statesman, and his wisdom and counsel were sought for by every president 
of his time. He had the capacity of looking far into the future ; of analyzing and 
discriminating among men; of distinguishing between bluster and storm. So signal 
had his fame become, so impressed was the entire nation with his real greatness, that 
had it not been for the prevailing prejudice against taking judges for presidents, it 
is altogether likely that he would have been called to that position. On this sub- 
ject, Mr. J. S. Clarkson, the former very able editor of the Des Moines Register, 

For twelve years, the undertow of public sentiment has been very strongly in 
his favor. In the convention of 1880, the under feeling was so plainly in favor of 
him that it is very sure, if Garfield had not been personally present, the convention 
would at last have turned to him as its choice. Those who were members of the 
Iowa delegation in that body know how ready many states were to come to him. 
There were so many indeed that, if Wisconsin had not made the break for Garfield 
that it did, a formidable break of several states would have been for Miller on the 
next ballot, doubtless resulting in his- nomination. If he had departed from the 
rule of his life, never to ask for public place, and had encouraged his friends to 
effort, we believe he would have been the winning man in that convention. And we 
speak from a personal knowledge of many facts not at all known to the general 

Reference has been made to the large number of dissenting opinions which he 
filed. He lived long enough to see a number of them become the majority ones. 
The most notable instance, perhaps, was in the legal tender cases. He wrote the 
dissenting opinion in the first one that was decided, and survived to see the entire 
court, with the exception of Justice Field, adopt his view and establish it as the 
law, after reversing the previous ruling. In 1 869, he declared that the doctrine of 
the majority in holding the legal tender act unconstitutional was wholly unauthorized, 
and if sustained would "substitute a court of justice for the National Legislature." 
The issue thus presented remained in conflict for many years and was not finally 
settled until the ruling in the Juillard case in 1 884. The court there went to the 
full extent of Justice Miller's dissenting opinion in I 869, reiterating in substance by 
a practically unanimous court, the grounds of that dissent, in declaring that the 
question of issuing legal tender notes was "a political one to be determined by Con- 
gress when the exigency arises, and not a judicial one to be afterwards passed upon 
by the courts." The Court felt compelled not only to reach his conclusion, but to 
adopt his reasoning. 

Recurring to the opening of the Supreme court rooms before referred to : Judge 
George G. Wright, formerly and for many years one of the Judges of the State 


Supreme Court, gave a sort of banquet at night to some of the lawyers who had 
been present during the proceedings of the day. Among the guests was Judge 
Miller.* He had then passed his seventieth year, and was consequently eligible to 
retire on his salary as Judge for the remainder of his life. About this we had some 
conversation, and the substance of his remarks on the subject was that while he might 
properly retire, leaving quite a long service behind him, he did not intend to, as he 
considered himself in good condition both physically and mentally. The next day, 
we rode in the same car seat together from Des Moines to Ottumwa. We talked 
upon a variety of subjects, upon the early lawyers and events, and among other 
thmgs, of the present work for which I was then gathering material; and in 
this connection, I have remembered distinctly through all the years, one remark he 
made to me, and this is it: "Mr. Stiles, don't write much if anything about little 
men; don't spoil your book by crowding it with a lot of insignificant people."** He 
was eminently agreeable and I felt honored by his attention and his politeness. 
This was four years before his death, which occurred from paralysis in 1 890. He 
carried in his person an air of real greatness. You felt impressed that you were in 
the presence of a man of great mental power. In build, he was stout, broad 
shouldered, deep chested, full blooded, commanding, and moved with a tread that 
was strong and resolute. He showed indications of the German extraction from 
which, on one side of his family, he sprung. On the bench of the Supreme Court, 
where I last saw him, he was the most striking figure in that body, while Justice Har- 
lan was next. These two men, indeed, lent an air of majesty to the Court. Asso- 
ciations and circumstances had tended to heighten and expand the strong intellectual 
light, which beamed through every feature, and in every expression. He had been 
intimately associated with the great men of the nation; with presidents, judges, 
senators, congressmen, diplomats, and statesmen ; with authors, actors, poets, and 
painters. In the first years of his Judgeship, he was associated with distinguished 
judges, who had grown gray in the service and come down, so to speak, from a 
former generation. Among these was Chief Justice Roger B. Tawney, then a 

* Note — In noticing this occasion, the Daily State Register of the next morning 
said: "The elegant home of Judge and Mrs. George G. Wright, on Pleasant Street, 
was thrown open last evening to a large number of the visiting members of the 
bar and other distinguished guests. The reception was in every particular an 
agreeable gathering, long to be remembered for the kindness and hospitality of the 
genial host and hostess. The following were among those present: Justice Samuel 
F. Miller, Judge Adams, Judge Beck, Judge Day and wife, Governor Merrill, wife 
and daughter, Henry O'Conner and wife, Judge Robert Sloan, Judge Hendershott, 
John N. Baldwin, Arthur Springer, E. H. Stiles, Judge Burton, S. A. Carruthers, 
E. H. Perry, T. S. Parvin, Ex-Governor Sherman, wife and daughter, Captain I. W. 
Griffith, and G. B. Fray." 

**Note — This advice I have followed perhaps too closely by omitting names 
that should have been mentioned, but this omission has been due in part to want 
of information, but more to the fact that for the greater part, what I have written 
has been reminiscent of men I have personally known; and, besides, it must be 
remembered that I am not writing much of the present generation — of those who 
are, so to speak, still on deck. 


very old man, linked by all his associations and achievements to the past. And 
though Miller was then a comparatively young man, filled with promise of the future, 
between these two men, so dissimilar, and apparently discordant, there sprang up a 
rare and tender friendship. The summer before his death. Judge Miller told an 
acquaintance that he accounted it one of the special favors of fortune to have been 
associated as he was with Chief Justice Tawney. He used frequently to sit with 
the Judges of the Eighth Circuit — with Dillon, Love and McCrary. He was Jove- 
like on the bench, but like Jupiter sometimes nodded in a manner that made Olympus 
shake. Off the bench, he was one of the most approachable and kindly of men. 
Within his great bosom, there beat a heart as tender as a woman's. Mr. J. S. 
Clarkson, formerly of the Des Moines Register, and Asst. Postmaster-General 
under President Harrison, who lived for several years in Washington and knew 
Judge Miller intimately, told me that he was one of the most sympathetic men he 
ever knew, and that he kept himself poorer than he really need be by giving gener- 
ously to those in want. We can obtain a glimpse of his charming personal side 
through the following graphic description of it, from the pen of the gifted and deeply 
lamented Samuel M. Clark, one time editor and proprietor of the Keokuk Gate City: 

He was Titanic, Jovelike and fear-compelling on the bench, but at the breakfast 
or dinner table or in the circle of his friends, Judge Miller was one of the most 
gracious, cordial and greatest of talkers. He was famous throughout America for 
this. Not excepting Blaine, Conklin, or Henry Ward Beecher, he was probably 
the best table talker in the United States. But what opportunities he had had! 
He had been on the Supreme Bench and in Washington from 1862 to 1890. He had 
met as a personal experience the best that there was in the Old World and the New. 
You may recall how Chauteaubriand in the outset of his Memoirs, throws one 
into a glow by the classic French sentences, full of nerve and grace and epigram, 
making you see on one page, as through a panorama, the diverse, brilliant and 
regal things he had seen and by right of which he speaks. If so, you can fittingly 
recall them to match what Judge Miller has gone through. He was the youngest 
man on the Bench when Chief Justice Tawney, author of the famous Dredd-Scott 
decision, was at its head. He was there through the full service of Chase. Was 
there through the heroic period of our national history; through the tremendous 
passion of the War and the tension of reconstruction. Talked and dined and took 
counsel together with Lincoln and Seward, and Thaddeus Steven and Edward M. 
Stanton, and every other man of great note who has come and gone from this 
national stage in the last quarter of a century. He had talked campaigns with 
Grant, Sherman, Hancock and Sheridan; law with Curtis and Edmunds, Jerry 
Black and Matt Carpenter; literature and books with Bancroft and Mathew 
Arnold, Charles Dickens and Oliver Wendell Holmes; foreign lands and their 
affairs with Chief Justice Coleridge and Lord Harrington, with the ministers and 
diplomats of all lands. 

Notwithstanding his superb industrial energy, and his great capacity for intellectual 
labor, he liked relaxation, good dinners and convivial company. As already inti- 
mated by Mr. Clark, he was a good diner-out, and any board favored by his pres- 
ence soon radiated with his strong and charming personality. He loved to hear a 
good anecdote and sometimes told one himself. In speaking of this quality in Mr. 
Lincoln, he once said: 

Many of his stories were gracefully told for the purpose of avoiding expression 
of an opinion or to turn off a disagreeable person who persisted in monopolizing 


his attention. Nevertheless, he had an abiding proclivity for anecdote. The last 
time I saw him was at the inauguration ball after his second election. I came 
into the ante-room to leave my wraps and found there Mr. Lincoln talking with 
Charles Sumner. Mr. Lincoln turned with great cordiality to greet me and said 
in an excess of good humor, "How are the Justices and their gowns?" Then he 
added, "Judge Miller, you were brought up on a farm, were you not?" "Yes," I 
replied. "Well, then you must have seen the breaking of land and burning of 
timber in a clearing; and you, of course, have seen the heavy bark fall from off a 
half-decayed log, while out from under the bark would come great winged ants, 
which would waddle off with the funniest kind of clumsy dignity. Do you know, 
Judge, I never see one of you Justices with your gown on but I think of one of 
those ants, which we used to see on the farm in the clearing." 

He had some eccentricities, which were characteristic of certain veins of his 
humor. This incident told me by Judge Dillon will serve to illustrate: Judge 
Dillon and he were holding Court at Omaha. At an unusually good dinner. Judge 
Miller had dined very heartily. When they took the seat at the afternoon session, 
a tedious lawyer entered upon a dull and prosy argument of some question presented 
to the Court. A thunder storm was brewing and the atmosphere became heavy; 
added to these sleepy influences was perhaps the greater one growing out of the pro- 
longed and uninteresting talk of the lawyer, which seemed to cap the climax. And 
Judge Miller closed his eyes and nodded. At this instant a tremendous crash of 
thunder came, which caused Judge Miller to start and open his eyes, and bending 
forward, say in a whisper, to Judge Dillon, "I am glad there is something to keep 
us awake." 

To give a little more in detail some account of his parentage and early life, I 
may say he was born in Richmond, Ky., April 5, 1816. His father was of Penn- 
sylvania German origin, who was born at Reading, in that state, and afterwards 
emigrated from there to Kentucky. The mother was of good North Carolina stock. 
He was reared on his father's farm and was used to the drudgery of an agricultural 
life. He left school when he was about fifteen years of age, but had at that time 
showed remarkable capacity as a student, especially in grammar and mathematics. 
He became at that age an apothecary's clerk and learned that business. At the end 
of that apprenticeship, he entered and was graduated from the medical department 
of Transylvania University — when he was twenty years of age. He entered upon 
the practice of medicine at the little hamlet of Barbourville, in Kentucky, not far 
from the Tennessee and Virginia line. Here he married, and for ten years lived the 
life of a country practioner. He was the only doctor in the town, and had the 
monopoly of the practice for a wide region of the country. What gave the turn of 
his mind towards law was developed in a debating society. His own powers of 
argument seemed to have surprised him, and opened a new revelation of his being, 
which determined him to leave the medical and enter the legal profession. He im- 
mediately, and before he finally retired from the medical profession, entered upon a 
course of legal study by the perusal of such law books of an elementary character as 
he was then able to obtain. He was admitted to the bar in 1847, and practiced 


law three years in Kentucky before his removal to Iowa. In twelve years from 
that time, he was placed on the bench of the highest tribunal in the nation. As will 
have been seen, he was over thirty years of age when he was admitted to the bar. 
Such a career, crowned with such achievements is without a parallel in judicial his- 

A good deal of importance has been attached to the Barboursville Debating 
Society, on account of its having been a prime factor in giving Judge Miller to the 
legal profession, and different accounts have been given as to its exact nature. Some 
years ago, I clipped and preserved from the columns of the Louisville Courier Jour- 
nal, the following special to that paper, which will disclose definite particulars as to 
that famous society : 

Barboursville, Kentucky, September 25. — A relic which is attracting a great deal 
of attention was discovered here yesterday by Mr. Thomas D. Tinsley, an attorney. 
It is the minute book of the famous Barboursville Debating Society, which flourished 
in the thirties, and contained on its list the names of many men who afterward 
became famous.' Although the book is over seventy years old, covering the years 
1837 and 1838, the writing is as legible as though written but yesterday, and the 
su'bjects of debates and essays as set forth by the minutes are interesting in the 

Among the list of members were such men as Samuel F. Miller, who was called 
to the bench of the United states Supreme Court during Lincoln's administration, 
and who served in that capacity for twenty-eight years, handing down more 
decisions than any other Justice. Other prominent members of the debating society 
were Green Adams, who was twice in Congress and also served on the Kentucky 
Bench ; W. P. Ballinger, who was Governor of Texas for several years ; Joseph Eve, 
who was the only minister to the Republic of Texas, and Silas Woodson, former 
Governor of Missouri. All the members, thirty-six in number, were prominently 
identified with the early history of this country, and not a few obtained fame and 
fortune in the West. 

The constitution of the debating society was prepared May 27, 1827, and 
begins as follows: "Having agreed to unite in forming a society which shall have 
for its object to induce and encourage a more free interchange of sentiment on 
all the important subjects which are daily interesting the active mind — to form 
habits of reflection, and thereby inculcate just sentiments and profound reasoning 
on the many questions which come under observation." Meetings were held each 
Saturday night at candle light, according to by-law adopted. Another by-law 
provided for a fine of twelve cents for each absence from the meeting without 

Among the timely subjects which came up for debate were the following: 
"Would it be politic to admit Texas as a member of this Confederacy provided she 
established her independence," "Have the acts of Andrew Jackson been of more 
benefit than injury to the United States," "Is it a greater crime to drive the Indians 
from their land than to keep the negroes in bondage," "Would it be politic for the 
Legislature of Kentucky to grant a bank charter to the Charleston & Ohio River 
Railroad Company," "Should Henry Clay be the candidate run by the Whigs for 
President in preference to William H. Harrison," "Would it be to the interest of the 
United States to declare war against Great Britain, should she refuse to give 
possession of the disputed territory," "Would it be politic for the government to 
exterminate the Seminole Indians," etc. 

Justice Miller was the embodiment of enlightened jurisprudence; of absolute 
integrity. Not the slightest suspicion tarnished his long career; no trail of the ser- 
pent crossed his pathway. Although seventy-four years of age when stricken, he 

«*>r ' ' 

(Taken in the earlier period of his life) 


was in full possession of his remarkable powers. During that year, he had told a 
friend that he was in good health and spirits and scouted the idea of retiring, saying, 
"I have never been more capable than I am now. I cannot be idle. Why should 
I retire?" Thus died this great jurist in full panoply, with his judicial robes as un- 
spotted as the newly fallen snow. 

He left surviving him, his widow, two widowed daughters, Mrs. Corkhill and 
Mrs. Touzalin, whose husband was formerly President of the Achison, Topeka & 
Santa Fe Railroad Company, and Vice President of the Chicago, Burlington i^. 
Quincy Railroad Company; and a son, Mr. Irvine Miller, a practicing lawyer in 
Chicago. The eldest daughter of Judge Miller married Colonel George B. Cork- 
hill, a lawyer of note in Mt. Pleasant, United States District Attorney for Iowa, 
cind afterwards United States District Attorney for the District of Columbia, who 
as such conducted the prosecution against Gitteau, the assassin of President Gar- 
field. Their daughter. Miss Corkhill, became the wife of Coker F. Clarkson, a 
son of James S. Clarkson, hereinbefore referred to, who at this writing is a practicing 
lawyer in the city of New York, and with whom also resides Miss Touzalin, another 
granddaughter of Judge Miller. 

John F. Dillon. 

I venture to say that no son of Iowa has conferred a more substantial and en- 
during honor upon her name, or more justly deserves to be embalmed in her history, 
than John F. Dillon. He was successively Judge of one of her District Courts; 
Judge and Chief Justice of her Supreme Court; Judge of the United States Circuit 
Court for the Eighth Judicial Circuit, in which Iowa with other States was em- 
braced ; Professor of Real Estate and Equity Jurisprudence in the Columbia College 
Law School; Storrs-Professor of Yale University; author of Dillon on Municipal 
Corporations; of Removal of Causes from the State to the Federal Courts; of Dil- 
lon's Reports of the United States Circuit Courts for the Eighth Circuit; of Laws 
and Jurisprudence of England and America; of various opinions, essays, lectures, 
addresses and papers; member of L'Institut de Droit International; lawyer, author 
and publicist of conspicuous international fame. 

The causes which led to this high distinction and those, as well, which estab- 
lished him in the universal esteem and veneration of his compeers, it will be my en- 
deavor faithfully, though but in outline, to trace. 

When in January, 1867, I became Reporter of the Supreme Court 
of Iowa, the Judges composing its bench were John F. Dillon, George G. 
Wright, Ralph P. Lowe and Chester C. Cole. The Court then ranked as one of 
the strongest in the nation and its decisions were held in high esteem. Under the 
existing law it became the duty of the Reporter to be present at each session of the 


Court for the purpose of observing the proceedings and hearing the arguments of 
counsel, with the view of his gaining thereby a more accurate knowledge of the 
cases he was to report. The Court, so to speak, was perambulatory, for while its 
principal sessions were held at the capital, Des Moines, both spring and fall terms 
were held respectively at Davenport and Dubuque, whither the Reporter went with 
the Judges. In this wise it was my good fortune to come in personal touch and 
association with the Judges, and thus began my personal acquaintance with Judge 

I may be pardoned for these self-allusions. I make them as tending to show 
my acquaintance with the personality as well as the career of which I purpose io 

In the execution of this purpose I shall confine myself to an impartial narration 
of the leading circumstances and achievements of his life; for upon these, aided by 
the judgment of his contemporaries, rather than upon the tributes of a friendly 
biographer, must rest all proper estimates concerning him. 

At the time of which I have spoken, Judge Dillon was thirty-six years of age; 
in the very flush of his splendid manhood. In figure he was rather above the medium 
height; rotund in person, placid in temperament, active, but not nervous in move- 
ment. His features were strikingly attractive and well chiseled, though, much to 
his disadvantage, as I always thought, partially concealed by a full beard, save the 
upper lip which was always cleanly shaven. His ample head was well poised on 
shapely shoulders ; his forehead broad and full ; his hair dark, his nose prominent, 
his upper lip wide and handsomely curved, his mouth firm and characteristic; his 
dark eyes, deeply set under heavy brows, full, lustrous and penetrating. His whole 
expression beamed with the superbly intellectual, patient, kindly, but heroic forces 
which unfailingly supplied him. 

In the latter period of his life his appearance had somewhat changed, from the 
inroads of time, from his having adopted an entirely full beard which had faded 
from its dark hue to one of gray, from the effects of long years of close and trying 
intellectual labors, and, more than all, from the unspeakable grief flowing from the 
loss of his devoted wife and daughter, who perished at sea while making passage to 
Europe on the ill-fated French liner. La Bourgogne, in 1 898. 

But his mind relaxed not in the least its pristine vigor. He kept up his daily 
office rounds, and continued in the performance of professional and literary work of 
the greatest importance until a very advanced age, as we shall see. 

His manner on the bench, while not lacking in firrrmess or dignity, was consid- 
erately urbane on all occasions and under all circumstances. He seemed to be 
utterly devoid of that acerbity of temper and precipitancy of action which occasion- 


ally mar the Judicial Office. In return he was respected and beloved by the entire 
bar, and by the suitors and witnesses who came before him. Counting in round 
numbers, he was on the bench twenty-one years ; five on the State District bench, six 
on that of the State Supreme Court, and ten on that of the United States Circuit 
Court for the Eighth Judicial Circuit. 

Though born in the State of New York, he was essentially a product of Iowa. 
He came here as a child. His home was in Davenport. Here he lived for forty- 
one years, until his removal to the City of New York. His affection for Daven- 
port and, indeed, for all of Iowa and her institutions, was constant and profound, 
and no man did more to build substantially and strong their foundations. In 1 838 
Iowa was organized as a Territory, out of what was previously a part of the Terri- 
tory of Wisconsin. In that year the family, attracted by the possibilities of the 
distant west, removed from their eastern home to Davenport, then but an unorganized 
village or settlement on the Mississippi. As the interior of Iowa was then for the 
most part an unbroken wilderness, and Davenport but an outpost of civilization, his 
means of education were necessarily limited. He had, however, the irrepressible 
instincts of a scholar and that insatiable thirst for knowledge which deeply charac- 
terized his whole life, and brought forth fruits which will durably perpetuate his 

His original purpose, like that of his distinguished associate, the late Mr. Jus- 
tice Miller, of the Supreme Court of the United States, was to be a physician ; and, 
indeed, such was the actual calling of both for a time. He commenced the study 
of medicine when but seventeen years of age, and two years thereafter, in 1 850, was 
graduated as a physician at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Davenport. 
In June of that year he was one of the regular physicians of the State who met at 
Burlington to organize the Iowa State Medical Society. The organizers of this 
Society, many of whom had already gained eminence in their profession, were as fol- 

Drs. E. Lowe, G. R. Henry, Phillip Harvey, E. D. Ransom, J. H. Rauch, 
J. W. Brookbank, H. M. Matthews, Burlington; John F. Sanford, J. C. Hughes, 
D. L. McGugin, E. R. Ford, Josiah Haines, Keokuk; N. Steele, J. Robinson, J. 
F. Moberry, Fairfield; John F. Dillon, Farmington; J. D. Elbert, J. E. Evans, 
James Flint, Keosauqua; J. J. Ellison, Wapello; E. G. Fountain, Davenport; J. 
H. Hershey, George Reeder, Muscatine; M. J. Morseman, Iowa City; W. H. 
Rosseau, Washington. I have given these names because of their historic interest 
and because I thought it would pleasantly stir the memories of many who knew or 
in family converse had heard of, at least some of them. 

Judge Dillon is the only survivor of that group, and of the charter members of 
that Society, which still flourishes. Though then but nineteen years of age, his 


talents must have attracted the attention of that distinguished body, for he was elected 
Librarian of the Society. He also had the honor of writing the first article in the 
first number of the first medical journal published in Iowa, "The Western Medico- 
Chirurgical Journal," published at Keokuk. The article is entitled "Rheumatic 
Carditis, Autopsical Examination, by John Forrest Dillon, M. D., Farmington, 
Iowa." The foregoing general facts are gathered from the address of Dr. George 
S. Jenkins, President of the Keokuk College of Physicians and Surgeons, appearing 
in the February, 1908, number of the "Iowa Medical Journal," pubHshed at Des 

Dr. Dillon evidently had a taste and a fitness for the medical profession, and 
had he remained therein he would undoubtedly have attained high professional rank. 
How the shift from medicine to law came about we shall presently see. In tracing 
his early life, we happily meet along the line occasional autobiographical sprinklings 
that serve authentically to light the way and invest the narrative with a charm that 
would be wanting in the mere recitals of a biographer. I will, therefore, in great 
measure let them tell this part of the story. 

Dr. Jenkins, in preparing the address hereinbefore referred to, wrote to Judge 
Dillon for some data respecting him and his early connection with the Society. In 
response he received the following letter from Judge Dillon which I am sure will 
of itself invest this sketch with interest: 

New York, February 1, 1907. 
Prof. George P. Jenkins, M. D., Keokuk, Iowa. 

My dear Doctor: I duly received your letter stating that you expect to make 
an address before the Iowa State Medical Society at its next meeting in which 
you will consider the history of that society since 1850, when the society was 
formed, down to the present. You remind me in your letter that I was one of the 
charter members of the first Iowa State Medical Society, organized in Burlington 
in June, 1850, and that I was for a time connected with the medical profession in 
the State, and you ask me for some personal recollections in respect of that 
meeting and of my own connections with the medical profession. 

I feel sure that anything I can say will have very little intrinsic value and I 
fear very little interest to the members of the profession who are now upon the 
scene fifty-seven years distant. I shall make my response as brief as I can and 
you may use any portion of the same that you may deem suitable to the purposes 
of the occasion. 

I was born in the State of New York on December 25, 1831. My father moved 
with his family, of which I was the eldest, to Davenport, Iowa, in July, 1838, I 
being then a little less than seven years of age. I livod in Davenport from that 
time until 1879, when I came to New York to accept a professorship of law in 
Columbia University and the position of general counsel of the Union Pacific 
Railroad Company. 

I commenced the study of medicine when about seventeen years of age in the 
office of Dr. E. S. Barrows, at Davenport, Iowa. Dr. Barrows was a prominent 
physician and successful surgeon, having been a surgeon in the United States 
Army in the Seminole Indian war. He had wonderful skill in diagnosis and was 
a bold and successful practitioner. He made very little use in his ordinary practice 
of any other remedies but calomel, blue mass, Dover's powder and compound 
cathartic pills. 


*>, D ^f^' ?^ ^° ^^^^^ ^ entered the office of Dr. Barrows as a student, was formed 
tne Rock Island Medical School, the prototyioe or original, as I understand it, of the 
present College of Physicians and Surgeons of Keokuk, Iowa, of which you are 

I attended one course of lectures at Rock Island. The next year the college 
was removed to Davenport, Iowa, where I attended a second course and was 
regularly graduated in the spring of 1850 an M. D. 

The professors as a body were able men, some of them men of great learning 
and even genius. Abler teachers than Professor Richards, who taught Practice, 
Professor Sanford who taught Surgery and Professor Armor who taught Physiology 
It would have been difficult to find in the chairs of any contemporary medical 

I happened to attend the first meeting of the Iowa Medical Society in 1850, at 
Burlington, m this way. Having been graduated I desired to seek a place in which 
to practice my profession and I consulted Professor Sanford, having an admiration 
and affection for him. He said, "I have lived many years in Parmington, Van 
Buren County, a small place on the Des Moines river, but my duties in connection 
with the medical college are such that I have resolved to change my residence 
and follow the college to Keokuk." Dr. Sanford had obtained great celebrity as 
a surgeon and indeed had outgrown the little town of Parmington. He suggested 
to me that his leaving Parmington would create a vacancy which would perhaps 
make that town a desirable place for me in which to locate. When I reflect that 
I was really under twenty years of age, without experience, the idea that I could 
go to Farmingion and occupy in any degree the place which Dr. Sanford left seems 
now to me almost amusing. I resolved, however, to take his advice and so arranged 
my journey from Davenport to Parmington as to enable me to attend the first 
meeting of the Iowa Medical Society in Burlington in June, 1850. 

After the lapse of fifty and seven years I distinctly recall that meeting and I 
regarded it then, as I have regarded it ever since, as an assemblage of men of re- 
markable learning and ability. Among those present were Sanford, Hughes, 
McGugin, Henry, Elbert, Fountain, Haines, Lowe, Ransom, Ranch, all distinguished 

My exchequer was far from plethoric and I was obliged to practice strict 
economy. I rented for an office a small brick building on the crumbling bank of the 
Des Moines river, one story high, about twenty feet square, in a dilapidated 
condition, at a cost of $4.00 per month. I engaged board and lodging at a boarding 
house kept by Mrs. Corwin, where I made my home during the three or four 
months I remained at Parmington at a cost of $3.50 per week. Among the boarders 
was a young lawyer by the name of Howe, who had resided in Farmington some 
little time. We liecame well acquainted and spent nearly every evening walking 
up and down the banks of the Des Moines river, speculating upon what the future 
had in reserve for us. He was almost as destitute of clients as I was of patients. 

There were at least two old established physicians in this little place. Dr. 
Barton and Dr. Lane. How could a young man under twenty years of age expect 
to find employment under these circumstances unless both of these physicians were 
engaged or out of the place? I will mention one case with a little particularity 
since it was epochal, having had the effect of changing the whole current and career 
of my life. On the hills near Farmington, about two miles distant, there was a 
large brick yard. On a hot August day the men worked hard, and their skin being 
relaxed and their appetite vigorous, they ate a hearty supper, when a cool and 
grateful breeze sprang up and swept the valley. These workmen sat out in it, 
became chilled and two or three hours afterwards were seized with violent attacks 
of cholera morbus. They sent post haste to town for a physician, but both Dr. 
Barton and Dr. Lane were absent and there was nothing to do but call on me. I 
had no horse or buggy of my own and if I had I would have found it difficult to have 
driven over the rough roads, and as I had been troubled with inguinal hernia for 
many years, I could not ride on horseback. The last time I attempted to do so 
nearly cost me my life. There was no alternative but walk to the brick yard 
where I found the men in great suffering, requiring liberal doses of laudanum and 
stimulants and my personal attention for several hours. Weary and exhausted I 


sought my way home on foot, and I saw the sun rising over the eastern hills just 
as I was approaching my lodgings. Maybe it was the sun of Austerlitz, out l 
didn't so regard it at that time. 

Two or three years ago when Dr. Lorenz, of Vienna, was in this country he 
took lunch with myself and several gentlemen, one of whom mentioned I had 
formerly been a physician, whereupon Dr. Lorenz evinced curiosity to know wny 
I had left the profession, and I proceeded to give him the narrative I am now 
relating. When I had finished one of the gentlemen said, "Now that you have told 
all about this, there is one thing you have not mentioned, did these men live or 
die?" to which I responded, "That question has been more than once asked but I 
have always evaded an answer." 

This night's experience set me thinking and the next evening when young 
lawyer Howe and myself were taking our regular walk up and down the banks or 
the Des Moines river I turned to him and said, "Howe, I have made a great mistake 
I cannot practice medicine in this country without being able to ride on horsebacl., 
which I am utterly unable to do. I might as well admit the mistake and turn my 
mind to something else. I shall read law. Tell me, what is the first book that a 
student of the law requires?" He answered "Blackstone's Commentaries." "Have 
you got them?" He replied, "Yes, I have them and the Iowa Blue book of laws, 
and those are the only books I have." He was kind enough to loan me his Black- 
stone and I began at once to read law in my little dilapidated office. 

Another event in my brief medical career at Farmington is chronicled in the 
first number of the Medico-Chirurgical Journal of Keokuk, of September 1, 1850. 
It is the first article and first number of that publication, entitled, "Rheumatic 
Carditis, Autopsical Examination, by John Forrest Dillon, M. D., Farmington, Iowa," 
thus connecting me in a slight way with the earliest medical literature of the State. 

On inquiry of the present officers of the Keokuk Medical College I learned that 
they had no copy of the publication and I only succeeded in obtaining one through 
the kindness and courtesy of the Historical Department of Iowa. 

I shall not undertake to re-state the substance of that article; briefly outlined 
it is this: A laborer on the public works at the small town of Croton, about five 
miles distant from Farmington, suddenly died under circumstances that led to a 
very general belief among the people of Croton that he died from malpractice. The 
postmortem examination disclosed, however, that he died of apoplexy caused by 
hypertrophy of the heart. The heart was found to be nearly double the normal size 
and double the weight. It fell to my lot after conducting the examination to take 
the organ in my hand and explain to the excited citizens the cause of the death 
and thus allay public excitement. The article concluded as follows: 

"Before taking my departure from Croton, I took occasion to give the botanic 
physician some salutary advice — adverted to the unenviable predicament in which 
his ignorance had plunged him, and endeavored to inspire him with a love for 
scientific knowledge, by following the example of Le Maitre de Philosophie, in a 
Comedie of the celebrated Moliere, in which he endeavors to impress the truth of 
the following sentiment upon the mind of Monsieur Jourdain, "sans la. science, la 
vie est presque une image de la mort.' Whether I succeeded in convincing him 
of it, so readily as was the case with Le Bourgeoise gentilhomme, the future must 
determine. I have drawn up this hasty sketch of the above case for two prominent 
reasons; in the first place, to present your readers with some additional testimony 
confirmatory of the frequent connection between arthritic and cardiac disease; and 
in the second place, to illustrate the great benefit often derivable from necroscopic 
examination. The one is frequently overlooked, the other too sadly neglected." 

In the fall of 1850 I concluded to return to Davenport where my mother and 
sister lived and take up my home with them and utilize my little knowledge of 
drugs and medicine and get a livelihood by opening a small drug store, which would 
also afford leisure time to enable me to read law. This I continued to do until the 
spring of 1852, when I applied for admission to the bar of the District Court of 
Scott County, Iowa, and on motion of Mr. Austin Corbin, a man very well known 
afterwards in Iowa and elsewhere, I was admitted. The same year I was elected 
prosecuting attorney for the county and practiced law in Scott and adjoining 
counties until 1858, when I was elected Judge of the District Court of the Seventh 


Judicial District for the Counties of Muscatine, Scott, Clinton and Jackson; re- 
elected four years afterwards. Was then transferred to the Supreme bench of 
the State and was re-elected six years afterwards. Before qualifying for my second 
term I was appointed by President Grant, United States Circuit Judge for the 
Eighth Judicial Circuit, comprising the States of Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, 
Arkansas, Kansas, Nebraska, and afterwards Colorado. I held the last mentioned 
ofiBce for ten years, until 1879, when I resigned the same to accept the professorship 
of law at Columbia University and removed east, where I have ever since practiced 
my profession. I find the little knowledge that I acquired of medicine and its 
principles not only to be a great satisfaction to me throughout my life but at times 
to be of utility, and I maintained a nominal connection with the medical profession 
until about the period when I came to New York by delivering each year lectures on 
medical jurisprudence at the Iowa University to the combined law and medical 
classes of that institution. 

I fear the foregoing is a weary waste of way but I relieve myself of all 
responsibility because you asked me for it and because you are under no com- 
pulsion to use the same, except so far as it may meet the purposes of the occasion 
for which you desire it. It gratifies me exceedinly to know that the small gathering 
at the first Medical Society in 1850 has grown into 2,000 members, and I wish 
with all my heart the Iowa State Medical Society a long and continued career of 
usefulness. I am, dear Doctor, Very sincerely yours, 

John F. Dillon. 

In the further utilization of autobiographical data touching his early life, as well 
as the primitive conditions and character of the times, which necessarily constitute a 
part of his environments, I give the following excerpts from a letter written by him 
to the editor of The Davenport Democrat in October, 1905, on the occasion of the 
semi-centennial of that paper : 

You remind me that I am a Davenporter, and ask me to send you for the 
Half-Century number reminiscences of Davenport of 1855 and of an earlier day, — 
not history, which you say your readers can look up for themselves, but something 
personal concerning myself and others. If what I shall say has too personal a 
flavor, put not the blame on me but yourself. * * * Yes; you are right! I am a 
Davenporter and always expect to be in my memories, my sentiments and my 
affections. It was my home and my only home for the long period of forty-one 
years — ^from early boyhood to beyond the meridian of life. Though absent, it is and 
will ever remain to me the city of the heart. What wonderful changes, general and 
local have I witnessed! In 1831, the year of my birth, what is now known as Iowa 
was an uninhabited region filled with savages. In 1837, my father left his young 
family in Herkimer County, New York, and in company with his brother-in-law, 
John Forrest, sought a home in the far West and finally fixed upon Davenport, and 
in August 1838, my father brought his family to Davenport, and thus became one 
of the pioneer settlers. In 1839, when the town was incorporated, my father became 
one of the first trustees or councilmen of the infant place. Its population at that 
time probably did not number 500 people. Such was the humble beginning of the 
present large and prosperous city of Davenport. 

Though I well remember, I shall not recount the privations and struggles of 
the early settlers for many years after 1838. Money was there almost none. 
Everything was done on a traffic or trade basis. My father kept a hotel on tht, 
bank of the river near Western Avenue, for the accommodation of travelers and 
especially of the farmers in the surrounding country, who, coming to town with 
their produce or on business, had to remain over night. The standard charge for 
supper lodging and breakfast for man, and stable accommodation for beast for 
the night was 50 cents, for which we were not paid in money, but in store orders 
on Burrows or Burrows & Prettymen, Charles Leslie, or other merchants who 
bought the farmers' produce, "payable In store goods." I well recollect this, for it 
fell to my lot to help take care of the farmers' horses, and to take in my hand 


the store orders, go to the store for sugar, coffee, or what not, have the amount .of 
each purchase endorsed on the order, and to carry home the articles purcnasea. 
We were passing through the hard times of 1837. 

In the campaign of 1840, "Tippecanoe and Tyler too," General Harrison was 
elected president on the alluring cry of "two dollars and roast beef." Davenport, 
thrilled with the excitement of the hard cider campaign, built a log cabin at tne 
southwest corner of Third and Harrison streets, which was used afterwards for a 
schoolhouse and in which I attended school. When my grandfather, Timothy Dillon, 
with his family, followed my father to Davenport in 1840, he brought some silver 
money with him, and he gave to me a new coined silver dime, the first I ever saw. 
How rich I felt! It was many years afterwards before business got on a cash 
basis. Not long ago there still remained on the Iowa side opposite Moline and its 
mills a warehouse with a conspicuous sign, "Cash for Wheat." This meant at that 
time a good deal more than the passing traveler of today would think. It meant 
that at last the time had come when the farmer could get cash and not merely 
store goods. 

During the period of 1838 to 1841, the Iowa Sun, a small weekly Democratic 
sheet, was the only newspaper, but like the greater Sun of a later date in New 
York, the Iowa Sun shone for all. The first number was issued in the very month 
my father and his family arrived in Davenport. Andrew Logan was proprietor and 
editor, and his sons set up the paper, and carried it around the streets on publication 
day and sold it. It was as eagerly sought for as the Democrat of today. I hope 
your anniversary number will contain from some correspondent a fitting notice 
of the Sun and its proprietor, Andrew Logan. He did a good work in his day. 
The last time I saw him was in 1858, at the first annual meeting of the Pioneer 
Settlers' Association of Scott County. 

The Sun continued to shine until 1841, which year marked the advent to 
Davenport of Alfred Sanders and Levi Davis, and the estahlishment of a Whig 
newspaper — the Davenport Gazette — with which these gentlemen from the first, 
and later Gen. Add. H. Sanders, were so long, honorably and usefully connected. 
The Gazette was afterwards absorbed by the more prosperous Democrat, but it 
was, throughout its existence, a most respectable and influential paper, ably edited, 
and standing always for th^ right as Alfred and Addison Sanders saw the right. 

I have many pleasant memories of the Gazette — too many to recount. I saw 
the press when it landed. I have seen Levi Davis, after setting up the type and 
working off the paper, carry it around the streets to distribute and sell. I have sat 
hour after hour in the press room and watched Levi Davis wet down the paper, 
put it on the old Franklin hand press, and himself work it off, sheet after sheet, 
on one side, and the next day repeat the process on the other side. The proprietors 
were very proud of the record of their paper, and justly so. In 1858, at the Old 
Settlers' meeting, I heard Alfred Sanders (who was an elocutionist, and who gave 
lessons in elocution gratis to young men, myself included) swell with pride when, 
in sonorous voice, speaking of the pioneer press of Scott County, he exclaimed: 

"With pride I say it — as I presume it to be the only instance on record in the 
West — that although we had to purchase all our paper and material in the East, 
and have them brought out by the slow and tedious course of the Ohio and Missis- 
sippi rivers, and although we had our paper sunk, and burned, and delayed by 
accidents, and although my assistants were sick, and I alone had to fill every 
department of the paper — editorial, typesetting, working the press, and rolling the 
paper, yet during the sixteen and a half years I have controlled the Gazette, it 
never has missed a single number." 

It may be expected, perhaps, that I shall say something concerning the old 
and early bar of Davenport. A few words must suffice. Of the earliest territorial 
bar of Iowa, say from 1837 to 1846, its high order of ability has often been remarked, 
— for example. Grimes, Starr, Rorer, Mason, Hall, Darwin, Browning, of Burlington; 
Hastings, Lowe, Woodward, Richman, of Muscatine; Folsom, Byington, Carleton, 
of Iowa City; Lefiingwell, of Lyons; Piatt Smith, Hempstead, Bissell, Samuels, of 
Dubuque; Smythe, of Marion; Knapp, Wright, of Keosauqua; Love, Beck, D. P. 
Miller, of Lee County, etc. 


In Davenport we had Judge Grant, Judge Mitchell, Ebenezer Cook, and after- 
ward John P. Cook, who were, in all respects, the peers of the Iowa lawyers above 
named. The semi-annual terms of court in Davenport were also attended by Knox 
and Drury, of Rock Island, and often by lawyers from other places. Court week, 
to hear the lawyers plead, ranked with the annual circus as one of the few enter- 
tainments possible in this new and distant region. In early life I have spent 
many an hour in the old brick courthouse on Fourth Street, listening to the trial 
of cases, at a time when I had no fixed purpose of becoming a lawyer myself. 
Every day I used to see the erect form of Ebenezer Cook as he passed my lather's 
house, walking to and fro, cane in hand, between his home on the Cook farm and 
his oflBce in the town. One day he was kind enough to stop and say to my mother 
that when I was old enough he wished me to enter his office and become a lawyer, 
which (after a detour by way of Dr. Barrow's office and a short course of medical 
instruction) came to pass in 1851. In 1850 and 1851 I studied law by myself whilst 
keeping, for a livelihood, a small drug store at the corner of Third and Brady. I 
had no instructor or aid in my studies. As a law student I was never in a law office 
or law school. Of law schools there were but few in the country at that time, and 
none within my reach or means. I recollect when reading in Kent about mortgages, 
I wished to see the form of such a document, and that I was compelled to walk 
down to the courthouse, where Hiram Price was the recorder, and there had, 
on the records, my first inspection of this important instrument.* In 1851, Austin 
Corbin came to Davenport, bearing with him a letter of introduction to me from 
Judge Grant, who was holding court in Dubuque. In May, 1852, Corbin moved my 
admission to the bar. The last time I saw him in New York, Just before his 
tragic accidental death, he pleasantly admonished me, as we parted at the corner 
of Cortlandt and Broadway: "John, don't forget I am your godfather in the law." 

The old bar of Scott County by 1855, and soon afterward, had been much en- 
larged, and contained lawyers whose ability and character are an honor and an 
ornament to the city, the State, and the profession. I cannot name them all, but 
may mention Davison, True, Hubbell, Lane, Bills, Putnam, Rogers, Corbin, Dow, 
Cook, Waterman, French — and there are many others. 

Noted as the bar of Davenport has ever been for its character, talents and 
learning, the present bar may look back with a sort of ancestral pride upon the 
first and oldest bar: Knox, the most eloquent jury lawyer I have ever heard; 
Drury, the judicious counselor; Grant, the intrepid and fearless advocate; Mitchell, 
the comprehensive and well-poised lawyer; Ebenezer Cook, whose judgment on 
legal questions and problems was as sure-footed as that of any man I ever knew; 
John P. Cook, a natural born trial lawyer, aggressive, bold, courageous, who, like 
General Taylor, was generally victorious, and who, like him, never knew when 
he was whipped. 

Along the same lines and as further showing his deep and abiding affection for 

Iowa and for all that concerns her welfare, the following extract is given from the 

address delivered by him on the invitation of the faculty before the graduating class 

of the law department of the Iowa State University in 1 893 : 

Coming once more into the State, and into this academic city, with whose 
University not a little of my uneventful career has been connected, the memories 
and associations of half a century, re-awakened and refreshed, throng around me! 

* Colonel J. H. Benton, one of the leaders of the New England bar, in speaking 
recently of Judge Dillon, said: 

"He told me many years ago that when he was reading Kent, trying to learn 
law, he did not get a very clear idea of what a mortgage was and in order to do so 
went to the courthouse, asked permission to look at the Register of Mortgages in 
order to copy one and did copy it in full, and then he said to me, 'I knew what a 
mortgage was; I had read it and handled it.' " 

"This," says Colonel Benton, "impressed me very much and I used it in my 
lectures in the law schools as an illustration of the qualities of mind which make a 
man a great lawyer, that is what I call the instinct of the concrete." 


I recall the happy days, when a barefoot boy with stone-bruised feet I hunte.d 
carmelians on the shores of the Mississippi, swam and sailed and fished in its 
waters, and skated upon its frozen and burnished surface. Fifty years ago m a 
spring that issued from its banks, 1 saw mirrored the first eclipse of the sun my 
youthful eyes ever beheld. The Indians were then more numerous than the 
white men The wolf's long howl was a familiar sound. Behold the wondertui 
contrast and transformation!— the Iowa of 1838 and the Iowa of 1893! When 
the Supreme Court of the State was held in yonder building— the old Capitol,—! 
argued therein with fear and trembling my first causes— Stanchfield vs. Palmer (4 
G Greene's Rep. 23, 1853), and McManus vs. Carmichael (3 Iowa Rep. 1, 1856). In 
my judicial capacity I have held courts in this city in exchange with your former 
fellow citizen. Judge William E. Miller. I was afterwards honored with an appoint- 
ment as one of the Regents of this University, and for several years, and down to 
the date of my removal from the State, I filled the chair of Medical Jurisprudence, 
lecturing to the combined Law and Medical classes. I therefore feel as you may 
well suppose a deep and abiding interest in all that concerns the weal of the State 
and its University. Their growth and prosperity truly rejoice me. I know and feel 
that they are a large part of my own life, and I love to cherish the pleasing hope, 
however illusory it may be, that in some humble, albeit unperceived degree, I, too, 
am some part of their history. I never come into the State of my love and affection 
without going down to the banks of the great river, there to meditate in age 
where I sported in youth, and to dip my hands lovingly into its waters and there- 
with bathe and cool my fevered brow. 

For the same purpose and as throwing additional light upon his early years, I 
give the following excerpt from his address at the dedication of the Davenport Free 
Public Library in May, 1 904 : 

From early boyhood Davenport was my home. "The mystic chords of memory" 
here bind me to the past by the sweetest and the saddest of ties. Other days and 
scenes involuntarily rise before me. I see the little town of 1838 with its few 
hundred people, without schools, without libraries, without many of the comforts 
and with few of the luxuries of modern life, when the Indians were thicker than 
white men, when packs of wolves coming out on the ice from the island below the 
town were a familiar sight and their long, dismal howl a familiar sound. The 
earliest school was kept in a small log cabin near the river below Western Avenue 
by the aged father of Alexander W. McGregor. There it was that I received from 
him my earliest lesson in astronomy. In those days the hanks of the stream 
abounded in springs. With our hands we scooped out the sand and gravel, rudely 
walled up the space, and behold there was living water bubbling up from below 
at which we slaked our thirst, the girls mediately by the use of a gourd cup, the 
boys immediately by laying down fiat and drinking directly from the crystal spring. 
A partial eclipse of the sun occurred near mid-day and the teacher, good, alheit 
severe, having no smoked glass in readiness, led us to the spring, showed us the 
sun in eclipse mirrored in the waters, and explained as best he could the wonderful 
phenomenon. It was a miracle to us small boys then, and it seems to me to be a 
miracle still that finite man on this atom of the Universe called the Earth, which to 
the inhabitants of the planet in the eclipse would seem no larger than the diamond 
that sparkles on a lady's finger, — can foretell years and years ahead the very day 
and hour when such a phenomenon will recur or appear. 

Later some years and before there were any public schools in Iowa, on the 
very site where this library edifice stands, a school for girls and boys was kept 
by James Thorington. For his kindly nature I hold his name in affectionate re- 
membrance. This school I attended with many other pupils, and among them one 
who in after years was actively connected with the Davenport Library Association 
and to whom that institution, next to Mrs. Clarissa C. Cook, is as much if not 
more indebted than to anyone else, but who, though the heart and memory are 
fraught with tender and insurgent recollections, shall be nameless in this connection 
further than to say that the Trustees of the new building have fitly voted to 
place the portrait of this rare and gifted woman upon its walls. 


iPoH^^Hvrj"^' /'f'vf "^ everything is changed except the overarching sky, the ma- 
jestic river and the encompassing hills, when the small town of those early days 
nrlJir" n * '''^^ °i ^^'T P^°P>^' ^ -^'t^ «* wondrous beauty, prosperous, wel 
?nrf!,.fv t" governed and with undimmed hopes for the futur^, it has the good 
ends * .*°,''^'=°"^ ^""^ ^« t^« °^ier of this noble structure, consecrated to noble 

=„, J?® distinct personal note which I And runs through these remarks I have 
=?,£i neither to encourage nor repress. It seemed natural under the circum- 
stances, and I feel confident that your friendship will not ascribe it either to the 
reminiscential propensity of age or to personal vanity, but will rather regard it as 
spontaneous and not unfitting in an address to my former fellow-townsmen and 
to friends of a lifetime. As recollections of the past must percolate through the 
memory they are necessarily flavored by the character of the soil through which 
they have passed, and this quality I have made no attempt to neutralize or 

These delightful papers throw a flood of light on his personality and character, 
and it only remains to summarize the events thus disclosed and place them with others 
not yet told in their proper settings. 

In 1850 he commenced the study of law. In 1852 he was admitted to the 
bar, and soon thereafter became associated with John P- Cook, one of the most 
widely known and distinguished lawyers of the State, under the firm name of Cook 
& Dillon. In the same year he was elected Prosecuting Attorney of Scott County. 
He displayed abilities of a high order. As a result, he was chosen by the Repub- 
licans in I 858 as their candidate and elected by an overwhelming majority of the 
people. Judge of the District Court of the Seventh Judicial District. He performed 
the duties of this position with such signal ability and general satisfaction, that at 
the end of his term he was requested by the entire bar, without distinction of party, 
to accept another term and was elected thereto without opposition. In I 863 his 
exalted abilities and supreme fitness for high judicial position had become so con- 
spicuous that in the fall election of that year, he was chosen Judge of the Supreme 
Court of the State for a term of six years, to accept which he resigned his position on 
the District Bench. In 1 869 he was re-elected for another term. Before qualify- 
ing, therefor, he was appointed by President Grant, and confirmed by the Senate, 
Judge of the United States Circuit Court for the Eighth Judicial Circuit, comprising 
the States of Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas and, soon 
after, Colorado. 

After a decade of the most distinguished service on the Federal Bench, in the 
fall of I 879, he tendered his resignation to accept the position of Professor of Real 
Estate and Equity Jurisprudence in the Law School of Columbia College, and that 
of General Counsel of the Union Pacific Railroad tendered him at the same time. 
This resulted in his removal to New York, and thus ended his official and profes- 
sional career in the State which he so deeply loved and had so highly honored. Let 
us briefly review it before touching upon subsequent events. 

For the repeated honors which had been bestowed upon him he was indebted to 
no political stratagems. His rapid advancements did not spring from that source. 


They were gained by the steady display of those superlative qualities that inhere in 
and, as it were, create great lawyers and judges, and of which the instinct of un- 
remitting toil is the greatest. He recognized with Carlyle that "there is a perennial 
nobleness and even sacredness in work," and that rare excellence can be attained 
only by its exercise. A more constant observance of these principles has rarely 
been so well exemplified in any other public man. 

Of his labors on the State District Bench and the superior abilities he there dis- 
played as a nisi prius Judge, no attestation need be added to those carried in what 
has already been said. While Judge of that Court, he prepared and gave to the 
profession the first Digest of Iowa Reports, known as "Dillon's Digest." How this 
came about he once related to me, and as it illustrates the searching industry and 
thoroughness he gave to every undertaking, I give that relation. He told me that 
when he was elected District Judge he entered upon the careful study of each and 
every case that had been before and decided by the Supreme Court, as they appeared 
in the Reports, making notes as he proceeded and placing each under its appropriate 
head; that his sole purpose in doing this was to familiarize himself with what the 
Court had decided in order that he might not run contrary thereto, and be in har- 
mony therewith ; that he kept this up and added to it as additional reports appeared ; 
that it then occurred to him that by a little remoulding and enlarging it might be 
useful to the profession. This he did, and that is the way the lawyers of Iowa 
came to have what at that time was of the greatest convenience to them. I cannot 
refrain from remarking as I pass that if all our judges would so qualify themselves, 
we should have far less incongruity in our Jurisprudence. 

When at the age of thirty-three he came to be Judge and afterwards Chief Jus- 
tice of the Supreme Court, he brought to that bench, notwithstanding his lack of 
years, equipments of the highest order; his fitting experience on the District Bench; 
a thorough knowledge of the State, her history and people; a virile and well poised 
intellect ; a thoroughly judicial temperament ; a keen and unerring sense of justice ; a 
mind disciplined by years of the closest legal study, and, as the result of scholarly 
promptings and wide readings, enriched with varied learning. 

His opinions from that bench, as well as from that of the United States Circuit 
Court are, by reason of his name and fame, as well as the general soundness of the 
opinions themselves, deferred to as authority by all the courts of this country. Those 
of the State Supreme Court run through fourteen volumes of the Iowa Reports. 
The first case is that of Welton vs. Tizzard, 15 Iowa (7th of Withrow) 495; 
the last one Greenwald vs. Metcalf-Graham & Co., 28 Iowa (7th of Stiles) 363. 
Those of the J^ederal Court will be found in volumes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, of Dillon's 
Circuit Court Reports. There they will stand as perpetual memorials of a great 
Judge and as beacon lights in judicial history. 


The retirement of Judge Dillon from the bench was the occasion of profound 
regret; so strikingly and spontaneously profound that I cannot omit some of its 
public expressions, as they will serve to throw light upon his character as a man, 
upon his fitness as a Judge, and strongly tend to establish proper estimates of both, 
as well as to confirm what I have already said or may hereafter say in that behalf. 

His letter to the president tendering his resignation was dated May 26, 1879. 
By its terms it was not to take effect until the first day of the following September, 
in order that in the meantime he might dispose of the unfinished business, and his 
successor be enabled, if nominated and confirmed before the adjournment of Con- 
gress, to qualify in time for the fall terms. He was notified that his resignation had 
been accepted, on the eleventh of June, through a letter expressing the regret of the 
President and that of the Attorney-General for the loss the Judicial service of the 
government would sustain by his retirement. 

The bar of every State embraced in his circuit took prompt action through 
meetings, resolutions, addresses, and other testimonials to show their personal affec- 
tion and their ardent appreciation of his rare qualities and valuable services. They 
were of no ordinary character, and from some of them" I make brief excerpts. The 
following are from an address presented by Mr. A. L. Williams, late Attorney- 
General of Kansas, on behalf of the Kansas Bar at the opening of the June, 1879, 
term of the United States Circuit Court at Leavenworth, Mr. Justice Miller, of the 
United States Supreme Court, presiding: 

It is seldom, we believe, that there is mingled in so great a degree the respect 
and admiration due to an able and upright Judge with the tender regard which 
only characterizes sincere and intimate friendship as may be found in the case of 
the bar of your Circuit towards yourself. 

We cannot hope to add by this tribute anything to your great fame as a 
Chancellor and Judge. Neither can we extend your reputation as a philosophic 
student and writer upon the law, already firmly established amongst all Anglo- 
Saxon people. 

The bar of your Circuit owe you a debt of gratitude for many things, and not 
the least for the uniform help and encouragement you have ever extended to young 
practitioners. Your unfailing patience, the stimulus of your approving smile, your 
genial obliviousness of the crudities of the young lawyer struggling for a place 
with his abler fellows, have endeared you to both young and old, and taught us all 
lessons of charity and forbearance. 

You have taught us not only that there is no excellence without great labor, 
but how marvelous a degree of excellence labor united to probity of conduct may 
attain. We behold in you one who owes nothing to fortune, and but little to 
preferment: one who has risen by force of merit alone. No envy or detraction can 
shadow any honor you have received, or any fortune with which you may. be 
endowed, for it must be admitted on all hands that every step in your ascending 
ladder has been fairly and industriously scaled. You have ever impressed upon the 
laity no less than the bar, by your clear and comprehensive judgments, that law is 
a rational and coherent science, the end of which is justice. Your decisions have 
always been illustrated with clear and judicious expositions which satisfied the 
reason and convinced the judgment. Your practical intellect has always penetrated 
the husks of discussion to the kernel of controversy, and your conclusions have not 
only met the approval of the bar generally, but for the most part have been 
acquiesced in by counsel whom your judgments have defeated. 


A term of this Court has not only been regarded by the oldest and most 
experienced of our practitioners as a school where the better parts of their pro- 
fession were ably taught, but it has been a source of pride to us all that, as 
counselors here, we were assisting in as pure and efficient an administration of 
public justice as is possible anywhere. 

Following the address, remarks were made by several distinguished members of 
the Bar. These extracts are from those of Mr. Geo. R. Peck, sometime President 
of the American Bar Association: 

This is no time for praise, unless it comes from the heart. What I could wish 
to do is to impress upon this proceeding that it is a tribute, not to the Judge, but 
to the friend. As has been so well suggested by Mr. Willams, no motve for mere 
compliment exists. Whatever may be said here is the genuine and spontaneous 
feeling of the heart, or it is nothing. 

Genius may inspire admiration, but it is only the kind and sympathetic heart 
that can win affection. Judge Dillon's crowning glory is that goodness and great- 
ness which have endeared him to all, and especially to those who, by reason of their 
professional duties, know him best. 

I ought to speak of his learning, known and recognized by jurists and lawyers 
everywhere; of his legal writings, which are cited as authority in the rude court- 
room of the frontier and in the classic walls of Westminster Hall; of his industry, 
that devotion to the laborious duties of his station which has enabled him to do 
what I believe no other circuit judge has done — to hold two terms of court in 
each district of his circuit during every year of his administration of the judicial 
office; and when we remember that his circuit is an empire extending from the 
British possessions to Louisiana, from the Mississippi to the mountains and beyond, 
it seems almost marvelous. I ought to speak of that liigh sense of duty which 
governed all his judgments, and by which he measured alLrights in the just and 
even balances of the law; of that clearness of vision which guided him straight 
through all our fallacies and all our argumentation to the very heart and truth 
of the matter; of that dignity mingled with human sympathy, which made it 
plain to all men that here was a man who never forgot that he was a judge, a 
judge who never forgot that he was a man; of that strong sense of justice and 
equity, that hatred of wrong and oppression, which were so marked in his judicial 
character, that I have thought if, like Sir Mathew Hale, he should enter unheralded 
tlie courtroom of the unjust judge, robed only in a miller's coat and hat, all heads 
would bow and tongues exclaim, "This is a judge!" I ought to speak of our 
pardonable pride that when that venerable institution of learning, seated at the 
commercial gateway of the continent, with wealth and power at its command, 
sought to find the one man who could fill a most important chair, she reached her 
hand across the prairies and plucked this flower of our western civilization. But 
I have no heart to speak of these things at this parting moment. I can think only 
of his goodness, his kindness, and his sympathy. I know not whether a lawyer's 
prayer can avail anything in the chancery above, but, speaking for all my brethren 
of the bar, it I would take him by the hand — ^that hand which has led us all so 
long — I would say, good bye, and may God give you peace, health, strength, and 
happiness, always. 

Mr. Justice Miller then said : 

The Court is full of sympathy with the bar in the sentiments which have just 
been expressed in regard to the retirement of one of its members. Judge Dillon's 
resignation is a loss which must be felt by the bar of the Eighth Circuit, by the 
people among whom he has administered justice so long and so well, and by his 
associates on the bench of which he is about to take leave. This loss, however, is 
not equal to its effects upon all these classes. His brethren in the courts, who have 
co-operated with him in the arduous duties of a judge, who have received his aid, 
who have been with him in counsel and shared his labors, are the heaviest losers. 


It is, therefore, eminently appropriate that they should join In testifying to their 
appreciation of the man and his services by directing that the communication from 
the bar be spread upon the records of the court. 

If I may be permitted, as the presiding justice for the circuit for a period 
including the entire time of Judge Dillon's service in the court, to Indulge in a 
suggestion of my own special misfortune in the matter, I must say that it is greater 
than that of others; for he vi^hom I had hoped, as he came later, might remain longer 
in this court than I, and to whom would have fallen the duty of making the sad 
comments appropriate to the severance of our official relations, is the first to leave 
our common sphere of official duty. 

Though in his case the cause is one which carries him to a less laborious, a 
more profitable, and let us hope a more agreeable and perhaps useful field of labor, 
and though this must, as it ought, mitigate the pains of separation, it remains true, 
as regards myself, that I cannot hope in any successor, however talented by nature 
or accomplished by learning, the same assistance in the performance of my own 
judicial duties, and the same relief from unnecessary responsibility as presiding 
justice, whch have made my relations with him so pleasant. 

When you add to this the interruption, more or less, of our social relations — 
relations which are imperfectly expressed by the strongest terms of affectionate 
friendship and unlimited confidence — It will be seen wth what emphasis I unite with 
the bar and other members of the court throughout the circuit in this cordial 
tribute of respect and expression of regret at the retirement of Judge Dillon from 
the bench. 

The following excerpts are from an address on behalf of the Minnesota Bar, 
prepared by its committee consisting of former Chief Justice Charles E. Flandreau, 
General John B. Sanborn, George L. Otis, Judge George B. Young, Harvey Offi- 
cer, and presented at the opening of the June, 1879, term of the United States 
Circuit Court, at St. Paul, Judges Dillon and Nelson being on the bench : 

On this occasion nothing could induce us to give expression to what we did not 
conscientiously believe. Let the value of our views, then, be measured by their 

We recognize in you a man of extraordinary learning in all the branches of 
knowledge that combine to make a thoroughly good Judge. We also concede to 
you all those qualities of temperament which are essential to the same end. You 
have been patient when we have been tedious; you have been amiable when we 
have been irritable; you have always been clear when we have been in doubt. 
It has been an edifying pleasure to us to listen to your lucid expositions of the 
many difficult questions which we have, in the discharge of our professional duties, 
so often submitted to you for solution. The varied interests that have been 
referred to your decision have involved the welfare of the greatest enterprises of 
the Northwest, and these contests have arrayed in antagonism forces of corre- 
sponding magnitude; yet your wisdom and impartial justice have enabled you to 
satisfy "all interests and make your judgments respected by all parties. 

We have, by our long and intimate association with you, not only respected 
and venerated you as a judge, but also have learned to love you as a friend. 

The loss to the bench may be supplied, and the wheels of the law revolve as 
before, but the severance of the closer ties which unite us is irreparable. 

And this from the remarks of Mr. Gordon E. Cole: 

The patience and painstaking with which you have ever sought to solve the 
most difficult problems of both law and tact; the wisdom with which, under your 
administration, the harshest and most technical rules of the common law have been 
attempered by equity; the ripe legal learning and felicitous language which has 
adorned your judicial decisions; the uniform kindness and courtesy which has 
characterized the intercourse of the bench with the bar, have' endeared you to the 
bar of this district in a vastly more than common degree. Every country and state 


has, or has had, its golden age of the law, to which the profession loves to recur. 
The era of Marshall in the Nation, of Kent in New York, of Shaw in Massachusetts, 
of Gibson in Pennsylvania, of Mansfield in England, and of your honor's adminis- 
tration in the Eighth Circuit, were all such periods, and will alike be remembered 
as luminous epochs of judicial history. 

And this from those of Governor, afterwards United States Senator C. K. 
Davis : 

The bar of this State received the announcement of your resignation with 
expressions of regret more touchingly eulogistic than words can here express with 
due regard to the formality of this proceeding. 

It so happened that we urged your appointment as Circuit Judge, many years 
ago. Of the many eminent names which were under consideration for that nomina- 
tion, your own was preferred by us, not for any personal reasons, because few of us 
then enjoyed your acquaintance. We had, however, become familiarized with your 
judicial character by a frequent application in our courts of your decisions as 
Judge of the Supreme Court of Iowa, and we were guided to our preference by 
them. We found in them learning always more than sufficient for the case; intel- 
lectual vigor, to which that learning was an armor, not an encumbrance; mental 
independence creative in its character, a judicial conscience which dealt with the 
case and not with its consequences. With these prepossessions you came to us, 
and there is not a member of this bar in whom they have not passed into con- 
victions which are adorned and made forever beautiful by an abiding love and 
esteem for those personal traits which experience can only teach, and which 
absence cannot destroy or even dim. 

There are limitations to all endeavor and ambition, and surely the administra- 
tion of the laws of seven commonwealths, which hold six millions of people, which 
present diverse institutions, codes which, though perhaps analogous, are yet 
so different as to perplex; where civilization and empire are so visibly over- 
spreading, where Terminus has not yet set up his land mark; where a legal 
system must be created in a few years which will survive when the erasing 
finger of time has made illegible the decrees which establish it; surely these are 
boundaries which circumscribe the greatest capacity and resolution. 

It was for you, and not for us, to say when you should pause. It is our gain 
and your glory that so much of the vast work has been done. It will not pass 
away. It will endure in precedents, guiding human concerns when all recollection 
of us is lost. 

I will not stop to mark the like proceedings in the other States of the circuit. 
The foregoing will suffice to confirm my statements in the outset, respecting the 
universal affection in which Judge Dilloti was held by his contemporaries, and the 
exalted opinion they entertained of his abilities. There is no mistaking the sincerity 
and depth of the common voice in which they speak. They cleverly reveal a char- 
acter of superlative traits. 

And since I have so far touched upon his personal side, I feel justified in further 
illustrating its lovable qualities by the production of two rare letters which twenty- 
four years afterwards passed between Judge U. M. Rose, of Little Rock, Arkansas, 
and himself. Both were then over three score and ten. Who U. M. Rose was, 
it is unnecessary to explain, further than to say that he was the President of the 
American Bar Association, our representative at the Hague Peace Conference, a 
finished scholar, and one of the most accomplished lawyers of the American Bar. 



Judge Rose to Judge Dillon : 

Terminal, California, September 21, 1903. 
Dear Judge: As one gets older he is more prone to think of absent friends; 
accordingly I have been thinking of you much and often of late, wondering how 
you were, and in what manner you were spending the summer, and finally I am 
impelled to trespass on your time by sending you a note, and thus putting an end 
to a long silence. 

As I do not know how you have passed these last months, I must fall back 
on myself and tell you what I have been doing of late. You may remember that 
I have a married daughter, Mrs. Gibbon, living in Los Angeles. She has two very 
bright, lovely boys of nine and three years respectively, and she and the family 
occupy a cottage here by the sea. I and my wife left home on the 13th of July, 
and have been here ever since, staying in the cottage with them, and all of us 
boarding at a hotel. On the whole I have never spent a summer more pleasantly; 
and I might well compare the days thus spent to those you and I passed in Paris 
years ago, fishing for books in the Rue Soufflot and on the Quai Voltaire. Man's 
capacity for happiness is certainly varied, since I have found equal pleasure in 
the busy city and here in the seclusion of a small watering place, listening to the 
incessant moaning of the disconsolate sea, with but little companionship, but 
plenty of good books to read. All summer the weather has been superb; and not 
a drop of rain or a cloudy day have I seen since leaving home. The sea bathing 
has proved unusually pleasant, and now we are about to start for home with 
feelings of joy mingled with sentiments of regret to think that we are leaving so 
pleasant a spot; remembering also that in the nature of things we may be going 
away for the last time. 

I suppose you may have been in this part of the. country, which is so full of 
interest of many kinds. I know of no part of America that seems to be so highly 
advanced in civilization; and to the traveler it is a striking revelation. When I 
was first here, nineteen years ago, Los Angeles had about 20,000 inhabitants; now 
it has about 130,000 and the evidences of prosperity are everywhere visible. The 
aspect of the country, with its mountains and fruitful plains, is extremely attrac- 
tive; but it is perhaps the climate that is the greatest factor in the universal 
progress. My health has greatly improved since I came out here, and my wife is 
quite as well as ever she was in her life. I do not think of coming here to live; but 
I should be glad of an opportunity of spending other summers here like that Just 
closing, engaged in the genial occupation of Lotus eating, and rejoicing in 
the ebb and flow of the sea, shimmering in the triumphant and unvarying sunshine. 
And this brings me to another theme. Is it not time that you and I were leaving 
off the courts and the law, with all of the turmoil of this weary and unintelligible 
world, forever incorrigible, both to precept and example? I am beginning to 
think so; and to long for rest like the overworked steer. Still the future is as 
yet not quite clear to me; perhaps it will never be. 

Wishing you, my dear sir, health and contentment and long life, with some 
rest from the arduous labors, so well performed, of many years, I remain, 

Sincerely yours, U. M. Rose. 

Hon. Jno. F. Dillon. 

Judge Dillon to Judge Rose : 

New York, October 19, 1903. 
My dear Judge Rose: I am doubly indebted to you. It filled me with pleasure 
to receive your delightful letter from Terminal, California, giving me a relation 
of your pleasant summer in the companionship of wife, children and grandchildren, 
and in communion with nature and with that unfailing resource at all times and in 
all situations, — plenty of good books. No possessions or treasures are more secure 
or of more value than your unextinguishable love of study and reading. I have 
read and re-read your letter, so replete with interesting suggestions and thoughts, 
and which reflects throughout that contentment and tranquil serenity of mind 
which befits, but unhappily does not always accompany age. 


I am also under obligations for the valued invitation of Mrs. Rose and yourself 
to attend your golden wedding anniversary next week. Let me with all my heart 
felicitate you, your wife and family, on an event which so many hope for, but alas . 
so few realize. I note your interdict, but I hope I do not disobey it in sendmg to 
Mrs. Rose not a "present," but a slight souvenir or memorial, which I hope may 
remind her and possibly those who survive her of my warm friendship and regard, 
deeply regretting that the wide distance will deprive me of the pleasure of bemg 
present in person. 

Answering your inquiry, I am glad to say that my health remains very good, 
even better than when I saw you at Saratoga last year. I have spent the summer 
here at my country place with all of my children and their families. My son Hiram 
and family were with me and have just returned home to Topeka to celebrate their 
silver wedding next month. 

The closing Inquiry in your letter, whether it is not time for us to leave off 
courts, the law and the turmoil and burden of professional life, opens a question 
which constantly recurs, seriously demanding solution, but one which is too large 
to enter upon here. I hardly know what it is best to do. I sometimes gloomily 
think that old age is almost an unmixed misfortune, and that there is nothing for 
one of my years to do but keep on and on till Fate settles what the man cannot 
himself decide. Idleness to me would be intolerable, and as much as I love books, 
I fear if left with them only, I should feel as Gibbon expressed it, that I would be 
"alone in Paradise." 

And having referred to Gibbon perhaps the conclusion of his delightful Auto- 
biography best expresses my own feelings. I enjoy the "autumnal felicity" of 
life, "but reluctantly have to observe that two causes, the abbreviation of time and 
the failure of hope (with me the former rather than the latter) tinge with a browner 
shade the evening of life." But I am not unhappy and have no dread of the future, 
and as Landor says of Pericles, I am ready when the time comes to "extend my 
hand to the urn, and take without reluctance or hesitation what is the lot of all." 

Wishing you and Mrs. Rose many, many years of health and happiness, I am, 
as ever. Most sincerely yours, John F. Dillon. 

Hon. U. M. Rose, Little Rock, Arkansas. 

As further apropos from the point of view under consideration, I cannot refrain 
from giving an excerpt from a letter of his son, Hiram, on the unveiHng of his 
father's portrait in the Courthouse at Davenport, in 1 900. I appreciate that a 
letter, coming from a son, would naturally speak well of his father, but there is in 
this one a spontaneous vein so graphically, as well as touchingly true, that it throws, 
as it were, a new light on the inner life and being of his father. The letter was re- 
ceived by Mr. S. F. Smith, Chairman of the Committee of Arrangements on the 
occasion referred to, and the excerpt is as follows: 

You meet at this time to do my father honor as a lawyer, but I know him as a 
man. He is a great lawyer, but he is a greater man. In saying this my judgment 
is not warped by filial pride, but is the result of seeing and knowing him day in 
and day out for years. When I see him after years of experience, burdened with 
large interests and many cares, in a world that is as our world, dealing with each 
man as a fellow man, treating the tramp at his door with the same kindness that 
he would a President, giving him the consideration that he believes is due because 
he is in the likeness of his Maker, I forget the father and believe in the man. 

In view of the length which this sketch has already reached and the limitations 
under which I am necessarily placed, it remains for me only to touch briefly some of 
the salient features of Judge Dillon's life after his removal to New York, and his 
matured views on the underlying principles of our government and laws. 


On account of his rapidly increasing practice in New York he felt obliged to 
relinquish his professorship in Columbia College, which he had filled with eminent 
distinction. In a comparatively few years his clientage embraced some of the 
largest interests of the metropolis, and he came to be regarded as one of its ablest 
lawyers, and one of the most profound jurists of the American Bar. By high 
authority he was ranked as its foremost leader, and, taken all in all — the depth and 
comprehensiveness of his learning, his distinction as a Judge, the accuracy of his 
opinions, his strength of argument, his judicial aptness, his fame as an author, his 
felicity of speech, his general literary merit, in short, the tout ensemble of his varied 
accomplishments — he may justly be so regarded. The following mstance will, I 
think, exemplify the general estimate: At the Annual Meeting of the State Bar 
Association of Rhode Island, in 1904, Josiah H. Benton, one of the leading law- 
yers of Boston, delivered the principal address. His subject was "The Quahfica- 
tions of Judges." He strongly inculcated patience as an important one of them, 
and in illustrating this topic of his discourse, said: "Now, my friends, I remember 
an incident about which I want to tell you. When lawyers, whom, with the excep- 
tion of the one who speaks to you, I may designate as leaders of the bar in New 
England, had gone on for two hot June days in that miserable, stuffy Federal Court- 
house in Boston before Judge Colt, in a very important case, and the case was 
closed. Judge Dillon, whom I regard as, perhaps, in all respects the leader of the 
bar in the United States, who had himself held high judicial position, said, looking 
at our friend. Judge Colt, who had sat through those two hot days clothed in his 
judicial robe, and who had been most courteous and kind to us all : 'Your Honor 
has, in this cause, exemplified the highest and finest of judicial qualities — patience.' " 

Like reference was made to Judge Dillon in the address of James A. C. Bond, 
a distinguished Maryland lawyer and President of the Bar Association of that State, 
at its Annual Meeting in 1 905 . 

Judge Maxwell in delivering the opinion of the Supreme Court of Florida m 
Skinner vs. Henderson, 26 Florida, 122, uses this language: "A similar ruling in 
Iowa is invaluable as coming from Judge Dillon, one of the most eminent American 
jurists and law authors now living." 

Upon questions relating to the law of Municipal Corporations, especially, his 
opinions were relied upon as absolute authority. Many large cities, as did my own 
municipality of Kansas City, Missouri, when about to place an issue of bonds upon 
the market, submitted the question of their validity to his opinion. If this was fa- 
vorable, his certificate never failed to furnish a ready sale of the bonds. It was as 
potent in that respect as Webster described the touch of Hamilton to have been on 
the "dead corpse of the Public Credit." 

His work on Municipal Corporations is the most celebrated and generally use- 
ful legal production of the time. "Dillon on the Law of Municipal Corporations" 


stands supremely alone; a chef d'oeuvre that has carried the fame of its author to 
the remotest English-speaking people. Mr. Justice Bradley of the Supreme Court 
of the United States declared it to be "A Legal Classic," and so it is regarded. 

We are naturally curious to know in view of his other absorbing duties, why and 
how he undertook and carried on this work, which he amplified from time to time 
through five successive editions. This, the following excerpt from his address at 
the dedication of the Davenport Public Library, will show : 

It so chanced in the course of time that I found myself on the bench of the 
Supreme Court of the State, with an ambition not unnatural to write a work upon 
some subject that I hoped might be useful to the profession. The first indispensable 
requisite to such an undertaking was access to a full law library. That of Judge 
Grant, which was one of the largest private law libraries in this country, supplied 
this condition. The next requisite equally indispensable was the needed leisure 
for study and research, and the only leisure possible to a judge was in the intervals 
of uncertain length between terms of court. The library being at hand in my 
own city, enabled me to do what otherwise I could not have done at all, that is, 
utilize my days, snatched from judicial labor, by working in the Grant library, 
collecting material for my projected book. I selected my subject — "Municipal Cor- 
porations" — and entered upon the work of thorough and systematic preparation. 
Without the aid of stenographer or typewriter, I began an examination, one by 
one of the thousands of law reports, commencing with Vol. I of the State of Maine 
and continuing down through successive reports to date, and so on, in like manner, 
the reports of every one of the States, and of the Federal and English courts, 
occupying all of my available time for about six years. The result I have never 
had occasion to regret. It has profoundly affected my whole professional career. 

He thus feelingly wrote of the last edition when in press : 

Forty years and over have elapsed since the preparation was begun, and more 
than thirty-five years since the publication of the first edition. The work is thus 
not only a child, but the companion, of the far larger part of a prolonged pro- 
fessional career. Any justifiable satisfaction I might feel in its success is some- 
what subdued, if not saddened, by the reflection that in this edition I am taking 
my final leave of a work which is so intimately incorporated with the studies 
and labors of so many years. We must, however, accept, as I do, without murmur 
or regret, the inevitable. Every scientific work, like the present, can have but a 
limited period of existence. The progress of society and the corresponding develop- 
ment and changes in the laws that govern and regulate the interests of the people, 
never cease, and a work of tliis practical and technical character commences to 
become obsolete from the moment of its birth. Such a limitation and such a 
doom can neither be averted nor rationally regretted. 

To me it is a wonder that with his manifold duties as an overworked Judge, and 
then as a lawyer, with a clientage covering in its course, either as general or advisory 
counsel, such interests as those of the Union Pacific Railroad Company, the Mis- 
souri Pacific, the Texas Pacific, the Manhattan Elevated, the Western Union 
Telegraph Company, the estate of Jay Gould and of different members of that 
family, and the various other matters that came before him, he could have possibly 
found time to give to the world productions of his pen, so numerous and worthy, 
that they have strewn his entire pathway with a wealth of solid and useful literature. 


I shall not attempt to enumerate productions not specifically mentioned in the 
outset of this sketch, but among them are : 

The Inns of Court and Westminster Hall. (Before Iowa State Bar Association, 

Iowa's Contribution to the Constitutional Jurisprudence of the United States. 
(Before the Iowa Society of New York, March, 1908.) 

Early Iowa Lawyers and Judges. (Judges Mason, Wright, Love, Miller. Be- 
fore the same Society, 1906.) 

Dedicatory Address Davenport Free Public Library. (Davenport, 1904.) 
Chancellor Kent: His Career and Labors. (Before New York State Bar As- 
sociation, Albany, 1903.) 

Uncertainty in Our Laws. (Before South Carolina State Bar Association, 
Charleston, 1885.) 

Law Reports and Law Reporting. (Before American Bar Association, New 
York, 1886.) 

American Institutions and Laws. (Before American Bar Association, Sara- 
toga, 1884.) 

Commemoration Address on Chief Justice Marshall. (Before New York State 
Bar Association, Albany, 1901.) 

Opening Address First General Meeting New York County Lawyers' Asso- 
ciation. (New York, 1908.) 

Address of Welcome at Banquet of New York County Lawyers' Association. 
(New York, 1909.) 

Bentham and His School of Jurisprudence. (Before Ohio State Bar Associa- 
tion, 1890.) 

Our Law: Its Essential Nature, Ethical Foundations and Relations. (Before 
Graduating Class of Law Department, Iowa State University, 1893.) 

Bentham's Influence in the Reforms of the Nineteenth Century. (In Select 
Essays on Anglo-American Legal History, Boston. Little, Brown & Co., 1908.) 

John Marshall: Life, Character arid Judicial Services. (Three Vols. Chicago. 
Callaghan & Co., 1903.) 

Laws and Jurisprudence of England and America. (Being a series of lectures 
delivered before Yale University. Boston. Little, Brown & Co., 1895.) 

Anna Price Dillon: Memoir and Memorials. (Privately printed for distrib- 
ution among relatives and friends.) 

He also delivered an address before the Columbian Exposition at Chicago in 
I 893, and at the St. Louis Exposition in 1 904. 

An important work in his professional career was as a member of the Commis- 
sion appointed under an act of the Legislature of New York to prepare the charter 
•for the greater City of New York; that is to say, the preparation of the charter 
uniting into one city, three existing cities (New York, Brooklyn, and Long Island 
City), each living to a considerable extent under local laws and each with different 
charters; and that would also bring into the enlarged city a considerable area of 
territory, besides that still remaining under town and village government. These 
different communities to be consolidated into one were located upon three different 
islands and upon the mainland, with distinct histories and antecedents. The prob- 
lem was to form a charter which would combine these into one great municipality. 


with working machinery adapted to the whole and to the separate parts. He took 
an active and leading part in framing this charter of greater New York, which went 
into effect on the first of January, 1898. The difficult niceties of this work are 
apparent, and its vastness will be appreciated by referring to the charter which is 
embodied in the legislative act which vitalized and put it into effect. It consists of 
sixteen hundred and twenty sections and covers seven hundred and forty-two pages. 
The report of the Commissioners recommending the charter to the favorable con- 
sideration of the Legislature, covered thirty-two pages. The consolidation thus ef- 
fected remains, with certain minor changes, and I am authentically told that it is 
remarkable how little litigation has sprung out of the consolidation itself as respects 
the meaning and application of the different sections of the charter. I think this 
result may be largely traced to the clear vision, keen foresight and wide and varied 
legal experience of Judge Dillon, which enabled him to practically apply his thor- 
ough knowledge of the law relating to municipal corporations to the particular work 
in hand. 

His "Laws and Jurisprudence of England and America," embracing the series 
of his lectures before Yale University, it seems to me cannot be too highly estimated. 
After reading and re-reading it many times, I do not hesitate to pronounce, that, to 
the serious reader who desires in the narrowest limit to gain at once the most interest- 
ing and instructive information respecting the fundamental principles of our govern- 
ment, and the prime objects of its administrative justice, it is the most valuable and 
philosophical collection that, in the same space, has ever been given to the public. 

These lectures were delivered in 1891-2, and embody his mature views on many 
of the great practical topics of the law. Upon them the author has bestowed the 
ripened powers of his mind. Every line teems with a warmth of interest that un- 
mistakably reveals the infusion of his highest forces. They display the amplitude 
of his learning, not only in the field of law, but of the best literature. They are 
so replete with rare and forceful statement and are so strikingly illustrative of the 
man, that I cannot forbear making a few extracts: 

It is natural for some minds to revere the past, to accept the present, and 
consciously or unconsciously to resist agitation and change. It is equally natural 
for other minds to question the wisdom of the past, to refuse to accept its lessons 
or results as final, to be discontented with them, and to welcome novelty as the 
means of effecting improvement. 

When recently crossing the bay of New York, the Statue of Liberty with its 
uplifted torch enlightening the world, suggested to me that the truer ideal of a 
modern judge was no longer a figure with bandaged eyes, but rather the figure 
of one who carries in his upraised hand the torch of truth lighted from on high, 
and who, throughout the arguments of counsel and in the maze and labyrinth of 
adjudged cases, walks ever with firm step in the illumination of its constant and 
steady flame. 

Unadmonished and undeterred, I venture a timid forecast of some of the 
changes which our laws and jurisprudence will witness within the next century: 
I predict that the rational practice of settling disputes between nations by 


arbitration, so successfully applied in recent years, will become general; that 
wars, the opprobrium of Christian civilization, if they shall not wholly cease, will 
be comparatively infrequent. 

I predict in view of the universality and increasing intimacy of commercial 
mtercourse between nations, that substantial unity in the various departments of 
mercantile and maritime law on the great subjects of Bills of Exchange, Maritime 
Contracts, Marine Insurance, Marine Torts, etc., will replace the diversity and 
conflict which now exist. 

The separation of what we call equity from law was originally accidental— or 
at any rate was unnecessary; and the development of an independent system of 
equitable rights and remedies is anomalous, and rests upon no principle. The 
continued existence of these two sets of rights and remedies is not only unneces- 
sary, but its inevitable effect is to make confusion and conflict. The existing di- 
versity of rights and remedies must disappear, and be replaced by a uniform sys- 
tem of rights as well as remedies— what we call a legal right ceasing to exist if it 
is in conflict with what we now distinguish as the equitable right. 

The forecast may be ventured, that while the law will in its development un- 
doubtedly keep pace with the changing wants of society, yet the work of jurists 
and legislators during the next century will be pre-eminently the work of sys- 
tematic restatement, probably in sections, of the body of our jurisprudence. Call 
it a code, or what you will, this work must be done; if not done from choice, the 
inexorable logic of necessity will compel its performance. 

When the idea of legal education shall be the mastery of principles, so that 
the first impulse of the lawyer in cases not depending upon local legislation, will 
be to find the principle, and not some case, that governs the matter in hand; when 
arguments at the bar shall be directed to an ascertainment of the controlling 
facts of the case under consideration, and then to the principles of law, which 
apply to these facts; when the bench shall be constituted of the flower of the bar, 
and appellate judgments shall not be given without a previous conference of the 
judges, at which the grounds of judgment shall be agreed upon, before the record 
is allotted for the opinion to be written; when opinions shall be rigidly restricted, 
without unnecessary disquisition and essay-writing, to the precise points needful 
to the decision, we shall have an abler bar, better judgments, and an improved 
jurisprudence, in which erroneous and conflicting decisions will be few. 

As a means of eliciting the very truth of the matter both of law and fact, 
there is no substitute for oral argument. I distrust the soundness of the decision 
of any court, in any novel or complex case, which has been submitted wholly upon 
briefs. Speaking from my own experience, I always felt a reasonable assurance 
in my own judgment when I had patiently heard all that opposing counsel could 
say to aid me; and a very diminished faith in any judgment given in a difficult 
cause not orally argued * * * The mischievous substitute of printers' ink for 
face-to-face argument, impoverishes our case-law at its very source, since it tends 
to prevent the growth of able lawyers, who are developed only in the conflicts of 
the bar, and of great judges, who can become great only by the aid of the bar 
that surrounds them. 

Another practice which injuriously affects our case-law is the practice of 
assigning the record of causes submitted on printed arguments to one of the 
judges to look into and write an opinion, without a previous examination of the 
record and arguments by the judges in consultation. This course ought to be for- 
bidden, peremptorily forbidden, by statute. This most delicate and most impor- 
tant of all judicial duties, ought always to be performed by the judges in full con- 
ference before the record is delivered to one of their number to write the opinion 
of the court. 

Trial by jury is an essential part of our judicial system * * * Its roots 
strike down deep into the experience, the life, and the nature of the people who 
have developed and perfected it. Its shortcomings are not inherent. If judges 
will do their full duty, jurors will do theirs. I have tried literally thousands of 
cases with juries, and the instances are few where I had reason to be dissatisfied 
with their verdicts * * * 


I have made the jury the subject of much observation and reflection * * ' 
In my judgment the jury is both a valuable and essential part of our judicial and 
political system * * * l protest against the continentalization of our law. I 
invoke the conservative judgment of the profession against the iconoclast who in 
the name of reform, comes to destroy the jury; against the rash surgery which 
holds not a cautery to cure, but a knife tcT amputate. Twelve good and lawful 
men are better judges of disputed facts than twelve learned judges. 

The constitution is the final breakwater against the haste and passions of the 
people; against the tumultuous ocean of democracy. It must at all costs be main- 
tained. This done, and all is safe; this omitted, and all is put in peril and may be 

Local self-government is the true and the only solid basis of our free institu- 
tions. A jealous state pride and watchfulness in all that justly belongs to the 
state, and a dominating national pride and concern in all that justly belongs to 
the nation, are the valid, healthful, and recognized sentiments of American citizen- 
ship and patriotism. 

The great fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution are life, liberty, 
contracts and property * * * But we cannot close our eyes to the fact that to 
some extent the inviolability of contracts, and especially of private property, is 
menaced both by open and covert attacks. 

In respect to law reforms he took an active and leading, though an altogether 
sane and conservative part, and left along those lines a deep and lasting impression 
upon our jurisprudence. As a continuous member of the American Bar Associa- 
tion, for a time its President, and as an author, and deliverer of occasional addresses 
before learned bodies, his opportunities were favorable to this end. 

Probably the most important of law reforms, and the one that has most agitated, 
and continues to agitate, the professional and, as well, the public mind, is what is 
commonly^icnown as "codification" of the law; its reduction to systematic arrange- 
ment, restatement, and rules, generally governing its principles. Although much of 
actual accomplishments has as yet not been reached, it is pretty clear that such re- 
sults must be gained eventually, in order to relieve us from the thousands of law re- 
ports, that are continually piling up and multiplying with our rapidly increasing in- 
terests and consequent litigation, and which, by their conflicting decisions and over- 
whelming numbers, keep the law in confusion, and its ascertainment frequently im- 
possible. To this work he has given much thought. His views thereon will be 
found at length in the work we have just been considering. 

While giving all praise to Blackstone and Eldon for their work as conservatives, 
he gives to Bentham, the radical, the palm of being the initiator of this, as well as 
nearly every other law reform of the last century, quoting, with apparent approval, 
the following statement of Sir Henry Maine: "I do not know a single law reform 
effected since Bentham's day which cannot be traced to his influence." Bentham 
gave it the name by which it is now universally known, "codification." He also 
originated the common expression, "judge made law," as applied to the decisions of 
the Judges and even the common law itself. "He meant," says Judge Dillon, 
"that a code should embrace all general legislation, not simply as it exists, but as it 
ought to be amended and made to exist — that is, all legislation except local and 


special statutes; that it should also embody all of the principles of the common law 
which it were expedient to adopt; the whole to be systematically arranged, so that 
all possible cases would be expressly provided for by written rules ; that the function 
of the Court to make 'Judge made law,' as he stigmatized it, should cease, and that 
thereafter all changes or additions to this complete body of law should be made by 
the lawmaking body and it alone." 

To Judge Dillon this did not seem practical. "Bentham," said he, "believed 
it was possible to extract from the reports all that was valuable in them and to em- 
body it in a code; whereupon he would have been willing, I fancy, to have burned 
the law reports, and himself to have applied the torch. Unfortunately there is no 
alchemy by which the value of the law reports can all be extracted and transmuted 
into statutory coin." 

Judge Dillon thus expressed in epitome his own views on the subject : 

We have two great divisions of law — statute-law and case-law. The statutes 
are frequently fragmentary, superimposed one upon another. Case-law has to be 
sought in almost numberless reports and often among conflicting decisions. Our 
law is thus fairly open to the threefold objection of want of certainty, want of pub- 
licity, and want of convenience. 

Our laws will, I believe, even if codification be not adopted, become relatively 
more and more embodied in legislative forms. The greater certainty and con- 
venience of a carefully considered enactment which covers the entire subject with 
which it deals, over the chaotic and unmethodized condition of the law when it 
has to be sought through volumes of reports and a variety of detached statutes, 
will constantly operate with no inconsiderable force in expanding the scope of 
legislative action. 

To me it has always seemed inexpedient, even if it were possible (which it is 
not), to attempt a scheme so ambitious as the embodying into a code or statutory 
form rules applicable to all the complicated transactions of modern business and 
society, with a view to supersede the reports. 

The judicial office will, at all times, under any possible code have to deal with 
and determine questions and cases not possible to be provided for by any express 
statutory provision. A well constructed code may, and doubtless will, lessen the 
number of such questions and cases; but no code can do more. 

The infinite details of this mountainous mass of case-law, no industry can mas- 
ter and no memory retain. I do not believe it is practicable to codify it all in the 
sense that the resulting code shall supersede for all purposes the law reports; but 
on many subjects, and to a very large extent in respect of all, codification is prac- 
ticable, and so far as it is practicable, it is if well done, desirable. 

A capital need of our law today is for some gifted expositor who shall perform 
upon it the same operation performed by Blackstone more than a hundred years 
ago; that is, an institutional work systematically arranging and expounding its 
great principles as they have been modified, expanded, and developed since Black- 
stone's day, so as to make it as faithful and complete a mirror of the law, as it now 
exists, as Blackstone's work was of the law as it existed when his commentaries 
were produced. 

But I can no longer pursue these subjects. I both refer and recommend the 
reader to the book of lectures I have been speaking of. There he will find clear 
disquisitions not only upon law reforms, but on the great actors that have lived along 


the lines of Bentham, Blackstone, Marshall, Kent and Story; and constant evidence 
as well, of his wide reading and cultured mind. 

In the outset of this sketch, I referred to his love of books. This, or rather its 
result, is especially exemplified in these lectures, and in his address at the dedication 
of the Davenport Free Public Library. In the latter, he referred to this quality in 
Mr. Lincoln. Following this, Robert T. Lincoln wrote him a letter of apprecia- 
tion, which, for its manifest interest in this connection I here give: 

My dear Judge Dillon: I have read with great pleasure your address at the 
opening of the library at Davenport. This must have been a very interesting 
occasion to you In your old relation. I noticed especially, of course, what you said 
about my father. You could not say too much of his love for books. I do not 
remember ever seeing him without a book in his hand. From my earliest recol- 
lections he was devoted to Shakespeare and Milton. Bunyan, of course, he had, 
and it was in consequence of his having it at hand, ,that it was one of the first 
large books that I myself ever read. In the latter years of his life, he always had 
a Bible and a set of Shakespeare very near him, and went to them for relief at 
all times. Very sincerely yours, 

Robert T. Lincoln. 

January 5, 1905. 

This shows not only a parallel between Judge Dillon and Mr. Lincoln in the 
respect mentioned, but, as it seems to me, throws a new or added light on the latter. 

Among the important labors of Judge Dillon's latter years were those in con- 
nection with the work hereinbefore mentioned in the list of his productions, "John 
Marshall. Life, Character and Judicial Services," consisting of portrayals in the 
centenary memorial services that were held throughout the country on what was 
known as "Marshall Day," in 1901, and his introduction to the three volumes com- 
posing them. In this movement he was a leading initiator, and in preserving its re- 
sults the principal factor — at once, the collector, the compiler, the editor, and in a 
sense, the author. His introduction, as well as his address, is remarkably strong in 
all its features. He portrays with vivid force the personality of the "great Chief 
Justice," and demonstrates by successive steps, and particular cases in which certain 
provisions of the Constitution of the United States were construed by him, that his 
services to the Republic in its infancy, when the workings of its constitution and 
governmental machinery were experimental, were not only invaluable, but really 
furnished the preservatives of the nation in its subsequent perils. In these brief ex- 
cerpts he characteristically summarizes the situation in a nutshell : 

Marshall has no parallel but himself, and like the Saladin in Dante's vivid 
picture of the immortals he stands by himself apart. The inquiry fitly comes, 
whether this veneration is a mistaken idolatry or whether it rests upon rational 
and enduring grounds. 

The nature and value of Marshall's judicial services can only be satisfactorily 
shown by selecting and briefly stating a few of his leading judgments which deter- 
mine the boundaries and establish the vital and fundamental principles of our 
Constitution. This was his distinctive work. On this his fame chiefly rests. 

In the course of his long service as Chief Justice, he construed and expounded 
for the first time, nearly all of the leading provisions of the Constitution, and in 


this he performed an original work of the most transcendent importance, and one 
which it is the universal conviction no one else could have performed as well. 

It was the supreme work of Marshall that carried our constitution successfully 
through its early and perilous stages and settled it on its present firm and im- 
movable foundation. 

He had the golden opportunity, which he promptly took by the hand, the 
singular, the solitary felicity, of connecting his name and fame imperishably with 
the origin, development, and establishment of constitutional law and liberty in 
the great American Republic. 

Marshall belonged to one political school, and Jefferson was the leader of the 
other. Marshall was penetrated by the sentiment and spirit of nationality, and 
believed that the Constitution properly construed conferred upon the Union all the 
essential powers of national sovereignty. Jefferson believed that powers in the 
central government in such amplitude as Marshall held them to exist, were dan- 
gerous to the existence of the state and to the liberties of the people. For this 
he should not be blamed, nor does it diminish our sentiments of respect and grat- 
itude for his great public services. He will go down to posterity proudly holding 
in his hand the Declaration of Independence, and Marshall will go down holding 
in his the Federal Constitution. 

Was the new government another confederation, and the Constitution simply 
the mechanical bond by which the States were for certain enumerated purposes, 
and for such only, loosely articulated? Or was it a new nation, instinct with life 
and clothed with all the powers and attributes of sovereignty necessary for its 
growth, development, preservation, protection and defense, against all hostile 
comers, foreign and domestic? 

Each one of the cases which I have brought under review today, could have 
been decided the other way. Many lawyers and statesmen firmly believed and 
earnestly maintained at the time, that they ought to have been decided the other 
way. On all these subjects, Marshall's views have been finally accepted by the 
country as necessary to the integrity and welfare of the Union, and are no longer 
disputed or challenged. 

When Marshall went upon the bench, the new government itself, and the Con- 
stitution as the only bond of union, were in the experimental stage of their exist- 
ence. When he left it both were firmly established. Marshall's great service to 
the country was that his celebrated judgments expounding the Constitution sup- 
ported it and carried it safely through the feebleness and perils of its infancy, and 
placed it securely upon the foundations on which it has ever since rested. 

In the past, coming down even to the present, states have passed many laws 
of a character that would have broken up the Union, had it not been for the lim- 
itations on their powers, which they disregarded, and which have only been made 
effectual by the judicial enforcement of Marshall's principles of nationality. 

Of his numberless judicial opinions, I cannot further speak or particularize than 
I have in the first part of this sketch ; nor can I of the arguments which he has from 
time to time delivered before the courts. His argument in the Mercantile Trust 
Company vs. The Texas and Pacific Railway Company et a!., 1 54 U. S. Rep., in 
which were involved the constitutionality of the Texas Railroad Commission Act, 
and the rates of tariff fixed by the Texas Railroad Commission, in the course of 
which he reviewed the leading cases on the subject, is one of his ablest and most 
elaborate arguments in the Supreme Court of the United States. Its general views 
were sustained by the Court (pp. 362-420 of the report alluded to) . 

In spite of his accumulated years, of his long and exhausting labors, and the 
continuous sorrow that shrouded the remainder of his life in the loss of his wife and 


daughter at sea, he kept up his professional labors and his daily office rounds until 
a very advanced age. Without this, he once told me, it would have been impos- 
sible for him to have borne this affliction. In his seventy-eighth year, he made the 
journey and the forensic effort disclosed in the following letter to me, dated Decem- 
ber 1 , 1 908, in response to the communications referred to by him : 

Your deeply esteemed favors of November 6th and November 7tli, came to 
New York during my absence in West Virginia. On the 5th of November I left 
this city for Charleston, the capital of West Virginia, to argue an important case 
in the Supreme Court of Appeals of that State, involving some sixty thousand 
acres of coal lands. The court gave five days to the arguments, extending from 
the 9th to the 15th. I hesitated somewhat at my age to take the trip and undergo 
the exertion of such an argument, but I found after attending the court during the 
five days, that I was able to make a three hours' argument without being more 
than usually tired. I mention these circumstances to show that the delay in an- 
swering your letters was unavoidable. 

In the "Memoirs and Memorials of Anna Price Dillon," he pays the noblest of 
tributes to the memory of his devoted wife. In this connection I must be pardoned 
for saying a word or two concerning her, as being a part of his own life, and from 
whom he drew constant inspiration in his multitudinous labors. She was the daugh- 
ter of Hiram Price, for a long time one of Iowa's distinguished men. He was suc- 
cessively School Fund Commissioner (1847) ; Registrar and Treasurer of his coun- 
ty, Scott (1848-1856) ; President of the State Bank of Iowa from its organization, 
1 859 to I 866, when it was superseded by the National Bank; Paymaster General of 
the State during the Civil War ; five times elected to. Congress between 1 862 and 
1881, and Commissioner of Indian Affairs from 1881 to 1885. 

She and John Dillon had been schoolmates. They had grown up in Daven- 
port together. Their lives were closely interwoven from childhood. In Daven- 
port they commenced their married life, and on one of its sightly bluffs built an at- 
tractive home. There their children were born and there they lived until their re- 
moval to New York. It was my good fortune on more than one occasion to sit at 
their table as a guest. In the home and house affairs she reigned supreme. This 
home in all of its features and surroundings displayed both exquisite taste of selec- 
tion and family comfort. She was a bountiful hostess, and in appearance, superb 
and queenly. She was pre-eminently a strong character, bounteously endowed with 
intellectual gifts and womanly graces. Her letters to her husband and personal 
friends, written during her different sojourns in Europe, whither she went mostly on 
account of the lovely daughter who perished with her and who for some years had 
been a patient sufferer, are models of graphic and interesting descriptions of foreign 
countries, their people and ways. 

His "Laws and Jurisprudence of England and America," composed of his Yale 

lectures, he dedicated to her. Why he did so, he thus tells in the "Memoir and 


Prior to 1875, and while she lived in Davenport, she gave considerable time 
to charitable and other work, as already stated, but during the years when her 



children were young it was to tliem tliat she devoted lier paramount attention. 
She found time, however, to assist her liusband, in 1872, in putting liis book on 
"Municipal Corporations" through the press. He always realized that his itinerant 
professional and judicial life had thrown almost exclusively upon his wife the care 
and anxieties of the family; and years afterward, when, in 1894, his Yale Univer- 
sity Law Lectures were published, he publicly recognized the obligation which it 
created, in the dedication of the volume to her in these words: 

A. P. D. 
"The years of professional studies, circuit journeyings and judicial itinerancies 
whereof this book is in some measure the outcome, as well as the time required for 
its preparation, have been taken from your society and companionship. The only 
reparation possible is to lay these imperfect fruits upon your lap. As to you, in- 
deed, they justly belong, this formal dedication serves alike to accredit your title 
and to manifest my grateful sense of obligation and affectionate regard." 

This inscription was pleasing to Mrs. Dillon, and on her return from Europe, a 
friend called her attention to a review of the book in which the writer, speaking of 
dedications to wives, compared this not unfavorably with John Stuart Mill's, where- 
upon her husbzuid said that his was as much inferior to Mill's as Mill's to Tenny- 

I must now bring this narrative to a close. If I have not accomplished all I 
desired, I have at least massed or indicated the material on which some future biog- 
rapher may do better. 

Judge Dillon died in New York in 1914, his setting sun leaving behind it, like 
that of the day, as it sinks beyond the horizon, the mellow influence of its departing 

George W. McCrar^. 

This distinguished jurist and statesman was born near Evansville, Indiana, on 
August 29, 1835, and died at St. Joseph, Missouri, June 23, 1890, at the age of 
fifty-five. His comparatively short life was a remarkable one viewed from any 
standpoint. He was of Scottish descent, his ancestors having emigrated from Scot- 
land in the early part of the eighteenth century, and settled in the neighborhood of 
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. From thence his great-grandfather, James McCrary, 
moved to North Carolina, prior to the War of the Revolution, and settled in what 
was then Rowan, but now Iredell County. There his grandfather, John McCrary, 
and likewise his father, James McCrary, were born. His great-grandfather, James, 
served as a Captain in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. The 

*Mrs Tennyson, always seemingly fragile, outlived her husband, who died 
October 6, 1892; but, not long before his death, he signalized their long and felic- 
itous union by dedicating to her, in these words, his last book: 
"I thought to myself I would offer this book to you, 
This and my love together. 
To you that are seventy-seven. 
With a faith as clear as the heights of the June-blue heaven 

And a fancy as summer new 
As the green of the bracken amid the gloom of the heather." 


maiden name of Judge McCrary's mother was Matilda Forrest. About the year, 
1812, the family removed to Tennessee, afterward to India^ia, and from thence, in 
1 835, the year of his birth, they removed to McDonough County, Illinois. After a 
short residence there, they, in 1837, pushed toward the western frontier, and across 
the Father of Waters to Van Buren County, Iowa, then a part of the territory of 
Wisconsin. Here, amid the wilds of that new country, he was reared to thaCt stal- 
wart manhood, which was afterwards able to bear him through the great intellectual 
and political emergencies which he was called upon to pass. With a natural thirst 
for knowledge, he acquired the rudiments of an English education, and some knowl- 
edge of the higher branches of learning. Having early determined to make the law 
his profession, at the age of nineteen, he entered the offices of Miller & Rankin at 
Keokuk, a firm composed of Samuel F. Miller, the subsequently distinguished Jus- 
tice of the Supreme Court of the United States, and John W. Rankin, one of the 
ablest lawyers of the Iowa Bar. In 1 856, he was admitted to the bar there, at once 
entered upon the practice, and soon after formed a partnership with Mr. Rankin, 
under the firm name of Rankin & McCrary. At the age of twenty-two, in 1 85 7, he 
was elected to the Iowa House of Representatives, and was the youngest member of 
that body. Four years later, in I 86 1 , he was elected to the State Senate, where he 
served four years. During the first two years of his Senatorial term, he was chair- 
man of the Committee on Indian Affairs, at that time one of the most important 
Committees of that body, and during his last two years, he served as Chairman of 
the Judiciary Committee. In 1 868, at the age of thirty-three, he was elected to 
and took his seat in the National House of Representatives. He was re-elected to 
the forty-second, forty-third and forty-fourth Congresses, and served with marked 
ability and distinction. Having displayed great legal ability, a strong love of jus- 
tice and fair play that enabled him to rise above party prejudices in the considera- 
tion of contested election cases, he took rank as one of the best lawyers in that body, 
and as authority upon election law. In accordance with the general desire of his 
fellow members, he was appointed in the forty-second Congress, by Speaker Blain, 
Chairman of the Committee on Elections, and in that capacity, induced the Housr 
of Representatives, probably for the first time in its history, to consider contested 
election cases upon their merits, irrespective of party affiliations. Upon the as- 
sembling of the forty-third Congress, questions relating to transportation emd matters 
connected with the subject of interstate commerce were attracting great public in- 
terest, and Mr. McCrary was made Chairman of the Committee on Railroads and 
Canals, to which all these subjects were referred, and to which he gave his best 
thought and action. He prepared the report on the constitutional power of Con- 
gress to regulate interstate commerce, which was regarded as one of the ablest and 
most exhaustive papers ever presented to Congress. Having reported a bill on the 
subject, he advocated it before the House with remarkable power, and after one of 
the most memorable debates on record, it passed that body. This seems to have 



been the original basis of subsequent legislation regulating interstate commerce. H 
was the author of and introduced the measure proposing the appointment of an elect- 
oral commission, the adoption of which brought about a peaceful solution of the 
disturbmg questions which had arisen concerning the result of the Presidential elec- 
tion of 1 876, when Hayes and Tilden were the opposing candidates, "and which 
must now, in view of the danger which it obviated, be regarded as wise statesman- 
ship, no matter how we may differ as to the correctness of the decision reached." 
He was one of the Joint Committee which framed the electoral bill, afterwards acted 
as one of the Republican Counsel before the Commission and made one of the 
strongest arguments sustaining the election of President Hayes. The country was 
about evenly divided in opinion as to what had been the actual result of the Pres- 
idential contest. That tumult and war were imminent, no one who distinctly recol- 
lects that period will question. In this emergency, he was the first to step forward 
with the proposition referred to for the adoption of a lawful and peaceful solution 
of the difficulty. He always believed that under all the circumstances, this was a 
wise measure of statesmanship, which gave to the country peace instead of turmoil, 
an amicable adjustment instead of possible Civil War. 

In the Forty-fourth Congress, he was created a member of the Judiciary Com- 
mittee on which he served with distinction. He was the author of the bill to re- 
organize the Judiciary of the United States, which he advocated on the floor as well 
as in committee and which finally passed the House by a large majority. 

In 1877, he was appointed Secretary of War. In this position, he began the 
first systematic work leading to the publication of the official records of the great 
Civil War. The Signal Service Bureau was improved and connected with similar 
institutions abroad ; and the authority of the Department was construed by the Sec- 
retary for the first time to be sufficiently broad to authorize the issuing of tents, 
blankets and rations, to persons rendered destitute by pestilence, the immediate occa- 
sion being the destitution in southern Mississippi, resulting from an epidemic of 
yellow fever. 

In 1879, he resigned his position in the Cabinet to accept the appointment of 
United States Circuit Judge for the Eighth Judicial Circuit, and assumed his duties 
in January, 1 880. The pre-eminent manner in which he discharged the duties of 
this high office is a part of our Judicial History. He had during his Congressional 
service maintained to a great extent his practice in both the State and Federal 
Courts, and his Congressional labors had been principally along the lines of legal and 
constitutional research. Hence, though coming fresh from the political field, where 
lav\^ers are generally ruined rather than made, he brought to the bench a discipline, 
which, under the subjection of his naturally judicial mind enabled him to discharge 
the duties of his position to the entire satisfaction of a bar made critical under the 
ministrations of his eminent predecessor. Judge Dillon. Of all the judges it has 


been my fortune, in the course of a long professional life to see, I think Judge Mc- 
Crary exhibited the most perfect judicial temperament. His equanimity was per- 
petual; nothing could ruffle or disturb it; he held the scales with such an impartial 
hand, that though he might have formed an opinion on the facts, no one could dis- 
cover it during the progress of the trial, from anything in his bearing. His decisions, 
to be found in the five volumes of McCrary's Circuit Court Reports, will endure as 
monuments of his superior ability as a Judge. 

In 1884, he resigned the Judgeship to accept the position of General Counsel 
of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad Company. To this he was moved 
by the largely increased salary he would receive which would enable him the better 
to provide for his family, and approaching age. In this I thought and still think 
he made a mistake, for it is morally certain that had he remained on the Circuit 
Bench, he would in the near future have been elevated to that of the Supreme Court 
of the United States. As a law writer, his "American Laws of Elections," which 
is the standard authority on that subject, entitle him to a place in the front rank. 

Personally, he was one of the mildest and most amiable of men. I became 
acquainted with him when we were both young, more than fifty years ago, and the 
friendship thus begun continued to the day of his death. Our first meeting was in 
the forepart of January, 1 864. We were both members of the Tenth General 
Assembly and were on our way to the Capitol. The railroad from Keokuk to Des 
Moines had been extended only to Eddyville, some ten miles west of Ottumwa, and 
the remainder of the way, some eighty miles, had to be made in coiiveyances of the 
Western Stage Company. The winter was an unusually severe one and the day on 
which we were to commence our journey from Eddyville was one of the coldest of 
the season ; so cold that the Stage Company, instead of the usual vehicle, had placed 
a wagon-box on the top of runners. Into that was put an abundance of straw and 
blankets, on which we were to lie down and be covered with buffalo robes, plentiful 
enough at that time. We placed ourselves in position, and here to me arose an em- 
barrassment, of which the Judge was afterwards fond of occasionally telling. He 
said that, dressing after the fashion of some young men, I wore a stove-pipe hat, 
which I could not lie down in and for which no safe receptacle could well be found. 
I frankly confess that a stove-pipe hat was hardly the thing for a journey of that 
kind, but we managed to find a place for it and I made the journey without any, 
covering my head with the robes. 

Our personal friendship and association continued in Iowa until he removed to 
Kansas City, in 1 884, where I found him when I went there in 1 886, when our 
friendly relations were renewed and continued. I never saw him ruffled or exhibit 
the least temper in the whole course of our acquaintance. During a portion of the 
time we were in Kansas City, we used to go camping out and trout fishing on the 
upper waters of the Rio Grande River in Colorado, which furnished both enjoyment 



and healthful exercise. Through these various associations, I came to know him 
well and the more intimately I knew him, the more I admired and venerated him. 
But few personages in our history can be found with a nature so well rounded and 
possessing such perfect equipoise. His tastes were purely intellectual and withal 
so spiritual as to be absolutely devoid of that gross alloy which constitutes the weak- 
ness and impairs the usefulness of so many distinguished men. His sympathy for 
the unfortunate was warm and responsive. He believed, as he constantly exempli- 
fied, in the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. As a legislator, he 
was wise ; as a jurist, profound ; as a public servant, clean ; as a man, beneficent and 

In religious belief. Judge McCrary was, like Judge Samuel F. Miller, a Uni- 
taricm. "There was no uncertainty in the tone of his Christianity, and he vigorous- 
ly combatted the effort made in 1 886 by certain Unitarian churches to commit 
that denomination to a purely ethical belief, declaring that his church stood for a 
positive faith in God, in immortality, in worship and in personal righteousness as 
exemplified in the teachings of Jesus Christ." With innumerable opportunities to 
become rich, he died poor, leaving to his descendants a legacy of incomparable 

A widow, whose maiden name was Helen A. Gelatt, three daughters and two 
sons still survive. The youngest son, George, is now a practicing lawyer in Kansas 
City. One of the daughters is the wife of Henry L. McCune, a gentleman of high 
standing, and a lawyer of rank and first-class ability, who for quite a while presided 
with distinction as one of the Judges of the Circuit Court at Kansas City, from 
which he subsequently resigned to re-enter the practice. To Judge McCune, I am 
indebted for some of the data comprised in the foregoing sketch. 

Henr)) C. Caldrvell. 

Biography is the soul of history, and biography in its turn must properly rest 
upon facts, incidents, and achievements attendant upon the person, and to some ex- 
tent on the consensus of public and private opinion in relation thereto, rather than 
upon the mere statement or estimate of the biographer. In this wise I shall en- 
deavor to corroborate by particular facts what I may say in a more general way 
concerning the subject of this sketch. 

Of all the distinguished men I have known in my time, none stand out as striking- 
ly along the line of remembrance as Henry Clay Caldwell, It is considerably more 
than a half century since I first saw him. He was then twenty-five, I was twenty. 
It was at Ottumwa, Iowa, while I was being examined for admission to the bar by 
the committee appointed by the court for that purpose, according to the usage then 
prevailing. The committee consisted of Christian W. Slagle, of Fairfield, Amos 


Harris, of Centerville, and Edward L. Burton, who afterwards became a distin- 
guished Judge in that District — all were able lawyers and all have passed away. 
The committee and myself disagreed in respect to a nice question that was put to 
me. Mr. Caldwell turned abruptly from an adjacent table where he was writing, 
and in that decidedly energetic manner characteristic of him, exclaimed, "The young 
man is right." This incident early impressed me with him, and I refer to it for 
that purpose, as well as to illustrate the natural quickness of his mind and his vivid 

I next saw him engaged in arguing a question of great public interest before Hen- 
ry B. Hendershott, the presiding Judge of the Ottumwa District. The case was 
that of the State of Iowa ex rel. vs. The County of Wapello, reported in 1 3th 
Iowa, 388, in which it was held for the first time by an undivided court that counties 
had no power to subscribe stock to build railroads, overruling the prior decisions of 
the court holding a contrary view. The case has ever since been regarded as a 
leading one on that subject throughout the entire country. Though quite young, he 
had already attained the reputation of being one of the brightest and ablest lawyers 
of the State. Associated with him in the argument was James F. Wilson, of Fair- 
field, afterward a Congressman and United States Senator, whose distinguished 
services and great ability shed a permanent lustre on the State. Senator Wilson 
paid the debt of nature some years ago. Judge Caldwell, full of years and full 
of honors, retired from the Federal bench in 1 903, after continuous service there of 
forty years. His service had been the longest of any Federal Judge then on the 
bench, and it had been as illustrious and beneficial to the country as it had been 
long. It would have been a national blessing could it have continued. He exerted 
all of his great powers to hold the judicial course to just and proper lines. His 
wonderfully strong personality, his high character, his keen and exalted sense of 
justice, and the extraordinary vigor with which he enforced his views, gave him a 
national reputation. His virile opinions have been far-reaching in their influence 
and will increase in interest as time passes. They are distinguished for their entire 
consistency, for the profound knowledge of the law which they exhibit, and for the 
heroic application of those great principles of justice upon which our jurisprudence is 
founded. "He carried the torch of justice lighted from on High." He is justly 
entitled to be ranked as a great man, whose long and conspicuous services in the 
administration of justice and in the accomplishment of judicial reforms have left a 
lasting influence upon the country and its laws. 

It has been said: "From a great man, subtract all that he owes to opportunity, 
and all that he owes to chance ; all that he has gained from the wisdom of his 
friends and the folly of his enemies, and our Brobdingnagian would, often turn out a 
Lilliputian." But this statement has no application to him, for his early years lacked 
opportunity, and chance took little part in his success. He exemplified the old say- 


ing, that every man to a great extent, is the architect of his fortune, for by his own 
forces he compelled what opportunity did not offer, and his successes were mainly 
wrought as results of his own efforts and individuality. Of him it has been well- 
written that "He furnishes one of the most notable examples to be found at the bar 
of this country, of the triumphs of intellect and industry over grave and discouraging 

Had he remained at the bar he would have undoubtedly attained as great dis- 
tinction in the field of practice as a lawyer as he did on the bench as a Judge; for he 
strikingly displayed, while young, the essential qualities necessary for that purpose. 

In addition to his accomplishments as a Lawyer and Judge, he possessed those 
of a varied kind. Though not a collegiate or schoolman, his insatiable thirst for 
knowledge had impelled him to read widely, and made him conversant with history 
and general literature. His productions give evidence of a cultivated mind; but 
above all, they give evidence of intellectual and reasoning forces of the highest nat- 
ural order. Every line teems with vigor. The productions of most men, on grave 
subjects, are sometimes tedious and require special cause to make them interesting. 
Not so with his. About them, and upon whatever subject, there is a lively quality, 
an intellectual fire, that at once fixes attention and kindles interest. Nor were his 
productions confined to judicial opinions. His diversified qualities made him a fa- 
vorite at bar meetings and banquets, and on various occasions his presence and 
speech were sought after. What he said or was expected to say never failed to 
evoke interest, and his audiences were rarely disappointed. 

Among his most widely known addresses and papers are : 

"Railroad Receiverships in the Federal Courts." Before Greenleaf Law Club, 
St. Louis, 1896. Pamphlet. 

"Trial by Judge and Jury." Before Missouri Bar Association. American Law 
Review, Vol. 33, 1899. 

"Receiverships and Preferential Debts." Before Colorado Bar Association. 
American Law Review, Vol. 37. 

"The Relation of Debtor and Creditor." Before Arkansas State Bar Asso- 
ciation. 1886. Pamphlet. 

"The Insecurity of Titles to Real Estate." Pamphlet. 

"The American Jury System." Pamphlet. 

"A Lawyer's Address to a Lay Audience." Pamphlet. 

Address, Dedication Hot Springs County Courthouse. 1889. Pamphlet. 

Address, Monticello Pair Association. 1886. Pamphlet. 

Address, Before New England Society. St. Louis. 1895. Pamphlet. 

Address, Old Settlers Association. Van Buren County, Iowa. 1899. Pam- 

Address, Pine Bluff Banquet. 

Address, St. Paul Bar Banquet. 1892. Subject, United States Court of Ap- 

Viewed as an individual from a social standpoint, no one could be more inter- 
esting or charming: interesting, in his reminiscences, in his wonderful memory of 


early events, in his graphic narration of incidents connected with the Iowa frontier, 
under the shadow of whose primeval forests he was reared amidst the struggles of 
the hardy pioneer, and from these deep surroundings imbibed that love of nature and 
drew that inspiration of divine protection and human sympathy that characterized 
his subsequent career; charming, in his tall, broad-shouldered and commanding fig- 
ure — a little bowed by the stoop of the student; in his markedly strong and heroic 
face, "bearded hke the pard;" in his frank and open personality, in his bluff and 
boundless hospitality, in his hearty welcome and generous entertainment; in short, in 
the supreme originality of the man, which no art could conceal, and which displayed 
itself in his spirited and racy conversation, in which wit and wisdom were happily 
blended; in his animated table-talks and post-prandial speeches, in his keen sense of 
humor, in his amusing stories, his hearty laugh and robust manners. 

It was these traits that endeared him to the people of Iowa, where he lived for 
nearly thirty years, to the soldiers of his command, and especially to the people of 
Arkansas, of whose federal court he was the judge, of whose capital he was a resident 
of nearly forty years, and whose civic institutions he helped to rescue and rebuild 
from the smouldering ashes of Civil War. Though he was viewed at first by them 
with suspicion, if not actual aversion, as a northern intruder and soldier who had 
actively and directly aided in encompassing their defeat, and who at the head of his 
conquering command had been the first to enter Little Rock, they soon came to know 
and respect, and finally to revere him, for his many qualities, his unspotted 
character, and his very able and absolutely impartial administration of justice, un- 
trammeled by senseless impediments; for, though deeply learned in the law and in- 
timately familiar with its history and the course of judicial decisions, he had no pa- 
tience with mere quibbles and stale precedents when interposed to thwart the course 
of substantial justice. 

As an Iowa soldier and officer, he served with conspicuous gallantry, and was 
on the point of being made a Brigadier-General for distinguished service when he 
accepted from Mr. Lincoln his appointment as Federal Judge.* Had he remained 
in the service and been given a wider field of operations, he would doubtless have 
attained still greater distinction. In this connection I cannot refrain from quoting 

*At about this period or not very long after, James F. Wilson wrote Colonel 
Caldwell from Washington: — 

"You can he a Brigadier-General or a United States Judge. Which do you 

I heard it said at the time, that Wilson had been instrumental In securing the 
Judgeship for Colonel Caldwell, because he feared his rivalry, and wanted to thus 
shelve and get him out of his way to the United States Senate. There is nothing 
in this letter, however, to show this, but it would seem rather the contrary, as his 
promotion to a Generalship, which he might have chosen, would have added still 
more to his strength and popularity. 


as apropos the following extract from General Davidson's official report of the cap- 
ture of Little Rock : 

"Lieutenant Colonel Caldwell, whose untiring devotion and energy never flags 
night or day,, deserves, for his varied accomplishments as a cavalry officer, pro- 
motion to the rank of a general officer." 

Coming, as already indicated, to judge among a people with whom he had 
been actively at war, and who were naturally stirred by resentment and distrust, it 
seems strange that he so soon and thoroughly gained their entire confidence and 
esteem. His extraordinary personality and high sense of justice furnish the explana- 
tion. That such was the case, is shown by the following correspondence and refer- 
ences. In response to a communication addressed by me to one of the foremost 
lawyers and citizens of Arkansas, George B. Rose, of Little Rock, he writes: 

It is a great pleasure for any citizen of Arkansas to testify to the immense 
service which Judge Caldwell rendered to this State. It is probable that Arkansas 
never had a citizen to whom it was more deeply indebted. He came here during 
the Civil War as an officer in the northern army, and was appointed almost from 
the saddle to the bench. It was expected that he would carry into his new office 
the animosity which the war had engendered; but it was found that as a Judge 
he had neither friend nor foe, and that his one purpose was to do justice between 
the parties. Shortly after his appointment the policy of reconstruction was inaug- 
urated, all citizens who had participated in the late rebellion or sympathized with 
the rebels were disfranchised, and the State was ruled by a horde of adventurers 
who came down for the purpose. In those evil days it was almost impossible to 
get justice in the State courts, but if any man could obtain admission to Judge 
Caldwell's Court he was sure to receive a fair and impartial hearing and an hon- 
est judgment. His court, therefore, became the refuge for every one who by 
any means could gain admission under the Federal laws. 

During the six years that the Carpet-Bag regime lasted he was the greatest 
protection that the people of the State had. He remained all the time a strong 
Republican, but did not carry his politics upon the bench, nor did he permit him- 
self to be drawn into any of the machinations of his party, as unfortunately did 
some of the Federal Judges of the South. 

When the Carpet-Bag yoke had been cast off, it was proposed in Congress to 
re-establish it, and a committee was sent down composed largely of the bitterest 
enemies of the State, for the purpose of investigating conditions. It was expected 
that they would make a report favorable to the plan, but largely through the 
influence of Judge Caldwell, who exposed the abuses of the Reconstruction 
government, and whose authority and influence were too great to be ignored, they 
reported in favor of the maintenance of the government which had been estab- 
lished by the people. Had Judge Caldwell at that time taken the other side, it is 
practically certain that the Carpet-Baggers would have been restored to power by 
the aid of the bayonet, and the State would have suffered an injury from which it 
could not have recovered for many years. 

Judge Caldwell has also been a great benefactor in the liberalization of our 
laws. He has always taken very advanced ground in favor of judicial reform, and 
has left imperishable traces upon our statute books. He was largely instrumental 
in securing the adoption of the code of civil practice. At first, our courts were 
disposed to look upon it with disfavor and to construe out of it all of its vitality. 
Judge Caldwell, however, always gave it in his court a most liberal, beneficent 
construction, as indeed he gave to all acts; and finally he infused into all our 
tribunals and into our bar the sarne contempt for technicalities which he himself 
felt. In consequence, Arkansas isj of all the states, the one which has, 1 believe, 
the most liberal system of practice; the one which looks most exclusively to the 
justice of the case, and which cares least for the forms of procedure. 


The women of the State are particularly Indebted to Judge Caldwell. He felt 
very strongly the injustice which was done them by the common law, and through 
his exertions acts were passed securing them in their rights to enjoy their prop- 
erty and earnings and to dispose of them, which are as liberal as could possibly 
be deyised. 

He was also a friend to honest debtors, and procured the passage of statutes 
giving them the right of redemption from sales under foreclosure and the like. 
During a part of his early tenure, there was no limitation in this State upon the 
interest that might be exacted, and he witnessed a great many abuses by the de- 
scendants of Shylock which he was powerless to prevent. This gave him a strong 
distaste for usury, and he induced the legislature to adopt strong laws against 
contracting for interest in excess of ten per cent. At first the usurers set up a 
cry that money could not be lent at that rate, but the result has been that money 
has been more plentiful and more easily obtained than before, while the fangs of 
the usurer have been drawn. 

There are a great many other reforms in our law of which he is the author, but 
it would perhaps be too tedious to enumerate them all. 

As a Judge, he was not only fearless and honest, seeking only to do justice, 
but he was also conspicuous for his learning, particularly in the decisions of the 
Supreme Court of the United States. 

When Judge Caldwell left the State, it is safe to say that his departure was 
looked upon with regret by every person within its borders. So far as I know he 
had not an enemy; while the members of the bar regarded him with the strongest 
personal attachment. He was sometimes hasty of speech, but never unkind in 
intention. He was particularly kind to young lawyers, and always took care that 
their clients did not suffer in consequence of their inexperience, and he did this 
in so gentle a way that they felt no humiliation. Whatever success I have had 
at the bar has been largely due to his teaching. But my sense of personal attach- 
ment has not led me to exaggerate in any degree his incalculable public services 
to our State. 

Judge Jacob Trieber, Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern 
District of Arkansas, writes concerning him: "You have no idea of what a warm 
place he has in the hearts of the people of this State." 

The following extracts along the same line are from Democratic newspapers, 
and cannot, therefore, be supposed to have been influenced by any political bias to- 
wards Judge Caldwell. This is from the Arl{ansas Democrat: 

In place of Judge McCrary, recently resigned from the bench of the Eighth 
Circuit, we know of no man upon whose shoulders the judicial ermine could so 
justly and so fitly be placed as upon those of Henry C. Caldwell, the present Judge 
of the Eastern District of Arkansas. There is no district judge who has had so 
many novel and interesting questions of first impressions before him, and who has 
so rarely been mistaken in dealing with them. 

When he first went upon the bench, now nearly twenty years ago, he had to 
deal with the acts of Congress confiscating the property of Confederates. These 
laws were designed to act upon the principle and follow the usages and procedure 
of Admiralty Courts, where no juries are allowed, and nothing was said in the act 
in regard to jury trial. Hence most, if not all, of the district judges, in admin- 
istering these laws, held that causes under them were admiralty causes, and no 
trial by jury should be allowed. But Judge Caldwell, then newly administering 
Federal procedures, saw through the fallacy of this reasoning, and held that under 
the constitution they were common law causes, and their issues triable by jury; 
in which he was sustained by the United States Supreme Court. He then had to 
pass upon the perplexing question of the statute of limitations growing out of the 
closure of the courts during the war and the construction of the limitation act of 
Congress of 1863 — in all of which he was correct, and his rulings sustained by the 
Supreme Court. 


And then came before him the questions growing out of the "direct tax" laws 
of Congress of 1861, and their amendments; in these cases he was also sustained. 

Then came the variety of questions of slave contracts, contracts arising from 
the purchase and sale of slaves, negotiable paper and conveyances of property 
based upon slave consideration, in which he was also sustained. 

Then in regard to contracts, agreements and conveyances based on confed- 
erate money consideration. Also contracts and conveyances and "ex-delicto" 
rights dependent upon the legislation of the confederate governments in the re- 
volted states and the decrees, Judgments and orders of their courts, and the action 
of their ministerial officers. 

And later the administration of the reconstruction laws, the election laws, 
and civil rights laws passed by Congress, all of which involved new issues and 
the new application of legal principles. Besides these, the administration and 
construction of the revenue and bankrupt laws of the United States, both of which 
were new. 

In the construction and application of this long array of new statutes, great 
caution, sound judgment, clear, precise and accurate knowledge of legal prin- 
ciples were necessary, for there were few, if any, precedents to guide the steps 
of the traveler in these then unexplored regions of the law. To evolve just con- 
clusions from all these various and momentous issues, required a clear intellect, 
great grasp of mind, and thorough familiarity with legal principles and their anal- 
ogies to enable the Judge to safely thread his way through the mazes of this legal 
terra incognita. It is safe to say that no judge upon the Federal bench has had 
so many nice and difficult questions to pass upon, and made so few errors. It may 
truly be said that Judge Caldwell, though sitting on the bench with such distin- 
guished jurists as Justice Miller, Judge Dillon and Judge McCrary, has never ap- 
peared to a disadvantage in such august presence. He has, as a Judge, kept his 
ermine pure and unspotted, against which no breath of calumny has ever breathed. 
And this, though his judicial career for ten years was surrounded by all the 
temptations, opportunities and corruptions prevailing at the close of the war and 
in the demoralization of reconstruction. The inducements for political preferment 
and wealth held out to the weak, the avaricious, the ambitious and corrupt during 
that trying period, swerved him no jot from the path of duty and honor. Though 
an inflexible Republican, he has so justly and discreetly performed the functions 
of his office among a people who were for years strongly opposed to the legislation 
he was enforcing, that he has convinced all parties and all shades of opinion, of 
his justness, integrity and wisdom, and endeared himself to the profession of the 
law and to the people. 

The following is from the Helena Neivs : 

A soldier serving his country on the field of battle, he sheathed his sword and 
was appointed to a Federal Judgeship by Abraham Lincoln. No man could have 
been placed in a more trying position. The Carpet-Baggers looked to him to re- 
ward their devotion to the Republican party by sustaining all of their attempts 
to plunder the people of the South. The Southern people, smarting under the 
sting of defeat, which Caldwell had helped to administer, naturally looked upon 
him as an enemy. But quickly they realized that in Judge Caldwell they had a 
just and honorable Judge; a man only to be feared when they were guilty of 
wrongdoing. He has commanded and still commands the love and respect of the 
people of the entire South, of all political parties, though no opportunity ever 
escaped his quick perception and masterly use of language, to score unmercifully 
the highest as well as the lowest for their misdeeds. 

In the field of judicial reform, in addition to the instances pointed out in the 
foregoing references, his view^s, orders and opinions in respect to railroad receiver- 
ships, stand out conspicuously, and have operated as powerful factors, especially in 
respect to claims that should be deemed preferential to mortgages securing the bond- 
holders. It is not very long ago that the doctrine that claims for operating supplies 


furnished railroad companies were preferential to those of the mortgage bondholders, 
was unknown. The doctrine is comparatively new, because railroads are new. It 
was supposed and so held that such mortgages were superior to any and all sub- 
sequent debts that the railroad might incur. After a time this rule became so soft- 
ened as to admit as preferential claims of this kind which had arisen just before, or 
a very short time before, the receivership. Judge Caldwell may be properly re- 
garded as a pioneer in this field, and the first to declare and carry out by appropriate 
orders the doctrine that such mortgages must give way to the claims of creditors for 
supplies and labor necessary to the operation of the road, without regard to any 
special limitation as to time, other than that fixed by the order appointing the re- 

To avoid the confusion that had arisen in the courts as to what claims were or 
were not preferential, and as to the time within which they must have arisen, he made, 
it an invariable rule in all proceedings to foreclose such mortgages, where a receiver 
was asked, to make specific provision in both these respects in the order appointing 
the receiver, and as a condition thereof. His course in this regard was at first 
bitterly assailed from certain quarters, but it gradually grew in favor until the rule 
has become universal in the ten states and territories composing the Eighth Circuit, 
and I think generally throughout the country. The principle received the approval 
of the Supreme Court of the United States in Fosdick vs. Shall, 99 U. S., which 
was the first utterance of that court on the subject, and has been amplified and ap- 
plied in a variety of cases since. 

Through 2md by what processes of reasoning he came to these conclusions is 
clearly shown in his response to the toast, "Coon-Skin Cap Law," given at a famous 
banquet of the Colorado Bar Association a number of years ago, which has been 
rescued from oblivion and from which I must be allowed to make the following lib- 
eral quotations, as it so completely covers the case, and probably cannot else.vhere 
be found: 

Mr. Toastmaster: I am persuaded that you are possessed of some occult 
power. In no other way could you have knowledge of the legend of the "Coon- 
Skin Cap Law." 

To those not blessed with the occult power of the toastmaster, the toast im- 
plies a comedy, but in fact it relates to a tragedy, and to the saddest of all trag- 
edies — a tragedy directly traceable to judicial ignorance and error, and which 
"revives the memory of a rooted sorrow, which weighs upon the heart." 

Mr. Ruskin says, "The greatest thing a human soul ever does is to see some- 
thing and tell what it saw in a plain way." I will essay that task. 

A man entered into a contract with a railroad company whose road ran 
through two or more states, to furnish wood and ties to the company, to be taken 
from the timberlands in the Mississippi River bottom, which at that point was 
fifty miles wide and annually overflowed from five to twenty feet in depth. In this 
bottom, perched upon stilts, he built a log cabin, and, with his wife and an old 
negro man who assisted him in his work, lived there, except during the periods of 
overflow, when they were driven to the hills. 


He was engaged in this work about four years, during wliicli time tlie com- 
pany, wliicli was in a. clironic state of impecuniosity, only paid liim on account a 
sum barely sufficient to buy enough meal and bacon to subsist upon. 

The annual overflow drove him out of his cabin to the hills. Sickness ensued, 
and it was nearly a year before he was ready to resume his work; and just as he 
was ready to do so, the railroad went into the hands of a receiver, upon a bill filed 
to foreclose a mortgage upon it. 

All of this happened more than a quarter of a century ago. When the bill 
was filed the timid and callow Judge (alluding to himself) found some authority 
for treating as preferential, claims for labor and materials that had accrued with- 
in three or four months; and he stretched this to six months, and made an order 

Presently a petition of intervention was filed in the case, and when it came 
on for hearing, the intervener appeared in person to represent his claim. He wore 
a coon-skin cap, with the tail hanging down the back, coarse cotton shirt, and 
pants and shoes to correspond. He was long past the meridian of life; his hands 
were calloused by toil, and his face wore the "shadowed livery of the burnished 
sun." But the wrinkles, the sunburn and the unkempt beard could not conceal 
from view that ineffaceable and unfading charm that always marks the face of the 
man of honest good will. The poet took no liberty with truth when he said, "Hon- 
est labor bears a lovely face." It was evident that he had earned his bread accord- 
ing to the divine decree, "in the sweat of his face." 

In a plain, modest manner he told how lie had worked getting Out wood and 
ties for the road, and how the company had made small payments from time to 
time, always promising payment in the near future. The balance due him for 
wood and ties amounted to over $700.00, a sum which to him was a fortune, and 
all his fortune. 

At the close of his testimony, with deference and modesty, he said: "When I 
sold wood to steamboats on the Mississippi River I had a lien for its price, on the 
boat, ahead of mortgages, and I suppose there is no difference between wood sold 
to run a steamboat and wood and ties sold to run a railroad!" 

But the Supreme Court had said they could not find that the rule which has 
obtained in admiralty from the dawn of commerce, which prefers such claims over 
mortgages, had ever been applied to railroads; and this, of course, was true, for 
there had been no railroads to call for its application; they were a modern inven- 
tion. The court might have fortified its opinion by citing a case in point: A suit 
was brought before a Justice of the Peace in Vermont by one farmer against an- 
other for breaking his chum. The Justice took time to consider, and then said that 
he had looked through the statutes carefully, and could not find that any action 
had ever been brought before for breaking a churn, and gave judgment for the 

It is a curious fact that the errors and mistakes of great men and great trib- 
unals are proportioned to their greatness. When they do err, the error is colos- 
sal. * * * 

The last item in the account was eleven months old when the road went into 
the hands of a receiver. The Judge decided that this was fatal to his claim, ac- 
cording to the then decision, which restricted the payment of such claims to 
those which had accrued within six months; that although his wood and his ties 
kept the railroad running and from being utterly valueless either as an instrument 
of commerce or as a security, he had no equity to be paid in preference to the 
mortgagees, whose security he had preserved. 

The decision was a thunderbolt for that old man. He looked like a man sen- 
tenced to death. With a trembling hand he reached for his coon-skin cap, with 
difficulty arose from his seat, and tottered rather than walked out of the court- 

He took the train for home and was let off at his cabin. His aged wife and 
the old negro man were waiting his return with eager expectation. He entered 
the cabin, and in anguish said, "Oh wife! Oh Ned! We are ruined! The Judge 


will not pay us anything for our wood and ties." While his wife and the old negro 
man gave way to tears and sobs, the coon-skin cap man sat silent and dejected. 
Presently he rose up and went out of the cabin. 

His wife prepared their frugal meal and called her husband. There was no 
answer. No answer coming to repeated calls, his wife and the old negro went out 
to search for him. They found him — hanging to the limb of a tree, dead. The coon- 
skin cap was lying at the root of the tree. 

No lesson is lost to us if it doesn't come too late. The specter of that man 
of honest toil hanging from that tree, the vision of that cap, and an uneasy and 
alarmed conscience, imposed upon that Judge the burden of prayerfully enquiring 
whether the judgment that produced this awful tragedy was just, and upon making 
that inquiry he found that there was a close analogy between ships and railroads; 
that both were instruments of commerce; that neither could perform their func- 
tions or be of any utility to the public, or of any value as a security, unless they 
were kept running, and that they could not be kept running without labor, mate- 
rials and supplies, that were not and could not be paid for at the time they were 
procured or purchased; and that every one taking a mortgage on such property 
knew this, and must therefore be held to have impliedly consented that such claims 
should have preference over his mortgage. 

He found that there was just as much law for saying that such claims were 
valid if they accrued within six years, as there was for saying that they must 
have accrued within six months; that the length of time depended on the length of 
the chancellor's foot; in a word, that all of the law on the subject was judge-made 
law; and that Judge thereupon determined to measure out equity according to the 
length of his own foot instead of that of some other Judge, and to make a little 
judge-made law himself, and he then and there made it a rule of his own court that 
no railroad receiver would be appointed except upon the condition that all claims 
for labor, supplies and materials, necessary to keep the road in operation, and all 
claims for damages resulting from its operation that were not barred by the 
statute of limitation, should have preference over mortgages. And this rule is 
what the toastmaster has been pleased to call the "Coon-Skin Cap Law." TMs 
rule was without any precedent to support it, but it was sublimely just. It was 
Its own precedent, and it would be happy for mankind if all judicial precedents had 
the same everlasting and impregnable foundation. Since the adoption of that rule 
no citizen of Arkansas has had occasion to commit suicide for the same reason 
that the «oon-skin cap man did. * * * After all, the human skull is but the 
temple of human error, and judicial clay, if you analyze it well, will be found to 
be like all other human clay. 

At first the "Coon-Skin Cap Law" was not in favor with most judges, but its 
author consoled himself with the reflections that great truths commonly dwell a 
long time with minorities. But it is a gratifying fact that the sun sets every 
night on an increased number of supporters of the "Coon-Skin Cap Law." Through 
legislation in some states, and by judicial decisions in others, it is fast becoming 
the law everywhere. Like John Brown, the body of the man with the coon-skin 
cap "lies mouldering in the grave, but his soul goes marching on." 

In relation to the limit of time and the character of supplies to entitle to a 
preference, there is a total want of uniformity in the decisions of the courts, and 
even in the decisions of the same court. Claims six years old have been allowed 
by the Supreme Court, and at another time it has said that only claims which 
accrued "some short time" before the receiver was appointed could be paid, which 
is exactly as definite as to say that a certain thing is as big as a piece of chalk. 
The equity is admitted by allowing any debt to be preferential for ever so short a 
time. The principle being established, the equity should be complete. There is 
no difference in principle whether such a debt is six days, or six months, or six 
years old — if it was a preferential debt in its inception that equity inheres in it 
until it is barred by the statute of limitation. There is no rule of law or equity 
to the contrary; there is only the varying and conflicting opinions of judges. It 
is a legislative function to make a statute of limitation, and every state has such a 
statute, which is applicable to preferential debts as to any other. 


It has also been said that there is no difference between a mortgage on a farm 
and a mortgage on a railroad. Before a mortgage on a railroad can be likened to 
a mortgage on a farm, the farm must be put on wheels and, propelled by steam 
or other motive power, be under obligations to the public to carry passengers from 
ine Atlantic to the Pacific, and enjoy the high privilege of running over every 
other farm on the line of its route between the two oceans, and from the nature of 
its business be compelled to obtain on credit the labor and materials essential to 
keep it moving, and enable it to discharge the duties it owes to the public. * * * 
The whole doctrine is bottomed on the essential difference between a railroad and 
all other kinds of property except a ship; between a ship and a railroad the anal- 
ogy is perfect. 

The law on this subject should be known, but all that is known about it out- 
side of the jurisdiction where the Coon-Skin Cap Law prevails is, that it is con- 
sistent in its inconsistency, certain in its uncertainty and uniform in its want of 

The fine distinctions drawn by some courts between preferential and nou- 
preferential debts are simply bewildering. In one case a claim for fuel was pre- 
ferred, and a claim for headlight and lubricating oil rejected, presumably upon the 
ground that red hot boxes resulting from the non-use of lubricating oil would per- 
form the office of the headlight, and that the pungent odor emitted from the hot 
boxes would advise all animal creation having nasal organs of the annroach o( 
the train. Such microscopic administration of equity requires a much keener 
vision than ordinary men possess, or, according to Pope, were ever intended to 

"Why has not a man a microscopic eye? 
For this plain reason, man is not a fly." 

In time of war it is permissible to send out a column of cavalry with orders 
to "subsist on the country," but courts of justice ought not to decree that railroads 
can, either in peace or in war, "subsist on the country" through which they run 
for the profit of their bondholders, who are always practically their owners. 

That this was an important step in judicial reform which has redounded greatly 
to the benefit of the people in the correction of a crying evil there can be no question. 
What this crying evil was is clearly told in the following excerpt from his paper on 
Railroad Receiverships : 

Another benefit inuring to the railroad company and its mortgage bondholders 
from a railroad receivership was the opportunity it afforded to escape the payment 
of all obligations of the company, for labor, supplies and materials, furnished and 
used in the construction, repair and operation of the road. Whenever a railroad 
company became so largely indebted for labor, material and supplies, and other 
liabilities incurred in the operation of its road, that it could profitably pay the 
expense incident to a receivership and foreclosure, for the sake of getting rid of 
its floating debt, it sought the aid of a friendly mortgage bondholder through 
whose agency it was quickly placed in the hands of a receiver, and immediately a 
court of equity was asked and expected to do the mean things which the company 
itself was unable or ashamed to do. The President of the company was commonly 
appointed receiver, and the work of repudiating its debts was swiftly and effectual- 
ly accomplished through the aid of a court of equity. The floating debts Incurred 
in improving and operating the road, for the benefit of the company, and its se- 
curity holders, were repudiated, and the road formally sold under a decree of 
foreclosure to a new company in name, organized by the owners of the stock and 
bonds of the old company. By this process a railroad company was enabled to 
escape the payment of its debts by what was little more than a mere change of 
its name. 

He also adopted a rule of court providing that such receivers might be sued. 
Generally, leave to sue a railroad receiver in a court of law was rarely given. The 


result was that all of the litigation growing out of the operation of a railroad, which 
might be hundreds of miles in length, was concentrated in the court appointing the 
receiver, and on the equity side of that court, where the suitor was denied a trial by 
jury, although his demand was purely a legal one. This mode of procedure was 
attended with great delay, costs and inconvenience to the claimant. To remedy 
this condition was the object of his rule, giving the right to a claimant to establish 
the justice and amount of his demand, by the verdict of a jury in a court of the 
county where the cause of action arose and the witnesses resided. ♦ 

Among his many decisions enforcing his views on the subject of railroad receiver- 
ships, those in Dow vs. Railroad, 20th Fed. Rep., and Farmers' Loan & Trust 
Company vs. Railroad Company, 53rd Fed. Rep., may be mentioned; and in the 
paper above referred to — Railroad Receiverships in the Federal Courts — his views 
on the whole subject, enforced with all the powers of his mind, will be found. 

That the value of his judicial services in the direction mentioned was highly 
appreciated by the country, was fully shown by the press and other publications of 
the times. As illustrative of this, in I 894 there was presented to Congress a paper 
bearing the following title : 

Memorial of the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina to the 
Congress of the United States in the matter of receivers of railroad corporations, 
and the equity jurisdiction of the courts of the United States. 

In the course of this memorial the following language is used: 

There have been instances in which Judges oT Federal Courts have refused 
to appoint receivers of a railroad. Appalled at the power that such an appoint- 
ment would place in the hands of the court, and with a just sense of the responsi- 
bility thus devolved upon the court, they have shrunk from granting the order 
of appointment. Had all the federal Judges been like Mr. Justice Miller, Mr. Cir- 
6ulit Judge Dillon, or Mr. Circuit Judge Caldwell, the courts of equity of the 
United States would never have been degraded to their present position of being 
feared by the patriotic and avoided by the honest; nor would they have opened 
the door to the mismanagement, corruption and nepotism which have marked, 
and still do mark, the administration of railroads by the court. 

When it is noted that the three great Judges here referred to, were all from this 
State, Iowa may well be proud of her products, and each of them proud of this 
association of his name. 

In the American Law Review of August, 1893, Vol. 27, will be found an 
article entitled The Court Management of Railroads from the pen of that notable 
Lawyer, Judge and Legal Writer, Seymour D. Thompson, with whose name the 
profession is familiar. He was for some years a Judge of the Missouri Court of 
Appeals, and the strength of his opinions attracted the general attention of the bench 
and bar. He afterward became generally known as one of the ablest law writers 
of his time, giving to the profession among other works, Thompson on Negligence, 
and later Thompson on Corporations, considered ttie most elaborate and best treatise 


that had been given on that subject. In the article referred to, after touching upon 

the action of Judges Miller and Dillon in refusing to grant a receiver of the St. Louis, 

Iron Mountain & Southern Railroad, and take the property out of the hands of the 

railroad company pending the foreclosure, he thus refers to Judge Caldwell : 

Proceeding on similar views, Mr. Circuit Judge Caldwell when Judge of the 
United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, and ex officio 
Circuit Judge, persistently refused to allow his court to go into the general rail- 
road business, and granted receivers of railroads on a principle of necessity, and 
then, only upon equitable terms. * * * The Supreme Court approved his pol- 
icy. One of the equitable conditions imposed by him on bondholders soliciting 
the appointment of a receiver, was that they should consent in advance, that the 
receiver might be sued in the State Court, and that they should appoint an agent 
within the jurisdiction, on whom the process of said court might be served. His 
decision in Dow vs. The Memphis, etc., R. R. Co. (20th Fed. Rep., 260), is one of 
the best judgments that has ever been delivered on the subject of railway receiv- 
erships. One cannot read it without acquiring the impression that if other Judges 
had pursued the same policy, the disciplinary Act of Congress, passed in 1887, 
authorizing actions against receivers of railroads appointed by the Federal Courts 
to be brought without obtaining leave of court, would not have become necessary. 
* * * One cannot read the decision of this eminent Judge without feeling re- 
gret that he has -not long before this, been transferred to a seat on the highest 
Federal bench. His long experience as a Federal Judge, his clear perception of 
legal principles, his strong sense of justice, his well-known firmness of character, 
and especially the entire absence of any unsteadiness in his judicial work, point to 
that place as his proper sphere. 

His decisions upholding the rights of the public, against powerful interests, are 
numerous and may be found in the reported cases of the Federal Court covering a 
period of nearly four decades. I feel privileged to refer to just a few of these in 
corroboration of my statements. The first relates to the rights of persons under 
contracts with life insurance companies, some of whom it must be confessed display 
more energy in soliciting business and collecting premiums than they do in paying 
losses. The case of McMasters vs. New York Life Insurance Company was tried 
in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Northern District of Iowa, whence 
it was taken to the United States Circuit Court of Appeals, where it was held by 
a divided court that the plaintiff was not entitled to recover — Judge Sanborn deliv- 
ering the opinion for the Court, and Judge Caldwell a dissenting one. Both are 
exhaustive, and taken together constitute a masterful review of the authorities on 
the subject. That of Judge Caldwell illustrates his powers of keen discrimination, 
close analysis, and forceful statement. 

The pivotal question in the case was whether preliminary statements of the 
soliciting agent, and one contained in the application, as to when the policy was to 
commence, as affecting the time within which the premium must be paid, should 
control, or the express terms of the policy itself in that behalf as it was finally writ- 
ten up. McMasters signed an application for insurance. It was dated December 
12, 1893. It was the express oral understanding and agreement between him and 
the agent that the first year's premium was to be paid by McMasters upon the de- 
livery of the policies to him, and that the contract of insurance was not to take ef- 


feet until such delivery. The application itself provided that the policies should not 
be in force until the actual payment of the premiums to the company. The agent 
in forwarding the application and for the sole purpose of enabling him to get the 
benefit of an extra commission for that month, interlined on the face of the applica- 
tion, and without the knowledge or consent of McMasters, the words, "Please date 
policies same as application." The company did not fully comply with this re- 
quest, but dated the policies as of December 1 8, 1 893, and provided for the pay- 
ment of the annual premiums from that date, and also provided that after the policy 
had been in force for three months, the assured should have a grace of thirty days 
for the payment of the next premium. These policies were taken by the agent to 
McMasters, December 26, 1 893, who asked him if they would insure him for the 
period of thirteen months (the one year with the period of grace added), to which 
the agent replied that they did so insure him, and thereupon McMasters paid him 
the full amount of the first annual premium, and ivithout reading the policies, received 
them and placed them away. 

Calculating from the date of the policies, and the lime for the payment of the 
premium expressly fixed therein, the thirteen-months period would expire January 
11,1 895 ; but calculating from the date the policies were delivered and the premiums 
paid, it would not expire until January 26, 1895. McMasters died January 18, 
1 895. It was contended by the company and so held by the court, that the express 
terms of the policy fixing its duration and the time within which the premiums must 
be paid, must govern, and that all prior acts and negotiations between McMasters 
and the agent, were merged in the policy — the final written agreement of the parties 
— the express terms of which could not be changed by extraneous evidence; and 
that the operation of this rule was not varied by the fact that McMasters, relying on 
what had taken place between himself and the agent, did not read the policies, as 
there was nothing to prevent him from so doing. Judge Caldwell took the opposite 
view and fortified it by a thorough review of authorities on the construction of life 
insurance contracts, which he contended should receive a more liberal construction 
than that applied to ordinary contracts. To one reading the able opinion of Judge 
Sanborn, it seems perfectly invulnerable, until he reads the dissenting one of Judge 
Caldwell, 99 Federal Reporter, 856. The case was taken on a writ of certiorari 
to the Supreme Court of the United States, and that court sustained the contention 
of Judge Caldwell, reversed the majority opinion, and ordered judgment to be en- 
tered for the plaintiff. 183 U. S. Reports, 25. 

The case is one of public interest as protecting the rights of the citizen under 
insurance contracts, and defining the duties of insurance companies in the respect re- 
ferred to. 

The next case of public interest I desire to notice, and in which grave constitu- 
tional questions were presented, is that of the Pacific Express Company vs. Seibert, 


Auditor of State, 44th Fed. Rep., 310, in which was involved the constitutionaHty 
of the statute of Missouri providing for the taxation of the property of express com- 
panies, defining what should be regarded as such and prescribing the mode of tax- 
ation and the rate thereof. 

The District Judge had granted an injunction staying the collection of the tax. 
Judge Caldwell held that the act was valid. The case went to the Supreme Court 
of the United States. That Court affirmed the judgment, 142 U. S. Rep., 339, 
and in the concluding words of its opinion, specially commended both the reasoning 
and the language of Judge Caldwell's opinion in these words: "The opinion of 
the Court below on this branch of the case is elaborately argued, and is conclusive. 
We concur in the reasoning of it as well as in the language employed, and refer to 
it as a correct expression of the law upon the subject." 

His views on what is termed "Government by Injunction," and the growing 
tendency to fly to the equity side of the Court on every occasion for that relief; on 
the right of trial by jury; and of wage earners to organize, to peaceably assemble, 
and to strike for the increase or against the reduction of wages, are well exemplified 
in what is widely known as the Union Pacific case, in that of Hooper vs. The Oxley 
Stave Company, and in his address on "Trial by Judge and Jury," before the Mis- 
souri Bar Association. His action and decision in the first of these, and the some- 
what startling boldness of the views therein expressed upholding the right of the em- 
ployes of the Union Pacific Railroad Company, whose wages the receivers had 
arbitrarily reduced without giving them the preliminary notice required by the agree- 
ment previously entered into by them and the railroad company before it went into 
the hands of the receivers, at once drew upon him the attention of the whole coun- 
try, and though criticised by mortgage bondholders and those in that line of interest, 
they were hailed with general approval. I should greatly desire to enter into the 
details of these cases and exhibit his views by quoting from his opinions, but as 
limitation of space forbids, I must content myself with this passing reference. Suffice 
it to say, that in my opinion, they present as powerful arguments as were ever used 
in support of the rights of the people, of the rights of trial by jury, and against its 
insidious infringement by the too frequent appeals for the writ of injunction. 

In epigrammatic expression he has rarely been excelled. I have gathered at 
random from his miscellaneous productions the following, most of which may be 
classed as apothegms: 

The four cornerstones which support the social fabric are the dwelling house, 
the house of God, the schoolhouse, and the courthouse. The first three of these 
institutions teaches us to do voluntarily what the fear of the fourth compels us to 
do. They are the fountain heads of the virtue arui intelligence essential to the 
maintenance of a free and stable government, and the institutions which form the 
citizen. The dwelling house is the sacred abode of virtue and security; nations 
that do not possess them are nomads or savages. The house of God symbolizes 
the Christian religion, which anchors society on the moral foundation indispensa- 


ble to the continued existence of a Republic. A despot witliout faitli may govern 
by force, but a free people cannot successfully govern themselves without faith in 
God. The schoolhouse symbolizes the education of the youth to qualify them to 
discharge the duties of citizenship, but these three cornerstones are not of them- 
selves adequate to support the social fabric. The lessons that teach the reward 
of virtue and the woes of vice are lost on many men. For the perverse and 
wicked, who break away from the teachings and restraints of moral agencies, 
there must be something stronger than moral suasion. The contests of passion 
and selfishness render it necessary that authority should exist somewhere and al- 
ways be at hand to do justice and to repress and punish crime. This necessity 
gives rise to the laws regulating the conduct of man as a member of society. These 
laws require him to do right and punish him for doing wrong, but they would be 
of no utility without a tribunal clothed with authority to compel obedience to them, 
and which has a fixed time and place of meeting for that purpose; and the court- 
house is that place. The courthouse therefore symbolizes the law and its en- 

The most fearful and wonderful thing about man is the imperious sway of 
superstition over his mind; it overpowers all sense of reason and humanity, and 
renders cruel and ferocious the mildest people on earth. 

Sincere and kind-hearted Christians delighted in burning the living bodies of 
heretics and witches, but would not permit physicians, in the interest of science 
and humanity, to dissect the dead body of saint or sinner. 

A lawsuit may be likened to a labyrinth into which the parties enter full of 
hope and confidence, but from which they are likely to emerge weary and broken 
in spirit and estate. 

These are some of the qualifications a judge should have: He must have a 
strong and unerring sense of justice which is better than learning in the hair- 
splitting technicalities and refinements of the law, which often defeat rather than 
promote justice; he must have moral courage and be indifferent alike to censure 
and applause; he must be serene and tranquil under all circumstances, for emo- 
tion is the grandest of levelers, and impairs the force and dignity of magistracy; 
he m|ust not believe without reason, nor hate on provocation; his constant contact 
with the Injustice and wickedness of men must not shake his faith in the virtue 
of mankind; he must be mild and compassionate, but firm, inflexible and just; he 
must hear before he decides, for Solomon says, "He that answereth a matter before 
he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him." 

Clean, plain justice, honestly administered, in blunt English, is just as good 
as the polished article, and is likely to have about it a stronger flavor of common 

One who looks solemn and wise, usually enjoys a reputation for superior wis- 
dom, whether he possesses it or not. Mr. Fox, speaking of Lord Chancellor Thur- 
low, said his aspect was so solemn and imposing that it proved him to be dishonest, 
since no man could be so wise as Thurlow looked. 

Prosperity and contentment will be the happy lof of the children who inherit 
broad acres, if they have the good sense to keep them, when the poverty, vice and 
crime of the city will make the nation mourn. 

Macaulay has left on record a prophecy that the great cities will breed the 
barbarian who will some day destroy modern civilization. Recent events in some 
of our large cities give significance to this prophecy. 

Corporations formed for business purposes are useful and necessary agencies, 
as a general rule. They furnish a convenient method of aggregating and man- 
aging capital in business pursuits, such as banking and insurance, building rail- 
roads and the like, and in all enterprises requiring a larger expenditure of money 
than individual capital can sup.ply. But a corporation created for the sole purpose 
of lending money, is nothing but a concentrated and intensified usurer and miser. 
The man who lends his money and deals honestly with his customers, and resorts 
to no fraudulent or sham devices to evade the usury law, is a respectable and use- 
ful citizen. Even the miser has a soul which may sometimes be filled with gen- 


erous emotions, but this artificial and magnified money lender has no soul, no 
religion, and no God, but mammon. By the law of its creation it is legally in- 
capable of doing anything but lend money for profit; every other function is de- 
nied it by law; the song of joy, and the cry of distress, are alike unheeded by it; 
It neither loves, hates nor pities; its chief virtue is the absence of all emotion; 
it is argus-eyed and acute of hearing, or blind and deaf accordingly as the one or 
the other of these conditions would best subserve its interest. Though a legal 
unit, it is infected with all the mean and plausible vices of those who act only in 
bodies, where the fear of punishment and sense of shame are diminished by par- 
tition. It never toils, but its money works for it, by that invisible, sleepless, con- 
suming and relentless thing called interest. It never dies; and, unlike the man 
who lends money, has no heirs to scatter its gain. In the eager and remorseless 
pursuit of the object of its creation it turns mothers and children out of their 
homes with the same cold, calm satisfaction that it receives payment of a loan, in 
"gold coin of the present standard of weight and fineness." They have agents 
whose offices are embellished with a flaring placard reading "Money to loan." 
Over the door of every such office there ought to be inscribed in characters so 
large that none could fail to read, the startling inscription that Dante saw over the 
gates of hell: "Abandon hope, all ye who enter here." 

His happy blending of wit and wisdom in his lighter vein of speech and con- 
versation to which I referred in the outset, is well illustrated in his remarks at the 
St. Louis New England dinner, and in his address before the Pine Bluffs Ban- 
quet. From the former, which is a gem, I cannot refrain from making the follow- 
ing brief extracts: 

An after-dinner speech is a kind of intellectual skirt-dancing that I know 
nothing about. To prevent misapprehension, I will take the precaution to add that 
I don't know anything about any kind of skirt-dancing. * * * j have no busi- 
ness here anyway. I am not a New Englander, but very far removed from them. 
Norse on one side and Scotch on the other, the reason that I am a dead failure at 
the intellectual skirt-dancing is apparent. The Norse in me is too stupid to make 
that kind of a speech, and the Scotch too religious. I never was in New England 
but once in my life, and then I got lost in the labyrinths of Boston and had to give 
a man a dollar to take me to my hoteL I had not forgotten the name of my 
hotel, however, and I was that much better off than the Colonel from Missouri who 
forgot the name of the suburb near Boston he wanted to go to. He said to the 
hotel clerk: "It runs in my head it is something like 'Whiskey Straight,' though 
that is not it exactly." "Oh," said the clerk, "I know. You mean Jamaica Plain." 
"Yes, that's it," said the Missouri Colonel, and immediately ordered a whiskey 
straight for the clerk and himself. 

Undoubtedly the Puritan was a grand man. He was a Christian as he under- 
stood Christianity. Religion was a very solemn thing with him. He believed that 
much feeling was synonymous with sin. Among scenes of pleasure there was no 
joy in his smile, and in the contests of ambition there was no quicker beat to his 
pulse. He rather endured than enjoyed life. His religion was so solemn, that 
singing, except when out of tune, was a sin, and dancing a device of the devil. A 
tuning-fork was the nearest approach to a musical instrument he could tolerate. 
He was infected with that curious and almost incurable infirmity, infallibility. 
He was sure of his creed, and a man who is sure of his creed, is sure of his own 
infallibility. The consciousness of his infallibility gave him splendid moral 
courage, which is the only kind of courage that elevates our character. ■* * » 

The New Englander of today is much more tolerant than his ancestors. He 
has learned that there is more good in bad men, and more bad in good men, than 
his Puritan ancestors ever dreamed there was. But while the Puritan thought 
a great deal about the next world, he did not lose his interest in this. He was 
frugal and thrifty and never mistook his capital for his income. When his con- 
science pricked him for owning slaves, he quietly unloaded them on the Virginia 


tobacco planters and immediately organized an abolition society to set them free, 
expiating the sin of trafficking in slaves himself by freeing the slaves of others. 

He -worked zealously for the conversion of the heathen. He had the happy 
faculty of mingling business with his missionary work, and when he sent a ship-load 
of 5,000 casks of New England rum to the heathen Africans, he sent on the same 
vessel a missionary; and the world has wondered ever since what the heathen with 
5,000 casks of New England rum wanted with so much missionary. * * * 

A cynic has said of him, that he was entitled to little credit for his virtues, 
because he had neither money enough to be extravagant, nor leisure enough to 
be dissipated. He believed in the providence of God, and his faith gave him 
splendid courage. He had the merit to conceive and the courage to execute grand 
things, but he did everything in the name of the Lord, to whom he gave the credit. 
He never was troubled on this score with the doubts that beset the old darkey in 
my State. An old colored woman who was teaching her grandchildren the cate- 
chism wound up with the statement. "Yes, and de Lawd freed your gran-daddy 
and your gran-mammy." "What you telling them children dat for," said the old 
man, who sat in the corner smoking his pipe. "The Lawd never done no such 
thing. 'Twas the Union soldiers freed us, 'cause I done see 'em with my own eyea." 
"Well," said the old woman, "I reckon the Lawd hoped 'em to do it." The old 
man responded, "Well, maybe the Lawd hoped 'em some but he never done it by 
hisself. He done been tryin' to do it by hisself for a long time and couldn't." 

Ladies and gentlemen, the difference between your ancestors and mine is this: 
Mine left their native country for their country's good, and yours left their native 
country for their own good. Mine left to come to a country where they could 
"swear and chew tobacco," and yours left to come to a country where they could 
pray as they pleased and make everybody else pray as they did. 

In 1 896 he was seriously considered as a candidate for the Republican nomina- 
tion for President. It was thought by a considerable following that he would make 
a great President, in whose hands the country would be safe, and its laws enforced 
with the same unswerving strength, wisdom and justice that he had displayed in 
their administration from the bench. 

But while his advanced views along judicial lines and his heroic treatment of 
growing evil had endeared him to the people, they had not done so with the most 
influential leaders of his party, and especially those of the East. In short, the very 
things that made him popular with the former had a contrary effect with the latter. 
The movement was purely spontaneous, and without the least participation on his 
part. While it was a tribute to his fitness, it lacked, as already indicated, the con- 
ditions to give it any assurance of success. 

In 1900, his views favorable to the double-money standard, which had always 
prevailed, and in the support of which the leaders of both parties had vied with each 
other on all occasions, and which he took no pains to conceal, put him somewhat 
at variance with his party when it suddenly, and to most people unexpectedly, 
changed its policy by declaring for the single gold standard, at the St. Louis con- 
vention, when Mr. McKinley was nominated. 

In consequence of this, and because of his great ability, and his well-known 
views on the subjects hereinbefore referred to, he was prominently mentioned for the 
Vice Presidency by those opposed to the new policies declared by the Republicans. 
There was quite a strong pressure brought to bear for the purpose of inducing his 


consent to accept a nomination for Vice President on the ticket with Mr. Bryan. I 
personally know that this was not at all agreeable to him, and against all his notions 
of propriety as a Judge. The following interview reported through the press of the 
time, expresses his views and is perfectly characteristic of him : 

The Associated Press correspondent called on Judge Caldwell today and said 
to him: "An Associated Press dispatch from Minneapolis is authority for the 
statement that you have declined to permit the use of your name for Vice President. 
Is the statement in the dispatch true? 

The Judge replied: 

"Yes. Several weeks ago I received letters from some of the leading and 
influential members of the party intimating that it might become desirable to 
nominate me for Vice President. I paid no attention to the previous loose talk 
on the subject, but learning from these letters that the matter of my candidacy 
was assuming somewhat of a serious aspect, I immediately advised these gentlemen 
by letter that I could not under any circumstances consent to the use of my name 
for that position. A brief extract from one of these letters will disclose my 
reason. 'No federal judge should become a candidate for any political office and 
continue to hold his judicial office. It would subject him to merited criticism, and 
impair his influence and usefulness as a judge. Moreover, I esteem the office of 
United States Circuit Judge of equal dignity with that of Vice President, and of 
more practical importance and authority. The Vice President has nothing on his 
mind except the state of the President's health, and nothing to do but to be the 
guest of honor at big dinners that kill. He is more ornamental than useful. The 
position would not suit me." " 

It only remains for me to mention some facts connected with his birth, parent- 
age cind rearing, and some general ones not included in previous mention. 

He was born in Marshall County, Virginia, on the 4th day of September, 1 832, 
and was brought by his father to Iowa when but four years of age. 

His father was Van Caldwell, who deserves a passing notice. He was born 
in Virginia in 1 799. He came with his family to Iowa, then a part of Wisconsin 
Territory, in 1836, and settled in the edge of Davis County on the Des Moines 
River, where he died in 1 856. 

It was the primitive wilderness ; the Indian country. The Sac and Fox Indians 
had not yet parted with the title to what was afterwards known as the Second Pur- 
chase. They were in possession and proximate neighbors. They were in frequent 
evidence. Black Hawk had been their Chief. He died and was buried there. 
His grave was afterward robbed and his body treated in the most ruthless manner. 
Judge Caldwell had once told me of a thrilling incident through which he and the 
other members of the family passed when the robbery of the grave was discovered. 
At my request he afterward sent me a written account of it, which I here produce, as 
it preserves an interesting historical episode, and an important and impressive incident 
in the early life of my subject : 

Our relations with the Indians during the time we lived in their country were 
of the most friendly character. Once only we came near having a deadly encounter 
with them. Black Hawk's grave was half a mile from our cabin and in plain view 
from our back door. From the time he was buried up to the time his grave was 


violated, a squad of Indians would, at intervals of a week or more, visit the grave; 
pluck the weeds from the blue-grass sod that covered it and sprinkle over it corn 
soup or other food to sustain him on his journey to the Happy Hunting Ground. 

The year after he was buried a squad of seven Indians visited the grave to 
perform the usual ceremony, when they discovered that the puncheon roof over 
the grave had been torn down and Black Hawk's head and his medals and many 
other things buried with his body taken. 

It is a curious fact that Indians have even a greater reverence and regard for 
the graves of their dead than the civilized man has for the graves of his dead. 
The violation of an Indian grave, particularly of a chief's, is the highest offense 
that can be committed against his family or tribe, and when the desecration of 
Black Hawk's grave was discovered by the seven Indians who had come to 
perform the accustomed solemn rites over it, their savage passions were aroused 
to the highest pitch. They knew at once that a white man had done the deed, and 
according to the Indian's idea of retaliation and justice, some members of the 
white race must be made to atone for the wrong, without regard to the question 
whether the persons punished had perpetrated the wrong. 

Looking in the direction of the grave, my father perceived unusual actions on 
the part of the Indians indicative of great excitement and divined at once that 
Black Hawk's grave had been violated. 

Mounting their ponies they started for our cabin with their tomahawks and 
knives flashing in the sunlight. Half way between the grave and our cabin was a 
fence, and the road followed the fence to the river bank and thence at right angles 
up to the cabin, but the Indians scorned to follow the road and springing from their 
ponies threw the rails right and left until the fence was leveled to the ground, and 
mounting their ponies pursued their course in a straight line through the growing 
corn to our cabin. 

In the meantime my father perceiving our danger took measures for our defense 
The double-barrel shotgun was hastily loaded with slugs of lead and the daubing 
and chink knocked out at a suitable place to make a port-hole, and I was given 
this gun at full cock and told I must take deliberate aim and bring down an Indian 
with the contents of each barrel, but not to touch the trigger until ordered to flre. 
My father and brother, each holding an ax in his hand, stood just inside of the cabin 
door. My father said no blow must be struck except to repel an attack by the 
Indians, that if a blow was once struck we should probably all be killed in the 
struggle, but that we must sell our lives as dearly as possible. 

On reaching the cabin all the Indians, with the exception of one, dismounted, 
and one of them who appeared to be the leader, approached the door flourishing 
his tomahawk in a most menacing manner, exclaiming that the white man had 
robbed Black Hawk's grave. The door of the cabin was very low, so low that the 
Indian, who more than once raised his tomahawk in an attitude to strike, could not 
deliver an overhead stroke that would be effective, and but for this obstacle he 
probably would have delivered the blow. We told them we did not rob the grave 
and that we were their friends and would go up to the Indian Agency and get 
General Street, the Agent, to send the dragoons down and catch the bad man who 
did it. Our pleading seemed to exasperate rather than pacify them, and matters 
had reached such a pitch that a deadly struggle appeared inevitable, when the 
Indian who had remained motionless on his pony suddenly dismounted and running 
up sandwiched himself in between the belligerent Indian and my father, turned to 
the Indians and with great emphasis repeated what we had said and much more 
to the same effect; for a time they disputed with him, but finally they acquiesced 
in what he said, quieted down and metaphorically we smoked the pipe of peace, 
but as soon as they did so they demanded that some one go to the Agency with 
them to get the dragoons. My father wrote a letter to General Street, the agent, 
reciting what had happened and telling him what we had promised as a peace 
offering and begged him to send down a squad of dragoons. Mounting my pony 
I rode to the Agency, a distance of ten miles, with the Indians, and delivered father's 
letter to General Street. After reading the letter. General Street said the robber 
had gotten out of the country and it was useless to send the dragoons; that he 
would take the matter up with the War Department and that Department would 


take steps to'recover and restore the stolen articles and punish the guilty party, 
but I pleaded so earnestly that he send the dragoons down, as we had promised the 
Indians he would, and assured him in such earnest terms that unless he did so we 
would certainly all be killed, that to please the Indians, but mainly I think to 
quiet my fears, he said he would comply with my father's request, and accordingly 
sent for Captain Allen, who commanded the company of dragoons, and requested 
him to detail a sergeant and five men to return with the Indians, which the 
Captain did. 

The dragoons went with the Indians to the grave and found the tracks of a 
carriage which they followed to the limits of the Indian's country, when becoming 
satisfied that further pursuit would be useless they returned, and our friendly 
relations with the Indians were re-established. 

The story of the subsequent recovery of Black Hawk's head and its destruction 
by fire when the building in which it was stored in Burlington was burned, has 
been often told. 

I observe a curious mistake (probably the result of a clerical or typographical 
blunder) in a volume entitled, John Brown Among the Quakers, and bearing the 
imprint of the Historical Department of Iowa,^it is there stated at page 100 that 
Black Hawk died "at his lodge on the Iowa river," and the implication is that he 
was buried there. He died at his palatial bark wigwam on the left bank of the 
Des Moines river and was buried on a slight elevation in the prairie, half a mile 
back from the; river. He died and was buried on the land of the Indian trader. 
Captain Jim Jordan, and a wagon load of stone placed there for the purpose by 
Captain Jordan marks the spot where he was buried. 

Van Caldwell was celebrated throughout the Des Moines Valley for his hos- 
pitality. He was an ardent Whig and a great admirer of Henry Clay, for whom 
the subject of this biography was named. He was one of the highest types of the 
early pioneer; tall and commanding in figure; sympathetic and generous to a fault. 
Like father, like son. No man in trouble was ever turned comfortless from his door. 
Strong in common sense and heroic in character, his counsel and advice were often 
sought by his neighbors. His memory was fragrant of good deeds in that part of 
the valley when I went from New England to Ottumwa in 1856. His warm per- 
sonality and his interest in public affairs made him a favorite with the people, and 
his home was frequently visited by leading men of the Territory and State. It is 
more than likely that the influence of these visitations had the effect of firing the 
intellect and ambition of the son; for though without the continuous advantages of 
even a common school, he soon became a student at home, and eagerly devoured all 
the books that came within his reach. Judge Caldwell studied law in the offices of 
Judge J. C. Knapp, and George G. Wright — afterwards Judge of the Supreme 
Court and United States Senator from Iowa. Both Knapp and Wright were dis- 
tinguished lawyers. Young Caldwell was admitted to the bar in 1 85 1 . 

At the age of twenty-four he was elected Prosecuting Attorney of Van Buren 
County, and in 1 860 a member of the State Legislature. He was made Chairman 
of the Judiciary Committee, and his display of talents attracted general attention. 
Upon the breaking out of the war he resigned his seat in the Legislature to enter the 
military service. He served successively as Major, Lieutenant-Colonel, and Col- 
onel of the Third Iowa Cavalry. It is not my purpose to refer to the details of his 


military career any further than I have in the prior part of this article, and in the 
note below,* for they are given in Stuart's Iowa Colonels and Regiments and Inger- 
soll's Iowa and the Rebellion. 

On the 20th of June, 1 864, he was appointed Judge of the United States Dis- 
trict Court of Arkansas. In 1 890 he was appointed United States Judge for the 
Eighth Circuit. In 1 903 he resigned that office to spend the remainder of his days 
in the quietude of private life. 

The announcement of his retirement was received with the most profound regret, 
not only by the profession, but by the nation at large. From the many communica- 

* Colonel Odon Guitar who commanded the Federal forces at the battle of 
Moore's Mill (July 28, 1862) says in his report: 

"Captains Duffield and Cook (Third Iowa Cavalry) were upon the right: Major 
Caldwell was upon the extreme left. The buckshot rattled upon the leaves like 
the pattering of hail. I could not see our line forty feet from the road on either 
side, but knew that Caldwell, Cook, Duffield, Glaze and Dunn were at their posts 
and felt that all was well. 

"Of the conduct of officers and men I cannot speak in terms of too high com- 
mendation. Where every man discharged his whole duty it would seem invidious 
to discriminate. It is enough to say that with such officers and men I would never 
feel doubtful of the result upon an equal field. 

"The following is a summary of our loss: Third Iowa Cavalry, killed 2, 
wounded 24. We lost twenty-two horses killed, belonging almost entirely to the 
Third Iowa Cavalry." (Rebellion Records, Series 1, vol. 13, pp. 187-189.) 

General Davidson, commanding Cavalry Division, in reporting the operations 
of his Division on the march from Pilot Knob to Little Rock, from August 1 to 
September 1, 1863, referring to his staff officers says, "They have efficiently aided 
me, especially Lieutenant Colonel Caldwell, Third Iowa Cavalry, whose accom- 
plishments and gallantry as a soldier deserve acknowledgment." (lb., pp. 485, 486.) 

General Schofield in his report of the operations of the army in Missouri, re- 
ferring to the battle of Kirksville, says: 

"Among the other officers especially deserving mention are Lieutenant Colonel 
Shaffer and Major Clopper, of Merrill's Horse; Major Caldwell, Third Iowa Cavalry; 
Major Benjamin and Major Dodson, of the Missouri Militia. Colonels McNeil, 
Guitar, Wright, Smart, Philips and Warren; Lieutenant Colonels Shaffer and 
Crittenden, and Majors Clopper, Hunt, Caldwell, Banzhaf, Hubbard, Foster and 
Lazear showed on numerous occasions gallant and officer-like qualities, which on 
a larger field would have secured for them the highest commendation." (Rebellion 
Records, Series 1, voL 13, pp. 13, 14.) 

In his report of December 10, 1863, of the operations of the army in Missouri 
and Arkansas, General Schofield says: 

"Some cavalry sent from Little Rock and Camden under Lieutenant Colonel 
H. C. Caldwell, Third Iowa Cavalry, pursued the rebel cavalry to Arkadelphia, 
captured the place with a number of prisoners and some property." (Rebellion 
Records, Series 1, vol. 22, part 1, pp. 14, 15.) 

Major General Steel in his report of this expedition says: 

"Caldwell captured more property than fell into the possession of Marmaduke 
during his raid." 

Colonel La Grange in reporting an engagement at Chalk Bluff, Missouri Mav 9 
1863, says: ' 

"Our artillery which had been ordered to advance was thrown into confusion 
but by order (Adjutant Ed D. Towne, First Artillery) fell back to a suitable position 
and was well supported by the Third Iowa Cavalry, Lieutenant Colonel Henrv C 
Caldwell." (lb., p. 265.) ' 


tions touching it, which his family have placed in my possession, I must be privileged 
to refer to the following: 

On the receipt of his resignation the President and Attorney-General of the 

United States wrote him over their own signatures, respectively, the following letters : 

White House, Washington, June 8, 1903. 
Sir: It is with sincere regret that your resignation as United States Circuit 
Judge for the Eighth Circuit, to talse effect June 4, 1903, is hereby accepted as 

I desire to take this occasion to congratulate you upon your long and faithful 
service upon the United States hench with such distinguished usefulness, and to 
assure you of the high esteem which your ability and integrity have always com- 
manded. The impartial administration of law and justice which has marked your 
judicial career should bring a serene satisfaction to you in your remaining years 
which I trust will be many and full of health and happiness. 

Sincerely yours, Theodore Roosevelt. 

Hon. Henry C. Caldwell, 

Wagon Wheel Gap, Colorado. 

Office of the Attorney-General, Washington, D. C, June 8, 1903. 
Hon. Henry C. Caldwell, 

Wagon Wheel Gap, Colorado. 

Sir: I regret to find upon my return to Washington your resignation of the 
office of United States Circuit Judge for the Eighth Circuit. You have filled the 
office of federal judge for so long a period and with such distinguished usefulness 
that it is indeed a matter of the most sincere regret that you feel constrained 
to retire. 

I will present your resignation to the President for formal acceptance. 

Very respectfully, P. C. Knox, Attorney-General. 

The following is from John W. Noble, of St. Louis, a former lowan, a lawyer 
and statesman of national reputation, and who was Secretary of the Interior during 
the administration of President Harrison : 

Dear Judge Caldwell: Your retirement from the United States Bench im- 
presses me deeply with a sense of your long and most worthy service for our 
country. From the forum to the field, and from the field to the court, your course 
has been marked by a single purpose to do your duty; and this you have done 
with marked fidelity to every trust and with usefulness to all. 

To have been associated with you in those early days and to have been at the 
bar over which you have presided, are sufficient to call forth my expression of con- 
tinued friendship and admiration. 

You have already the thanks of the Republic through the President of the 
United States — please accept this faint tribute of affection from an old comrade 
and friend. John W. Noble. 

And this, from U. M. Rose, of Little Rock (father of George B. Rose here- 
inbefore referred to), one of the most accomplished lawyers and scholars in the 
country; for a period President of the National Bar Association, Representative of 
our government to the recent Hague Conference, and whose appointment to the 
bench of the Supreme Court of the United States was warmly urged a few years 


Little Rock, Arkansas, June 28, 1903. 
Dear Judge: I have had something of a feeling of sadness since I learned that 
you are no longer on the bench, though the event was not unexpected. It was. 


however, very striking and impressive as closing a long series of important events, 
and recalling to my mind many associations that have been rudely severed from 
time to time. 

I however fully approve of the step you have taken. After so long a period of 
labor, surely some days of rest are due, and you have done so much for the 
profession and for the country in many ways, that I cannot think that they can 
justly claim that you should sacrifice your repose and health by longer service. 

You have retired with a reputation among all classes that any one might 
©nvy, and that public esteem that has been justly and honorably earned. 

With compliments, I remain. Very truly, U. M. Rose. 

Hon. H. C. Caldwell, 

Wagon Wheel Gap, Colorado. 

And this, from the distinguished Colorado lawyer, Charles J. Hughes, of Den- 

Denver, Colorado, March 19, 1903. 
Dear Judge: A rumor has reached us here that you have determined to retire 
from the Circuit Bench within the next few months. Many of us have entertained 
the hope that you would not feel either the necessity or inclination for this step, 
for years to come, and have seen no evidences of any reason why this step should 
be taken. * * * i could not permit an occasion like this to pass without expressing 
the deep appreciation I have felt for your many courtesies, and also express my 
opinion, shared in universally by the bar, of the distinguished services you have 
rendered to the Bench, to the Bar, and the country, by your conscientious, devoted 
and unswerving discharge of singularly high, trying and delicate duties. 

Yours very truly, Charles J. Hughes. 

And this, from Henry D. Estabrook, of New York, General Solicitor of the 
Western Union Telegraph Company: 

New York, June 10, 1903. 

My dear Judge : It has been many years since I have seen and talked with you, 
nor was my practice ever so large as to bring us into frequent relationship. But 
now that you have retired, full of years and honors, I want to tell you how often 
I have thought of you, and always admiringly. I admired your legal attainments, 
of course, but I particularly admired your native sense of justice, your hatred of 
wrongdoing, your sympathy with the friendless, the tempted, the unfortunate. I 
shall never forget how, during enforced idleness in Little Rock one day, I was 
permitted to see, through the magistrate, the heart of a man; to learn that a certain 
curt gruff ness of manner, which was wont to discourage me, was after all the 
outward defense to a susceptible generosity. 

You take with you in your retirement, the affectionate remembrance of all 
who knew you. Sincerely, 

Henry D. Estabrook. 

And this, from the American Law Revierv: 

Judge Henry Clay Caldwell has recently resigned the office of Circuit Judge 
of the United States for the Eighth Judicial Circuit. * * * Like Jesus of Nazareth 
Judge Caldwell at every turn, in every act, on every occasion, "had compassion on 
the multitude." The consciousness of having, on every occasion where it was 
possible, done good, and having, on every occasion where it was not possible en- 
deavored to do good, is a rare jewel for a judge to take with him into his retirement. 

He remembered and revered the past, the scenes and personages of his early 
years; the hardships of the pioneer, the struggles of the wilderness. He remem- 
bered and revered its plain mannered and heroic men ; its faithful and devoted worn- 


en; its deep woods, its flowing streamy its stretching prairies, and all the natural 
bounties which Heaven unfolds to serious men. 

In his later years he decided to make his summer sojourns in Colorado; he se- 
lected an isolated mountain glade near Wagon "Wheel Gap, which furnished a broad 
and beautiful open space at its foot, narrowing as it ascended into the mountains. 
Through it coursed a clear brook which took its rise in the mountain side. There, 
away up the narrowing glen, towards the source of the rivulet, in the midst of a nat- 
ural park luxuriously wooded, and with the timbered mountains rising on either side 
and at the rear, he built a commodious summer abode, amply supplied with water 
piped from the brook, and in the large sitting room of which he erected a huge fire- 
place — such as he had seen in his father's house and warmed his youthful limbs 
before. To make the reminiscence more complete, he equipped this fireplace with 
a long iron crane like those of the olden time, provided with a hook on which con- 
stantly hung a teakettle over the fire which was never suffered to die out. 

"Here" — using the language of another — "at a stated hour each day, the wild 
birds gathered under his window, and upon the same plank enjoyed a free lunch with 
his chickens. The antelopes pursued by hunters took refuge upon his ground; he 
warned or drove off the pursuers and threatened them with prosecution under the 
game law. The little timid animals learned that on his ground they had a haven of 
refuge, and they sought those grounds for safety as a matter of acquired habit. Thus 
the great Judge made a daily example of his doctrine of a universal brotherhood, a 
brotherhood that embraces not only man but the dumb animals as well. Abraham 
sat in his tent at the cool of the day and angels visited him. Tudge Caldwell sat in 
his door at the cool of the day and breathed the wonderfully bracing mountain air ; 
and great marches of mountain and valley spread out before him." 

I lay down my pen with a feeling that I have not done justice to my subject, and 
with a regret that the work had not been wrought by an abler hand. I trust, how- 
ever, and believe, that the simple facts I have related will be found to carry the 
highest eulogy in themselves, and fully justify all I have written. 

After the foregoing sketch was written Judge Caldwell determined to make his 
final residence in Los Angeles, Calif., believing the softness of the cUmate would 
prolong his life. Here for a period of five years we lived not far apart and our 
visits were as constant as they were enjoyable to the time of his death which occurred 
in February, 1915. 




David Rarer. 

The subject of this sketch I knew intimately. He used often to visit the Ot- 
tumwa Bar. I met him frequently elsewhere — the last time at his own house and 
fireside. I participated in the last case in which he personally appeared in the Su- 
preme Court of Iowa. It was that of Wapello County vs. The Chicago, Burling- 
ton & Quincy Railroad Company, and is reported in 44 Iowa, 585. He was the 
general counsel of and represented the railroad company. I had for many years 
been its local counsel at Ottumwa, but this case was the heritage of ancient litiga- 
tion growing out of stock subscriptions by the county, and owing to circumstances 
not necessary to explain, I represented the county. The case was a leading otie 
and the questions involved difficult of solution. The Judges were divided, and the 
opinion was carried by a bare majority. Of the lawyers who had participated in 
the trial below, he and myself were the only ones present. We both made oral ar- 
guments. He was then seventy years of age, but his strong and well-sustained ef- 
fort evinced no infirmities. His mental forces were unabated. 

Taken altogether, he was one of the most remarkable men I have ever known, 
and decidedly the most unique. He had been the compeer of all the distinguished 
men of the Territory and State and stood shoulder to shoulder with them. For 
politics he had neither taste nor adaptation. He was peculiar in appearance and 
manner. He was short in stature, with short arms and limbs, heavy set, well round- 
ed, very erect, and strongly built. His whole demeanor denoted great intensity of 
thought and action. His voice, naturally deep and sonorous, was capable of ascend- 
ing and descending the gamut of sound quickly. His eyes, large, lustrous and 
keenly expressive, fairly scintillated when his action was excited. Though his fig- 
ure, as indicated, was not commanding, his face and features were interesting and 
attractive, and his whole bearing indicated at once that he was a person of dis- 
tinguished traits. His action and gestures when addressing the court or jury, were 
extremely animated and, if the term may be properly used, picturesque. He was 
perfectly sui generis. I never saw a man that resembled him. The tout ensemble 


of the person was without a model. He carried the green bag of the olden time 
lawyer on his arm for his books and papers, and never deigned 
to call the statement of plaintiff's cause of action, the "Petition," but always the 
"Declaration." He was an able lawyer and a highly gifted man. Though ordinarily 
affable and gracious, he was determined, self-willed, and, when heated, sometimes 
domineering. Nothing could quench his indomitable spirit. "Age could not wither, 
nor custom stale his infinite variety." Even when comparatively an old man he 
wrote and gave to the profession three highly prized works — Rarer on Judicial 
Sales, Rarer an Inter-Stale Law, and Rarer an Railroads. The last, in two vol- 
umes, was written when he was verging close to eighty, and is used as a textbook in 
the Columbia College Law School and in that of the Wisconsin University. All 
are standard works, and prized as such throughout the English-speaking world, and 
will serve to carry his name into the future beyond most if not all of his personal 
associates at the bar. 

But let it not be supposed that because of his restless activity, he lacked the qual- 
ities of a patient student, for his works, his arguments, his writings demonstrate the 
contrary. The spirit of research was deeply founded in his nature. He had the 
instinct of the emtiquary and the historian, and found time among his diversified la- 
bors to collect much material and make several sketches for a history of the early 
Northwest — a work which, it is to be regretted, was left unfinished. 

Though most of his life was spent in dealing with hard facts and the logic of 
events, so to speak, he was by no means deficient in aesthetic qualities. He loved 
the beautiful and the grand. He loved nature in all her various moods and forms. 
He loved and remembered the lines of her poets. To illustrate: After completing 
our arguments in the case referred to in the opening of these remarks, we concluded 
to walk from the Capitol, instead of riding, to our hotel. We pursued a roundabout 
way and wandered into the environments of that part of East Des Moines. He 
pointed out the denuded hills once crowned with magnificent forests, as he had seen 
them nearly half a century before ; where the old fort and the wigwam of the Indians 
had stood. As we advanced we saw ahead of us, smoke rising above the treetops. 
I wondered what was the cause, but in a moment he divined it in repeating the old 
familiar lines: 

I knew by the smoke that so gracefully curl'd 
Above the green elms that a cottage was near; 

And I said if there's peace to be found in the world, 
A heart that was humble might hope for it here. 

While he was a learned lawyer, his researches were not confined to his profes- 
sional work, for he was an omnivorous reader and had a well-developed taste for 
general literature. While as already indicated, he had a lively imagination and 
the high instincts that belong to great orators, he was not what would be termed an 
eloquent one, for his oratory had been mostly trained to logical courses; it was es- 


sentially of the argumentative kind; strong, heroic, devoid of vacuity. And yet 
implanted in him were the faculties of real eloquence, as the following scrap, which 
has been fortunately preserved, will show and than which, I think, but few rarer 
specimens of native eloquence can be found. A condemned man whom he had 
defended and against whom the evidence was overwhelming, being called up for 
sentence was thus addressed by the Judge: "The prosecution has resulted in a con- 
viction, after an able defense of counsel. If you have anything to say, before judg- 
ment, the Court will hear it." Whereupon Mr. Rorer, putting himself in the place 
of the condemned and speaking in the first person for him thus responded : 

May it please the Honorable Court: — I am an old man, fast tottering down to 
the grave. The frosts of seventy-three winters, though they have not whitened my 
brow, have wrinkled my face, and chilled my heart with many sorrows.' 

Mine has been a chequered life; and now when about to be separated from 
my fellows, I may give a truthful version of the past. 

I had a family — and a home — a rude home it is true, and a plain and humble 
family — but they were my all. The deceased robbed me of the one and invaded 
the sanctity of the other'' — two small sons, a lovely daughter, and a wife — ah! a 
cherished wife. On returning to that home the day of the fatal deed, I learned 
the certainty of the maddening truth, and hastened to the field, my rifle still in 
hand. I know not why I went. I had no fixed design; — he met me with a club — 
ji shot him — and though I claim not to have acted in defense, I do assert that 
there was mutual combat. You know the rest. I fled; my family followed; but 
for the fifteen years I lived at Lockland, I made no secret of the deed that I had 

Now, time has done its work. The government itself has changed;* new laws 
are passed, and old ones are repealed; and those who then surrounded me have 
mostly passed away. A different people now are in the land. A different code of 
morals now prevails. But I drank liquor, it is said, and true it is I drank it; not 
to have done so then would have been the exception. Men high in station leaned 
upon the dram shops for support, and to treat one's fellow to the poisoning cup, 
was deemed proof positive of genteel training. I may not be held responsible 
alone, for the vices of society; it is enough that I have been their victim. Those 
days are passed, and that loved wife is gone — borne down with troubles, she sank 
Into an early grave. That lovely daughter is now a hopeless cripple, wearing a 
haggard face. Of those two boys who should have been the prop of my old age, 
the one has gone to Join his injured mother as witness against the dead destroyer 
of their peace' — the other — and my heart sinks within me when I say it, still lives 
— but not to me — with an ear deaf to my calamity, he comes not near me; but 1 

To this Honorable Court, the Jury, Attorneys and officers, and to the people 
of this community, I return my humble thanks for their impartial bearing. 

I have never been a criminal of choice, but rather the creature of circum- 
stances, beneath the weight of which far better men than I have sunk. I may have 
been too jealous of mine honor, but never have but once proved faithless to a 
trust. When my country's rights were invaded, I avenged them, and so I did mine 

'Though 73 years old, his hair was coal black. 

'^McCardle, as Jones alleged, and the evidence tended to prove, had slandered 
Jones' family and cheated him out of his farm. "After killing McCardle, Jones fied 
to Lockland, Ohio, and there remained fifteen years before arrested. *The killing 
was in Iowa Territory, in 1840. The trial was in Iowa State, in 1855. The gov- 
ernment had changed. 'Jones' wife and one of his sons had died, and the daugh- 
ter was an invalid. "His remaining son refused to aid or come near him. 


With General Jackson in all his Creek campaign, I battled for my country and 
its laws. At the fast in the wilderness, I was there — 'at the fast of acorns, I was 
there — 'at Emucfaw and Talladega," I was there; and when the shouts of victory 
drowned the cries of the dying at the Horse-Shoe, in the front ranks of my coun- 
try, I was there; and then the name of him whom we call Jones,'" was but another 
word for deeds of glory! But these things are of the past — a long life is nearly 
spent — the scene is changed — yet He alone who reads the human heart is, further 
than the formal sentence of the law, competent to judge me. 

In the case of Ruel Daggs vs. Elihu Frazier et al., tried to a jury in the District 
Court of the United States at Burlington, in 1 850, before Judge Dyer, the pro- 
ceedings in which, including the arguments of counsel, were happily preserved, will 
be found the following excellent specimen of his forcible style of oral argument. 
Though an emancipationist and a hater of the principle of slavery, he was, never- 
theless, in favor of loyally supporting the constitutional provisions and the laws 
framed for its protection, so long as they remained on the statute book. The case 
was brought under the Fugitive Slave Law to recover the value of certain slaves who 
had escaped from their master in Missouri, and whom it was claimed he had been 
prevented from retaking by the acts of so-called Abolitionists in the Quaker settle- 
ment of Salem in Henry County. Judge Rorer represented the plaintiff. Judge 
Hall the defendants. Probably no two more powerful legal combatants ever met in 
an Iowa forum. Judge Rorer in his closing argument thus urged upon the jury the 
duty of the citizen to support the constitution and the law : 

"The gentleman (Mr. Hall) complains that I have abused the inhabitants of 
Salem. Have I done so? What are the facts? He says I termed it an Abolition 
Meeting House, in which they were assembled, and that I endeavored to produce 
the impression that all the inhabitants of Salem were Abolitionists. I did use the 
expression Abolition Meeting House, but did I invent it? Is it not in testimony 
that this is the title by which it is known, and did it not run more fluently upon 
the tongues of all the witnesses than any other? The gentleman has no right to 
complain if I give it its usual and well-known appellation — if I call it just what 
the witnesses have called it. I have made no charge upon the people of Salem 
in the aggregate. I have spoken of abolitionists living there, and it is in evidence 
that abolitionists do live there. Am I not to speak of this? Men have a right to 
be abolitionists, and there is no harm in it, if, as all opinions should be, they keep 
their sentiments within the prescribed limit of the law. There was much sym- 
pathy manifested, especially by the females present. This was natural enough. 
I do not complain of it — I, too, have feelings of sympathy — nor do I complain of 
the offices of humanity which such feelings may have dictated; but our sympathy 
should manumit our own, and not other people's slave. * * * Here are men 
who have established a law of their own. Like all fanatics, they assume that 
there is a moral law, paramount to the Constitution, and even to the oracles of God 
himself. They affirm that they may aid in the escape of persons held to service 
under the Constitution of other states, though, by so doing, they violate the laws 
of the Union. If you find fugitives from service secreted among such a people, 
what is the presumption? Can it be anything else than that they aided and as- 
sisted in their escape, or assisted to secrete them? * * * 

'Allusion is made to the starving condition of Jackson's army in the Creek 
wilderness. 'Many of the troops ate acorns on arriving in the oak woods, just 
before meeting supplies. "Emucfaw, Talladega, and the Horse-Shoe Bend, were 
noted battle-grounds of Jackson, with the Creek Indians. '"Jones was not his real 
name; he assumed it after leaving the army, for reasons not necessary to mention. 
The case was reversed in Supreme Court, by reason of change of government, and 
the prisoner discharged. 


The gentleman indulged in some remarks upon what he terms my abuse of 
the "Dumb Walls of the Abolition Meeting House." I remember no abuse. I think 
what I said was rather in its defense. I observe that when appropriated to the 
purposes of religious worship — that purpose which is so well calculated to inspire 
the heart of a man with the highest and holiest of emotions — it was entitled to the 
respect and reverence of all. But when desecrated by its being converted into 
the "Committee Room" of the "Underground Railroad Company" where their 
schemes of robbery and wrong were deliberately concocted, I then compared it to 
a place which shall be nameless. But walls are not dumb, gentlemen; they speak 
to us in the boldest and most pleasing language. The defendant's witnesses may 
be dumb — may stand mute. As it was said of old, "Byes have they, but they see 
not, and ears, but they hear not" anything which you as arbiters of Justice are 
interested in knowing. But the walls of a church are not dumb — they have their 
language and their influence. Yon lonely steeple of the house of God points 
from earth to Heaven with an eloquence more powerful than that of living tongue. 
The veriest skeptic of the present day would acknowledge the influence and ap- 
preciate the association, could he but look upon the humble stone upon which 
Jacob of old pillowed his head at night; where he saw the vision of the ladder 
and the angels, and reared an altar and vowed a vow to the God of Abraham and 
Isaac, when journeying into Paden-Aram. Why were these persons assembled in 
that Meeting House, for what purpose did they go there? Was it out of a sincere 
desire to see justice done to a citizen of Missouri? To redress a wrong? To obey 
the law? We are told it was out of mere sympathy. What kind of sympathy it 
was we shall see. 

Iowa is almost the youngest State in the Union. Missouri is the oldest of 
those west of the Mississippi. She was one of the Union when we knocked at the 
door for admission. It was the suggestion of our own mind. We knew what the 
Constitution was — the terms upon which we could be made a party to that compact 
that not only Missouri, but many other states tolerated and sanctioned the insti- 
tution, and that every state was bound by the Constitution to deliver up fugitives 
when claimed. Shall we now repudiate the compact we have made — shall we be 
the first to violate it? Shall we affirm that there is a moral law above this, and 
that we must obey it at all hazards? Shall we be permitted to prate about morals 
and sympathy with canting hypocrites or maddened fanatics, when we have our- 
selves sanctioned the institution of slavery, by entering, with full knowledge, into 
a compact of which it forms a part? No, gentlemen, treason must first do her 
work and avoid the institution, by placing us beyond the pale of the Constitution. 
We cannot serve God and Mammon, nor claim all the benefits of the Constitution, 
while we repudiate that which does not happen to agree with our individual notion 
of right and justice. A fig for that sympathy whose first fruits amount almost to 
treason against the Union. It is but a pretended matter of conscience. The 
holiest of books and the teachings of inspiration are adduced to support the direct 
violation of the law. This is not the first time we have found that Satan can cite 
scripture for his purpose. * * * 

Witnesses may lie, but circumstances cannot. Can there be stronger than 
those we have proved? What are they? First, we learn that John Comer, one of 
the defendants, told one of the witnesses that there were runaway negroes in the 
neighborhood. They are found concealed in the bushes near Salem and almost at 
the moment of their discovery, the Fraziers and their associates are found upon 
the spot, acting in such a manner as to deter the agents of the plaintiff from as- 
serting their undoubted right to convey them back to Missouri. One says they 
shall be taken back under no circumstances; another that he will wade through 
Missouri blood before they shall be taken back; and another tells one of the ne- 
groes to knock Slaughter, the plaintiff's agent, down if he touches him again. 
Finding he can do nothing better. Slaughter agrees to go before a magistrate. 
They go towards Salem, the crowd increasing until they arrive at the Stone House. 
Here the women make their appearance — ^the procession halts — they join the 
throng. It is said that one woman is equal to ten constables to keep the peace — 
but not so here. Some bring bread for the fugitives, it is true, and that is very 
well. It is a work of benevolence and shall return unto them after many days. 


Some exhort the crowd and others pray aloud for Slaughter and the negroes — for 
Slaughter a little, and for the negroes in particular. The excitement becomes in- 
tense. Threats, imprecations and prayers emanate from the crowd until the whole 
scene becomes a mixture of the terrific and the ludicrous. The village school 
master here appears, makes a speech and pours oil upon the troubled sea of hu- 
man passions, and quiet is restored. They then go to the Justice's offlce; the 
crowd still increasing, the office becomes too small to hold them and they proceed 
to the Abolition Meeting House — the crowd confident in its own strength, and 
Slaughter and McClure, plaintiff's agents, acting under control of the attending 
circumstances. The crowd acted as one man and so acted as to deprive the plain- 
tiff of his rights. It was a riotous assemblage — it was a conspiracy to injure the 
plaintiff, and all who were present were guilty. * * * 

I have said that this was an important case, and I repeat it. In whatever 
light you choose to view it — whether as citizens of Iowa, desirous, as you should 
be, to convince our sister states that you will deal out justice as impartially to 
them as to your immediate neighbors — as citizens of the Union, determined to 
support and sanction in all its parts, the compact to which, upon our admission, 
we became parties — as neighbors to Missouri and anxious to maintain peaceful 
and friendly relations with her and her people — as law-abiding men, acting under 
and by authority of the law and the Constitution — in whatever light you look upon 
the case before you, it presents an important and interesting aspect. The very 
subject upon which you are called to decide, is now agitating our country from 
Washington to the most distant borders. It has been a source of contention and 
distrust among the people of both North and South. Your verdict will show 
whether there is just ground for this suspicion, as to us. Whether fanaticism is 
to be encouraged among us of the North, or the wild and maniac cry of disunion 
in the South. The guilty deserve to be punished, and the injured are entitled to 
redress. Above all, the law should be vindicated — its supremacy confirmed. The 
idea that any man or society of men may be permitted to trample upon the plain 
letter of the law and constitution should be severely rebuked, and the offenders 
convinced that the impunity they have enjoyed in other places will never be found 
in Iowa. The Union has a right to demand this of you — Missouri demands it, and 
all good citizens of our own State unite in the requisition. If there is guilt here, 
it should be punished. If you are satisfied that any of the defendants is guilty, 
you are, by all the high obligations I have mentioned, required to find him so in your 
verdict. I commit the case to your hands with the firmest conviction that you will 
mete out nothing more nor less than impartial justice." 

A verdict was returned for the plaintiff. 

The passages referred to from this off-hand effort exhibit virile qualities that at 
once mark its elevation and stamp it with power. They serve to strikingly illustrate 
the characteristics of the man and the strength of his extemporaneous advocacy. They 
will also bear reading because of the vivid portrayal they give of the mutual troubles 
that Iowa and Missouri had, under the old regime, over the slavery question and the 
return of escaped slaves under the Fugitive Slave Law. 

The specimens I have herein given of his oral efforts, are the only ones I have 
been able to obtain. His printed arguments are abundantly found, and if collected 
and published would be of value to the profession. 

But let us look at him on the other side of the slave question. He manumitted 
his own slaves, and in the first case to be found in the Iowa Reports, that of In re 
Ralph, reported in Morris, page 1 , though a southerner and reared as a slaveholder, 
he espoused the cause of the slave Ralph, whom his master, under a contract between 


them, had permitted to come and live in Iowa, and by reason of which the Supreme 
Court, composed of three Democratic Judges, with the gifted Charles Mason at 
the head, declared Ralph to be a free man. And throughout our great Civil War, 
he exhibited the greatest patriotism and loyalty. Early in the struggle he boldly 
advocated the emancipation of the slaves as the heroic remedy needed for the Na- 
tion's relief, and with all the firmness of his decided character. 

The following incidents I obtained from members of his family and other au- 
thentic sources. He was born in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, in 1 806. He de- 
scended from an ancient and honorable Swiss family, the Protestant branch of which 
settled in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, anterior to the Revolution. He was 
the son of Abraham and Nancy Cook Rorer. His father was a soldier of the 
Revolution and fought under Anthony Wayne at Stony Point, and on other fields. 
Soon after the Revolution the family removed to Virginia, where as above stated, 
he was born. He studied law under Nathaniel Claiborne, of Franklin County, 
Virginia. He early resolved to try his fortune in the Southwest, and in 1 826, ac- 
companied by a negro slave as servant, he made his way on horseback through the 
wilderness to Little Rock, Arkansas, where he concluded to settle ; returning to Vir- 
ginia to make his final arrangements, and coming back soon after to Little Rock — 
this time by horseback to Louisville, and thence by steamboat down the Ohio, and 
up the Mississippi, as far as Helena. He soon acquired a good practice in Little 
Rock, where he remained for ten years. But his profound discernment and a close 
study of the situation enabled him to foresee the gathering storm that was to burst 
upon us in the great Rebellion, and he determined to seek a new residence in the 
North. Carrying out that purpose, he removed to Burlington, where he arrived in 
March, 1 836, and became one of the principal founders of that city, and intimately 
interwoven with its history and interests. He saw and participated in its growth 
from a little hamlet of forty insignificant houses, to a populous and wealthy city. In 
the same year he built, on the southeast corner of Fourth and Columbia streets, not 
only the first brick building in Burlington, but in what is now Iowa. At that time 
it was a part of the Territory of Michigan ; later it became a part of Wisconsin 
Territory, and in 1 838, the Territory of Iowa. In the building of this house he 
laid the first brick himself, saying to the mason, "Let me show you how a lawyer 
can lay a brick." It was perfectly in accord with his quaint and lively character- 
istics. A picture of this house is in possession of the Historical Department of 
Iowa. In the following year the next brick building in the Territory was constructed 
at Dubuque. In 1 84 1 , he built the old homestead at the corner of Fourth and 
Washington streets. 

As already stated, he was identified with the history of Burlington from its in- 
ception. The first meeting to incorporate the town was held at his office. He drew 
the first charter of the city. He assisted in laying out and naming many of its 


streets. He also drew the first ordinances, and in various ways aided in the organ- 
ization and development of the city. 

In 1839, he gave to and impressed upon Iowa the sobriquet of "Hawkeye." 
How this was brought about was clearly shown by an article in The Burlington 
Havelf-e^e of November 21, 1878, in reply to an inquiry made by a correspondent 
on the subject. The inquiry and the article of The Hawk-eye will be found in the 
accompanying note: 

To the Editor of The Burlington Hawk-eye, Mount Pleasant, November 21, 

Will you oblige one who has not the time to look it up, and who has asked a 
number of people and found them all unable to tell, by advising him why Iowa is 
called the Hawkeye State. Respectfully yours, T. 

The following is the article in The Hawk-eye replying to this inquiry: 
"The name 'Hawkeye' was first given to the residents of Iowa in 1839, and was 
first suggested by Judge Rorer of this city. The first mention of the name was in 
the Fort Madison Patriot, in 1838, a paper published by James G. Edwards, the 
founder of The Hawk-eye, at the suggestion of Judge Rorer. Mr. Edwards pro- 
posed in his paper that the people of Iowa adopt the name of 'Hawkeye.' This 
was done to prevent citizens of other states giving us a more opprobrious title, 
something similar to that by which the people of Missouri are frequently desig- 
nated, even to this day. The name was not adopted at this time, however, but 
early in 1839, after Mr. Edwards had moved his paper to Burlington, the question 
was again discussed, and it was decided to write a series of letters to the papers 
then published in Iowa, and in which the people of Iowa were to be called 'Hawk- 
eyes.' The first letter appeared in The Dubuqupe Visitor, the others in the sev- 
eral papers then published in the Territory. As these letters contained many 
criticisms of prominent men, including the public officers of the Territory, they 
created much interest, and the name 'Hawkeyes' was ever after adopted to desig- 
nate the people of Iowa. In a short time after this, Mr. Edwards changed the 
name of his paper to The Hawk-eye, in honor of the people of Iowa. This history 
of the name was procured from Judge Rorer, who had the honor of giving Iowa 
the title of the 'Hawkeye State.' " 

While living in Little Rock he married Mrs. Martha Martin Cnee Daniel). 
She died after their removal to Burlington, in 1 838. They had two sons and two 
daughters, Daniel, Claiborne, Martha and Frances. Daniel became a lawyer, and 
died in Worthington, Minnesota, in 1902. Claiborne joined Walker in his expedi- 
tion to Nicaragua, and was there killed in battle, in 1856. Martha married Wil- 
liam Garrett, a pioneer of Burlington, and died there in 1893. Frances married 
Davis J. Crocker, a lawyer, and is now living in New York City. 

In March, 1839, he married for his second wife, Delia Maria Viele, a sister 
of Philip Viele, who was one of the distinguished lawyers of Lee County and early 
Iowa. Mrs. Rorer died in November, 1 888. Two daughters survive. Miss Deha 
M. Rorer, and Mrs. Mary Louisa Remey, wife of John T. Remey, of Burlington. 
Another daughter, Miss Virginia Douglas Rorer, who was born in 1 842, died at 
Burlington in 1 898. "A perfect woman, nobly planned, a delight and blessing to 
all who knew her." 

As before stated, he appeared in the first reported case heard in the Territorial 
Supreme Court, as the representative of the slave Ralph. In the first volume of the 


Iowa Reports (Morris) his name is attached to thirty-five cases. Thus commencing, 
it unceasingly runs through all the reports down almost to the date of his death — 
from 1 839 to 1 884 — a period of forty-five years. As thus traced, his profe^ional 
career was more lengthily continuous and his name attached to more cases, than that 
of any other lawyer, who had at that time appeared before the Iowa Bar, and figured 
in its highest court. For the last twenty-five years of his life, his practice was more 
especially devoted to railroad litigation. He became the solicitor of the Burlington & 
Missouri River Railroad Company in 1858, and after its consolidation with and 
absorption by the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad Company, he was con- 
tinued in the same position by that company; and as counsellor, down to the day of 
his death. He was regarded as an expert in railroad law, and the publication of 
his work on that subject served to make his fame in that respect national. 

Judge Charles Mason, in a communication addressed to me, January 23, 1882, 
thus refers to him: 

Among my earliest acquaintances in Burlington, where I commenced house- 
keeping, in 1837, -were David Rorer and James W. Grimes, v^ho, as nearly as I can 
now remember, were the only members of the bar then residing there. The streets 
were full of stumps and brush, and surrounded by the primeval, unbroken forest. 
Mr. Rorer has always been a hard and devoted legal student, and, though of late 
years he has withdrawn himself from the general practice, he has, during his time, 
devoted his talents to the preparation of works on different branches of the law, 
which I believe possess a high degree of merit. Gifted with a very acute mind, 
and possessing a more extensive library than most of his competitors, he has gen- 
erally appeared in court provided with a copious list of authorities. I know of 
no one who seemed more fully to enjoy an investigation which taxed to the fullest 
extent his thoughtfulness and his industry, nor do I know of any who devoted him- 
self more unreservedly to the interests of his clients. 

His life came suddenly to an end in Burlington on June 7, 1 884. The news- 
papers of the State paid proper homage to his memory as one of its principal found- 
ers. The Chicago Tribune thus spoke of him: 

"In the death of David Rorer who died suddenly at his home in Burlington, 
Iowa, Monday, July 7th, at the ripe age of seventy-eight, the State of Iowa has 
lost one of her noblest citizens, and the American bar one of its ablest lawyers 
and most learned law writers." 

His daughter. Miss Delia M. Rorer, to whom I had written for certain data, 
writes : 

I well remember his frequent reference to you and the long-standing friend- 
ship that had existed between you. You ask me for suggestions in regard to his 
private and domestic life, and for the circumstances attendant upon his death, 
liove of home, family, friends, and his dear country, were the keynotes of his 
existence, and these were never heard to vibrate more appealingly than when he 
was seated with his family by the blazing logs of his own fireside. His sense of 
hospitality was large, and he was never more happy than when he and my mother 
entertained their friends in the old homestead. He often repeated the old lines: 

"The world has little to bestow, 

'Tis from ourselves our joys must flow. 

And that dear cot our home." 
He loved nature, the waving fields, trees, flowers, birds and music. The show and 
glitter of life had little attraction for him, but the beauties of nature and of art 
touched him deeply. 


His life was ended so suddenly, after one day's illness, that it seemed more 
like a transformation than real death. The sun that rose for him on the morning 
of July 7, 1884, set with his dying breath. The previous week, when in apparently 
perfect health, he had twice said to me, how perfectly happy he was — such intense 
happiness that it seemed like a premonition. 

Thus peacefully passed one of the most remarkable men the State has ever 

produced, in the glow of a mellow sunset that imperceptibly mingled with the horizon 

that separates the visible from the unknown.* 

*To lend authenticity to what I have said, and — prompted by a vanity which 
I hope is pardonable — to indicate the pains I took in the very outset of my work, 
to gain information from the most original and reliable sources, I here append the 
following letter of Judge Rorer to me. As will be noticed, it is written with a great 
sense of delicacy and reluctance. It simply gives the bare outlines of his life, 
without mention of his achievements as a great lawyer or his accomplishments as 
an author. He vaunted not himself in the least. While it refers to some minor 
events overlooked by me, it fails in some more important ones redounding to his 

Hon. Edward H. Stiles. Burlington, November 21, 1881. 

My dear Sir: 

Thanks for your letter and kind expressions. I am a native of Pittsylvania 
County, Virginia. Was born the 12th of May, 1806. There grew up. Most of my 
boyhood I labored on the farm whereon I was born. My educational advantages 
were merely those of the country schools. 

I studied law with Nathaniel H. Claiborne and with Henry Calaway in Frank- 
lin County, Virginia, two years in all. Was admitted to the bar of my native 
County the 24th of April, 1826, before I was of age. The fall of the same year I 
located at Little Rock, Arkansas. There I resided, in the practice and farming, 
until the fall of 1835, when leaving for the upper country, I wintered at St. Louis. 
I came to Burlington the 27th of March, 1836, and here I am yet. This was then 
Michigan Territory. That same year I built the first brick house in Burlington 
and in what is now Iowa. 

While at Little Rock, I was appointed by the Governor, County Judge, and 
afterwards Prosecuting Attorney. The latter office I resigned when I left. I also 
was in the Indian removal for a short time, and also superintended for the gov- 
ernment the construction of the west division of the Memphis and Little Rock 
Military Road. In the fall of 1834, I went to the Senica Indian Country, west of 
Missouri, as Special Agent to examine and report the character of the country, to 
look into the condition of the Indians and provide contracts for supplies as needed. 

In May of 1853, I became Attorney of the Burlington and Missouri Railway 
Company and so continued until the consolidation of that company with the Chi- 
cago, Burlington & Quincy Railway Company. About- a year and a half ago, I 
ceased taking new cases in Court, but remain as Counsel for the Company. 

The first Court I attended in Burlington was held in the back room of the 
store of Jeremiah Smith, Jr., on Front Street. This was the County Court. Isaac 
Leffler, William Morgan and Henry Walker were the Judges. The lawyers were 
W. W. Chapman, James W. Woods and Joseph B. Teas. Doctor William R. Ross 
was Clerk. He now resides in your County of Wapello, near Eddyville, and can 
tell you all about that Court. This much I have consented to say of myself, and 
feel a delicacy in speaking of my "professional career" as requested by you. So 
likewise of my contemporaries, I do not feel equal to the responsibility of speak- 
ing of or for them. 

I do not deem it necessary for you to interview me with a stenographer, as you 
propose, but shall be glad to see you at my house and have there such interviews 
as you may desire. Mrs. Rorer and the young ladies join in kind regards. 

Ever yours, (Signed) David Rorer. 

P. S. With great reluctance, I say this much of myself, and have a dread of 
being put into a book. 


Jonathan C. Hall. 

It is no easy thing to so sketch an extraordinary personality as to bring saliently 
out the particular traits that make it so. The first time I saw Jonathan C. Hall was 
in the old Courthouse at Ottumwa more than fifty years ago. I was introduced to 
him as a young law student just from Connecticut. He talked with me in that good- 
natured and kindly manner highly characteristic of him, and the acquaintance thus 
commenced laid the basis of a lasting friendship. Though he had then attained the 
highest professional rank, his presence and bearing were perfectly devoid of the least 
tinge of vanity or self-importance. There was about him, however, an indescribable 
something that told as plainly as words that nature had fashioned him in no ordinary 
mold. Without being apparently sensible of it himself, his presence was command- 
ing, and his "supremacy was written upon his features and person." He was heroic 
in frame, of Taft-like structure, whose height was apparently diminished by its 
breadth, and whose embonpoint unmistakably showed the signs of generous living. 
He had a large head, a full face, a rather florid complexion and light hair. He 
was careless in dress, inattentive to the little conventionalities of society, easy of 
approach, amiable and sympathetic in disposition, generous beyond his means, un- 
restrained in frankness and independence of speech and manner, save by those gen- 
tlemanly and tender instincts which the Almighty had deeply implanted in his being. 
He liked whole-souled company, good cheer, and was convivial to a high degree. 
Generally speaking, I may say that the traits last referred to were characteristic of 
a majority of the lawyers of that day. He was fond of anecdotes, liked a good 
story, and few could tell better ones than himself. By virtue of these traits coupled 
with his fame as a lawyer, his presence was much sought and his society courted, 
whether at home or moving in the circuit of his extensive practice, and especially by 
the younger members of the bar, who flocked to see and listen to one about whom 
they had heard so much. 

Along with these fascinating personal qualities, he possessed strongly intellectual 
ones; the capacity of deep and vigorous thinking, of analyzing difficult problems, 
of solving perplexing questions by the sledge-hammer forces of his potent and re- 
sourceful mind. He was perspicacious in legal argument, and when occasion de- 
manded powerful as an advocate. He wasted none of his strength on trivial points, 
but grasped at once the pivotal ones and went straight for them with vehement force. 
He was naturally mild and sometimes apathetic. It took something more than the 
ordinary to arouse him, but when fully aroused, he was a very Titan in power. These 
conspicuous qualities deeply impressed him on the State and justly established him 
as among the greatest lawyers of his time. Nor were these achievements assisted by 
the auxiliaries of either a polished education or a polished speech, for he had neither. 

In this connection, I can do no better than quote the following description of him 
furnished me by Judge Charles Mason: 


J. C. Hall was one of the ablest practicing lawyers I have ever known. His 
leading characteristic was strength. He cared little for polish or rhetoric, using 
language sometimes inapropos and incorrect, but uttered in such a way that no 
juror could fail to understand his intended meaning. He regularly attended all 
the Courts held in the first judicial district, and was engaged in almost every case 
that was tried therein. He was most persistent and persevering in the pursuit 
of his main purpose, and was very generally successful. When fully aroused he 
seemed like a great locomotive that nothing could resist. If defeated on one point 
he was fruitful in expedients by some flank movement to obtain success on others. 
He was indefatigable and untiring, and his success was in a great degree com- 
mensurate with his industry. There were other better read lawyers, but I know 
of no one with whom I would have been more willing to entrust a diiflcult case. 

Along the same lines. Judge Springer, himself a distinguished Lawyer and 
Judge, and President of the Constitutional Convention of 1857, in the course of his 
address at the reunion of the surviving members of that convention, held in 1 882, 
said : 

Judge Hall had been a member of the First Constitutional Convention held In 
Iowa and was the only member of our convention that had been a member of 
either of the previous conventions, and liad held with credit a seat on our Supreme 
Bench. He was an able man among able men. He was endowed with a large 
heart and a still larger brain. As an advocate, lawyer and jurist his place was 
in the front rank of the Iowa bar. Though not possessed of the culture and 
scholarly attainments of some of his contemporaries, yet for strength and depth 
of mind, for logical force and power of argumentation he was entitled to rank with 
the foremost men in the State. 

Coming from the sources they do, these estimates of Judge Hall go far in estab- 
lishing a firm basis for his judicial fame. 

After this general view let us glance at some of the particular instances of his 
life. He was born in Batavia County, New York, in 1808. He died in 1874 
at the age of 66. His father. Colonel Samuel Hall, was one of the pioneers of 
that part of New York. He came there with his wife and family in 1 804. His 
wife was Sarah Chapin Hall. The stock must have been good or there never could 
have sprung from it such men as Jonathan, Augustus, and Benton J. Hall. Sam- 
uel Hall cleared the wilderness and hewed the unbroken forest in order to make his 
cultivated fields. In this strenuous work, the son as soon as old enough participated ; 
and to this discipline the full development of his naturally strong physique was doubt- 
less in a large measure attributable. His education was obtained in the common 
schools, eked out with a few terms at the Wyoming Academy. At the age of 20 
he commenced his legal studies in the office of Abraham Van Vechten, an able 
lawyer of Albany. He completed his studies with lawyers of ability in Ohio. In 
I 830, at the age of 22, he was admitted to the bar at Columbus, and entered the 
practice at Mount Vernon, where he located the same year. He was early success- 
ful and established a good practice at that place. But circumstances, the loss of a 
favorite child, the desire to break his environments, and the boundless freedom of 
his spirit, induced him to take the way which the star of empire is said to, and seek 
the then far west. He came to Burlington in I 839, looked the country over and 


decided on Mt. Pleasant, where he with his family located in 1840, during the 
second year of our territorial organization^ Here he soon established an extensive 
practice. He regularly attended the courts of the different counties as they were 
organized. His fame as a lawyer spread. The circuit of his practice increased. 
He was retained in important litigation both within and without the State. He had 
foemen worthy of his steel, whose great ability was able to invoke and make 
necessary the best of his own. Foremost among these were David Rorer, Henry 
W. Starr, and others of like calibre. 

In 1 844 the people were seeking the admission of the Territory as a State. To 
this end a convention was called to frame a constitution on which the State could be 
admitted. He was chosen a member of this convention. He had for associates 
some able and noted men, among whom were Stephen Hempstead, Ex-Governor 
Lucas, Ebenezer Cook, Ralph P. Lowe, Shepherd Leffler, Elijah Sells, Francis 
Gehon, Stephen B. Shelledy. He was regarded as one of its ablest members, and 
it was conceded on all hands that his influence had been potential in framing for 
that period a constitution well suited to the condition of the people. As a matter 
of fact, this constitution was rejected by the people on account of the State boun- 
daries as therein fixed, but with these changed, it was afterwards adopted with few 
alterations and became the constitution of the State. 

In I 854 he was appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court of the State. His 
opinions will be found in Vol. IV, G. Greene's Reports. 

When a new constitution, that of 1 85 7, came to be framed, he was elected a 
member of the convention chosen for that purpose. Here again he had some strong 
associates, among whom were Francis Springer, Timothy Day, James F. Wilson, 
Edward Johnstone, R. L. B. Clark, John T. Clark, William Penn Clarke, D. H. 
Solomon, George Gillaspy, Amos Harris, Lewis Todhunter, William Patterson, 
Robert Gower, John Edwards and other men of ability. In this notable body he 
exercised even greater influence than he had in the convention of 1 844, and many 
of the wise and beneficent provisions of the instrument it gave to the people are 
traceable in a great degree to his broad and vigorous mind. The printed debates 
of that convention will attest this and constitute a lasting memorial to his fine qual- 
ities. He was the author of the provision authorizing the public school system. 

In every position, he was a friend of and true to the people. His ideas of leg- 
islation were humane and progressive, and to his influence the people of Iowa were 
greatly indebted for its redemption and exemption laws. 

He was a champion of internal improvements. In 1855 he was elected Pres- 
ident of the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad Company, and it was greatly 
through his influence and foresight that its affairs were placed on a substantial basis. 
The first locomotive that entered Burlington was named "J- C. Hall," in his honor. 


He was also a firm champion of the educational interests of the State. What 
an important factor in that behalf he was in the Constitutional Convention of 1857, 
has already been noted. He assisted in the founding of the academy which after- 
ward became the basis of the Wesleyan University, and could always be relied upon 
to forward educational measures. In an article on the early times appearing in 
Vol. I, 3d Ser. of The Annals of Iowa, Prof. W. P. Howe, speaking of the men 
who laid the splendid foundations of our educational system, said, "Judge J. C. 
Hall and David Rorer were lifelong supporters of the public schools, and were 
among my father's warmest personal friends, though their politics were as wide 
apart as the poles." (The father of Professor Howe herein referred to was the 
venerable and reverend Samuel L. Howe, whose early, long-continued and heroic 
career as an educator have durably embalmed him in the annals of the State and 
the affections of her people.) 

In the fall of 1859 he was, against his inclination, sent to the Legislature as a 
Representative of Des Moines County in the Eighth General Assembly. At the 
ensuing session of that body a new code of laws, embracing a new system of practice, 
was to be reported by the commissioners appointed for that purpose, and it had been 
the great desire of his people that he should be present and exert his influence in 
molding into final shape what was to be known as the Revision of I860. In this 
work he took a prominent part and unceasingly devoted himself to it. Without in 
the least detracting from the unwearied labors of the very able commission which 
prepared and reported the code as it originally stood, it is not too much 
to say that his efforts were greatly effective in improving it in some of its important 

Immediately after the inauguration of the rebellion a special session of the same 
Assembly was called by the Governor to meet the emergency. Among his asso- 
ciates therein was Henry C. Caldwell, of Van Buren County — afterward a dis- 
tinguished Iowa soldier, and successively Major, Lieutenant Colonel, and Colonel of 
the Third Iowa Cavalry, and after that, for a period of forty years, one of the 
greatest and purest Judges that ever graced the Federal Judiciary. He and Judge 
Hall were both on the Judiciary Committee. 

The measure giving the soldiers in the field the right to vote did not pass into a 
law until 1862, but it originated in 1861. Several persons have been given credit 
for its origin, but it unquestionably belongs to Judge Hall, as what is to follow will 
clearly show. In the summer of 1 902 I paid Judge Caldwell a visit at his summer 
home in Colorado. We talked of a number of men we had known, and among 
others of Judge Hall. He said he regarded Judge Hall as not only a very able 
lawyer, but really a great man and entitled to be classed as such. Of this con- 


versation I took notes at the time which I now have before me, and from which, 
as bearing on the point alluded to I quote. Judge Caldwell said : 

I was Chairman of the Judiciary Committee in the House and Judge Hall was 
second on the committee. We became very warm friends and were in accord on 
all questions that came before the extra session of May, 1861. One night Judge 
Hall came to my room with a paper in his hand which he laid down on my table and 
said: "Caldwell, I have drawn a bill providing for taking the vote of the soldiers 
in the field during the war. This is going to be a great war. Mr. Seward is 
greatly mistaken in his estimate of its duration. It will be one of the greatest 
wars of ancient or modern times; and before it ends all the able-bodied men liable 
to do military duty may be compelled to enter the armies of the Union and go to 
the front. This would take from their homes the great mass of the patriotic men 
and friends of the Government within the military age, leaving behind those who 
are unfriendly to the Government and whose sympathies are with the Rebellion; 
and with these ballots they would be able to do the Government more damage than 
if they were at the front with muskets in their hands fighting against us. The votes 
of these men would be more dangerous than if they themselves were in the open 
field. Hence in order to provide against such a state of affairs, we must confer the 
right to vote on the soldier in the field." I suggested that it would be uncon- 
stitutional. He said that he had investigated that question and was satisfied that 
it would be constitutional, and be so declared by the Supreme Court in the event 
of litigation. Judge Hall was not only a lawyer of great ability, but a great man, 
and his patriotism and profound, prophetic foresight in this single instance, show 
him to have been such. 

As I had heard the origin of the measure ascribed to others, I thought it possible 
that there might be some mistake about the matter. In a few days, however, I re- 
ceived from Judge Caldwell a copy of the House Journal which he had procured 
from the state archives, fully confirming the statement he had made. As the origin 
of the measure has been obscured, as it essentially affects the biography of Judge 
Hall and throws a strong light upon his character, I, in order to place the matter, in 
a particular manner, beyond controversy, here reproduce the Journal entries referred 
to. On reference to the Journal of the House of Representatives at the extra ses- 
sion of the General Assembly of the State of Iowa which convened at the Capitol in 
Des Moines, on Wednesday, the 15th day of May, 1861, by referring to page 98 
of that Journal under date of the 27th of May, the following entry will be found: 

Mr. Hall, by leave, introduced the following bill: 

House Pile No. 39. "A bill for an act to authorize volunteer officers and soldiers 
who are absent from the State and in the service of the United States, and citizens 
of this State to vote at State Elections." 

Which was read a first and second time and referred to the Committee on 

Under date of May 28th, on page II of the Journal, the following entry will 
be found: 

By leave, Mr. Rees submitted the following Report: 

Your Committee to whom was referred House File No. 39: "A Bill for an Act 
to authorize Volunteer officers and soldiers who are absent from the State and in 
the service of the United States and citizens of this State to vote at State Elec- 
tions," report the bill back and recommend its passage. 

Samuel Rees. 

D. D. Sabin. 

J. W. Lelacheur. 


On the same day the following entry appears on page 1 1 8 of the Journal : 

Mr. Hall moved that the House take up House File No. 39: A Bill for an Act 
to authorize Volunteer Officers and Soldiers who are ahsent from the State and in 
the service of the United States, citizens of this State, to vote at the State Elec- 
tions. Carried. Mr. Williams moved to postpone the further consideration of the 
bill till the year 2065. Upon this motion Mr. Hall demanded the yeas and nays, 
which were ordered. 

On the same day the House adjourned sine die. 

Mr. Williams, who made the motion to postpone the consideration of the bill 
till the year 2065, was one of the Representatives from Dubuque County, and im- 
mediately upon the adjournment of the Legislature he proceeded to Virginia, his 
former home, and entered the Confederate service. 

When it is remembered that this action of Judge Hall was only a little more 
than a month after the bombardment of Fort Sumter (April 12, 1861), and more 
than two months before the first battle of the war (that of Bull Run, July 21, 
1861), and that the seventy-five thousand troops called for by the President for 
three months had been thought in high quarters sufficient to crush the insurrection, no 
one can fail to appreciate the profound discernment which enabled him, it would 
seem beyond any man of his time, to so clearly foretell the mighty events which lay 
in the future. 

I have referred to the fact that many of the lawyers of that time, and perhaps 
largely as a class, were convivial. Do not let me be misunderstood, for while they 
were more or less convivial, they were not debauched. The flowing bowl was an 
incident of those days, but it was rarely abused, and while lawyers indulged more 
freely than members of the other learned profession, they were seldom dissipated, or 
hors de combat in the hour of action. Why they took precedence, in the respect 
mentioned, over doctors and clergymen, is easy to understand. The vocation of 
clergymen, for obvious reasons, properly placed them under very different limita- 
tions and conditions. To a great extent the same may be said of the doctors. Both 
of these were comparatively isolated in their fellowship and professional action. 
Neither, so to speak, "flocked together" as did the lawyers, at the courts of their 
own and those of the other counties composing their circuit. To do this, they fre- 
quently went long distances and through all kinds of weather — not by railroad, 
bicycle or automobile, for it was before their day — but overland, and generally, 
though not always, on horseback. Their almost constant companionship naturally 
made them convives. 

It is not alone the glamour of biography that makes it valued or interesting. It 
is rather its incidents, that serve to portray the individual from different points of 
view, and as he really was in his everyday as well as in his Sunday clothes; in his 
relaxation as well as in his strength. Human weaknesses in the great, it is said, 
make us love them. They make us akin. 


But the frailties of these men were of the forgivable and healthy sort as com- 
pared with those we frequently see today. They were faithful to their families, 
their friends and the State. The disgraceful exhibitions of domestic treachery and 
official corruption, which are constantly passing before our eyes like the scenes of 
some frightful panorama, were unknown. 

With this preliminary, I feel justified in narrating an incident which will, as it 
were, throw a vivid side-light on some distinguished counselors of that period, and 
thereby serve to illustrate the customs of the time, and what I have said. The 
dramatis personae of the incident were four noted lawyers, who were taking a little 
ride of 250 miles through an almost unbroken wilderness, to procure some testimony 
in a certain contested election case. They were the Hon. Daniel F. Miller, of 
Keokuk, the Nestor of the Iowa Bar for length of continuance of service at the time 
of his comparatively recent death ; Judge Jonathan C. Hall, of Burlington, the sub- 
ject of this sketch ; the Hon. Lyman Johnson, of Keokuk, and Hon. John F. Kinney, 
then a Judge of the Supreme Court, who had been appointed as the Commissioner 
to take the testimony. The contestants were the said Daniel F. Miller, commonly 
referred to as "Dan," and William Thompson, of Mount Pleasant, a well-known 
lawyer, familiarly known as "Black Bill," from his dark complexion. They had 
been opposing candidates for Congress in the southern district (there were then but 
two districts in the State). Thompson being awarded the election. Miller entered 
the contest, on the ground that the poll-books from the Mormon precinct at Kanes- 
ville, now Council Bluffs, had been stolen from the room where they were deposited, 
and that the returns, if shown, would give him a clear majority. Not being able to 
find the missing poll-books. Miller was proceeding with his campagnons de voyage to 
Kanesville where the vote had been cast, to take testimony to show who had voted, 
for whom the votes had respectively been cast, and that the same had been polled 
and forwarded. Hall and Johnson represented Thompson in the proceeding. Miller 
represented himself. 

In after years it so happened that on the 6th of December, 1 884, I met Mr. 
Miller — whom I as nearly everybody else loved — at Des Moines, and we came home 
on the same train, occupying the same Seat. It was night and the journey was long 
and slow. I desired to learn all I could of the earlier times and of the men who 
had invested it with so much extraordinary interest, and plied him with many ques- 
tions; among others some relating to his contest with Thompson. He gave me all 
the details respecting the alleged theft of the poll-books and their subsequent unex- 
pected discovery, which it would not be germain to relate here. He then gave me 
the following narrative of the journey across the country above alluded to, which I 
at the time reduced to writing in a memorandum book I carried, which I afterward 


read over to him for correction and approval, and which I now give in his own 
language as thus written: 

We started to take depositions in my election case witli "Bill" Thompson. 
The State was divided into two Congressional districts. Thompson and myself 
had run for Congress in the southern district. The poll-books had been stolen 
and we had to take secondary evidence, so to speak, as to how the vote had 
gone. Judge Kinney had been commissioned by the Government to take the 
testimony. J. C. Hall and Lyman Johnson were Thompson's attorneys; I repre- 
sented my own case. We, Kinney, Hall, Johnson and myself started west- 
ward. We had a two-horse wagon. Johnson drove. It was the cholera season. 
Many had died in Keokuk. We laid in a lot of medicine to meet the event of 
cholera sickness. We started from Keokuk. As we were about to start, and 
before I got into the wagon, I pulled out a bottle of brandy which I had taken the 
precaution to provide myself with, and as I held it up in my hand, I cried out, 
"I have got the advantage of you fellows." "Not by a great sight," says Hall, 
and as he spoke he raised from the bottom of the wagon a one-gallon jug. Thus 
equipped, we started. In due course of time we arrived at Keosauqua. We took 
some testimony there. Fifteen persons had died there with the cholera. We did 
not stay there long, but pressed westward. Our ultimate destination was the 
Missouri river in the vicinity of Council Bluffs — then called Kanesville — to take the 
testimony of Mormons who had encamped there on their way to Salt Lake. They 
had been driven from Nauvoo, they had tarried in Iowa, had remained there long 
enough to vote; quite a large body of them had reached and congregated in the 
neighborhood of the Missouri river. 

We went from Keosauqua to Centerville. The only road was the Mormon trail 
— a trail they had made In their removal westward over the prairies and across the 
streams. We followed this trail. It was the month of March; our way lay through 
the wilderness; the weather was somewhat rough, but we kept supplied with a 
sufficient amount of whisky to keep us warm, enliven our spirits, and thus shorten 
the journey. In order to do this pretty effectually, the intervals between drinks 
were not as long as those between the governors of North and South Carolina. The 
country along our route was uninhabited, save at Intervals of great distance. We 
would generally manage to make a cabin for the night. We reached Centerville 
and rested there a while. The contents of the jug had run out and we were obliged 
to replenish our stock, and got the demijohn filled again. This was necessary in 
order to keep us warm and maintain our cheerful spirits. From there we struck 
towards the Missouri river. After some days of travel and when within some fifteen 
or twenty miles of the river, we came after nightfall upon a clearing and cabin, 
of which we had been informed and at which we expected to get accommodations 
for the night. We drove up towards the cabin; out came a pack of hounds roaring 
like so many lions. We hallooed for the inmates, and presently out came a man 
and hallooed back to us. "Who is it and what do you want?" said he. "We are 
on our way to the river and have been informed we couM get sleeping for the night 
here. Can you keep us?" we replied. "Yes, I guess so; get out and come in," said 
he. We looked after the horses with the man and then went in. He had two cabins, 
one in which he lived and cooked, and a very small one in which were located 
three beds. This was assigned for our lodging. But we were not quite happy. 
We had run out of material again; Hall, especially, was terribly disconsolate. He 
called the proprietor in and asked him if he had any whisky he would let us have. 
The man replied, "Wall, strangers, I have got some whisky. I went with my team 
all the way from here to St. Joseph, Missouri, to get it; the roads are bad and I 
tell you whisky are whisky. I got a barrel of it and I'll let you have some, but 
whisky are whisky." "Well, what do you mean; how much do you want for it?" 
said Hall. "Seventy-five cents a pint," said the man. (Twenty-five cents a gallon 
was the highest price for whisky at that time.) "Why, my gracious, that Is 
•cheap; how can you afford to sell it for that after bringing it so far? Give us a 
pint of it," said Hall. The man brought us in a pint with which, and a good, rousing 
fire to warm up our chilled frames, we soon made ourselves comfortable. The pint 
was soon gone, and Hall calling in the man, said to him that his whisky was so 
cheap, we must have another pint of it. Well, another pint was brought and con- 


siderable of it drank before supper was called, as we were very cold, chilled 
through. I forgot to say that it was about ten in the evening when we arrived ana 
about midnight before supper was ready. On the table was some good corn bread, 
a good substitute for coffee made of dried crusts of bread, ground, milk, and in 
the middle of the table a huge yellow dish filled or nearly so with a clear looking 
liquid in which were floating scraps of the bacon from which it had been tried, as 
a substitute for butter I placed a lot of it on my plate as did all the rest of us, 
to sop our corn bread in. I put a piece of the latter, well sopped, in my mouth, but 
immediately after getting a good taste, threw it out, exclaiming, "My gracious, this 
is rusty bacon!" I was hungry, but my stomach revolted. Hall, however, who 
was a man of most robust stomach, and whose appetite had become whetted by the 
long fast, said, "I tell you, boys, this corn bread and gravy is good," and he ate a 
large quantity of it. Supper ended, we went to our sleeping cabin; we sat and 
talked a while, and finally Kinney and Johnson turned in. Hall and myself con- 
cluded we would sit up and enjoy ourselves a while longer. As we sat there Hall 
called my attention to a copy of the Burlington Hawk-Bye, which had been shown 
him the day before, in which there were intimations that he had been connected 
with the loss of the poll-books, and said he believed that I was responsible for what 

he termed these incendiary documents which were being thrown broadcast. 

"I'll be darned if I like it," said he. The whisky had produced just that effect on 
me that the allusion put me in fighting trim, and I said, "I don't care a blank 
whether you do or not; I believe there is some ground for it and you can make the 
most of it." Hall rose to his feet, swelling with anger and resentment. He 
looked me squarely in the face for a moment, his eyes glistening like fire, and I 
thought he was about to strike me, when his face relaxed into gentler lines and 
he said, "Well, Dan, I reckon we bad better not make fools of ourselves." I imme- 
diately put out my hand, which he cordially grasped, and after taking a "night cap" 
we went pleasantly to bed. Towards morning I heard him giving vent to the most 
terrible groans. He bad partly raised himself up in bed. I could plainly see by 
the light of the open fireplace. I sprang up. "My God, Hall, what is the matter?" 
I excitedly asked. "Get the medicine quick," he replied, "I have got the cholera; 
I never was in such agony in my life; I believe I shall die." I at once aroused 
Kinney and Johnson. "Get up," said I, "for heaven's sake get up quick; Hall has 
the cholera; get out the medicine quick, and I will run and arouse the people in the 
other cabin and get them to heat some water." Out of the cabin I went to the other 
one and called to the man to get up. "Get up quick, your whole family, and heat 
all the water you can just as soon as possible; one of our men has the cholera. 
Don't be frightened ; you need not come near the house ; heat the water and we will 
come for it." On my return to the cabin Hall had succeeded in getting up and was 
standing in front of the large fireplace, his hands holding to the mantel or jamb. 
After some retching and relief of the stomach, we concluded there was no cholera 
in the case ; whereupon we all joined in a hearty laugh, and none more heartily than 
Hall himself, and returned to our repose. 

The extent of Judge Hall's practice is readily shown by the report of cases which 
went on appeal to the Supreme Court. At the term held in the southern judicial 
district at Burlington in May, 1 848, he was in twenty-six cases out of thirty-nine 
that were then decided, as shown and reported in first G. Greene's Reports. At the 
term held there in May, 1 849, and reported in second G. Greene, he was in twenty- 
two cases out of the thirty-two then decided. When we consider that but com- 
paratively few cases tried below go to the Supreme Court, some idea can be formed 
of his immense practice in the southern district. In addition, he had a goodly num- 
ber of the other districts of the State. 

It is a pity that of the great number of his forensic efforts so few remnants of 
his oral ones have been preserved. Indeed, I know of but one — that in the case of 


Ruel Daggs vs. Elihu Frazier, tried in the District Court at Burlington in June, 
1 850. There were but few shorthand reporters in the world at that time. George 
Frazee, of the Burlington Bar, an accomplished lawyer and writer, who at the time 
of his death in 1 904, was the oldest member of that bar, was one of them. His 
notes were taken for private use, but in 1 903 he consented to the publication of his 
report of the entire proceedings in the case, including the evidence introduced, the 
arguments of counsel to the jury and the charge of Judge Dyer before whom the 
case was tried. It will be found in Vol. VI. of The Annals. The case was a 
noted and exciting one, arising under the Fugitive Slave Law, in which the owner 
sought to recover for the value of escaped slaves whom he claimed to have been 
prevented from retaking by the so-called Abolitionists in the neighborhood of the 
Quaker settlement of Salem in Henry County. David Rorer was for the plaintiff 
and Mr. Hall was for the defendant. In the existing excitement against those who 
sought to interfere with the right of the master to follow and retake his fugitive slaves 
under the law, Mr. Rorer had the easy side of the case, Mr. Hall the difficult one. 
It was a combat of trained and powerful intellects, and I doubt whether many 
better specimens of offhand, extemporaneous argument in a nisi prius court than 
theirs in that case, can be found anywhere. That of Judge Hall, though struggling 
against the weight of testimony and adverse conditions, glows with ingenious force 
and varied, pungent, ratiocination ; and I am constrained to say that of Judge Rorer, 
who had better standing-room, was not behind. These proceedings are alone suffi- 
cient to show that both were past grand masters in their profession. Their friends 
and the profession at large should feel thankful to Mr. Aldrich and the Historical 
Department of Iowa for the resuscitation and publication of the proceedings referred 

If Judge Hall's lot had been cast in a large city where the stimulus of high condi- 
tions and the friction of great interests invoke extraordinary forces, he would doubt- 
less have acquired national fame as a lawyer. He evidently possessed mental powers 
whose depths were never fully sounded. It was said by Walpole that "Men are often 
capable of greater things than they perform. They are sent into the world with 
bills of credit, and seldom draw to their full extent." And so it was with Jonathan- 
C. Hall. 

In politics he was a Democrat of the old school ; but above all and at all times, 
a patriot. He left surviving him a son, Benton J. Hall, who early attained great 
prominence as a lawyer, represented his district in Congress, was Commissioner of 
Patents under President Cleveland, and died lamented and beloved by every one 
who knew him. 


James W. Woods (Old Timber), and Those of Whom He Speaks. 

It is difficult to write about this man ; not because he was a deeply learned law- 
yer or finished scholar, for he was neither ; and that is just what makes it difficult to 
write about one so widely known and talked about in his time. He was thoroughly 
identified with not only the early, but the mediaeval period of the Territory and 
State, for he lived and did some business until he was above four score years. He 
was born in New England, but removed while a young man to Virginia. He died 
in Hardin County, Iowa, in 1 886, after seeing the State, in its process of develop- 
ment pass through several territorial conditions. 

He ought to have been an actor, a comedian; he would doubtless have attained 
eminence in that line, for he had a keen sense of the ludicrous, and was sometimes 
insensibly ludicrous in himself. Aristophanes or Moliere would have been delighted 
with such a subject. He was highly convivial; he drank after the manner of the 
times but not immoderately ; he told stories that made the hearers laugh, joked with 
friends without offending them, and always wore a cheerful face. He and the ec- 
centric Judge McFarland were intimates, and played many pranks with each other. 
If he had been an English fox-hunting squire, he would have been what is termed a 
hard rider. He was, nevertheless, a useful man. He was a prime favorite with 
the pioneers and a serviceable factor in the adjustment of their afiairs, into which he 
easily made his way. He was a typical pioneer lawyer, entering the wilderness 
before the Indians were out, and practicing on both the Illinois and Iowa sides of the 
Mississippi wherever white settlements had been made. He was suited to the 
times, had a wide practice, and faithfully served his clients. 

While in some sense a politician, he was not an office seeker. He worked for 
the elevation of others rather than himself. Notwithstanding he enjoyed many pub- 
lic favors. He was one of the early Clerks of the Supreme Court, at one time Sec- 
retary of the Senate, at different times Prosecuting Attorney. His name never fails 
to appear among the little group of lawyers who were attendants at the earliest 
courts. He was the legal counselor of the Mormon Prophet, Joseph Smith, and of 
his brother, Hyrum, and brought or accompanied their bodies from Carthage, where 
they were murdered, to Nauvoo. He received from the body of Joseph his per- 
sonal effects and turned them over to his widow. 

He more than once did good service for the State; so conspicuously on one 
occasion, that Professor Parvin says in the narrative attached to the sketch of that 
gentleman, that Mr. Woods deserves a memorial at the hands of the Commonwealth. 
It was in respect to the establishment of the western boundary line of the State when 
it was seeking admission into the Union. The Constitutional Convention of 1844 
made the Missouri River the western boundary, but Congress, when the Constitu- 
tion thus fixing it was presented, curtailed it by cutting off about one-third of it on 


the western side bordering on that river, and sent the Constitution back to be ratified 
by the people. In defeating this proposed ratification, he did yeoman's service, on 
the stump and among the people to whom he was everywhere known, and with whom 
he was immensely popular by reason of his free and easy ways, his good fellowship, 
his perennial humor and unbounded generosity. He was a good mixer; a hale 
fellow well met. These qualities drew to him good audiences. They also enabled 
him to meet on friendly ground and talk the matter over with the people. The serv- 
ices he thus performed in assisting to defeat a measure that would have deprived 
Iowa of perhaps its most fertile portion — what is known as the Western Slope — and 
circumscribed its extent to inferior limits, were invaluable and deserve the remem- 
brance of the State. He and his compeers had the efforts and influence of some 
prominent men to oppose. It was contended and largely believed that the excluded 
portion was not an important one, and that the failure to include it would prove of 
no great detriment, while, on the other hand, the defeat of the constitution tendered 
to the people for adoption, would indefinitely postpone the admission of Iowa as one 
of the States of the Union. It has also been said that the desire of certain ambi- 
tious men to secure political honors from the State was an incentive to their efforts 
to have the constitution adopted, and that the federal administration participated in 
this desire. This harsh judgment I am not disposed to confirm. It might be unjust. 

His colleagues in this successful effort to defeat the Constitution thus limiting 
the boundary, were Edward Johnston, Shepherd Leffler, Frederic D. Mills (after- 
wards killed in the Mexican War), Enoch W. Eastman and Theodore S. Parvin. 
But Charles Aldrich, the late revered Curator of the State Historical Department, 
in a sketch of Theodore S. Parvin which appeared in the October, 1 901 , Annals of 
Iowa, limits the co-operation in this effort to Enoch W. Eastman, Frederic D. Mills 
and T. S. Parvin and gives them all the praise, thus excluding Woods, Johnston 
and Leffler. In this, Mr. Aldrich committed an error — something very rare in 
him, and it is not singular that he did, but rather that he got so near the mark in 
respect to an occurrence of which no public record was made and which must be 
dependent on mere tradition or the testimony of witnesses contemporaneous with the 
event. Such a witness I have in the person of Mr. Parvin himself. Professor 
Parvin, in his narration to me, which will be made a part of his sketch, following 
this, thus states it: 

Edward Johnston, James W. Woods, Shepherd Leffler, Frederic D. Mills and 
E. W. Eastman got together and agreed to canvass the Territory in opposition to 
the Constitution. They planned the canvass of the entire Territory, but it was 
too much for them, and they thought they had better confine themselves to the 
First District, which was at Burlington. They were opposing it on the ground of 
the boundary line. They were all Democrats — a Democratic Constitution and a 
Democratic Convention. Finding they had too much to do, they wanted to know 
if I would be willing to canvass the Second District, which embraced all the region 
commencing with Muscatine County, running up to Jackson and taking in John- 
son, Iowa, and all the counties in that part of the State. I entered the canvass 


against the ratification of the Constitution, and when the vote was canvassed it 
was only beaten by 250. Woods canvassed the Southern District thoroughly and 
energetically. I have not a shadow of a doubt but that the constitution would 
have been adopted by a large majority if it had not been for these efforts. I can- 
vassed the Second District alone, and these four other men canvassed the First 

Mr. Parvin states that the services of Mr. Woods were so valuable that, "The 
State of Iowa ought to make some recognition of his services and vote him a pen- 

Judge Mason, as we have seen, was of the impression that David Rorer and 
James W. Grimes were the only lawyers actually residing in Burlington when he 
went there in 1 837, and that Mr. Woods did not come there to live until the follow- 
ing year. Mr. Woods says that he and W. W. Chapman had become residents 
there for quite a while before that, and as to which was the first actual resident law- 
yer there, lays between him and Chapman. However the question of actual loca- 
tion may be, it is beyond doubt that he and Chapman attended and practiced in the 
County Court in Des Moines County, at Burlington, when we were a part of Mich- 
igan Territory, upon the division of the Black Hawk Purchase by the Legislature of 
that Territory, and before we became a part of Wisconsin Territory. Mr. Woods 
was not only one of the twenty lawyers admitted at the first term of the Supreme 
Court at Burlington, but according to Professor Parvin who was present, he had 
and argued the only case before it at that term, which lasted only one day. 

Since I have referred to Judge McFarland and his intimacy with Mr. Woods, 
I may as well say a word of him here, for fear time and space may not allow of it 
hereafter. When I came to Iowa in 1856, Judge McFarland and "Old Timber," 
the sobriquet of Mr. Woods, were frequently referred to by the old timers. 

Judge McFarland was certainly a unique, and I might say, the most grotesque 
character that ever presided over an Iowa Court. I know nothing of his origin or 
bringing up, but one would judge that his early life had been amid the rough con- 
ditions of the frontier. It must be confessed that the drink habit was much in 
vogue among the early lawyers, and it would seem that Judge McFarland, at least 
at times, indulged pretty freely, and there was nothing half way about him. He was 
a very tall, stalwart, well-shaped man, with a beard as long and flowing as that of 
Aaron. He was a delegate to the National Democratic Convention of 1856, and 
it is said that his striking appearance and manner attracted general attention. He 
was a man of decided ability and had it not been for the weakness referred to, 
would probably have distinguished himself. On the bench he usually presided 
with force and propriety, but sometimes showed the effects of the previous night's 
indulgence in ways that in these modern days would have invoked the public censure, 
if not impeachment or removal. He familiarly addressed the lawyers before him 

* Mr. Woods at this time had come to be very old and in poor circumstances. 


by their first name. Numerous anecdotes were told of him. I will relate two, one 
of which will illustrate the facetious qualities of Mr. Woods and the liberties he took 
with Judge McFarlemd, while both will illustrate phases of the Judge. In one case, 
Marcellus M. Crocker, afterwards one of the distinguished Generals in the Civil 
War, was on one side, Mr. Woods on the other. Woods filed a demurrer to the 
pleadings of Crocker's client, which, if sustained, would result in the abatement of 
the case. In arguing his point, Mr. Woods saw that the Judge was in a mood that 
would justify some liberties to be taken, and out of pure facetiousness, in the course 
of his argument, thus alluded to an imaginary case: "Your Honor will perhaps 
recollect having decided this point in my present favor by ruling against me when 
it was presented by Mr. Starr in the case of Brown vs. Smith at Burlington." The 
Judge pricked up his ears and, turning to Crocker said, "How is this, Marcellus? 
Let me see those pleadings." He looked at them and said, "Marcellus, Old Bass 
Wood has got you. I remember the case he has cited, and following the precedent 
I shall sustain his point." 

The other incident was related at a Bar Supper some thirty-live years ago at 
Des Moines, at which I was present, by Judge J. C. Knapp, of Keosauqua, one of 
Iowa's ablest lawyers, and of whom I shall again speak. Judge Knapp said he 
was trying a case before Judge McFarland, in which an aged father was endeavor- 
ing to have cancelled a deed made by him to his son, in consideration of the support 
promised him by the latter. The gravamen of the complaint was, that the son had 
failed in his promise and had mistreated his father. Judge Knapp was for the de- 
fense. In the course of the trial a witness testified that on a certain occasion the 
defendant shamefully abused his father and struck him a blow. Upon this. Judge 
McFarland, who had been seemingly drowsy, almost dozing, suddenly raised him- 
self in his seat, and bending forward towards the defendant, exclaimed: "You 
strike your old father! You strike your old father! I'll show you not to strike 
your poor old father!" The effect on Judge Knapp can be imagined by anyone 
who knew him. He seized his hat and started for the door with the exclamation 
that he could be of no further use in the case. "Hold on, Baldy!" (Knapp was 
somewhat bald) "Hold on, Baldy," said the Judge. But Baldy did not hold 
on, he stalked in disgust from the court room. This is the greatest breach of judi- 
cial decorum that Judge McFarland is reported to have committed. But while it 
was flagrant and unpardonable, it nevertheless showed that he had an irresistible 
sense of natural justice and fihal duty. 

In 1882 I induced Mr. Woods to come from his home in Hardin County, 
Iowa, to Ottumwa, and tell me what he knew of the olden times. I comfortably 
quartered him at a hotel where he remained for some two or three weeks, and where 
I frequently visited him with a stenographer who took down the conversations that 
occurred between us. Prompted by my curiosity, I asked him a great variety of 


questions, the answers to some of which naturally enough took a wide range and in- 
troduced many matters of irrelevant, redundant, and sometimes private character 
that would not be fitting to relate. He was then upwards of eighty years of age, 
but his memory, especially in one so old, was remarkable. My previous concep- 
tions of him were confirmed. He was reminiscent to a high degree, good-natured, 
cheerful as a boy. He was tall and rather slender, but well formed — I should say 
a little over six feet — a little, but not much, bent under the weight of his years ; his 
pleasant face softened by kindly eyes, a little dimmed. As I looked upon him, 
and thought of his association with the early conditions, the hardships through which 
he had passed, of the adverse winds that had blown upon him, of the earnings that 
he had strewn upon friends along the way, of the long course he had journeyed, of 
the shifting scenes he had witnessed, of his departed associates, of his boon com- 
panions in the homely carousals, who one after another had passed away, and that 
he was the last survivor of, and participant in, the earliest civiHzation in that part 
of Iowa, I felt a sort of veneration for him. 

Instead of giving our colloquial interviews in the formal questions and answers 
asked and given, I have condensed the pertinent portions into narrative form which 
I now present : 

I was born fifteen miles from Boston, removed to Virginia in 1824, and re- 
mained there until 1832, when I came West. I had studied law and been admitted 
to the bar in 1827. I reached Iowa in 1833 after the close of the Black Hawk War, 
and settled where Burlington now is. There were then not even log cabins. 

I think W. W. Chapman was the first lawyer in Iowa. He was here when I 
first came out West. I met him at the first term of the County Court, held at 
Burlington in April, 1835. He was living in Hancock County, Illinois, and had 
married a daughter of Arthur Ingraliam. He afterwards removed to and settled 
in Burlington. I really think that he was the first lawyer that settled in the State. 
Ingraham was an old farmer who had settled near Carthage, Hancock County, 
Illinois. He came over and settled and Chapman came over afterwards. Ingra- 
ham had a large family. Chapman followed the old man over here. 

Of course, I came to Burlington before Mr. Chapman, but I was backwards 
and forwards between Illinois and what is now Iowa, and I had no family at the 
time I came. I married afterwards. There is where Judge Mason has made his 
mistake. Mr. Chapman had a family and as I had none, I give him the preced- 
ence.* I was a good deal in Illinois and I had practice in what they call the Mil- 
itary tract and used to attend court from Pike County, Illinois Territory, as far 
north as they could go, where there were any inhabitants, up to Pulton County and 
Bureau. I was in Illinois perhaps half the time. I did not marry until 1836. I 
went back to Illinois and married and brought my wife over. I intended to make 
Burlington my home from the time I came there in 1833. I crossed the river by 
myself. Martin McCarver, Simpson S. White, Amasa DooUttle, Dr. Parker L. 
Shuff and Tom Duthrow were there. They were camped on the east bank of the 
river. Dr. "Shuff was from Kentucky and was the first doctor there. Simpson S. 
White was a brother of Aaron. McCarver married a sister of Aaron White; so did 
Doolittle. They were all brothers-in-law except Dr. Shuff. The hills where Bur- 
lington now stands were covered with a heavy growth of timber, among which 

*This narration of Mr. Woods was made some two years after that of Judge 
Mason which I took the liberty of submitting to the perusal of Mr. Woods. 


were a great number of large horse chestnut trees. It was a primeval forest. The 
men above mentioned built the first cabin. It was in what is now called Court 
Street, between Third and Fourth Streets. It stood right in Court Street. The 
iirst court was held in a log cabin north of where that cabin was built. That was 
several years after the first cabin I have mentioned was built. Under the Treaty 
we could not get possession until June, 1833, but the men I have mentioned, came 
over in April and built this cabin, and Captain Jesse Brown came up with a squad 
of men from Montrose and tore the cabin down and set the men back over the 
river for being in violation of the Treaty. After the soldiers returned, these men 
built a raft, crossed over and rebuilt the cabin. It was built of green buckeye; 
the soldiers tried to burn it down, but it would not burn. I subsequently bought 
the logs of the cabin and laid them down for walks to my out-buildings. I 
built my house on the lot where Ben Hall now lives. I preempted the lot 
and took possession some time in 1834. The act of Congress laying off the 
towns of Fort Madison, Burlington, Belleview, Dubuque and Mineral Point gave 
to settlers the right of preemption to lots and the towns were afterwards sur- 
veyed. There were several cabins in the neighborhood at the time. There were 
no Indians just there, but Black Hawk and his men were down on Devil Creek, 
and Wapello was at the village of Wapello in Louisa County with his Indians. 
There was a reservation of ten miles on the Iowa River and Wapello remained 
there for several years. 

At the first court at Wapello in Louisa County, there were but two houses, 
one of which was occupied by Mr. Ingraham, the clerk, and the other by a man of 
the name of Dedrick, a discharged dragoon of the Black Hawk War, who kept a 
provision store. There was no place for the grand jury and they held their de- 
liberations in a gully near the Iowa River. I was appointed Prosecuting Attor- 
ney. The jury sent the bailifiE for me, and you know it is a rule that there should 
be no one present at the finding of an indictment except the members of the 
grand jury. I got upon the trunk of a tree and told them what I thought about 
the evidence, having been asked to do so. Thereupon Mr. Smith, the foreman of 
the grand jury, picked up a two-gallon jug and walked across the gully and said, 
"All that are in favor of finding this a true bill, come across the gully and take a 
drink of whisky." But when he did this the conclusion reached was generally 
right. I drew up the indictment. There were no bills ignored that the foreman 
thus recommended. 

At a Democratic political meeting, during a term of court at Knoxville, Scliolte, 
the founder of the Holland Colony at Pella, suggested to Judge McParland, who 
was present, that there were about one hundred Hollanders who desired to get 
their naturalization papers, and the Judge took the Clerk, the Sheriff and the rec- 
ords and repaired to Pella, fifteen miles distant, opened court and naturalized these 
one hundred Hollanders, and it was the first time that Marion County ever went 
Democratic, but the records were made to show that all of it was regularly done 
at Knoxville. 

Here is an incident in connection with Dan Finch. Finch had probably been 
up all night of the day before. He was sitting in a seat with his feet on a chair 
and his hat on. He did not notice the call opening the Court, and Judge McFar- 
land asked, "Who is that man with his hat on?" Finch said, "Your Honor, I am a 
Quaker." "Oh, is that so?" said the Judge. Pretty soon Finch got up and went 
to another seat and sat down and took his hat off. Thereupon the Judge said, 
"Mr. Finch, a few moments ago you informed me that you were a Quaker. Put on 
your hat, Sir." 

David Irvin was one of the first Territorial Judges after the organization of 
Wisconsin Territory. He was a Virginian. He was assigned to the first district 
west of the Mississippi River. He was about forty-five years of age; a genuine 
'high-toned' gentleman; well informed upon all the current events of the day, even 
to horses, dogs and guns; at all times ready to attend to any fun. He could show 
a tailor how to cut and fashion a garment, a bootmaker how to make and fit a 
boot, a barber how to strop a razor; in fact, he could teach a housekeeper how to 
cook meals and make beds, and upon all occasions he imparted this knowledge. 


He was, withal, most profoundly Impressed with the P. P. V.'s of that time. When 
upon the bench he was a fair and able Jurist enough, but one of the most technical 
Judges it has been my fortune to meet in a constant attendance on the courts of 
more than fifty yeans. This anecdote was told about him: A man had an impor- 
tant case before him and having obtained a decree in his favor, was about leaving 
the court room when he met the Judge's dog and gave him a violent kick. This 
was too much for the Judge, and he directed the Clerk to make an entry setting 
aside the decree. Whether he ever reinstated it I don't know, but I presume he 
did after he cooled down. He was so strict and technical that upon one occasion 
when Washington County was organized and the county seat had been located a 
half mile from Gobies — the nearest house— at a place called Astoria, he would not 
hold court at the house, but rode out to where the town site was located, and im- 
provised my buggy for the Judge's seat, and the Clerk used the top of the buggy 
for his desk. That was the first term of court in that County, and there were 
present: David Irvin, the Judge; Thomas Baker, the Clerk; Joseph Welch (or 
Welty), Sheriff; William W. Chapman, U. S. District Attorney, and myself. Hiram 
Bennet was Deputy Marshal, and fifteen residents constituted the grand jury. Upon 
the separation of Iowa from Wisconsin, Judge Irvin was assigned to a District in 
Wisconsin, and since that time I have lost sight of him. 

The County seat of Johnson County was located four miles south of Iowa 
City, at a place called Napoleon. The first court was held at Stover's house — a 
double log cabin with a hall between. There was only one house there. Stovers 
occupied one room of it as a dwelling and Gilbert Davis used the other as an In- 
dian trading station. A man by the name of Wallis was there from Linn County, 
held for horse stealing. S. C. Hastings was Prosecuting Attorney, and he and 
Judge Williams used the part of the building occupied by Gilbert Davis, and in 
the other room was the prisoner. 

About the first court proceedings. At the close of the Black Hawk War a 
jnilitary post wais established below Montrose, and four companies of Dragoons 
were stationed there under the command of Colonel Phillip Kearney. Speaking of 
the military regulations of the Government, no one was permitted to keep or sell 
intoxicating liquors within four miles of the military station. Samuel and Joseph 
Briley had a place at Nashville, five miles south of the garrison and sold whisky 
to the Dragoons who were in the habit of visiting the place, and Colonel Kearney 
despatched a squad of men under Captain Jesse B. Brown to destroy the whisky. 
They found twenty gallons of whisky, some gin and brandy, with which they 
filled their canteens. Briley brought a suit against Brown for the value of the 
liquor, 125 dollars, and obtained judgment. This was the first judgment found 
and entered in a court of record in Iowa. It was while we were a part of Mich- 
igan Territory. I was the Attorney for the plaintiffs. 

The country west of the Mississippi River, being organized and divided into 
the Counties of Des Moines and Dubuque, there was established a County Court, 
consisting of a Chief Justice and two Associate Justices. The court was to be held 
twice a year and two of the Judges constituted a Court for the transaction of 
business. The Judges of the County Court for Des Moines County were William 
Morgan as Chief Justice; Young L. Hughes and Henry Walker as Associate Jus- 
tices. William R. Ross was the Clerk. The first regular session of this Court 
was held in 1835 at Burlington in a log building on the corner of 3d and 4th 
Streets, east of the public square. This was in April, 1835. The attorneys pres- 
ent were W. W. Chapman, now of Oregon, Joseph B. Teas of Hancock County, 
Illinois, who afterwards died in Albia, Robert W. Williams, of Quincy, Illinois, and 
myself. Our modes of doing business were rather primitive. In a certain case 
I filed a demurrer to Chapman's petition. After the argument Chief Justice Mor- 
gan directed the Clerk to put the demurrer under the table, which consisted of a 
dry goods box, a receptacle for waste paper. The Court did not desire to decide 
the demurrer then and the Clerk did as he was directed. But when I came to 
argue the case to the jury I obtained the demurrer from the waste papers and 
argued it to the jury who were more considerate of it than the Judge, and gave 
me a verdict. Little regard was paid to the forms of law, and yet substantial 


justice was generally done. Associate Judge Hughes had a woman working for 
him by the name of Dobson. She desired a divorce and wanted me to get it for 
her. I inquired as to whether there had been any notice given to her husband. 
Judge Hughes said that about a month previous Dobson had come to see his wife, 
and that he (Judge Hughes) had told him that if he did not provide for his wife 
before court commenced, he would grant her a divorce. The Judge said Dobson 
had not done anything, and he asked Judge Morgan if he would sign a decree of 
divorce in the wife's favor, if I would prepare one. He said he would, and in ac- 
cordance with the order of the Court I drew up a decree, and it was signed and 
became a part of the record. This beats the Chicago divorce proceedings. 

Yes, I knew Cyrus Walker very well. He frequently came over to attend Court. 
He had a son, a rather tall boy, whom he settled at Fort Madison. He formed a 
sort of partnership with Judge Stockton and they took in the circuit of Des Moines, 
Lee, Jefferson, Van Buren and Henry Counties. Walker traveled around, and 
would go to see about his son at Port Madison. His son did not remain there a 
great while. Walker was an able lawyer. He stood at the head of the bar in 
Kankakee County, Illinois. He and Judge Logan, of Illinois, were from the same 
part of the country. Judge Logan was what you might call a singe-cat, with light 
hair and boyish face, but a better lawyer than even Cyrus Walker was. He and 
Walker were competitors in Kankakee. Logan staid at Rocheville and Walker at 
Macomb — no, I am mistaken, Logan was from Springfield, but practiced at Roche- 

John C. Breckinridge, afterwards U. S. Senator from Kentucky, and Vice 
President of the United States, was at Burlington and practiced there for a while. 
He came from Kentucky to Burlington with Mr. Bullock. They remained about 
two years and then returned to Kentucky. Mr. Bullock's son, Thomas W. Bullock, 
was afterwards Governor of Kentucky, and he himself was elected Judge after he 
returned to Kentucky. I recollect traveling with Breckinridge from Burlington 
to Fairfield at the time Ross was tried for killing Bradstreet. Breckinridge and 
myself were there together. He must have come to Burlington about 1839. The 
Ross who killed Bradstreet was William W. Ross and no relation to Dr. William 
R. Ross. He was a brother of John Ross that kept the Ogden House at Council 
Bluffs, and a brother of Cap Ross, who killed Dr. Wright at a land sale in Ottum- 
wa. Ross was from Virginia. His father was Register of the Land Office and suc- 
ceeded Van Antwerp and Dodge in 1840. He was appointed Register of the Land 
Office by President Harrison. General Arthur Bridgeman married a sister of the 
Ross who killed Bradstreet. The difficulty between them grew out of some re- 
mark that Bradstreet had made about Bridgeman while Bridgeman was in St. 
Louis. Ross heard of it and, meeting Bradstreet at the post office, struck him 
with his riding whip. Bradstreet said, "I am not prepared for you now, but I will 
be." And he did prepare. He was boarding at the National Hotel on Jefferson 
Street between Main and Third. His room was upon the corner between Main 
and Columbia Streets. He had two blocks to go to his boarding house. Our mar- 
ket was in the middle of Washington Street, just above Main between that and 
Third Street. The street was wide enough for passage on each side. There was 
a livery stable north of Washington Street. Bradstreet was a speculator and 
wealthy. While he was coming down from his room on the street, Ross was 
coming down from Washington Street, on the south side of the market, and they 
met midway on Washington Street, and commenced firing. It was difficult to tell 
who had fired first, but a man by the name of Taylor, a brother-in-law of Chap- 
man, testified that he saw them meet, and saw Ross hold up his right arm while 
he had his pistol in his left hand, and saw a flash strike Ross under this arm, and 
that if there were two shots they were simultaneous. They continued firing and 
John Ross came out of an alley back of the livery stable mentioned, as soon as 
the firing commenced. They kept on firing for about half a block, Ross following 
Bradstreet up, and when they got to a little building by the post office Bradstreet 
stumbled and fell upon the platform right in front of the post office door and died 
almost immediately. There were nine bullets in Bradstreet and five in Ross. 
Ross was picked up for dead and taken to his father's house. It was thought that 
he was mortally wounded and it was a long time before he could be taken to the 


jail, where he was placed in an upper room. Cyrus Walker defended him, the case 
was tried at Fairfield and he was acquitted.* 

I was the legal counsel of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, the Mormon leaders. 
You ask me to relate the circumstances leading up to their murder. In June, 1844, 
while I was standing at the wharf at Burlington, a note was handed to me from 
Joe Smith requesting me to come to Nauvoo. I jumped aboard and went down. 
Joe and his brother Hyrum were concealed in a pawpaw thicket across the river 
in Lee County. I was piloted over in a boat by three men. When we reached the 
other side we found a couple of horses saddled and bridled all ready to go. We 
mounted and rode down the river for about three miles and then turned up a 
ravine, which we traversed for about three-quarters of a mile through a thicket 
and came to the camp of Joe and Hyrum Smith. There were about twenty other 
men with them. We held a consultation and concluded that Smith should return 
to Nauvoo, and that I should go to Governor Ford, of Illinois, and obtain a pledge 
from him that the Smiths should have a fair and impartial trial and that they 
should be protected from all bodily harm. A warrant had been issued on a charge 
of riot and for destroying the press of the "Nauvoo Expositor," a newspaper which 
had charged that Joe had been tampering with other men's wives. Joe was the 
Mayor of Nauvoo and the council passed an ordinance declaring the "Expositor" a 
nuisance and ordering its destruction. It was accordingly set fire to and burned up. 
I was in Nauvoo at the time and saw it. Thereupon the warrant was issued for 
their arrest. Smith refused to be taken, declared martial law, and would let nobody 
go out or come in. Thereupon a large crowd of men collected about Carthage, the 
county seat, coming in from the surrounding counties. Governor Ford came and 
ordered out the militia, organized it and gave the command to Colonel Denin, 
sheriff of Hancock County. This was the state of affairs when Smith sent for me. 

*Judge Henry C. Caldwell related to me some years ago a thrilling incident of 
this trial, of which I made a note at the time and which, as near as I can remem- 
ber, was about in the following language: "The trial of Ross for the killing of 
Bradstreet, by reason of the circumstances, the character of the persons involved 
and the lawyers engaged, attracted a good deal of attention, and my father decided 
to make the journey to Fairfield and hear the arguments. I was only a boy of 
some eight or nine years of age, but he took me along with him, and I received 
impressions so vivid that they have lasted a lifetime. Cyrus Walker was for the 
defendant. I listened to his entire speech with great interest and to a certain 
part of it with great emotion. The pivotal point in the case was as to who had 
fired the first shot. Witnesses testified to circumstances pro and con, but nothing 
certain and the question was left in great doubt, when the mother of Ross was 
called as a witness and testified that she knew Bradstreet had fired the first shot, 
because she was perfectly familiar with the sound of William's pistol, she had 
heard it so often when he was shooting at the mark with others; that knowing 
what had happened, she did not want William to go out and when he did, she 
feared there might be a meeting between him and Bradstreet and was anxiously 
looking out and listening; that she heard the first shot, and screamed, fearing that 
William had been killed, but in an instant she heard another shot, and cried out, 
"No! William Is defending himself, that is his pistol. I know it from the sound.'' 
Walker treated this circumstance as decisive of the disputed point, and illustrated 
it by this incident in his experience. He said that at an early period of Kentucky, 
the portion in which some families had settled was so unsatisfactory that they 
concluded to seek another location, and three men of the community were selected 
to go in quest of some more favorable situation. They went into the Indian Coun- 
try. They did not return when expected, and when at the end of three years they 
had failed to do so, and no tidings of them were received, they were given up as 
having been slaughtered by the Indians. As a matter of fact, two of them had 
been, but the third, on account of the accuracy of his aim, had been spared by the 
Indians to shoot game for them, and had finally managed to escape and make his 
way homeward. He drew near his house in the night. He had retained his rifle 
and when he got near he fired it. Whereupon his wife who heard it, jumped from 
her bed exclaiming, "Thank God! Thank God! Jesse is alive! I know it! I know 
it, for it is his rifle!" and rushed from the door into her husband's arm. 


I advised him to return to Nauvoo, as already stated, and disband his legion, and 
I went to Carthage, where I met the Governor and obtained from him the pledge 
of safety before referred to. I returned with it to where I had left Smith and we 
started on the following morning for Carthage. About nine miles out we met 
Captain Denin (or Dunn) with a company of cavalry and an order from Governor 
Ford for the surrender of the state arms which the legion had drawn under the 
state laws. Then I thought it unsafe for Smith to go on. I also thought it would 
be unsafe for the Captain and his men to go to Nauvoo without the Smiths and the 
other leaders with him, as there were about twenty thousand Mormons at Nauvoo. 
Under these conditions it was agreed that Smith should go back to Nauvoo and 
assist in gathering the government arms that were to be given up or back to the 
State. On this being done, I was to report the fact to Governor Ford, and then the 
Smiths and the other prisoners were to surrender themselves under the pledge of 
safety and protection that had been given by Governor Ford. They accordingly 
went on to Nauvoo and carried out that part of the program by collecting the arms 
that were to be given up. There were four pieces of cannon, about one thousand 
stand of private arms, and at about twelve o'clock at night Captain Denin (or Dunn) 
reported with the arms and the defendants to the headquarters of the Governor at 
Carthage. I was there at the time, in an upper room fronting the street, talking 
with the Governor. Captain Denin (or Dunn) came up to the room where we were 
and reported. In a short time about five hundred of the soldiers encamped on the 
public square came rushing and clamoring for a sight of Joe and Hyrum Smith. 
The Governor promised that if they would retire to their quarters peaceably he 
would introduce them to the Smiths in the morning. These men belonged to the 
militia that had been organized by the Governor, as I have before stated, for the 
purpose of taking the Smiths. It was for the most part an organized mob. The 
McDonnough and Brown County men were rather quiet; the worst were the 
Adams and Hancock men. The next morning Captain Denin had the men drawn 
up on the public square by companies. He took Joe Smith on his right and Hyrum 
on his left. Denin introduced Joe and Hyrum to the heads, centers, and flanks 
of the companies — making three halts at each company. There were about fifteen 
hundred men there. When he got to where a portion of the companies were I 
felt a little squeamish myself. I was told afterwards that there were at least a 
hundred men loaded to shoot Joe Smith, but I was on his right and he was on 
Captain Denin's right. I was between Smith and the militia. I knew almost every 
man in the crowd, for I had been practicing law in those counties for years. They 
told me afterwards that but for me Joe would have never passed through the lines 
alive; they did not want to hurt me; I could name nearly every one of them. 
I was merely the attorney, but I felt good when I got back to the Governor's 
headquarters. We were three days justifying bail. The justice of the peace was 
really one of the leaders of the mob and he refused to accept bail as long as he 
could. Colonel Singleton was the attorney for the prosecution. I sent for Edward 
Johnstone to assist me and he sent his law partner, Hugh T. Reid. Before bail 
was accepted Chauncey Higbee and Doctor Foster filed an information charging the 
two Smiths with high treason and they were arrested on this charge, and the 
justice on his own motion continued the case for three days and ordered the men 
to jail. The next morning the Governor signified his intention of going to Nauvoo 
to search for counterfeit money. To this I objected. I was satisfied that as long 
as the Governor remained in Carthage the Smiths would be safe, and that as soon 
as he left there would be no safety. I so told him and asked him for a guard. He 
discharged the troops from McDonnough County and the other outside counties, 
and gave me the "Carthage Greys" as a guard. The justice of the peace I have 
referred to was the Captain, and more than one-half of the men were of the mob. 
But all I could do was to go with them. The jail was in the northwest corner of the 
town — rather in the outskirts and four or five hundred yards west of the court 
house. The Carthage Greys took up their quarters in the court house, and sent a 
guard of eight men to the jail. I went to see Joe in the jail and told him what I 
had done and that it was the best I could do. He wanted me to go to Nauvoo and 
have the Mormons there make preparations to receive the Governor. There were in 
the jail, Joe and Hyrum Smith, Taylor, and Richards. The last words Joseph 
Smith said to me were, "Woods, I want you to go and prepare my people, for I will 


never live to see another sun. They have determined to murder me, and I never 
expect to see you again. I have no doubt you have done the best you could for me. ' 
He proved to be a prophet, for he did not live to see another sun. I went to Nauvoo 
and the Governor arrived about two hours after I got there. He made a speech to 
the people and intended to remain a couple of days, but I discovered afterwards 
that he was alarmed. He told me he was going to return to Carthage. He went 
over to his room, and by the way, he kept the principal hotel in the city at that 
time. We went over there and took supper, and the Governor and his escort left 
about twilight for Carthage. When they had got about four miles on their way 
they were met by a Mr. Grant who was bringing the news of the murder of Joseph 
and Hyrum Smith in the Carthage jail. Grant came on to Nauvoo, arriving at my 
room about three o'clock in the morning and told me the news. I did not disturb 
anybody as I did not want to create excitement at that time. A little after 
daylight I received a letter from Governor Ford brought to me by a messenger, 
informing me of the murders and asking me to restrain the Mormons, and authoriz- 
ing me to put the city in a condition to repel any mob, and if possible prevent the 
Mormons from leaving the city. I put a man on an old white horse and gave him a 
trumpet to sound. That was the way they called their meetings. In an hour I 
suppose there were ten thousand Mormons in the Temple Grove; I addressed them 
and got a pledge that they would not leave the city. Six hundred men were detailed 
by the marshal to prevent anyone from leaving or coming into the city. The city 
was about six miles square. After I received the letter from Governor Ford I 
conveyed to the widows of Joseph and Hyrum Smith the news of their husbands' 
death. I then mounted my horse and went to Carthage to have the bodies brought 
over to Nauvoo. It was supposed that John Taylor — afterwards president of the 
Mormon Church at Salt Lake City — had been fatally wounded in the struggle at the 
jail. I brought the bodies of Joseph and Hyrum back to Nauvoo. There was a great 
crowd to meet us formed in line said to have been two miles long. I took the 
bodies to the Mansion and delivered them to the family friends, and they were 
placed in state in the dining room of the Mansion, so that everyone could pass 
through and see them. I think it took about two hours for them to pass through. 
From an outside platform Hugh T. Reid, of Fort Madison, who had assisted me, 
and myself looked over the vast crowd that had assembled, spreading out in every 
direction almost as far as the eye could reach. There were at least twenty thousand 

Now as to the details of the shooting. A little after six o'clock a mob of eighty 
men approached the Carthage jail from the northwest through a skirt of timber. 
Between the timber and the jail there was an open space perhaps half a mile wide. 
The jail was a stone structure of two stories fronting south. A door entered the 
hall on the west side; from this hall there was a stairway leading to rooms above. 
At the top of the stairway, on the right, was a door into the room occupied by the 
jailer's family. The jail yard was surrounded by a low fence and on the east 
side was a well with a low curb around it. Two windows were on the south and 
one on the east side, of the jail. The door to the room above referred to was in 
the northwest comer near the head of the stairs. As the crowd approached the 
jail and got inside of the fence, the guard of eight men discharged their pieces over 
the heads of the mob and fled to the court house. Then the mob commenced an 
indiscriminate discharge of firearms, a portion of them rushed up the stairs, and 
a portion surrounded the jail on the east and south and commenced firing. "Those 
that had gone up the stairs broke in the door of the room that has been described 
where they were met by Dr. Richards, who with a big cane struck down the gnns 
as they were presented. He was a man of immense size and was Joe Smith's 
private secretary. There had been eight or ten Mormons in the jail, but they all 
left that morning except Richards and Taylor. While Richards stood at the door 
knocking down the guns with his heavy cane, bullets were flying in at the south 
and east windows. Joe Smith faced his assailants and fired five times upon them 
with his revolver, wounding as many men. After the sixth barrel of his revolver 
tailed to go off, they rushed their guns through the door and he broke for the east 
window. As he raised it a ball struck him under the jaw and came out above the 
eye and another struck him under the right shoulder blade and went through and 
lodged in the works of his watch in his left vest pocket. There is where I found it 


He was shot through the window from below. The effect of these shots caused him 
to tall out of the window. After he struck the ground he raised himself partly up 
with his back against the well curb referred to, and one of the mob run him through 
with his bayonet and twisted it off in his body. I counted thirty-six bullets in the 
wall of that upper room. Hyrum Smith lay very nearly under the bed in the 
southeast corner of the room, dead with five bullets in his body. After the mob 
knew that the prophet was dead and Hyrum also, it dispersed. Dr. Richards, 
finding that there was still life in Taylor, who was lying on the north side of the 
room, picked him up and carried him into his cell, and there tore off his under- 
clothes, dressed his wounds and he recovered. 

I received the effects from the body of Joe Smith and turned them over to his 
widow upon her giving me the following receipt: 

"Received, Nauvoo, 111., July 2, 1844, of James W. Woods, $135.50 in gold and 
silver and the receipt for shroud, one gold finger ring, one pen and pencil case, one 
pen knife and case, one pair of tweezers, one silk and one leather purse, one small 
pocket wallet containing a note on John P. Green for $50, and the receipt of Heber 
C. Kimball for a note of hand on Ellen M. Saunders for one thousand dollars, 
as the property of Joseph Smith. (Signed) Emma Smith." 

The place there was first called Venice, then Commerce and after the Mor- 
mons purchased it and the land around they named it Nauvoo. The temple was 
built on a bluff about three quarters of a mile from the river in a little grove. The 
temple was built of limestone taken out of the bluffs. It was a magnificent build- 
ing, finely finished outside and in; it had two pulpits, one in the east end and one 
in the west end. The basement contained the baptismal font supported by twelve 
oxen carved in lite size. The font was about sixty feet in diameter, about eight 
feet deep, and was supplied with water from a fountain in the building. The 
twelve oxen on which It rested were carved out of solid limestone rock, horns and 
all, and faced outward. They had the finest kind of English artisans among them 
who did this work. The Mormons did not leave there immediately after the death of 
Smith, and not until 1846. John Taylor came up with a portion of them and win- 
tered on the ridge about fifteen miles below Bldora in Hardin County, and they 
came devilish near starving to death that winter. They did not have the Salt 
Lake destination in view before they started. They scattered about in different 
directions. A large body of them wintered in Garden Grove in Decatur County, 
a portion of them as I have said in Hardin County, some in Davis and Appanoose 
counties, a large body went to Council Bluffs, and to Gainesville. Polygamy was 
not publicly proclaimed as a feature of Mormonism while at Nauvoo, nor I think 
until after their settlement at Salt Lake, but it was said that Smith had introduced 
what was called Spiritual Wifedom, which consisted in a man having a wife to be 
known as his spiritual wife in addition to the ordinary one. Joe Smith was par- 
ticular in his taste in regard to female beauty, and sought only those who devel- 
oped most fully both physically and intellectually; who would naturally attract the 
opposite sex. Most of the prominent and influential leaders, such as Orson Pratt, 
Parley Pratt, Isham Hyde, William J. Wilson, Higbee, Dr. Poster and several 
others possessed wives who, aside from Mormonism were beautiful, refined, well- 
educated ladies, and it was charged by "The Nauvoo Expositor," which was de- 
stroyed as I have related, that Smith selected or desired to select his spiritual 
wives from this class, and that is what caused the trouble. The husbands of the 
would-be sJDiritual wives were offended. 

I do not think Joe Smith was at heart a bad or wicked man, and you could 
see from his face that he was not naturally an unkind one. But he was a born 
ruler and when he made up his mind, they all had to obey. He was, of course, 
an uncultured man that had never had the advantages of much education, but 
from somewhere he had inherited great ability. This, it appears to me, is shown 
by the fact that, claiming to be a prophet, he founded a new creed or sect which 
has survived the contempts and onslaughts of the whole world and spread itself 


nearly all over it. He was a fine looking man. He has a son named after him, 
Joseph Smith, Junior.* 

I want to say one word more about the Mormons. I think they ha,ve been 
over-abused. Of course, there were some wicked men among them. This would 
be but natural in a community of some twenty-four thousand people gathered from 
all parts— for Joseph Smith showed his sagacity by instituting, almost at the out- 
set, a system of widespread proselyting. This and the sort of refuge ofifered, nat- 
urally drew adventurers, as well as religious enthusiasts, some of whom, as must 
be the case in every hastily organized community, were bad men. I think I can 
say from close personal observation that the rank and file of them were religious 
enthusiasts who truly believed in this newly revealed religion, and I think that 
among all the religions of the earth, that every religion is true to the followers 
who truly believe it.** 

After a hard struggle Iowa City succeeded in getting the capital removed to 
that place from Burlington The first session of Territorial Legislature met there 
in the winter of 1840-41. There was only one hotel, kept by a man named Butler, 
capable of accommodating guests. The state house was a temporary frame build- 
ing of two stories without any committee rooms. The lower story was occupied 
by the House of Representatives and the upper by the Council. There were two 
small rooms at the head of the stairs, neither of which was oven ten by twelve 
feet in dimension, one of which was appropriated by O. H. W. Stull, Secretary of 
the Territory, and the other by the Governor as his private office. I was then 

*(Note). Joseph Smith, Junior, now lives at Independence, near Kansas City, 
Missouri, and is the President and Head of the Reorganized Morinon Church. They 
are anti-polygamists. I have seen him often riding on the cars of the electric line 
between Kansas City and Independence, over a pa;rt of which I daily traveled, my- 
self. He is a large, broad-shouldered, fine looking man, with an open, benevolent 
face, and would attract attention anywhere. He is personally liked and highly 
esteemed by everybody. He must be upwards of eighty years, according to Mr. 
Woods. The Mormon Church at Independence has a large following, and the Mor- 
mons constitute a large integral part of the population of that city and vicinity; 
and it must be said that they are exceptionally good citizens. They are Indus- 
trious, thrifty, sober, law abiding, and attend strictly to their own business. They 
have control of one of the banks, carry on several industries and seem to have no 
paupers or criminals, and consequently, cut but little figure in the courts. Since 
the foregoing portion of this note was written, Joseph Smith has died in 1914, and 
is succeeded by his son, Frederick M. Smith as the head of the church. 

** (Note). I have given thus at length this narration of Mr. Woods, respect- 
ing the Mormon episode, because it is closely interwoven with his life, because it 
is the best exposition by an eye-witness, that has been given of the stirring events 
leading to the final catastrophe, and because it corrects the prevailing impression 
that it was wholly due to the voluntary action of the outside public who had be- 
come incensed by crimes committed by the Mormons. As I read the lines and be- 
tween them, such was not the case. Judge Mason, whose word must be taken as 
a verity, says that after the execution of the murderers of Miller and Davenport, 
there were no crimes of moment committed by them, at least in Iowa, and that a 
sense of security prevailed. As I interpreted it, the fire was not kindled outside 
of, but within thedr lines, by the publications in the Nauvoo Expositor referred to, 
and internal enemies of Smith. This seems to be indicated by the fact that Dr. 
Foster and Higbee who are among the leaders mentioned by Mr. Woods as having 
beautiful wives, while Smith was before the magistrate at Carthage, fearing that 
the charge made might not be sufficient to hold him, filed the additional one of 
high treason, thus adding fresh fuel to the gathering storm that was already 
near the point of breaking. To sum it up: There were dissensions within; the 
newspaper publications referred to inflamed the public without; and the climax 
was reached in the destruction of the paper. If this had not been done, there 
would have been no riot, no flight, and none of the fatal consequences that fol- 
lowed in their wake. 


Secretary of the Territorial Council. The Council and House were made up of 
men who had settled the country. Dubuque sent up among others, Bainbridge and 
Verplank Van Antwerp, formerly receiver of the Burlington land office. For want 
of something better to do, they started a newspaper called the Iowa Capital Re- 
porter. Bainbridge became involved in a quarrel with Van Antwerp and the lat- 
ter challenged Bainbridge. They met in the Council room. Van drew a revolver, 
but Bainbridge knocked him down and took the revolver from him'. Bainbridge 
returned to Maryland and the last I heard of him, he was in Washington. In the 
Counsel were Edward Johnstone, of Lee County, brother to Governor Johnstone, 
of Pennsylvania, and Governor Johnstone, of California, Gideon S. Bailey, of Van 
Buren County, S. C. Hastings, of Muscatine County, afterwards Chief Justice of 
Iowa, and later of the Supreme Court of California; Shepherd Leffler, of Des 
Moines County, who was one of our first Congressmen after we became a State; 
George Greene, of Linn County, afterwards a Judge of the Supreme Court; Barker, 
of Scott County; William H. Wallace, of Henry County, afterwards a member of 
Congress from Oregon; Judge Coop, of Jefferson County; Captain Jesse B. 
Brown, of Lee County. To compare for a moment, salaries of then and now. That 
of the State Treasurer was $400 per annum, that of our Judges, $1,500. 

At the organization of Butler County, Judge J. D. Thompson was the Pre- 
siding Judge of the District Court. There were present at the first term of court 
three attorneys, J. C. Fletcher and Mr. Brown, his partner, and M. M. Trumbull, 
afterwards a General in the Civil War, and later collector of Internal Revenue at 
Dubuque. He was also a member of the Legislature from Butler County. I was 
retained in most of the cases. The County was afterwards detached from Judge 
Thompson's district, and annexed to that of Judge Murdock. Judge Murdock was 
succeeded by Judge Elias Williams, of Clayton County, who was afterwards ap- 
pointed one of the Judges of the Supreme Court. 

We were attending court at Knoxville, with Judge McFarland on the bench. 
The court held over into the second week. They extinguished all the whisky there 
was in town the first week, except a little I had in my hand-trunk, which was 
miade especially to prevent anyone breaking into it. I had it covered with calf- 
skin and a patent lock on it. Dan Finch called it my "whisky safe." I always 
carried a little along for the benefit of the Judge. Judge Seevers, Judge Knapp, 
D. O. Finch, Marcellus Crocker and other lawyers from abroad were there, and 
they got intensely dry and importuned me for what I had in my safe. As I wanted 
to keep a little for the Judge, I refused to let them have it. Judge McFarland 
occupied a lower room of the hotel. Judges Knapp and Seevers occupied an upper 
one together. I got up one morning and found my safe gone. I searched for and 
found it under Judges Knapp's and Seevers' bed, with the jaws of it very m'uch 
bent. I picked up one of Knapp's boots and one of Judge Seevers' and took them 
out to the stable, got up on the hay mow and forked a place down four or five 
feet in one corner and put the boots in. When Knapp and Seevers got up they 
were each minus a boot and each had to buy a new pair. They were very mad — 
and so was I. 

Governor Lucas was not a lawyer, nor was Governor Briggs. The latter had 
been Sheriff of Jackson County, a member of the Legislature from there, and 
was the first Governor of the State. Alfred Rich was a man of brilliant talents. 
He died early of consumption. Nearly all the lawyers of those days drank whisky, 
but only a few to hurtful excess. Judge Mason, Judge William's, Mr. Grimes, Mr. 
Parvin, Mr. Rorer and some others were notable exceptions. Frederic D. Mills 
was a law partner of J. C. Hall and could have had the position of U. S. District 
Attorney, and went to Washington with a view of accepting the appointment, but 
when he got there, he became fired with the Mexican War spirit and accepted the 
position of Major in Colonel Morgan's Ohio Regiment. He was placed in com- 
mand of a batallion and was killed at the battle of Churubusco. Captain, after- 
wards General Roberts, of the regular army, succeeded recovering his body. It 
was badly disfigured, but Captain Roberts was intimately acquainted with him 
and was able to recognize the body by som« peculiar features of it. General Rob- 
erts lived at Fort Madison and afterwards moved to and died recently at Des 


In 1844 we fought the Constitution narrowing the western boundary of the 
State. That boundary, as originally fixed, was much the same as now, but Con- 
gress under the impression that all west of Des Moines was an uninhabitable 
waste, reduced the western boundary, making it a short distance west of Des 
Moines and between there and Adel. Dodge, Mason, Henn, Clarke, Hall, Wilson 
and Jones all urged the adoption of the Constitution with the limited boundary. 
The Whigs had opposed it on the ground of introducing an elective Judiciary, 
which was new. Shepherd Leffler, T. S. Parvin, Frederic D. Mills, Enoch W. East- 
man, Edward Johnston and myself got together and determined it would be a 
shamie to come in with such a limited boundary, and we concluded to oppose it 
with might and main. We divided the State into three districts : Leffler, Eastman 
and Johnston took the lower, Mills and myself, the center, and Parvin the north- 
ern. We canvassed the Territory thoroughly. Mills and myself rode sixty days 
and made from one to four speeches a day. James Clark was Governor at the 
time and the last one of the Territory. He married a sister of A. C. Dodge and 
was a partner of Cyrus Jacobs at the time he was killed. He died with the cholera 
at Burlington. 

About the Missouri War. I think enough has been said by Judge Mason and 
along the line as to render anything from me, concerning that noisy, but blood- 
less contest unnecessary. Yes, I knew Lincoln Clark. We elected him to Con- 
gress. He was a man of fine ability. He was a near relative of General Lincoln, 
after whom he was named. 

W. J. A. Bradford was the first Reporter of the Supreme Court.* He pub- 
lished in 1840 and 1841 three pamphlets of reports which were afterwards append- 
ed to and embraced in Morris' Reports. He was the son of that Bradford, who 
was for many years, Secretary of State of Massachusetts. He came to Burlington 
in 1836. He was an old bachelor of about forty-five or fifty years of age. He 
would weigh from 110 to 115 pounds and was about five feet and two or three 
inches in height, with a very small chin and nose. He was a walking encyclopedia 
of law and had read everything. He was succeeded by Easton Morris. 

Judge Joseph Williams was a man weighing about one hundred and sixty to 
one hundred and eighty pounds, about five feet, ten and a half to eleven inches in 
height. He had a fair, rosy complexion, mild brown-gray eyes, and a good head of 
hair. He was an able and very versatile man. He was fond of music and could 
play upon almost any kind of an instrument. And he could sing. I have heard 
him sing many of the old Scotch songs. 

S. C. Hastings was a man over six feet in height. He went to and became 
prominent in California. 

Judge John F. Kinney was an Ohioan by birth. He was a fine looking man 
and possessed a great deal of personal magnetism. He made a good Judge of the 
Supreme Court. He was a candidate for U. S. Senator, but was not successful. 

Henry W. Starr was a very able lawyer, and in all respects, a very brilliant 
man. He was very witty and liked a joke, as the following instance will show: 
Grimes and Starr were partners. Grimes was Governor and had written a letter 
to William L. Marcy, Secretary of the United States, with regard to Missouri 
River navigation and the Kansas troubles. Starr and myself happened to be at 
Hall's office, and Starr concluded to have some fun with Grimes by answering his 
communication in the name of Marcy; this he did and mailed the letter to Grimes. 
It was so completely done and so much like Marcy's peculiar style, that it com- 
pletely deceived Grimes, and they had a good deal of amusement. 

Delazon Smith — "Taylor's Lost Minister to South America." He was so called 
by reason of the fact that when a recall was sent to him he evaded it for three 
years. He was a man of splendid talents and of such striking and amusing char- 
acteristics that he soon became known throughout the State. He was not a large 
but a well-built man, of rather full habit and fine physique. He resembled Augustus 

* Note — This is an error in one sense. Charles Weston was first appointed 
but very soon resigned to accept the position of United States District Attorney. 
He reported no cases. 


Hall (brother of J. C. Hall), though he was really not as able a man. Smith was 
a natural orator, very eloquent and very fluent and ready. He was a lawyer by 
profession and if he had devoted his attention to it he would have been very 
eminent in the law; but he was a natural politician, and a very aggressive one. 
He was a regular actor on the stump, always amusing and sometimes dramatic. 
He would sometimes quote from memory while speaking extracts from 
the speeches of Clay, Calhoun, Webster, Benton and others. His power of 
ridicule was great, as the following instance will illustrate: At the time Daniel 
Miller and William Thompson ("Black Bill") ran for Congress he was induced to 
become an independent democratic candidate. He made a speech at Montrose 
during the canvass. He said in dramatic style, "Send Bill Thompson to Congress! 
What of it! What then? He will sit there like a knot on a wet spruce log. Send 
Dan Miller to Congress! What of it? What then? He will be like a wet wick in 
a tallow candle. Send "Delusion" Smith to Congress! What of it What then? 
$2,500 mileage in his vest pocket. It is no longer "Delusion" Smith. It is the 
Honorable Delazon Smith, M. C. from Iowa, receiving gilt-edged notes from Dodge, 
Jones & Co. Plays hell! Turns up Jack!! Makes High, Low, Jack and the 
Game!!!" He acquired the two titles of "Delusion" and the "Lost Minister" by 
evading his recall. 

Stephen Hempstead succeeded Ansel Briggs as Governor, and he made a good 
one. He was rather tall and spare, about my height and build; Judge Hall passed 
me off for Governor Hempstead among the Quakers of Salem when we were there 
one time. He was tasteful in his attire, and generally wore a snuff-colored coat 
and white vest. I was intimately acquainted with him. He was a man of talents 
and a good jurist. He stood among the foremost. I think he was originally from 
Connecticut but came from Missouri to Iowa. He lived at Dubuque. He was very 
amiable and very popular with his party. He was altogether a very charming man. 
His brother was a member of Congress from Arkansas at one time. 

There were two years after Iowa became a State in which we had no Senators 
in Congress, because the Whigs and "Possums" were not strong enough to elect 
and the Democrats would not combine. The "Possums" held the balance of power. 
The Possum Party grew out of the trouble over the title to land embraced in the 
Half Breed Tract. There were a hundred and ninety thousand acres, including the 
towns of Keokuk and Montrose. The Wisconsin Territorial Legislature at the 
Belmont session had appointed three commissioners to partition and allot the 
shares. There were 101 shares, the most of which fell into the hands of New 
York speculators. Suit was brought by the New York claimants to recover the 
lots which in the meantime had become settled upon. The settlers claimed title, 
and the question became a political one. The settlers had a majority and were 
known as the "Possum Party." As before stated they held the balance of power 
and we had no Senators in 1846 to 1848, when A. C. Dodge and George Wallace 
Jones were elected. 

James Morgan came to Burlington when Lucas was appointed Governor. He 
was a lawyer, but never practiced. He was a newspaper man. He first started 
the Burlington Telegraph. The first paper was the Burlington Gazette. There 
was a paper published at Fort Madison called The Patriot. I had been publishing 
a paper there called the Echo of the Prairies. I sold my paper to Dr. GaDand; 
he sold out to James G. Edwards, and Edwards moved the Patriot and the Echo 
of the Prairies presses to Burlington and established the Burlington Hawkeye. 
Morgan afterwards established the Telegraph as above stated, but it later became 
merged in the Hawkeye. Morgan was a prominent politician. We sent him to the 
Legislature from Des Moines County several times. He was a very able editor. 
He never wrote long articles, but short, pungent paragraphs. He was quite a 
prominent figure in Democratic politics for some years, and had great influence. 
He died quite a good many years ago. He had sandy hair and florid complexion. 

M. D. Browning came to Burlington in 1837. He was a man who had read well 
and was very original. He had a peculiar faculty of great honesty in appearance 
towards a court and jury — of apparent candor. He had the faculty of seizing the 
strong points of a case and hurling them, so to speak, at the jury. He was not 
a polished but a strong man. He was a tall, dark complexioned, grave appearing 
man. His eyes were rather large, dark and deeply set. His eyebrows heavy and 


black, his head rather large, high and somewhat bald. He was a brother of O. H. 
Browning, of Quincy, Lincoln's Attorney-General. He married a daughter of Judge 
Brown, of Kentucky. 

Augustus Hall was a man of about live feet and ten inches in height, rather 
full in body, heavy in the shoulders. He had light almost sandy hair, very florid 
complexion and wore mutton chop whiskers. He was a man of fine culture, an 
eloquent and polished speaker and an able lawyer. He did not much resemble 
his brother, J. C. Hall, in appearance, the latter being a much larger man. But he 
was much more scholarly. 

Judge Grant was going to hold court in Cedar County. He and some lawyers 
were jogging along on the way there. They were too slow for him. He told them 
he was going up to hold court and for them to hurry. They replied that they did 
not think there would be any court until they got there as they would be the only 
lawyers in attendance. The Judge spurred his horse and when he got to Tipton 
opened court (John P. Cook was the clerk of the court at that time) and called 
the docket. There was not a single attorney there to respond. Judge Grant said, 
"Adjourn court sine die," mounted his horse and rode off. He met the attorneys 
about three miles out and said to them, "There is no use of your going there, 
court is adjourned." And it was adjourned. This instance is, I think, very 
illustrative of the up and down character of Judge James Grant. 

The following instances will throw some light on the way lawyers did: E. W. 
Eastman and a lawyer by the name of Thurston were partners. They were 
defending two men for passing counterfeit money. They had $160 in good money 
and $280 in counterfeit money and a shot gun to pay their attorneys with. They 
put the good money in one pile and the counterfeit and the shot gun in another, 
and Eastman gave Thurston his choice of piles for his share. Thurston took the 
shot gun and the counterfeit money, and passed every cent of it afterwards, so 
Eastman said. Thurston was a very brilliant lawyer. He went to Oregon, was 
sent to Congress, and was returned the second time but died on his way. to 

William Penn Clark was a candidate for Senator and held the balance of 
power; but James W. Grimes induced him to withdraw by having him appointed 
Reporter of the Supreme Court. Pitz Henry Warren at this time was opposing 
Mr. Grimes although a member of the same party. 

Orson P. Hyde was a leading Mormon, a very able man and an eloquent 
speaker. I heard him preach and I think but few could excel him in some of his 
oratorical flights. 

V. M. Pendleton came from Kentucky. He was a lawyer of considerable ability, 
but never engaged actively in practice. He married the daughter of a Dr. 
Chamberlain. At the breaking out of the Rebellion, he attempted to recruit a 
company for the Southern cause, but only succeeded in recruiting himself. He 
entered the army of the Southern Confederacy and was killed fighting for the 
lost cause. 

George P. Stiles came to Iowa in an early day. I first met him in 1851. He 
was a large man with a fine physique and much magnetic influence. He was a 
good scholar, an able lawyer and a strong advocate. He ultimately settled at 
Council Bluffs. He was appointed in 1855 by President Pierce as one of the 
Supreme Judges of Utah. He subsequently went to Colorado and was twice 
Mayor of Denver. 

Of Ben Samuels I will briefly say that he may be properly placed at the head 
of the bar of his time and has never been excelled as an orator or lawyer. He 
married a daughter of Dr. Mason, a highly refined lady. He had a brother in 
Jackson County who was also a lawyer. He married a daughter of Ballard Smith, 
who, for many years, represented the Greenbrier District of Virginia in Congress. 
Mrs. Samuels was a scholar of mine when I kept school in Virginia, and I remember 
her as a most lovely girl. 

Piatt Smith I knew well. When I first met him he was engaged in rafting 
lumber from the Pineries down the Mississippi River. He had some trouble with 
his crew, and called upon Ralph P. Lowe, of Muscatine, for advice; the result was 


Judge Lowe advised him to read law, which he did and was admitted to the bar, 
where lie immediately took first rank. If he had been educated, I have no doubt 
he would have been the ablest lawyer and advocate in Iowa; as it was no one 
ever got away with him. He was a man of large frame, but rather rough and 
unsocial in his manners. He turned his attention to railroading in the latter part 
of his life and accumulated quite a fortune. 

Bernhart Henn came to Iowa in 1838 from Mineral Point, Wisconsin, with 
General A. C. Dodge as Clerk in the Register's office for the land district at 
Burlington of which Dodge was Register. He remained with Dodge until 1841, 
when he went into my office as a student at Burlington and was admitted to the 
bar in 1843. He never attained high rank at the bar. He had plenty of ability 
but no inclination for the profession. He was thoroughly acquainted with our 
public land system and was Register of the Land Office at Fairfield for a number 
of years and represented that district in Congress for several terms. He was a 
man of sound judgment and applied himself faithfully to the interests of his con- 
stituents while in Congress. His colleague was John P. Cook, of the Davenport 
District, who was a Whig. Henn was a Democrat. He was of medium size but of 
good personal appearance. 

John R. Woods, my brother, came to Iowa in 1838 from Massachusetts and 
became the Clerk of General Verplank Van Antwerp, Receiver of the General 
Land Office at Burlington, and continued in that position until 1841. He then 
became a law student in my office, was admitted to the bar in 1842 and imme- 
diately commenced practice. He was elected Clerk of the County Commissioner's 
Court, and died in this position in August, 1844. He was a young man of great 
personal popularity, and gave promise of a brilliant career at the bar. 

The foregoing includes only the narration drawn from the interviews I had with 
Mr. Woods, which were taken down at the time by my stenographer, as before 
stated. Subsequently and independently of this, I obtained from him additional 
valuable data in the form of letters, and written communications upon which I have 
frequently drawn in the course of my work. While he may have possibly made 
mistakes in minor details, in the main he will be found correct. Standing as he did, 
the last representative of his time, his statements come with vivid interest in respect to 
men he had intimately known and events of which he had been an eye-witness, and 
the only one left. 

This kindly old man manifested the most lively interest in my work and aided 
me in every way possible. To him, my readers as well as myself, are greatly 
indebted. By reason of his great age, the breadth of his observation, his wonder- 
ful memory, his gifts as a raconteur, his cheerful nature, his kindly heart, he was 
certainly a most interesting character, that one might well wish to live alway. Blessed 
be his memory ! 

William W. Chapman. 

The question as to who were the first resident lawyers of Burlington, in my 
opinion, lies between William W. Chapman and Shephard Leffler. They both 
located at or near BurHngton in 1835, but the respective dates of the arrival of 
each, I have not been able to ascertain. The first Court was held in the spring of 
that year in a log cabin erected by Dr. William R. Ross and situated in the block 
east of the public square. James W. Woods attended the first session of this 
Court, but he did not remove to Burlington until after that period. 


On the organization of the territory of Wisconsin on the fourth of July, 1 836, 
William W. Chapman was appointed District Attorney. He resided at Burling- 
ton. Before that and while we were a part of Michigan Territory, he had also 
been the Prosecuting Attorney under appointment by the Governor of that Terri- 
tory. Upon the organization of Iowa Territory in I 838, the question of a delegate 
to Congress came before the people. There were no caucus nominees, but W. W. 
Chapman and David Rorer, of Des Moines County, B. F. Wallace, of Henry Coun- 
ty, and Peter Hill Engle, of Dubuque, were announced as candidates. They made 
a canvass of the territory and, from all accounts, it was quite a lively one. Cyrus 
Jacobs was the editor of the Burlington Gazette; he had favored the caucus meth- 
od, to which the people did not respond; but Mr. Engle was the favorite of the 
caucus party and Jacobs made a very bitter fight for him as against Rorer and Chap- 
man, that finally resulted in a quarrel, in which Jacobs lost his life. Engle is said 
to have been a very handsome and polished gentleman, and would doubtless have 
been elected, but for what is known as the "Maquoketa Bath." While endeavor- 
ing to fill appointments that had been made for him to speak in the southern counties, 
he was washed from his horse in attempting to cross the Maquoketa River, which 
was very swollen at the time. Some Indians saw and followed him down the 
stream and finally rescued him, but he was not able to fill his appointments, and 
was reported to have been drowned. This lost him the election, but by only thirty- 
six votes. Chapman receiving 1490 and Engle 1454. Judge Rorer said the cam- 
paign cost him $500.00, but that he had had $1,000.00 worth of amusement out 
of it. 

Mr. Chapman, it is said, delivered the same speech on each occasion. It was 
a well prepared one, favored a pre-emption law, the extinguishment of Indian titles, 
and the improvement of the Des Moines, Skunk, Iowa, Cedar and Maquoketa 
Rivers — for no one then expected to ever see freight carried on railroads. This 
speech took with the people, but it vexed Rorer and Wallace, who were personally 
friendly and traveled much together. On the Saturday before the election, they 
all met at Davenport for a grand ending up. It was Rorer's time to open the de- 
bate, and to use the language of Hawkins Taylor, who tells the story — he jumped 
Chapman's speech, delivering it as nearly in Chapman's tone as possible. When 
Chapman arose, he told the audience that he had been fortunate in converting Rorer 
to his policy, as the speech just delivered by that gentleman, was the one usually 
delivered by himself. Upon this, Rorer jumped up and in his impetuous manner 
said, "Yes, gentlemen, the speech just delivered by me was Chapman's speech, and 
it was the poorest speech that I ever made in my life." 

As delegate to Congress, he was efficient in procuring much valuable legisla- 
tion. It is said that he introduced into Congress the first pre-emption Bill. He 
originated and got through, the measure giving to Iowa a grant of Five Hundred 


1 housand Acres of land for school purposes, which created the basis for the school 
system of Iowa. In I 843, he removed to Agency City, then an Indian village in 
Wapello County. From that county, he was elected a delegate to the first Con- 
stitutional Convention held at Iowa City in 1844, and took a part in the delib- 
erations of that body. 

In 1847, he started across the plains to become a pioneer of Oregon. His 
wife accompanied him ; they, with others, traveled with ox-teams, and after seven 
weary months of journeying, reached their destination, "where the Oregon (Colum- 
bia) rolls its flood to the distant ocean." In the fall of 1848 he went to California 
and worked in the mines. There he met General Lane who had been recently 
appomted Governor of Oregon. He induced Mr. Chapman to accompany him to 
that Territory. Mr. Chapman was elected to the Oregon Legislature, established 
the first newspaper in the Territory, was appointed Surveyor General and became a 
conspicuous and leading citizen of that Territory and State. He resided awhile 
m Dubuque where he was a partner of Stephen Hempstead and after his return to 
Burlington became for a while, a partner with James W. Grimes. Mr. Parvin 
says of him, "Few men of those days have done more or exerted a wider or deeper 
influence upon the times and people in the States of Iowa and Oregon than Mr. 
Chapman." He died at Portland in October, 1892. 

Isaac Leffler and Verplank Van Antwerp. 

Isaac Leffler came from Wheeling, West Virginia, to Burlington, in 1 835. He 
was a brother of Shephard Leffler. He had been a member of Congress from the 
Wheeling District. He was a very fair lawyer, but never engaged earnestly in the 
practice. He purchased a farm outside of Burlington and engaged to some extent 
in politics. He was one of the Judges of the County Court and was elected sev- 
eral times to the Legislature. He was appointed by President Harrison, United 
States Marshal in 1841. He has been dead for many years. In personal ap- 
pearance he was said to have resembled President John Tyler. He was a man 
of fine social qualities, amiable, kind and hospitable; a good specimen of a gentle- 
man of the old school. He was a man of ability, a good talker and thinker. 

Van Antwerp. 

Van Antwerp was a leading Democratic politician in the territorial period and 
exercised a great influence with his party. At the first session of the State Legisla- 
ture which convened at Iowa City on the thirtieth of November, 1846, he was a 
candidate for nomination before the Democratic caucus for United States Senator. 
At the commencement of the session, the Democrats in caucus had agreed to support 
Augustus C. Dodge and Thomas S. Wilson for Senators. Jacob Huner, a Sen- 
ator from Lee County, was opposed to Dodge. He professed to be a Democrat and 


indicated his willingness to vote with them if they would drop Dodge and take up 
some other man, but this the leading politicians refused to do and Huner voted with 
the Whigs. Thereupon the Democrats held another caucus, withdrew Dodge's 
name and took up Van Antwerp. Then Huner refused to vote with the Democrats 
unless they would unite on him for Senator. This they refused to do and the 
Legislature, after sitting until the 25th of February, adjourned without electing 
either Judges or Senators, and Iowa, for the first two years after the State organiza- 
tion, was not represented in the United States Senate. For further particulars re- 
lating to him, I am going to let Mr. Woods tell the story in his own language as 
related by him to me : 

Verplank Van Antwerp came to Burlington as the Receiver of the Land Office 
in 1838 and continued in that office until the accession of General Harrison to the 
Presidency. General A. C. Dodge was the Register of the Land Office during 
this period. John R. Woods was "Van Antwerp's Clerk, and Bernhart Henn was 
Dodge's Clerk. In 1840 he went to Iowa City with Jesse Williams and published 
the Iowa Capital Reporter; from Iowa City he came to Keokuk, and in 1844 went 
to St, Louis; he returned from St. Louis in 1845 with an appointment from Presi- 
dent Polk, who had just been elected, to the Receivership of the Land Office at 
Fairfield. It had been removed from Burlington to Fairfield. On his return, 
Clark (James Clark, afterward Territorial Governor). Dodge, Mason and some of 
the other leading Democrats, gave Van Antwerp the cold shoulder. They thought 
that having gone to Missouri, he properly belonged to and should have received 
his appointment for that State Instead of for this Territory. By this conduct of 
his quondam political confederates, Van Antwerp was touched and grew gloomy. 
He held an interview with me on the steps of the Barrett House. I offered words 
of consolation and encouragement, assured him that in my opinion, this feeling 
would pass over and all would be well again. James R. Fairweather had been a 
listener to the conversation, and the next morning The Hawkeye contained an 
almost verbatim narration of it, stating it to have occurred between "General Van 
Squirt and Old Timber." The article so closely described the personages that it 
was well known to whom allusion was made, and from this circumstance, I derived 
the cognomen of "Old Timber," by which I have been so long known through the 

Van Antwerp entered upon the duties of his office at Fairfield and continued in 
it until removed by President Taylor. He then went to Keokuk and remained 
until Franklin Pierce was elected President, when he received the appointment of 
Receiver of the Land Office at Fort Dodge, which he held during that administra- 
tion. At the end of this term he returned to Keokuk. His wife was a niece of 
Judge Van Ness of New York, who figured as one of the seconds of Aaron Burr 
in his duel with Alexander Hamilton. Van Antwerp's daughter, Catherine, was 
the first wife of George H. Williams, formerly Judge of the First District under the 
State organization, later United States Senator from Oregon, and, subsequently. 
President Grant's Attorney-General. 

In person. Van Antwerp was tall, slim and courtly, with black hair and eyes 
and fair complexion. He was a connection of President Van Buren and prided 
himself on being a genuine Knickerbocker. He was aristocratic, dignified, with a 
good deal of hauteur in his bearing, but lacked the stamina, both physical and men- 


tal of his rougher compeers. He was a lawyer by education, but deserted that field 
for that of poHtics, in which he seems to have been eminently successful, so far as 
holding office was concerned. 

Fitz Henr^ Warren. 

Of the military history of General Warren I shall have but little to say, as this 
field has been amply occupied by Stuart's "Iowa Colonels and Regiments," Inger- 
soll's "Iowa and the Rebellion" and the sketches of the First Cavalry and the 
Twenty-first and Twenty-second Infantry regiments contained in Cue's "History of 

It is of him as a civilian that I desire, for the most part, to speak. By birth he 
was a New Englander; a native of Brimfield, Massachusetts, where he was born 
in 1816. His early education had not been liberal in the strict sense of that term, 
though he was a graduate of Wilbraham Academy, which was probably but little 
more than a preparatory school to the higher universities. But his literary taste and 
scholarly instincts were so strong that through their impulse he attained a high state 
of mental culture. 

Though reared in the land of the Puritans, he was far from being puritanic in 
any narrow sense. On the contrary his nature was broad and liberal. He never 
achieved what might be termed a fortune, for he was destitute of those saving qual- 
ities generally necessary to acquire one, and endowed with those princely ones 
which dissipate accumulations well nigh as fast as they are gathered. 

Though he stood high in the confidence and counsels of his party, and enjoyed 
political distinction as a leader therein until he sided with Andrew Johnson in the 
historic rupture between that President and the party which elected him, this con- 
fidence and distinction were based on well-merited and worthy grounds, instead of 
springing as rewards for machine services. He fought vigorously for his party, but 
his contentions were always manly and above board. I know that he naturally dis- 
dained the dishonest methods and political trickery to which mere professional politi- 
cians resort. He was altogether above this. And for this very reason, and because 
of his high personal bearing, he was never a prime favorite with that class. His 
support was founded on the best elements of the parties, and every person who knew 
him as well as I knew him will affirm these statements. 

It is true that he, to some extent, sided with President Johnson in the rupture 
before referred to, and took strong grounds against the attempt of Congress to im- 
peach him. It is also unfortunately true, that at that moment, he fell from the 
political grace of that party which he had helped to found and with which he had 
so strongly stood, as quickly as a star thrown from its accustomed orbit. 


He might still claim to be a Republican, but his caste was gone; a hue and 
cry was raised against him; his motives were impugned and he was nailed to the 
political cross. He might still claim to be a Republican by reason of his long and 
valuable services, though opposed to some features of the party in the reconstruc- 
tion of the seceded states; to the indiscriminate and immediate conferment of the 
right of suffrage upon the negroes who had been lately slaves; to the extreme views 
of unscrupulous politicians upon the southern situation; and to the impeachment of 
the President. But it was all to no purpose. He had, to use the phrase of the 
times, become "Johnsonized." He had committed the unpardonable sin and was 
condemned "without benefit of clergy." 

But this was not his fate alone. He suffered in most distinguished company; 
in that of the illustrious Senator whose name and services perhaps more than any 
other adorn the history of Iowa ; who was the most prominent founder of the Repub- 
lican party in the State, and the first Republican Governor — James W. Grimes. 
And when it was ascertained that Senator Grimes had voted against the impeach- 
ment, the news was received in Iowa with general and severe disapprobation by the 
political leaders and the party press. In the excitement of the moment, the per- 
sonal convictions, the life-long services, the cogent reasons given by the Senator for 
his action, were unmercifully swept away in the fury of the political blast kindled by 
the press. A few of the number even went so far as to impute not only party dis- 
loyalty but mercenary motives to the Senator, whose integrity, notwithstanding his 
saving disposition, Satan himself would not dare to tempt. 

He would not flatter Neptune for his trident, 
Or Jove for's power to thunder. 

The reasons given by the Senator for his action, were, that the impeachment of 
the President, under the circumstances, would strongly tend to Mexicanize the gov- 
ernment and weaken it in the eyes of the world; and that the official changes in an 
administration, which at most had but a few months to run, would result in corrup- 
tion and disorder that would be dangerous to the nation. 

I confidently believe that the sober judgment of the great mass of the people 
today thoroughly approves the action of Senator Grimes and his compeers. Of the 
nineteen Senators who voted against impeachment, seven were Republicans, one of 
which was the justly exalted Senator from Maine, William P- Fessenden, the most 
intimate friend Senator Grimes had outside of family relations. These Republican 
Senators all shared alike in the denunciation which the political inquisitors hurled 
against them, and without exception I believe, were retired from public life. 

It was thought that these severe censures, and the change of feeling toward him 
on the part of old political friends, impaired the health of Senator Grimes and has- 
tened his death. And I have no doubt that this, added to previous disappoint- 
ments and sorrows, was the case with General Warren. 


That both of these men thought the "times were out of joint," and that the 
pubhc service and political morals had deteriorated, there is no doubt. In respect 
to General Warren, I had it from his own lips; and as to Senator Grimes, it is 
quite apparent from the following correspondence between Senator Fessenden and 
himself, while the latter was in Europe in search of health. On October 8, I 869, 
Mr. Fessenden wrote Mr. Grimes: 

I shall be a candidate, for duty to myself and the State requires it of me. 
If money is to be used, be it so; it will not be used by or for me. I will have no hand 
in corrupting legislative morals. If elected at all, it must be on my merits, and 
because the people so decree. For corrupt and corrupting honors, I have no desire. 
My hands are clean thus far, and I mean to keep them so. Any but an honest and 
high-minded people I have no desire to serve. 

To this the Iowa Senator responded: 

Your letter of the 8th inst. has just reached me, in the midst of the Savoy 
Alps, being douched and soaked in hot sulphur water. 

Perhaps you have observed that I have resigned my place in the Senate. The 
truth is, the place has become irksome to me. There are so many men there with 
whom I have not and never can have a particle of sympathy, so much corruption 
in the party with which I would be compelled to act, so much venality and meanness 
all around, that aside from ill health, I had made up my mind that the Senate 
was no longer the place for me. 

But if you are going to be as virtuous as you say you will be, you will not 
be re-elected to the Senate. Why, the war has corrupted everybody and everything 
in the United States. Just look at the senatorial elections of the last winter. They 
were nearly all corrupt. It is money that achieves success in such affairs 
nowadays. Thank God my political career ended with the beginning of this 
corrupt political era. 

I have indulged in this divergence in respect to Mr. Grimes because it illustrates 
the spirit of the times ; because it reflects General Warren's own views in those of 
the Senator, and serves to soften and explain his political action. 

General Warren was wanting in some of the elements essential to complete po- 
litical success ; and because thereof, he did not reach the highest points to which his 
real merit entitled him. He was not what is called a "good mixer." He lacked 
the suaviter in modo, and the quality of personal assimilation that go to make men 
generally popular. He also lacked the power of concealment, of dissimulation ; the 
power to disguise his displeasure under a smiling face, his anger with an air of com- 
posure; and to listen to and suffer patiently, things which inwardly he had no pa- 
tience with. On the contrary of these qualities, he was in appearance an aristocrat; 
his demeanor, seemingly haughty and imperious ; and it must be confessed that these 
appearances did not entirely belie his nature. He was, in short, a patrician, with 
few plebeian qualities. His generosity and kindness of heart, however, were un- 
bounded, and had money stuck to his fingers he would have died a wealthy man. 
If he were angry, he showed it. If he disliked men or measures, he was quick to 
declare it; and sometimes with a bitterness that was sure to provoke enmity. He 
was easily provoked himself, and when so, exercised a vein of polished satire that 


was very cutting. He was intensely bold and independent in thought and expres- 
sion, and was ever unwilling "To crook the pregnant hinges of the knee that thrift 
might follow fawning." 

And yet with all these qualities, some of which were strongly against his polit- 
ical advancement, he attained to greater heights than would have naturally been 
expected; especially when we take into consideration that he was not a politician in 
the ordinary sense of the term, and that politics was more an incident to his business 
than a pursuit. In 1847 he came from his native state and settled in Burlington, 
where he engaged in business. He was then about twenty-seven years of age. In 
I 849 he had gained so much distinction that he was appointed by President Taylor 
Assistant Postmaster-General. The appointment and removal of Postmasters 
throughout the country fell within his jurisdiction, and in this and other matters per- 
taining to the department, he displayed a high order of ability, which attracted the 
public attention and made him the most widely distinguished national character that 
Iowa, as yet, had had at the Capitol. Had he remained in this position, it is prob- 
able that higher honors under the administration would have attended him. But, 
true to himself and the instincts I have pointed out, he threw up the office in dis- 
gust, and retired to private life because Mr. Fillmore, who had become President 
by the death of President Taylor, had allowed himself to be persuaded into sign- 
ing the new fugitive slave law. This, however, augmented still more his national 
reputation. Not long thereafter he was made Secretary of the National Executive 
Committee in the Scott presidential campaign. In 1855, his name was strongly 
before the legislature as a candidate for United States Senator to succeed Gen. A. C. 
Dodge. Among the candidates at the outset, his name was the most prominent, 
but he was defeated by James Harlan, whose election was a surprise to the people 
of the State. 

This unexpected result was brought about by the following circumstances: Har- 
lan was a talented young member of the Methodist clergy, who had as yet gained 
no particular distinction. He had, however, twice been a candidate for State Su- 
perintendent of Public Instruction, and though fairly elected, had twice be4 ^ de- 
prived of the office through unfair means described in the sketch of Mr. Harlan 

This was felt to be an outrage by a large number of people irrespective of party, 
and the result was to bring the injured party prominently before the Fifth General 
Assembly as a candidate for United States Senator. Had it not been for this cir- 
cumstance, Fitz Henry Warren would in all probability have received the distinc- 
tion of being the first Whig or Republican United States Senator from Iowa. 

When the dissolution of the Whig party became evident, he actively joined in 
the organization of the Republican party; and in 1 856 was made one of the delegates 
from Iowa to the first National Convention of that party. He was by common 


consent made Chairman of the delegation. He continued to take an active part in 
politics, especially after the organization of the Republican party, when the exten- 
sion or non-extension of slavery into the territories became the supreme issue ; and to 
this issue he devoted his best energies on the hustings and elsewhere. Upon the elec- 
tion of Mr. Lincoln, his name was conspicuously mentioned for the position of Post- 
master-General, and it was believed he would be appointed. But he was not. The 
post of Assistant Postmaster-General was tendered to him, but declined. 

In 1861 he became a member of the editorial staff of The New York Tribune, 
and startled the whole country by a series of brilliant articles bearing the insignia of 
"On to Richmond," which was then the Confederate Capital. He believed, and 
vehemently believed, that the true policy of the nation was to make a supreme effort 
to crush the rebellion at the outset by an overwhelming force, and that the fall of 
the Confederate Capital under a crushing blow would greatly tend to seal the fate 
of the confederacy itself ; and to this end he trained his editorial artillery, upbraiding 
the dilatory steps of those in power, and urging in most virile and striking language 
a forward movement. One effect of these articles was to stamp the author as one 
of the ablest journalists in the country, and a unique commander of the English 

They Ccune at a time most auspicious for their object. The people were per- 
plexed with the inaction of the gathered forces; with what was termed at the time 
the "masterly inactivity" that prevailed at the Capital, and tired with the stereotyped 
daily telegraphic heading that had so long appeared, of "all quiet on the Potomac." 
They aroused anew the impatience of the people with the lethargy that seemed to 
reign at headquarters. They came like the arousing tocsin of war, and stirred, 
from one end of the country to the other, the restless patriotism of the people, as did 
the Marseilles hymn through the streets of Paris. 

Believing that it would be of interest to the reader, as well as illustrative of my 
subject, I took the pains to procure from New York one of these articles, from which 
the following extracts are made: 


From our own Correspondent. 

Washington, May 27, 1861. 
There is quietness and subordination In Alexandria. The power of the 
Government and its emblem are visible, respected, and obeyed. On Arlington 
Heights stands the soldier, with musket at shoulder, looking " toward that far 
Southern horizon which measures the limit of our domain, and marks the point 
of his destination. * * * Fifteen thousand men now leave footprints on the soil of 
Virginia in the stern tread of men who bear with them the accumulated resentment 
and the inflexible justice of a people called from home and hearthstone to defend 
the institutions of our commonwealth from robbery and ruin. Cannon in em- 
brasures and muskets behind breastworks have their muzzles toward Richmond. 
Mr. President, Lieutenant General Scott, Messieurs Secretaries, when shall the 
bayonet flash to the "Forward!" of the Centurion of the conquering line? * * * 


The voice of the public, from the gentle heavings of the Pacific, over the desolate 
wastes of the wide central basin, from the gulch and gold-washing, from the prairie 
and lake coast to the myriad voices of the Atlantic margin, gives forth the swelling 
cry, "Forward!" * * * From the heights of Shochoe Hill, looking away toward 
Montlcello, read, to an air vocal with acclaims, the charter of our freedom, on a soil 
which held in living and in death the author whose imperishable fame smiles 
in the dying glory of a State which now stones the prophets of her old religion. * * * 
"On to Richmond!" then, is the voice of the people. Unloose your chivalry, 
Man of high command! Let them strike home to the heart of Virginia in the 
early part of June. Do you need men? Publish once more the "Arriere Ban." 
Call out the thousands who are now panting for the charge. Do you want money? 
Call for the treasures of hoarded capital full to congestion, as are the coffers. Use 
it for food in the field and furnishings for the march, and not for subsistence in 
camp or for the bread of idleness in the bivouac, and you shall have ingots at your 
need. Who cares to ask whether Treasury Notes are at eighty cents or par? Who 
inquires whether United States "6s" are worth a full hundred or ten per cent under? 
War bulletins, and not Rowlet's interest tables are the reading of the public. The 
victim strangling and struggling for life in water, does not think of his check book 
or his banker's balance. It is for existence that we poise the uplifted hand to strike. 
The country now, patrician and plebian, would hail the sight of a quarter of a 
million of soldiers under canvas or in line of advance, with home reserves of equal 
footing. If you would spare carnage, overshadow resistance by the presence of 
invincible numbers. We do not ask you — for I speak as a Tribune of the people — to 
push to the tidewater of the Gulf now, but we do beg and implore of you to pierce 
the vitals of Virginia, and scourge the serpent-seed of her rebellion on the crowning 
heights of Richmond. The stock exchange of your marts, the graduated barometer 
where the strength of power and the confidence in Government can be read, will 
show a rising fluid. The meshes of foreign diplomacy winding about you, when you 
are in a weakness confessed by hesitation and inaction, will fall apart like flax 
at the touch of fire, when you shake yourselves in the risings of your might. 
Thirty-four stars in the firmament of the Capitol of Virginia, with the attending 
stripes, will stir the blood of the two Continents. * * * The dollar worship is not 
the true devotion of the land. Years of peace, and