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Full text of "Memoir of the Hon. Josiah Gardner Abbott, LL.D. : read before the Old Residents' Historical Association of the city of Lowell, November 24, 1891"

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Chap. E^ J^ J/ 







^JX '-• V ^;i 











Hon. Josiah Gardner Abbott, LL.D., 



Of the City of Lowell, November 24, 1S91, 






His Draft of an Address for the Minority of the Elec- 
toral Commission of 1S77, to the People 
of the United States. 


Little, Brown & Co. 



MoKNiNG Mail Co. 



Mr. Cowley's memoir, .,- i_42 

Gov. Kussell's letter, ..-- ...--42 

Mr. Stevens' letter, -------- 43 

Senator Hoar's letter, -..-..--43 

Gen. Butler's letter, ------ 44 

Mr. A.yer's letter, - 46 

Mr. Samiders' letter, 47 

Mr. Dean's letter, - .... 48 

Mr. Tyler's letter, - - . 51 

Mr. Webster's paper, .-.-----------53 

Froceedings of the Bar at Lowell, ------------57 

Mr. Cowley's remarks. - -57 

Mr. Lawton's remarks, --------- 58 

Mr. Greenhalge's remarks, - -..--. 59 

Mr. Marrcn's remarks, ----- 59 

Proceedings of the Bar at Cambridge, - - - 61 

Memorial, --- -- 62 

Mr. Joslin's remarks, - -63 

Mr. Browne's remarks, .-.- -...-65 

Mr. Prince's remarks, -- ------- G8 

Mr. Woodbury's remarks, -------------70 

Mr. Cowley's remarks, ----- 72 

Judge Richardson's remarks, ------------- 71 

Bar Association of the City of Boston, .-.-.-----77 

Resolution, --- -77 

Mr. Loring's remarks, - - 78 

Mr. Kussell's remarks, --------------79 

Appendix, ---81 

Proposed Address of the Minority of the Electoral Commission, ----- 81 
Judge Abbott's Letter Declining the Kepublican Nomination for Attorney-General, 91 

Note— For Mr. Stackpole's letter, see page 33; for Mr. Spaulding's letter, see page 34. 
For General Butler's letter indicating the murderer of Jonas L. Parker, see page 29. 



The (lentil of Ju(1^l;x' AI)I)()tt on the seeond cliiy of 
last June startled the comnmnity by its suddenness. His 
sickness had lasted only ten days, and had been little 
known beyond his law oihce in Boston and his smn- 
nier home at Wellesley Hills. It did not develop any 
symptoms of a dangerous character until the last day 
preceding his death. It Ijegan with the grip and finally 
assumed an acute bronchial form. 

The notices of his life which have appeared in the 
pul)lic journals have been kind and appreciative, though 
not so full in the recital of facts as those who know him 
best might reasonably desire. The citizens of Wellesley 
expressed their sense of his w^orth and of their loss by 
resolutions and addresses at a public meeting called for 
that purpose. If that precedent has not been followed 
in Lowell, it is not because his merits are less appre- 
ciated in this city, though thirty years have passed since 
he ceased to live here. A new generation has come up- 
on the stage of action during those thirty years, which 
cannot be indifferent to a life so recently closed, and so 
conspicuous for ability, acti\'ity and public spirit. 

Nine generations of the Abbott family have ihjur- 
ished in the colony, province and connnonwealth of 

* Kepi inted from the Contributions of tlie Old Eesideiits' Historical Association of 
the City of Lowell, Vol. V, JS'o. 1. 


Massaehiisotts, including the judge and the children 
and grandchildren who survive him. The pioneer of 
the family was George Abbott, an English Puritan, 
who was born in 1615, came from Yorkshire in 1G40, 
and was one of the settlers of Andover in 1643. The 
second American Abbott among the judge's ancestors, 
was Timothy Abbott, who, when thirteen years old, 
during King Phillip's war, was captured by the Indians 
and held in captivity for several months. His brother 
Joseph w\as killed by them. The third was another 
Timothy, and the fourth Nathan, who was the first 
to be relieved of the necessity of living in a garrison 

The fifth American Al)l)ott was Caleb, whose wife 
w^as liucy Lovejoy, and whose wife's sister was the 
second wife of the father of the late Jefferson Davis of 
Mississippi. Thus J. G. Abbott's grand-aunt was the 
stepmother of the president of the Southern Confederacy. 
In 1855, while a student in Judge Abbott's office, I vis- 
ited Washington for the first time, and was introduced 
by Caleb Gushing, then attorney-general, to Jefferson 
Davis, then secretary of war. Neither of us then 
dreamed that we were within six years of such a struggle 
as the war of secession ; and I remend)er that in the 
conversation I then liad with Mr. Davis, he spoke of the 
Lovejoys and also of the Maynards as Massachusetts 
families to which he was allied, and intimated a ])nrpose 
to visit New England when he had left the cabinet of 
President Pierce, and to learn more than he then knew 
of its people. 

The sixth in the line of Judge Abbott's American 
ancestors was his father. Caleb Abbott, who removed 
from Andover to Chelmsford, married Mercy Fletcher, 
daughter of Josiah Fletcher, and carried on the business 


of :i country inercliant at Chelnisford Centre. He died 
in 1846 ; his wife died twelve years earlier. 

The Fletcher family to which Judge Abbott's mother 
belong-ed w^ere Enu'lish Puritans who came from Devon- 
shire and settled in Concord, and in 1653 in Chelmsford. 
William Fletcher, one of these first settlers, owned 
a large part of the territory which in 1826 was incor- 
porated as the town of Lowell, and built his log cabin 
near where the City Farm buildings now stand. It is 
said that Josiali Fletcher, one of his descendants, and 
one of Judge Abbott's mother's ancestors, married 
Mary Chamberlain, daughter of the man so renowned 
in Indian w^ar history for having killed the famous chief, 
Paugus, though I do not find this in the Genealogy of 
the Fletcher Family. 

Aniony: the nearest neighbors of the Fletchers Avere 
the Pierces, whose dwelling house stood near the corner 
of Chelmsford and Forrest streets. At the time of the 
Revolution the head of this family was Benjamin Pierce, 
who became a brigadier-general, governor of New Hamp- 
shire, and father of Franklin Pierce, president of the 
United States.* 

Both the grandfathers of Judge Abbott were pres- 
ent at the battle of Bunker Hill, and in the war of 
Independence. His grandfather Fletcher was for some 
time in Captain John Ford's company, and rose himself 
to the rank of captain. t 

Josiah Gardner Abbott was of the seventh gener- 
ation of American Abbotts, being the second son and 
the fourth child of Caleb Abbott and Mercy Fletcher. 
Accordino- to the town clerk's records he was born in 

'The best memoir of Governor Pierce is tliat of the late Joshua Merrill, read before 
tins association, and published in the third volume of its Contributions. 

t See Abbot's History of Audover, IJailey's History of Andover, and the Genealogies 
of the Abbott and Fletcher Families respectively 

4 ^n:M(iiii oi' HON. .rosi AH GARDNKR AIUJOTT, ll. d. 

ClieliiLsford November 1, 1814, jind that is his birth- 
date as given in the Abbott Genealogy; but for many 
yeai's lie supposed tliat liis birtli took place a year later. 

The l)est domestic influences formed his character 
as a boy. Four events took place during his youth, 
which contributed to stimulate and enlarge his mind. 
First, the Unitarian movement, into which his father 
entered with zeal, and helped to carrj^ the church of 
Chelmsford out of the Cahinism of the Mathers into 
the lil)eralism of Channing. Second, the disruption of 
the Federal part}^ and the rise of Jacksonian democrac}', 
which was espoused alike by the father and the son. 
Third, the stai'ting of the North American RevicAv and 
the development of American literature, of which J. G. 
Ab1)ott was a reader and a lover from the first. The 
day of town libraries had not yet dawned ; but the peo- 
ple of Chelmsford were in advance of their times, and 
they established a liljrary hy Aoluntary condnnation, 
wdiich was placed in J. G. Aldjott's father's store. All of 
these events, particularly the establishment of the lib- 
rary, contributed to develop the mind of J. G. Abbott to 
an extraordinary degree of activity and power. 

In the sinnmer of 1823 he was old enough to be 
permitted, with an older In-other, to go off souie three 
miles from his home at Chelmsford Centre to attend a 
])rigade muster near Middlesex Village. It is worthy of 
note tluit even at that early time of his lite h(^ felt 
irreater interest in the Merrimack Manufacturing Com- 
pany, which was then preparing to start its first Avater- 
wheel, than in the evolutions of " the embattled fai-m- 
ers," "the thunder of the captains and the shooting." 

"1 recollect." he says, "'we gave up the delights 
aud attractions of the muster-field aud soldiers and their 
sham fiu'hts. aud trudu'cd on sonu' two miles farther to 


look at the beginning of the phice which is now Lowell, 
and of which I had heard so much talk in the country 
round al^out. All I -could see was one of the Merrhnack 
Mills, the walls of which were partly finished ; but all 
the surroundings were quiet and even wild enough, with 
only a few hundreds of people, where now [1876] you 
number fifty thousand. The recollection of that visit 
in iny early 1)oyhood, has always been very vivid with 
me, and at times it is difficvdt to realize the changes 
going on under my own eyes, in so short a time." * 

After viewing this first mill of the Merrimack Man- 
ufacturing Compau}^, these young visitors trudged on 
down to Bradley's Ferry, near the present site of Central 

It is not likely that 3'oung Abbott turned his face 
toward Chelmsford on that day, without a passing glance 
at the commanding bluff in Belvidere, where St. John's 
Hospital now stands, where then towered the famous 
yellow house, the residence of Judge Livermore, with its 
large and well-kept lawn, adorned with Lombardy pop- 
lars, beneath whose shade perhaps at that very moment, 
the fair young girl, Caroline Livermore, jumped her 
rope, in utter unconsciousness that her future hus))nnd 
was so near — " so near and yet so far." 

From Bradley's Ferry the Abbott boys walked to 
the farm-house of their cousin, Joseph Fletcher, which 
stood near the well which may still be seen, covered by 
a millstone, near the northwest corner of the South 
Comino]!. There they obtained refreshments, together 
with information as to the families of the neighborhood. 
An old log-house, standing })artly on the site of the Ehot 
Church and partly on the adjoining land of Mr. John 

* From Judge Abbott's letter in the Proceedings in tiie City of Lowell at llie Semi 
Centennial Celebration of the Incorporation of the Town of Lowell, Marcli 1. 1876, p. 83. 


Dennis, was pointiMl out to tlieni as the meeting-house in 
Avliicli tlie Rev. John Eliot ])reache(l to tlie Indians of 
Waniesit. Two ancient ehn trees shaded this relic of the 
seventeenth century, which was no more to he seen 
when the Ahbott boj-s next came to this place some 
years later.* 

This first visit of J. G. Abbott to what is now. 
Lowell, preceded by from four to five years that spring 
afternoon when another slender boy, Benjamin F. Butler 
bv name, stood for the first time on Christian Hill and 
enjoyed the panorama of the valley at the confluence of 
the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, which, as he says, 
"glistened in the sunlight, so that the picture is nearly 
as vivid now to his memory as when it first struck his 
wondering eyes." t 

Chelmsford had a classical school which Abbott 
attended. I For four months, from September, 1825, to 
January, 1826, this classical s(diool was taught by Ralph 
Waldo Emerson, and the impression made by him upon 
young Abbott was very favorable. To the last Judge 
Abbott always spoke of "the American Plato" in terms 
of praise.§ 

His next teacher in that school was the Rev. Abiel 
Abbot, a very a)jle man, whom Harvard College after- 
wards honored with the degree of doctor of divinity, and 
of whom a full acu-ount may be found in "Sprague's 
Annals of the American Pidpit " Miss Antoinette 
Abbott, the only surviving child of Judge Abbott's 

♦Greene's Semi-Centeniiial Volume of the Kliot CImicli, pp. 148, 297-301; Lowell 
Morning Mail, May 21, 1888, and .June 10, 1892. 

t General Butler's Oi'ation in the rroceediiiKs before (juoted. p. ;t7. 

+ For an account of the remarkable men who attended this .school, see Perhani's 
History of Chelmsford, in the History ot the County of Middlesex, published by Lewis 
& Co.. I'hiladelphia, Vol. 2, p. 2t;,<. 

§ Holmes' Life of Emerson. pi>. 49, 50. 


parents, writes : "• I have often heard my In'otlier say 
that Dr. Abhot was one of the most thorough teachers 
he ever had." Dr. George B. Loring eulogizes Dr. 
Abbot as a noble representative of the best type of our 
New England character in form and feature and cast of 
mind ; and on meeting Mr. Gladstone, in 1889, he w^'ote 
that Mr. Gladstone strongly resembled Dr. Al)bot.* 

Dr. Abbot ^vas sncceeded by Cranmore Wallace, 
under wdiom Abljott studied for more than a year, and 
then, in 1828, entered Harvard College. Mr. Wallace 
afterwards taught school in South Carolina, and was 
always well spoken of as a teacher by the Abbotts. 

In 1832 Mr. Abbott graduated. It was during his 
college life that the nullilication troubles reached and 
passed their crisis, and the firm foot which President 
Jackson put upon that movement, made liim more than 
ever before a Jackson man. 

For a time he taught the Fitch])urg Academy. The 
months which he spent as a teacher, 1 have heard him 
say, were among the most important of his earlier life, 
by reason of their ripening influence upon his mind, and 
the completer command Avhicli he thereby acquired of 
his previous acquisitions, as well as the new stores of 
knowledge which he then added to his former stock. 

He began the study of law in the office of Joel 
Adams, near his father's home at Cheluisford Centre. 
Mr. Adams was a successful lawyer, though his court 
practice was never large ; and Mr. Abbott appreciated 
and commended his acute legal mind. 

On the night of July 2, 1834, the figure of President 
Jackson was cut and carried away fi'om the frigate Con- 
stitution, at the Charlestown Na\y Yard. Young Abbott 

* Loring's Year in rortugal. i>)). 5. o. 


fully sIiutimI the iiKlisA'iiation wh'u-h lli;it i'\c]it excited 
amoiio" dcmoerats. In 18GI tliis figure eanie iulo the 
possession of Mr. Joiiatlian Bowers, and now adonis liis 
hall at WilloAV Dale. It is impossible for one who looks 
at it now^, and who has no personal recollection of the 
teapot tempest of 1834, to reaUze how much passion the 
taking a^vay of that figure actually aroused. 

In the autmnn of 1834, Mr. Abbott took up his 
al)ode in Lowell and entered the law oflice of Nathaniel 
Wri^dit. He was followed very soon ]>y Mi-. James B. 
Francis, then at the beginning of his dislinguished 
career as an hydraulic engineer.* These two young 
men, destined to attain the heights of their respective 
professions, boarded in the same house, and formed a 
friendshi[) which was ended only l)y Judge Abbott's death. 
In the summer of 18o5 l)oth of these fellow-boarders 
narrowly escaped death by typhoid fever, caught prob- 
ably from the same drain. 

In the letter already quoted, Judge Abl)ott says: 
''My ac<iuaintauce with Lowell began with the latter 
part of 1834, when it had a population, I believe, of 
about twelve thousand. I think all who li\ed there at 
that time and for the next twenty years, will agree with 
me in saying that no city of its size, ever contained a 
more remarkalde i)eo])le, or a pleasanter or more culti- 
vated society. 1 doiil»t if any place of as large a \h)\)\\- 
lation, ever had within its borders a larger number oi 
very able men, who would be marked and remarkable in 
any community." 

If this language seems exti-avagant, 1 am sure it is 
sincere. Curiously enough, Wendell riiilHps. wbo left 
Lowell about the same time when J. G. Abbott took up 

* For an outline of this career see Cliark-s C. Cliase's History of Lowell, in llie His- 
tory of the County of Middlesex, already (luoted. p. 14. 


his residence licre, bears similar testinioiiv to Lowell 
society as lie saw it.* 

Ill April, I806, the town of LoAvell was incorporated 
as a citj^ Mr. Abbott's personal preferences were for a 
non-partisan administration of mnnicipal affairs. The 
fact that one citizen favored a high tariff and another a 
low tariff, that one favored a national bank and another 
favored state banks, was not in his judgment a snfficient 
reason for exclnding the one or the other from an equal 
share in the exercise of mnnici})al functions. Bnt 
neither party was willing to waive the chance to elect 
candidates of its own exclusive choice. The only office 
under the city charter ever held by Mr. Abbott, was that 
of director of the city libraiy, which he held for the year 
1852. His son, Samuel A. B. Abbott, Esq., has followed 
his father's principles in the management of the Boston 
Public Liljrary, being chairman of its board of trustees. 
In deciding who shall be employed in that justly re- 
nowned library, party considerations have no placet 

In November, 1836, Mr. Abbott was elected a mem- 
ber of the house of representatives for the year 1837. 
Two of his colleagues from Lowell in that house, are 
present to-night, Hon. Josiali G. Peabody and Hon. 
James K Fellows. Among other members of that house 
deserving honorable mention, were Julius Rockwell, the 
speaker, afterwards judge, Robert C. Winthrop, John C. 
Park, Thomas Whittemore, Samuel Bowles, Amos Abbott, 
afterwards Representative in Congress from the Lowell 
district, and Charles P. Huntington, who afterwards 
served with Judge Abbott upon the bench. The senate 

*See Mr. riiilliiis' statement in Cowley's History of Lowell, )i. no. 

t In 1870 Judge Abbott served as one of tlie Examinin.u- Coinniittee of tlic Public 
Library. Ten years later Samuel A. 15. Abbott, bis son, served in that capacity. Erom 
IST'.I to the present time lie has been one of its trustees, and for the last four years eliair- 
iiian of the board. 


of 1837 coiitiiiiu'd Charles Allen ol" Worcester, after- 
wards Chief Justice of the Superior Court, Myron Law- 
rence of Belchertown, William Livin^ii:ston of Lowell, and 
Linus Child, afterwards of Lowell. The governor was 
Edward Everett, who adorned every position to which he 
was called. Mr. Ahhott's estimate of Samuel Bowles 
was considerably higher than that formed by other men 
at that time, though none too high, as the success of the 
Springfield Eepublican under his management abundantly 
proved. But the man who made the deepest impression 
on Mr. Abbott's expanding mind, was Robert Rantoul, Jr., 
the h'ader of the .lacksonian democracy in the house. 
Knntoid perished in his prime, and few survive of those 
who knew him. But no man who reads his "Memoirs, 
Writings and Speeches," will wonder that a nnnd so well 
stocked with large and grand ideas, and so capable of 
clothinii' them in forcible langnage, should have exerted 
a decided hvtluence over the youngest mend)er of the 
house. Some of the reforms for wliich Rantoul fought 
have long since been embodied in statute law, and have 
ceased to l)e thought of; but they were -burning ques- 
tions" in 1837 and for many years thereafter. 

In January, 1837, Mr. Abbott was admitted to prac- 
tice as an attorney and counsellor-at-law. His first client 
was Daniel Raymond Kind)all, who remained his client as 
lonii' as lie lived. He died in ISoD and Mr. Abbott set- 
tled bis estate as executor ot bis will. Tlie friendship 
wiiich Mr. Abbott thus early b)rnu'd lor Raymond Kim- 
1»all was extended to John V. Kind)all, nephew of Ray- 
mond and president of the Appleton National Bank, and 
continued b>r nearly b)rty years and was never broken 
during bis lite. 

His first law partner was Amos Si)aulding. Owing 
to the financial disasters of the year 1837 hundreds be- 


came insolvent, and the iinu of Spaiildiiig & AI)l)()tt re- 
ceived from their business during that year al)out i^OOOO. 

Mr. Abbott was but ten months older than Richard 
H. Dana, Jr., who was for many years his contemporary 
at the bar, but he had made a ])rilliant start in his chosen 
profession, and had closed his career in the house of 
representatives Ijefore August, 1837, when young Dana 
made that voyage from Boston to California, tlie story 
of which he has told so well in his "Two Years Befoi-e 
the Mast." 

The Western fever was then prevalent in the East- 
ern States. Caleb Fletcher A])l)ott had removed from 
Clielmsford to Toledo, and was anxious that his younger 
brother should also remove to Toledo and become his 
law partner tliei'e. J. G. Abbott would, perliaps, have 
yielded to these solicitations had they not Ijeen con- 
trolled ])y more powerfid attractions, the nature of which 
may be inferred from the following announcement in the 
local papers of tliat time : 

"IMarried in this city, .July 21, 1838, by the Kev. Theodore 
Edson, .Tosiah (4. Abl)ott, Esq., to Miss Carohiie Livermore.'' 

That event determined that Mr. Aldjott should run 
an Eastern and not a Western career. 

In the life of Mr. Abl)ott, as in the lives of Mr. 
Evarts, Mr. Benjamin, and many other American lawyers, 
great and small, there was an episode of journalism. In 
1840 he edited the Lowell Advertiser and advocati'd the 
re-election of President Van Bui-en as the representative 
of Jacksonian democracy. The Advertiser was of course 
a partisan journal. All the ])ublic journals then in tiie 
country were partisan except the New York Herald and 
Garrison's Liberator. But a])art from its pohtics, Mr. 
Abbott gave ti) the paper a dc('i(h'd litci'ary lla\(tr. Like 


Lord Bacon, "lie took all knowledge for his province." 
The liles of the Advertiser, preserved in the City Lib- 
rary,* show that even as a journalist, 

•' he bore without abuse 

The grand old name of Gentleman, 
Abused by every cliarlatau, 
And soiled witli all igno])le use."" 

Many a well-turned paragraph appeared, wdiich owed its 
origin to the fact that a lawyer was at the helm, and yet 
his paper had no odor of the law ofhce, and was never 
used as an aid to his practice at the bar. 

One of the worst abuses of journalism in our times 
is the use of newspapers for or against parties to causes 
before or during trial. Li the case of Mrs. Hannah 
Kinney, who was tried in Boston, in December, 1840, on 
an indictment for poisoning her third husband, George 
T. Kinney, the temptation to give vent through the 
press to the prevailing impressions against the defendant, 
was unusually strong. Mrs. Kinney had been the wife 
of the Rev. Enoch W. Freeman, the popular pastor of the 
First Baptist Church in Lowell, and was vehemently 
suspected of having caused his death by arsenical pois- 
oning.! Nevertheless, not a word appeared in the 
Advertiser's notices of the progress of the case, calcu- 
lated to aid or hinder the prosecution or the defendant. 
As soon as the case had ended ; that is to say, as soon as 
it was proper for an editor to express an opinion upon 
it, Mr. Abbott condemned the conduct of Attorney-Gen- 
eral Austin in undertaking the prosecution without 
further proof. 

It was while Mr. Abbott occupied the editoi'ial chair 
that the Lowell Offering appeared, and no journal greeted 

* The volume for 1S40 is one of tlioso presented to tlie city l»y tlie liciis of Kislier A. 

t Charles ("owley's Ilistdiy of i.owell, ji)). in lit. 


it with a wanner welcome than the Lowell Advertiser. 
While he deplored any condition of society which com- 
pelled married women to work for wages outside of their 
homes, he gave his deepest sympathies to the factor}^ 
o-irls in all their aspirations for intellectual and moi-al 
culture, as well as in their struggle for the means of 

While Mr. Abbott edited the Advertiser, the late 
Daniel S. Richardson, who had already been admitted to 
the bar, edited the Lowell Courier. Nathaniel P. Banks, 
afterwards more widely known as speaker, governor and 
major-general, succeeded Mr. Abbott as editor of the 
democratic organ in Lowell. 

Tn those days lyceum lectures were much in vogue. 
On man}^ occasions Mr. Abbott rode out to some town, 
frequently accompanied by his wife, gave a lecture on 
some topic of the time, and drove back to Lowell the 
same night. 

In 1842, having some time previously dissolved his 
connection with Mr. Spaulding, Mr. Abbott formed a co- 
partnership with Samuel A. Brown, which continued till 
1855. Much might be said of these law partners, espe- 
cially of Mr. Brown, who was a very superior man ; but 
time would fail. 

In 1842 he purchased of his mother-in-law a tract of 
land on Stackpole Street, and built a stone house thereon, 
in which he resided till 1861. Many of the shade trees 
on Stackpole Street were planted by him. The songs of 
the birds in those trees, the murmur of the river below, 
all the voices of nature in that region, pleased him. 

In 1842 and 1843 Mr. Abbott served the state as a 
senator, being on the two most important committees — 
the judiciary and railroads. The conmiittee on the 
judiciary has always been considered of the first impor- 


tance; but in the infancy of our railroad corporations, 
the importance of the committee on raih'oads was very 
great; and the results of our early railroad legislation 
are still felt — sometimes for evil, but more generally 
for good. 

During the year 1843 J. G. Abbott was attached to 
Goveruoi- Morton's staff as senior aide-de-camp. 

On August 16, 1843, a meeting of the Abbott family 
was held in Andover, which appointed Rev. Abiel Abbot, 
D. D., of Peterboro', Rev. Ephraim Abbott of Westford, 
Samuel Abbott of Charlestown, and Hon. Josiah G. 
Abbott of Lowell, to erect a monument to George and 
Hannah Abbott in their burial place in the South Parish 
of Andover, and also to prepare a genealogical register 
of their descendants. 

Dr. Abiel Abbot wrote the History of Andover and 
the Genealogical Register of the descendants of George 
Abbott of Rowley, Thomas Abbott of Andover, Arthur 
Abbott of Ipswich, Robert Abbott of Bradford, Conn., 
and George Abbott of Norwalk, Conn. In this he had 
Rev. Ephraim Abbott, of Westford, as co-worker. The 
Genealogy was published in 1847. 

When Mr. Littell started his Living Age, in 1844, 
Mr. Abbott became one of his first subscribers, and he 
continued to take it and read it till his death. He was 
equally constant in his patronage of the Lowell Vox Po])- 
uli, started, partly by his aid, three years before. 

Of Judge Abbott's part in founding the city of 
Lawrence (1845), his brother-in-law, Hon. Daniel Saun- 
ders, has spoken in a letter to be published with this 
paper, showing him to have been one of the fathers of 
that city. It is by no fault of his that Lawrence stands 
on the opposite side of the Merrimack from that on which 
it should have been builded. 


How important a part he bore in the upbuilding of 
Lewiston is but partially indicated by the number of 
.shares of the Lewiston corporations owned by him, or by 
the number of years during which he was president or 
director of those corporations. He had an a})t,itude for 
large enterprises, and delighted to exercise his powers 
in various ways. 

Among his investments, those in woodlands must 
not be forgotten. He began the purchase of woodland 
in several different towns at an early age, and continued 
it till the shadow of three score years and ten had passed 
over him. He never sold one of his wood-lots, and he 
em[)loyed Amos Brown and his son and grandson to cut 
his wood for fifty years and until his death. 

About the year 1846 the " Melvin Suits " came to 
an end, and Grenville Parker, who had been of counsel 
for the defeated parties, published anonymously his 
pungent pamphlet on the Judiciary of Massachusetts, 
reviewing and condemning the ridings of the judges in 
those cases. John P. Robinson's paper in the second 
volume of the Contributions of this association presents 
the other side of these cases, which excited a great deal 
of feeling at the time. The tide of opinion never ran 
higher against corporations than when the Proprietors 
of the Locks and Canals on Merrimack River obtained 
final judgment in the last of these suits. Although 
Abbott and Brown afterwards became and for many 
years continued to be the counsel for the victorious 
corporation, neither of them ever failed, upon proper 
occasion, to express his dissent from some of the rulings 
which Parker condemned.* 

In 1847 the Appleton Bank, now the Appleton 

* Grenville Parker jiassed liis litter years in West Virginia, ami touk an active part 
in procuring its ailmissiou into tlie Union. 


Naliuiiiil Bank, was incorported. Mr. Abbott iniiuo- 
diately coiniueiiccd to make bis deposits tbeie, and con- 
tinued to do so during bis life. In fact be never opened 
any account elsewbere, but during tbe wbole tliirty 
years of bis life in Boston, be made all bis deposits in 
tba-t bank tbroiigb its Boston correspondent. Tbat fact 
tells it own story as to tbe sound and wise management 
of tbe bank, and tbe constancy of Judge Abbott's at- 

In 1848 be "bolted" tbe democratic nominations — 
Cass and Butler — for president and vice president, and 
su])ported tbe free soil nominees — Martin Van Buren 
and diaries Francis Adams. He and Hon. Cbauncey L. 
Kna,pp were cbosen delegates to tbe national free soil 
convention, but bis professional engagements prevented 
biiu from going to Buffalo, and George F. Farley, Esq., 
of Groton, attended as bis substitute. 

In 1850 Mr. Abbott was appointed master in cban- 
cery, and served as sucb five years, Hon, Artbur P. 
Bonney succeeding bim. 

In 1852, wben Kossutb nuide bis tour tbiougb tbe 
United States, Abbott gave bim botli sym})atby and 
material aid, and was one of tbe citizens' committee wbo 
invited bim to Lowell, and introduced bim to tbe people 
in St. Paul's Metbodist Episcopal Cburcb. 

Had tbe oflice of attorney-general become vacant 
during Governor Boutwell's time (1851-52) it was under- 
stood tbat Mr. Abbott would bave been appointed, so 
well establisbed was bis reputation at tbat time. 

In 1853 be was elected a delegate to tbe constitu- 
tional convention on tbe coalition ticket. Tbe new con- 
stitution proposed by tbe convention was rejected by tbe 
tbe peoyde of tbe state, but tbe debates in tbat body 
prepared tbe way lor tbe adoption of some of tbe amend- 


ments to the constitution which that convention pro- 
posed. This was the only legal body in which Judge 
Abbott ever sat with George S. Boutwell, Alexander H. 
Bullock, Benjamin F. Butler, Anson Burlingame, Rufus 
Choate, Richard H. Dana, Jr., Henry L. Dawes, Charles 
Sumner, Frederick 0. Prince, or Henry Wilson. James 
K. Fellows, who had been one of his colleagues in the 
house of representatives in 1837, was one of his col- 
leagues in this convention, Shubael P. Adams, then a 
Lowell lawyer, now of the Iowa bar, was another of his 
colleagues from Lowell, and General Butler was another. 
The rest of the Lowell delegates, John W. Graves, 
Andrew T. Nute, James M. Moore, Abraham Tilton, and 
Peter Powers, together with all the defeated whig candi- 
dates, have passed to the silent land. 

The debates of that convention show that Mr. Abbott 
favored an elective judiciary, and also favored makino- 
the jury judges of law as well as of facts in criminal 
cases. A notable debate on the right or the power of 
the jury, under the decisions of the Supreme Court,* to 
determine the law as well as the facts in a criminal cause, 
took place between Mr. Abbott and Ex-Governor Morton, 
without disturbing the friendly relations which had for 
many years existed between the disputants. Two years 
later the legislature passed an act intending to embody 
Judge Abbott's views, which were also the views of many 
others, including eminent lawyers of all parties.! But 
in the case of Commonwealth r. Anthes, 5 Gray, 185, a 
majority of the judges of the Supreme Judicial Court 
decided either that this act did not change the law as it 

* uoinmonweaiiii r. sorter, 10 JVletcaif, 203(1845). 

t Tliis jury act of 1855 is embodied in Cliapter 214. Section IT, of (lie Public Stntiites, 
lliough sadly eviscerated by the opinions of a majority of tbe judges in Antlies' case. 
This was one of tlie decisions at which William S. Kobinson ( " Warrenton ") delighted 


previously stooti, or that if it did attempt to change the 
law and make the jury judges of the law, it was uncon- 
stitutional and void. The dissenting opinion of Judge 
Thomas in that case met Judge Abbott's hearty concur- 
rence ; and I remember hearing him quote an old Eng- 
lish ballad as stating the ancient and true view of the 
functions of the jury in Crown cases, and I give it from 
memory as he did : 

''For twelve honest iiieii shall sit on his cause, 
Who are judges alike of the facts ami the laws." 

After Mr. Abbott had gone upon the bench, his 
former law partner, Samuel A. Brown, re-argued this 
question and re-asserted Judge Abbott's views, in the 
case of Commonwealth v. Austin, 7 Gray, 51, but without 
changing the attitude of the Supreme Court thereon. 

When Judge Abbott had formed an opinion after 
mature deliberation, he was not easily moved. The mere 
ipse dixit of a judge weighed little with him, and where 
he saw a court palm off a pretext as a substitute for a 
reason, he did not hesitate to express his dissent in 
forceful terms. But nothing that he ever said, in the 
Constitutional Convention or elsewhere, could justify 
Mr. Dana in referring to him in his diary as feeling any- 
thing like a hatred toward the Supreme Court.* If the 
decisions of that tribunal did not always suit him, it was 
'• more in sorrow than in anger " that he signified his 
disapprobation of the error into which it had lapsed. 

In 1855 the Superior Court for the County of Suffolk 
was established, superseding in that county the old Court 
of Common Pleas. Its members were Albert H. Nelson, 
of Woburn, one of Abbott's classmates at college ; J. G. 

♦Adams' IMogiaj.liy of KIcliaid 11. Dana, Jr., Vol. 1, pp. 240. 242, LM.'S. Mr. Causten 
Browne showed a far better appreciation of Judge Abbott when be said that he was too 
proud as well as too generous for any vindictiveness. 


Abbott, of Lowell ; Charles P. Huntington, of Boston, 
formerly of Northampton, and Stephen G. Nash, of 

Judge Abbott accepted this appointment with three 
ends in view: First, to make a good judge, a'nd win such 
reputation as usually attends a good magistrate ; second, 
to secure for himself a period of comparative rest from 
the severer labors of the bar ; third, to get such an in- 
troduction to the bar and business community of Boston 
as would secure for him, upon quitting the bench, a fair 
share of the cream of the law business of that city. All 
these ends he accomplished. The facility with which he 
despatched business wns very great. On one motion-day 
there were no less than forty-six hearings before him on 
contested motions which he decided. He was always 
honest and fair in dealing with counsel. When excep- 
tions were taken to his rulings, he never sought to 
deprive counsel of the benefit of those exceptions. 

One day, in the spring of 1857, I sat in his court 
for an hour or so, and when he adjourned walked with 
him to the depot. I remarked that he seemed to en]oy 
his position. " Oh, yes," he replied, "it's pleasant work 
and far less exhausting than trying cases at the bar. But 
I have had enough of it, and can't afford to stay on the 
bench. Don't mention it at present, but I shall not stay 
on that perch after this year." 

His resignation took effect January 1, 1858. He 
resumed practice at the bar for the sake of its emolu- 
ments, and he did not fail to get them. His salary as a 
judge was only $3,000 a year; and his income from his 
practice during the first year after he left the bench was 
more than $2U,000. It afterwards rose to $36,000. 
These figures represent the returns from regular work, 
without any of those "windfalls" with which lawyers 


are sometimes favored. Large as they are, the profes- 
sional incomes of lawyers have sometimes exceeded them. 
The income of Judah P. Benjamin, while at the head of 
the British bar, is said to have amounted in some years 

to $75,000.* 

It happened to me to be present when Mr. Benjamin 
made liis first argument in an English Chancery Court.! 
It was in the year 1868 in London. I had heard him 
years before in the Supreme Court of the United States, 
as well as in the senate at Washington. As I listened 
to that marvelous feat of advocacy and saw how marked 
an impression Mr. Benjamin made upon the court, the 
bar and the bystanders, the question arose, how would J. 
G. Abbott have succeeded had he essayed a career at the 
EnMisli bar? Between Abbott, with his tall, well-pro- 
portioned form, his Saxon face and Saxon voice, on the 
one hand, and Benjamin, with his short and obese body, 
his Hebrew face and soft Semitic tongue, the differences 
were marked. And yet there were marked resemblances 
between the minds and methods of those giants of the 
forum. There was the same clearness of statement, the 
same mastery of the case, the same earnest, impetuous, 
on-rushing tide of speech, flowing without ebb; the same 
care as to the matter of the argument ; the same care- 
lessness as to the form, in both. In my judgment Mr. 
Abbott would have achieved success, had he sought it, at 
the bar of the Babylon of London. But my admiration 
for him was such that I cannot pretend to present any 
estimate of him as entitled to the weight of an impartial 

* Dictionary of National Biography, Art. Benjamin. 

t Two cases were heard together, in both of vvliich the United States were jdaintills. 
The defendants were Erazer, Trenliolni & Co., and .lolm Frazer & Co. Sir Konndell 
I'alnier. now Karl of Selhorne, was Benjamin's leading opimnent. The plaintills pre- 
vailed, and. as the legal snccessors of the Confederate States, recovered a large amonnt 
of Confederate property in the defenaants' hands. 


opinion. I prefer therefore to sketch with rapid strokes 
the outline of his Hfe, and to give the opinions of otiiers, 
rather than my own, touching his professional traits. 

In 1859 Judge Abbott was chosen one of the over- 
seers of Harvard College, and served as such six years. 

In 1859 J. G. Abbott, G. B. Upton and George S. 
Boutwell, were appointed commissioners under the legis- 
lative act of that year to make an award to the city of 
Boston of compensation for its relinquishment of certain 
rights on Arlington Street. 

In 1860, when George T. Bigelow succeeded Lemuel 
Shaw as Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court, 
Judge Abbott was offered a place on that bench, but 
declined it for the same reason which had led him to 
resign his position on the Superior Court. 

In 1860, as a choice of evils, he voted for the Doug- 
lass ticket for presidential electors. 

In 18G1 Judge Abbott removed from 128 Stackpole 
Street, Lowell, to 6 Arlington Street, Boston. But, 
although he ceased to be a citizen of Lowell, he never 
lost his interest in this community. In the letter already 
quoted he says: "As you know, I have passed some of 
the happiest years of my life in Lowell, and with it are 
connected some of the pleasantest and best recollec- 
tions of the past. I took up my residence there soon 
after leaving college ; there I married my wife ; there 
all my children were born ; and there repose the ashes of 
some of them who so lived and died that I am sure their 
native city has never had cause to be ashamed of them." 

Judge Abbott had early learned in the school of 
Jackson that the Union is an institution to be maintained, 
if necessary, by force ; and when that Union w;is men- 
aced with destruction in 1861, all who knew him knew 
what his position would be. Like his friend, Rufus 


Choate, he would say, '•'We join no party tliat does not 
carry the flag and keep step to the music of the Union." 
The first flag raised in Lowell after the Confederate 
assault on Fort Sumter was accompauied l)y an eloquent 
appeal from him which completely electrified the assem- 
bled throng. 

When the militia of Lowell were called to Wash- 
ington for the defence of the capital, even before a man 
of them had buckled on his knapsack, Judge Abbott 
gave General Butler $100, to be used for the relief of 
any suffering among his soldiers. He appeared before a 
meeting of the bank presidents of Lowell and urged 
them to lend their money freely to the government to 
carry on the war. Like Gen. William T. Sherman and 
other far-sighted patriots, whom shallow men then pro- 
nounced " cranks," he foresaw that the war for the 
Union would be long and bloody, and urged the enlist- 
ment of men for not less than three years' service. His 
three oldest sons entered the army at once, and two of 
them were sacrificed in the bloody struggle. The Abbott 
Greys, the company which his oldest son commanded, in 
the Second Regiment of Massachusetts Infantry,* were 
the special subject of his care and for them he contrib- 
iited freely of his money. 

Seeing how much the officers and men rallying for 
the defence of the Union, required to be taught what 
their duties would be, Judge Abbott wrote a letter to 
Governor Andrew recommending the formation of camps 
of instruction. Fi'om the plans Submitted by him, the 
Camp Act, so called, the principal bill passed by the leg- 

* Fletcher Morton Abbott, M. I)., tlie only one of Judge Abbotfs three sons who 
served in the army who survived the war, began his military career as a lieutenant in 
this regiment, and afterwards served as captain on tlie stall of l?rigadier-(ieueral 
Dwight. See CJiiint's Record of tiie Second Massachusetts Infantry, j>. I'.iT. General 
Hooker said, '"This regiment, as is known in two armies, has no superior." 

islature at the extra session of 1861, was prepared before 
the session began. The training received by our volun- 
teers during their brief sojourn at these camps, was of 
very great vahie. 

When the republican state convention met at Wor- 
cester in September, 1861, to nominate candidates for 
the state offices, its members realized the necessity of 
enlarging their platform, in order to attract, if possible, 
the war democrats. It was felt that it was desirable in 
that perilous crisis in national affairs, to make the party 
simply a war party and to postpone all other issues until 
the war for the Union had ended. Without one dissent- 
ing voice, if my memory serves me correctly, that con- 
vention nominated J. G. Abbott for the office of attorney- 
o;eneral. The wisdom of that nomination was too obvious 
for discussion, and many of the judge's friends, demo- 
crats as well as republicans, urged him to accept it. 
Since that time some persons of a very miscellaneous sort 
have filled that office; but prior to that time it had been 
held by lawyers of the first rank, and Judge Abbott's 
reputation, if not enhanced, would surely have suffered 
no damage, by filling an office which Rufus Choate and 
John H. Clifford had adorned. Nevertheless, so fastidious 
was his sense of personal honor and party fealty;, he 
could not be induced to accept that office. Nothing that 
has occurred during the last thirty years has changed my 
opinion that his declinal of that office was a great mis- 
take. It seemed to me that his true place was at the 
head of the Union party, and that by this declinal he 
closed upon himself the opening gate to a great career. 

In 1862 Judge Abbott wrote : " If we would suc- 
ceed we must be united in our purpose to fight it out — 
to conquer. All true men can and must unite to carry 
out that purpose — they can and must adjourn all other 


questions till the war is over. That purpose is large 
enough, it is holy enough to engross and satisfy all." * 

Truer words were never spoken, and they were as 
applicable to the situation in 1861 as in 1862. 

Had Judge Abbott accepted the nomination, he 
would certainly have been elected; and the republican 
party, though it had an abundance of leaders, was 
lamentably in need of such a leader as he. On the 
other hand, it may be said that by remaining with the 
democratic party through those years of peril he per- 
formed an important service to the country by constantly 
bracing up that party to support the war ; the more so 
because that party contained thousands of men who 
were opposed to the war. 

The same wise foresight which prompted him to 
advocate camps of instruction and long terms of enlist- 
ment in 1861, led him to oppose the stopping of enlist- 
ments in the spring of 1862, notwithstanding the Senate 
Committee on Military Affairs, of which Senator Wilson 
was chairman, reported that we already had soldiers 
enough ! Judge Abbott saw clearl}^ and said boldly that 
the period of the war had been much prolonged, and the 
sacrifice of life and treasure greatly augmented by sus- 
pending the recruiting of our armies so prematurely at 
that time. 

In 1862 Williams College conferred on him the 
degree of Doctor of Laws. 

On the ninth of August, 1862, the horrors of war 
entered his own home ; his eldest son. Captain and Brevet 
Major Edward Gardner Abbott, Company A, Second 
Massachusetts Infantry, was killed in battle at Cedar 
Mountain, Virginia; and all the hopes that clustered 
about his future were blasted in a moment. But this 

* From a uianuscriiit fouinl aiiKing liis iiapcrs. entitled "A Divided North, Treasou." 


terrible parental affliction only intensified his indomitable 
purpose to suppress the rebellion. When General Lee, 
flushed by his success in Virginia, led his victorious army 
into Maryland, and when it seemed not improbable that 
the flag of the Confederate States would shortly float in 
triumph over Philadelphia, Judge Abbott wrote an appeal 
to the people of Massachusetts to meet in Faneuil Hall, 
irrespective of party, "to take counsel together for the 
common weal." In response to this appeal " the People's 
Convention " met on the seventh of October. I do not 
now enter into any discussion of the merits of the pro- 
ceedings of that convention. Whatever of success or 
failure attended those proceedings, the lofty patriotism 
which animated the call under which that convention 
met, is iDcyond all praise. There are passages in that 
call which for force and elevation of style will lose 
nothing by comparison with the stirring words of the 
Declaration of Independence. 

On the day preceding that convention Senator 
Sumner had spoken in the same hall.* I heard Sum- 
ner's speech ; I also heard Abbott's speech, and as I 
listened to the thunders of npplause which greeted them, 
I recalled what I had read of the stormy scenes of the 
Greek republics, when 

"Under the rock-stancl of Demostlieucs 
Unstable Atliens heaved her noisy seas." 

Joel Parker, formerly Chief Justice of the Supreme 
Court of New Hampshire, had been selected to make the 
principal speech on that occasion. He was a learned and 
able man, pow^erful in his addresses to the intellect, but 
weak in his appeals to the feelings. He had none of 
that versatility which enabled Abbott to convince a 

* Sumner's speech appears in the seventh volume of his works. 


bench of judges, capture a jury, or ride upon the whirl- 
wind of a popuhir assembly. No sooner had the con- 
vention organized itself, than loud calls arose for Abbott, 
who, as I happen to know, hnd made no preparation to 
speak on that day, though his heart and soul were full. 
He could stir the emotions. One blast on Abbott's bugle- 
horn was worth a thousand Parkers. 

The day of that convention was one of those "mo- 
mentous occasions" referred to by Webster in his oration 
at Plymouth Rock, " when great interests are at stake 
and strong passions excited," and Judge Abbott had just 
those qualities which such occasions require. " Clear- 
ness, force and earnestness," as Webster said, "are the 
qualities which produce conviction." The vast assembly 
was thoroughly electrified by his speech, particularly by 
the peroration. Pointing to the broad canvass on wiiich 
Webster appears replying to Hayne, and raising his 
voice to its loudest, clearest tones, he said : " Let us 
here, in the presence of its greatest defender, swear 
that we will give fortune, that we will give life, that we 
will give all, to support that constitution and establish 
its sway over the whole land." 

To realize how much these words really meant, one 
must recall the circumstances under which they were 
spoken — the fact that the oldest son of the speaker had 
shortly before been laid in a soldier's grave in the Low- 
ell Cemetery, and that both of his other sons in the 
army were so broken in health that their mother had 
gone to Antietam to give them her personal care. Called 
to the scene of that battle by the condition of her second 
son, she met on the field her third son suffering from the 
delirium of fever in the brain. But none of these 
things moved him. 

In the senatorial election of I860, and again in 


1869, Judge Abbott received the support of the demo- 
crats in the legislature, but the republican majority was 
overwhelming, and Charles Sumner was elected. The 
same empty honor was repeated to Judge Abbott in 
1877, when Senator Hoar was chosen. 

On the sixth of Ma}^, 1864, his second son, Major 
and Brevet Brigadier-General Henry Livermore Abbott 
while gallantly leading his regiment, the Twentieth 
Massachusetts Infantry, in the battle of the Wilderness 
was fatally wounded. " Had he lived," General Hancock 
said, " he would have been one of our most distinguished 

Kichard H. Dana, Jr., who visited the Army of the 
Potomac only ten days before Major Abbott's death, 
wrote : " Sedgwick spoke in high terms of the Massa- 
chusetts regiments, especially the Twentieth, and of 
Major Abbott, who now commands it. He thinks Abbott 
a bright, particular star." Charles F. Adams, who has 
preserved this testimony in his biography of Dana, adds 
that " it was thought at the time, by those most compe- 
tent to judge, that no braver officer, nor one of greater 
military promise, there laid down his life." 

To lose such sons as Judge Abbott lost in battle 
was terrible at the best. But the conviction that the 
movements in which they fell were culpably ill-advised 
and even absurd, added poignancy to parental grief. To 
lose brave sons when their loss is inevitable in defence of 
their country, has been the hard lot of many a father. 
To lose them through the stupidity or obstinacy of their 
commanders, is more than ilesh and blood can bear. 
Many a father, many a mothei-, became sour and dis- 
affected under such painful trials. But not so with the 
parents of these brave brothers, whose twin monuments 
in the Lowell Cemetery will perpetuate their names till 


the marble shall crumble and the granite shall decay.* 
Through all those times which tried men's souls there 
was no truer patriot than J. G. Abbott. 

Several volumes would be required to contain an 
account of the hundreds of cases in which Mr. Abbott 
acted as counsel during the more than fifty years of his 
practice at the bar. No such account will be attempted, 
neither would it be desirable even if it were practicable. 
For as the life of man on earth is but a span, so the in- 
terest in the daily concerns of that life endures but for 
a moment. " A book is the only immortality," as Rufus 
Choate once said ; and the best efforts in advocacy are 
generally forgotten with the occasion which called them 

I will mention three capital cases and three or four 
other cases in which Mr. Abbott was concerned, and refer 
to one hundred and ten volumes of the Massachusetts 
Reports (from the 43rd to the 152nd) for notices of the 
cases argued by him before the full bench of our Supreme 
Judicial Court. Yet these indicate but a part of his 
professional work. There are other cases of his in the 
United States Supreme Court and Circuit Court Reports 
and in the reports of other state courts, and there are 
also hundreds of cases not reported at all (except in 
newspapers) because they were never carried to the 
court of last resort. 

His first capital case was that of the alleged mur- 
derers of Jonas L. Parker, who was butchered in a most 
atrocious manner at Manchester, N. H., on the night of 
March 26, 1845.t In 1848 Asa Wentworth and Henry 

* For accounts of the operations In whicli these gallant officers fell, see Gordon's 
Brookfarm to Cedar INIountain, Swlnton's History of the Army of the Potomac, the his- 
tories of their respective regiments, anil the general histories of the war. For their 
personal history, see Harvard Memorial I'.iographies. Vol. II. pp. 77-104, and Cowley's 
History of Lowell, pp. 181, 182. 189, I'JO. 

t rotter's History of Manchester, pp. f.l9-G24. 


T. Wentworth were arrested upon suspicion, but after 
examination were discharged. In 1850 they were 
arrested again, together with Horace Wentwortli and 
William C. Clark. They were prosecuted by Samuel H. 
Ayer, the county solicitor, and were defended by Frank- 
lin Pierce, Charles G. Atherton, J. G. Abbott and B. F. 
Butler. Public feeling ran very high against them, but 
they were not indicted ; and no evidence sufficient to 
justify a verdict of guilty was ever adduced against any 
of them. 

About the same time J. G. Abbott and B. F. Butler 
defended Daniel H. Pierson, of Wilmington, on his trial 
before the Supreme Judicial Court at East Cambridge, 
upon an indictment for the murder of his wife and two 
children. Pierson was convicted, and executed July 26, 
1850. From him General Butler obtained information 
tending strongly to show that Jonas L. Parker was mur- 
dered by said Clark, who was a relative of Pierson. This 
man had been arrested and examined on suspicion, but 
escaped indictment by setting up a false alibi. Pierson 
also attempted to escape the gallows by a false alihi, 
but failed. 

Referring to the question who murdered Parker, I 
am permitted to quote the following from a letter written 
by General Butler to a son of his client, November 5, 
1885, after his client's death : 

" I hiid heen of counsel prior to tliat, as T was aftcrAvards, 
for a man named Pierson, a\'1io was convicted of the murder of liis 
wife and two cliildren, committed in Wilmington in tliis state. Tliat 
n\urder was committed in a very singular manner and witii a very 
singular Aveapon, to wit, a shoemaker's knife ground to a ))oint; and 
a razor was left on the table by the woman's bedside ami means 
taken to have the murder appear to have been a suicide. That mur- 
der was not conmiitted until some years after the Parkei- murder, 
but before the investigation of the Parker murder, as that was not 


tried until some five years after tlie deed was committed. Upon the 
trial of tlio Parker murder it came out that the murder was 
committed with exactly such a knife, and a razor was left by the 
dead hody. I was struck with the coincidence as I had grounds for 
suspicion against a relative of my Wilmington client, and the fact 
was known that on the night of the murder of Parker, which took 
place between nine and ten, at Manchester, N. H., a wagon dra^vn 
by a white horse, with two men in it, passed through Lowell in the 
direction of Wilmington, and the marks of the wheels of such a 
wa<»-on were found in the mud near the murdered man, which wagon 
a])i)arently drove off in the direction of Lowell. As my client Avas 
about to be hanged and it could do him no harm, T questioned him, 
assuring him that it should not he used to his i)rejudice, as to whether 
or not he drove a \\agon that time doAvn from Manchester to Lowell 
and thence to Wilmington. He admitted that he did. I asked him 
who was in the wagon, and he said he did not want to tell me. I 
asked him with what instrument it was done, and he said with a shoe 
knife and razor. I asked Inm what the razor had to do with it. 
" Whv," he said, " the man might have cut his own throat with the 
razor." T asked him also what was done with the 11,000 l)ill which 
Parker A\as su}>posed to have had in his pocket which never could 
be traced. He said there was no $1,000 bill taken from Parker, that 
he hadn't any such bill. And, Avithout remembering the circum- 
stances now, r (questioned him until I was convinced that the ])erson I 
liad hi my mind Avas the man Avith him. But as the grand jury found 
no bill against my chent, and as Pierson Avas hanged, I did not feel 
called ui)on to talk Avith anybody about it because I supposed there 
was nobody so foolish now as to believe that the WentAvorths had 
anything to do with the murder of Parker." 

Perliaps " more is meant than meets the ear " in 
this letter. Perhaps Daniel H. Pierson himself, as well 
as Clark, was implicated in the mnrcler of Parker.* 

On the nineteenth of Jnne, 1860, Bryant Moore 
shot and killed his wife, at No. 61 East Merrimack Street. 
Under the shadow of the scaffold he wrote a strong 
appeal to Mr. Abbott to defend him. That appeal could 
not have l)ecn made at a more inopportune time, for 

* Lowell Morning Mail. Nov. 12, 1885. 


Mr. Abbott was then almost overwholmed with cases. 
Nevertheless he could not with his high views of the 
duties of the bar, refuse such a call for help. He re- 
quested me to do certain things in the preparation of the 
defence, saying that if I would relieve him of that j^art 
of the work, he would undertake the defence. The trial 
took place in December, 1860, and it appeared from the 
start that an ac(|uittal was impossible. The most tliat 
could be done was to save Moore from a vei'dict of guilty 
of murder in the first degree, and thus save his neck. The 
evidence would have entirely justified the highest verdict, 
but through Mr. Abbott's remarkable power of persuasion, 
the jury returned a verdict of guilty of murder in the 
second degree, — a pure triumph of advocacy. Moore's 
sentence was imprisonment at hard lal)or for life. At 
the end of three years, however, a pardon was granted 
to him, through the exertion of Mr. Abbott's powers of 
persuasion over Governor Andrew's Council. The num- 
ber of capital cases in which pardons have thus been 
granted in this state, has been very small, notwithstand- 
ing the statements that have repeatedly been made to 
the contrary. Moore afterwards spent some j^ears in 
Kentucky and Tennessee. He returned to Lowell under 
the name of " Col. John B. Lowe," the military title 
having been conferred upon him by himself. He showed 
deeds of land to John B. Lowe, and undertook to borrow 
money upon the security of a mortgage thereof, but 
nobody here would lend him a sou, and he left for 
other fields. 

Mr. Abbott's criminal practice in his earlier years was 
very large, and if there was any merit in a case he made 
the most of it, but he never liked the associations which 
the criminal lawyer cannot avoid. He always preferred 
the pursuit of remedial justice ; and (d'ter he left the 


l)e'iicli his practice was almost wholly confined to civil 
causes. But time would fail to mention more than two 
or three of them. 

In 1870 Mr. Abbott and B. R. Curtis argued, before 
the Supreme Court at Washington, the case of the Com- 
monwealth of Massachusetts against the Liverpool 
Insurance Company, 10 Wallace, 566, in which it was held 
that the defendants were a corporation, notwithstanding 
the British Parliament had said that they were not. 

About the same time he argued, before the same 
court, the case of the Merchants' Bank against the State 
Bank, 10 Wallace, 604-676. Sidney Bartlett and William 
M. Evarts were with lihn, while B. K. Curtis, C. B. Good- 
rich and B. F. Thomas were against him. The case is 
one of the first importance to banks and bank cashiers. 
Mr. Abbott rested his case on one ground. Mr. Bartlett, 
his associate, rested the claims of their common client 
upon another. A majority of the court adopted Mr. 
Abbott's view and not Mr. Bartlett's. Judges Clifford 
and Davis dissented, and Judge Miller did not sit. 

In the case of the Land Company against Daniel 
Saunders, 103 United States, 316, Mr. Abbott had his 
]jrother-in-law for his client, and John L. Patuixm, now 
judge of the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for 
the First Circuit, for his leading opponent. Never did 
counsel feel surer of victory in a case than did the coun- 
sel for the Land Company. Nevertheless the decision, 
which relates to the construction of deeds, and is of 
great importance, was in favor of Mr. Saunders. 

To argue questions of law before a l)ench of judges, 
requires qualities of a different kind from those which 
are required to argue questions of fact before a jury. 
How successful Mr. Abbott was in the latter field of 
labor, hundreds of verdicts of the impanelled farmers, 


mechanics, and merclianty of Middlesex and Suffolk, 
aLuiidantly attest. Not less successful was he hefore 
benches of judges. Some who heard his argument in 
behalf of Mr. Saunders in 1880, thought it one of his 
best efforts. So thoroughly had he mastered and 
absorbed his case, he scarcely looked at his brief while 
he spoke. So thoroughly was he master of himself and 
of the situation, the presence of the most august tribunal 
on this continent only stimulated him to put forth his 
Ijest efforts; and this he did with such clearness and 
lucidity, such strength and power, that when he sat down 
he felt that his case was won — and, to the great sur- 
prise of his opponents, it was w^on. 

Equally surprised w^ere his opponents at the decision 
won l)y him in the case of St. Anne's Church,* one of 
the most important decisions ever made touching estates 
upon condition as distinguished from estates in trust. In 
that case John P. Robinson, after many years' retirement 
from practice, appeared with General Butler as counsel 
for the church. He never argued another case, but was 
afterwards confirmed in that church. He cared nothing 
for the sarcasms levelled at him bv J. R. Lowell, thouo-h 
they will transmit his name longer than anything that 
he ever said at the haw One of them runs thus : 

"But Jolm P. 
Robinson, he 

Says they didn't know everything 
Down in .Jiulee." 

One of the most just and most discriminating esti- 
m;ites of Judge Abbott, is that of Hon. J. Lewis Stack- 
])ole, of Boston, as follows : 

"Jiulge Al)l)Ott's reputation as a lawyer was won in tlie court 
room, not in the closet. Endowed by nature Avith a body and mind 

*See 14 Gray's IJeiJorts, pp. 58G-613. See also Charles Hovey's History of St. Anne's 
Church in the third volume of the Contributions of this association, pp. 30y-32j. 


of <Te;it viuuv, with lu'ver satislie'd ninlutioii, and untiring powers of 
work, lie early came in eoiiHict with the most prominent lawyers of 
the ]Mi(l(lh'sex l)ar, and jtroved himself an o])i>oneiit worthy of their 
steel. AVhen later in life he came to the Suffolk bar, he had he- 
come an advocate well trained to encounter its leaders, who included 
Mr. C'hoate, Mr. Bartlett, Mr. Duraut, Mr. Chandler and Judge Hoar. 

"His power of statement of mixed questions of law and facts was 
unrivalled. None 11 ew^ better than he how to elicit facts from a re- 
luctant or dishonest witness, and his appeals to juries were always 
forcil)le and judicious, and met with merited success. His grasp of 
the law Avas eminently a practical one, and for many years he was one 
of the most trusted counsellors and advocates of the Suffolk bar. 

" He always possessed the contidence of the court, his kindness 
to younger members of the bar Avas proverbial, and his death is 
a distinct loss to the profession." 

He tried a great many cases for younger lawyers ; 
and to the junior counsel associated with him in such 
trials, he way always a tower of strength. 

Judge John Spaulding, formerly of Groton, now of 
Boston, writes : 

" When I entered the profession, early in the fifties, there were 
giants at the Middlesex l»ar, an<l a young lawyer was under the 
necessity of securing one of them in every important trial in order 
to match his opponent. The Middlesex bar was then renowned, not 
oidy for its great legal ability, but also for the thoroughness of its 

"Having read law with the late George F. Farley, Esq., of 
(iroton (at that time considered at the head of the Middlesex bar), 
and having been admitted to practice, some of the prominent citizens 
of that town induced me to open my office there. I soon found my- 
self engaged in some very imi)ortant cases with my old instructor as 
niv opponent. I therefore deemed it necessary to seek legal aid and 
readily found it hi Judge Abbott. He was always gentle, encourag- 
ing and able, and although we waged many a hai-d-fought battle with 
giants on the other side, Ave Avere signally successful. We never lost 
a case! I recollect being often obliged to call him to my aid on the 
very eve of an important trial — it AA^as Avonderful how readily he 
Avould <j;rasp the evidence and Iioav ehxpiently and forcibly he Avould 
present it to the jury. I ahvays found him a gentleman, high toned 


and honorable. 1 looked upon liini as one of nature's noljlenien and 
sliall always cherish his memory with fond recollections." 

Outside of liis own profession Judo-e Abbott was a 
promoter of v.arious enterprises, in whieli he invested liis 
capital and employed his talents. It would be tedious to 
enumerate all of the corporations in which he served as 
president or director, and I will mention only a few of 
the principal of them. For three years (1860-62) he was 
president of the Hamilton Manufacturing Company at 
Lowell. For fifteen years (1861-76) he was president of 
the Atlantic Cotton Mills at Lawrence. For thirty-five 
years (1857-91) he was a director of the Hill Manufact- 
uring Company at Lewiston, Me. From the death of 
Homer Bartlett, in 1874, until his own death, he was 
president of that company, and was succeeded in that 
office by his son, Samuel A. B. Abbott, Esq., who also 
succeeded him as a director of the Franklin Company at 
Lewiston, Me. For twenty-eight years (1857-85) he was 
a director of the Boston and Lowell Railroad ; and he was 
president of that corporation from 1870 to 1884, both 
inclusive. He was a director of the North American 
Insurance Company at Boston, from its organization in 
1872 to his death. He was the principal promoter of the 
Union Water Power Company at Lewiston, and president 
of it from 1870 until his death. His son, Grafton St. 
Loe Abbott, is its treasurer. 

It happened to me toward the close of the war to 
be brought much in contact with General William T. 
Sherman. The physical and intellectual characteristics 
of the general and the judge were much alike. Both of 
them had that keenness of intellect which penetrates at 
once to the heart of a subject. Both of them had that 
lucidity of mind and^that ((uickness of movement which 
enables one to form mental combinations with marvellous 


rapidity. They held the snme opinions on the topics of 
that time. Whik^ not opposed to arming the blacks, 
both hehl it to be an insult to the twenty millions of 
white men in the North to say that they conld not sup- 
press the five millions of secessionists without the aid of 
the three millions of blacks. And when the Confederate 
forces disbanded both held that the war should cease. 
In nothing were they more alike than in their intellect- 
ual independence. 

One of the most notable illustrations of Judge 
Abbott's independence of mind and self-reliance was the 
famous case of the Trent in 18G1. The seizure of the 
Confederate envoys, Mason and Slidell, and their impris- 
onment in Fort Warren, in Boston Harbor, w^ere the sub- 
ject of the greatest rejoicing among the rash and the in- 
(ionsiderate, and also among thousands who were neither 
rash nor inconsiderate. Statesmen and lawyers like John 
A. Andrew, George T. Bigelow, B. F. Butler, Peleg W. 
Chandler, Caleb Cushing, Richard H. Dana, Jr., Edw\ard 
Everett, Theophilus Parsons, William Whiting, and a 
galaxy of lesser lights, glorified Captain Wilkes, and 
endorsed the outrage which he, without orders, had com- 
mitted upon a neutral steamer plying between neutral 
ports. To me, on the contrary, the shouts of the popu- 
lace in that critical hour presaged nothing less than the 
doom of the American Union. But among all the law- 
yers of Boston old enough and conspicuous enough to 
(rive weio'ht to their opinions, 1 found but two avIio were 
in accord with me — Judge A))bott and Hon. Charles 
Levi Woodbury. "We can never," Judge Abbott said, 
"justify on our principles the seizure of these envo^-s 
aboard the Trent." * Mr. Woodbury expressed the same 

* Cowley's Leaves from a Lawyer's Life Afloat and Ashore, pp. 3C-38. 


opinion in n letter to Postmaster-General Blair, his 
brother-in-L'iw, who replied that he had already presented 
that view to the cabinet, but that all his associates were 
against him. It looked for a time as if the United 
States would become involved in a war with Great 
Britain in addition to that with the Confederate States, 
and that, too, upon a point upon which all the precedents 
were against us. Fortunately, however, we tlien had as 
our representative at the Court of St. James, Charles 
Francis Adams, a man not to be moved by wind and 
clamor. He wrote to Everett and Dana, and to all his 
correspondents in the United States, correcting their 
false views, and urging them not to stullify themselves by 
contending against Great Britain upon a point upon which 
her position was manifestly right and in harmony with 
our own contention heretofore. Mason and Slidell, as 
we all know, w^ere given up ; but it required great moral 
courage, as well as mental independence, to advocate 
giving them up when they were first lu'ought to Boston. 
Abbott, Adams, Woodbury, and those of less prominence, 
who said, from the start, that Wilkes liad erred, stood 
like Athanasius against the world. 

In 1874 Judge Abbott was elected a meml)er of the 
House of Representatives of the United States. His seat 
being contested, he was not admitted till near the close 
of the first session. It was in the session which began 
in December, 1876, and closed in March, 1877, that he 
most distinguished himself. He was a member of the 
special committee which the House of Representatives 
sent to South Carolina to investio'ate the facts connected 
with the presidential election in that state, and the i-eport 
of that committee was prepared by him. N. P. Banks, 
who had succeeded him as democratic editor in Lowell, 
was one of his (iolleau'ues on this committee. He was 


personally opposed to the bill ereating the electoral 
commission, which was introdnced dnring his absence 
and without his knowledge ; but after that bill had been 
proposed by the democrats in congress and accepted by 
the republicans, he felt it to be his duty to see that its 
provisions were carried out. Had that commission been 
filled as it was at first intended. New York would have 
had a democratic representative on it and Massachusetts 
would not. But New York had two candidates for one 
place — Fernando Wood and "Sunset" Cox — neither of 
whom was quite such a man as the place seemed to re- 
quire. Judge Abbott's friends, without his knowledge, 
resolved to propose his name for that place to the demo- 
cratic congressional caucus. They did so, and the caucus 
adopted it at once. 

The letter of Senator Hoar, who sat with Abbott 
on that commission, and the letter of General Butler, to 
be printed herewith, sufliciently indicate the inq)ortance 
of the part borne by Judge Abbott on that connnission. 
He sat next to Garfield, who had known his brother, 
Calel) Fletcher Abbott, in Toledo, and who was after- 
wards " shot into immortality." It was Abbott's sincere 
conviction that by the action of that commission the 
office of president was given to the wrong man. But 
he refused to listen to the solicitations of some of his 
fellow-democrats to aid in preventing the completion of 
the counting of the electoral votes. He saw that Mr. 
Ha3^es must have the office under the forms of the con- 
stitution, or General Grant must be permitted to continue 
to discharge its duties hy co7isent, without any title to it 
at all. Between these alternatives he chose the former 
and he never regretted it. In thus insisting on carrying 
out the decisions of the electoral commission, after having 
himself voted against those decisions in the connnission, 


and in insisting that Hayes slionld thus ho accepted as 
president, Judge Al^hott rendered a service to his country, 
the magnitude of which can only he appreciated by those 
wlio remember how repugnant that result was to the 
democratic party. 

It was not known outside of a few that Judge Abbott 
wrote an address to the country on behalf of the demo- 
cratic minority of that commission, which was put in 
type and one copy printed to be signed by the demo- 
cratic members of the connnission, Ijut it was never 
signed and the original manuscript was destroyed.* 'i 

Judge Abbott was unwilling to give this proposed ( 
address to the puljlic during his life ; but I was permitted 
to make a copy of it, and the seal of secrecy is removed 
by his death. 

In 1884, the democrats, after long exclusion from 
power, elected their candidate as president. By invita- 
tion of Mr. Cleveland's private secretary. Judge Abbott 
met the president-elect at Albany, and had a free and 
full exchange of views on the political situation and the 
selection of cabinet officers. I have been told by those 
who stood in such positions that they might be presumed 
to know, but never by Judge Abbott, that he was offered 
a place in the cahinet. If- he was not so invited, he cer- 
tainly should have been. A cabinet containino- two ex- 
members of the Confederate States government, should 
have included at least one war democrat. Had President 
Cleveland sought and followed Judge Abbott's counsels, 
his famous message on the tariff would have undergone 
considerable revision before being sent to congress, and 
its menace to the wool industry would have been care- 
fully excised. No people ever lost their liberties by 

* For this proposed addifss see the February (1892) number of the Magazine of 
American History. See also tlie appendix hereto. 


keeping .sheep. Had Mr. Cleveland learned that ini|)or- 
tant lesson, lie niiglit perlia})s liave been re-elected. 
Jnd«'-e Abbott's views on the tarift" were pul)lished in the 
Boston Sunday Globe, June 26, and republished in the 
Lowell Morning Mail, June 27, 1887, and in many other 
journals. They were in substance the same which he 
had published in the Lowxdl Advertiser in 1840. 

"• For many years to come," he says, " the countr}^ 
will have to raise from |100,0()0,000 to $200,000,(1(11) a 
year by taxation in some form. On account of the un- 
equal distribution of property, no method of taxation (;an 
be devised that is as fair and just as that of taxes on im- 
ports. A tarift' should discriminate against luxuries and 
in favor of necessaries. So too it should in favor of our 
home industries and home labor." 

In the fall of 1887, Judge Abbott suffered the 
greatest affliction of his life. He had lost two sons in 
their childhood, and tw^o more on fields of Ijattle. He 
had followed his oldest daughter and the husljands of 
both his daughters to premature graves. But the great 
sorrow of his life came with the death of Mrs. Abbott.* 
The following letter, written in the shadow of a home 
made desolate by her death, indicates his appreciation of 
her worth better than the words of any other man could 
do. It is his reply to a condolatory letter from Hon. John 
F. Kind)all, president of the Appleton National Bank: 

,, -,, ,^ Boston, October 5, l-SST. 

My Dear KiJNrr.ALL: 

1 lliaiik you from my heart fur your very sympatlietir lelter; to 
one lieart-broken as T am, sympatliy fro)u a friend is i^ood ami 

You eanuot, and T trust you may never knoAV, Avlial such a Mow 

* Mrs. Abbott wrote tlie memoir of her father, Judge Edward St. Loe Livermore, 
which was read before tliis association when her liusband was elected an lionorary mem- 
ber in 1879. It was published in the second volume of our Contributions, and afterwards 
reiirinted separately with additions. 


means. Living ns wc liavo so long togetlier, witli notliiiig lilerally 
ever coming l)ctweeii us, my Avife was absolutely a part of myself, 
and taking lier aAvay is wrenching away a part of my own soul. It 
is not the loss of a common woman — she inherited the rol)ustness 
and strength of will and character of her father, the judge, and of 
her grandfather, the first senator from New Hampshire, cond)ined 
with the tenderness and love she took from her mother — a rare 
meeting of qualities. I used often, in times long past, to say that if 
I slionld be called to my last account, half the bitterness ol" death 
Avould be taken from me by the consciousness that I left behind me 
one who woidd take care of the family better even than I could 

All this comes to me now that I have lost her, and I find the 
burden a very heavy one to Itear. I again thank you for your feeling 
and sympathy. . . . Faithfully your friend. 

J. G. Abbott. 

From tliis time liis face assumed a sadder, more 
abstrjicted look than before. Like Rabbi Samuel, son of 
Naomi, he could say, " Thne can replace all things, but 
never the wife of my youth." He was a domestic man 
from the start, and grew more and more so to the end. 
It was not in courts of law, it was not in political activ- 
ities, that he found his greatest happiness. It was in his 
own home, among his children and grandchildren, in his 
own fields covering four hundred acres, with his horses 
and his dogs, among the trees which he trimmed and the 
flowers which he planted with his own hands. Mr. Glad- 
stone never took more delight in his home life at Ha war- 
den Castle than Judge Abbott in his baronial hall at 
Wellesley Hills. If he did not enter into the public dis- 
cussion of religious topics like Mr. Gladstone, he was as 
perfect a pattern of the domestic and social virtues as 
'' the grand old man " himself. 

He had comi)leted seventy-six years and seven 
months, and seemed likely to continue to perforui all his 
usual duties aud enjoy his accustouied pleasures for ten 


or fiftt'en ycnrs more, Avlioii tlie iiicvita])le lioiir came, 
and ho passed to the life l)eyond life. To the family and 
friends of sneh a man as Judge Abbott, liowever long 
dela3aMl, death always comes too soon. But the sharp 
('•rief of love and friendshii) (inds some alleviation in the 
contemplation of the true nobility Avhich distinguished 
him through life, and in the beauty of the example which 
he has left to his posterity. 

The Rev. Leighton Parks, rector of Emanuel Church, 
Boston, where for many years Judge Abbott attended 
pul)lic worship, writes : " I believe he was a man who 
tried to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly 
with his God." 

Five of his sons, Fletcher Morton, Samuel Appleton 
Brown, Franklin Pierce, Grafton St. Loe, and Holker 
Welch, together with Mrs. Sarah Abbott Fay, his young- 
est dauditer, widow of William P. Fay, survive him. 
There are also eight grandchildren, and it is not un- 
likely that this number may be increased, so that his 
race seems destined to a long continuance upon the earth. 
The recollections of Judge Abbott which survive him in 
the hearts of those who loved him, are more precious 
than words can express. 

■ To live in hearts we leave behind 
Is uot to die." 

His Excellency W^illiam E. Russell, Governor of 
Massacliusetts, l)eing al)out to visit Lowell, was invited to 
l)e present at the meeting at which the preceding memoir 
was read. He returned his thanks for the invitation, 
and said : '' Engagements that have already been made, 
and invitations already accepted, will prevent my attend- 


iince. This is a great disappoiiitme'iit to me, as 1 should 
like exceedingly to join you in your tribute to the 
memory of one who was an able and much respected 
jurist and lawyer, and a distinguished citizen of our 

Hon. Moses T. Stevens, Representative in Congress 
from the Lowell-Lawrence District, sent a letter, which 
was read, expressing his regret that other engagements 
compelled him, at the last moment, to deny himself the 
l^leasure of listening to the able treatment of so good a 
subject as Judge Abbott, whose forefathers like his own, 
were among the first settlers of Andover, and for six 
generations inhabitants of that ancient town. 


Worcester, Mass., Septenil)or 17, 189L 
Hon. Charles Coivley, Lowell, Mass. 

My Dear Sir — All my recollections of Judge Abbott are of an 
exceedingly pleasant character, I do not think I should sjteak of 
him as my contem])orary at the bar, unless that word were used with 
a pretty comprehensive meaning. When I was a law student, from 
1846 to 1849, 1 used to attend court in Concord a good deal, and was 
present at the trial of a good many cases where Judge Abbott was 
counsel. He was then one of the leaders of the very able har of 
Middlesex County, having been out of college sixteen or seventeen 
years, and having come forward into leadership very rapidly. ^Vfter 
I myself got well established in Worcester, I was opposed to Judge 
Ab])ott in several important cases. He impressed me with his o-reat 
fairness and justice as well as with his great ability. I remember 
that he interposed his authority to compel a just settlement in several 
cases. In one of them, his client, a strono- corjioi-ation, seemed dis- 
posed to do o-reat injustice to a poor man, which I think would liave 
been accomplished but forjudge .Vbbott's insisting on a reasonable 

He was in the house of re])resentatives for a sinolo session onlv, 
if 1 remember right. The high ri'putation which he brouohi with 


him lo llu' house was sliown by tlie fact that hv was made (nu- of llic 
(h'mocralic mcmliers of the electoral commission. In that commis- 
sion he si at I'd tlie view of liis ])arty with gTcat vigor and ability and 
with entire courtesy. It is unnecessary to say that that was a trans- 
action which excited very deei)ly the feelings of the uliole ]ieoi)U' of 
the countr\- an<l esjtecially of those who were called upon to take 
a consiiiciious and resjionsihle i)art in it. T do not thiidc the kindly 
feeling toward .fudge Abbott of his repubhcan associates in Washing- 
ton was interruiited by anything which ()ccui-i-e(l at that time. 

I am, faithfully yours, 

(4eo. F. IIoar. 


At TToiNrE, November '2'2nd, 1891. 
Afi/ Dear Mr. Coxdey : 

I had the jdeasure to receive your kind invitation to be ])resent 
at the Old Residents' meeting of our city, which would have ]»er- 
mitteil me to ]>av my iributi' of respect to the memory of the late 
Judg(f .losiah (t. Abi)ott; but the condition of my health was such 
that its literal acceptance was inij)ossible, but I take advantage of the 
occasion to say very hn])erfectly, a few words on that subject. 

Judge Abl)ott and myself Averc, from 1881) to the end of his 
life, Avann i)ersonal friends. He Avas my senior, but soon avc came in 
contact A\'ith each othei- in the trial of causes as Avell before juries as 
in arguments before the Sui)reme Court, and I Avitnessed Avith care 
many of his efforts in other litigations. Fi-om actual j.ersonal knoAvl- 
edire 1 can bear testimony to his high talents as a laAvyer, to his 
fidelity to his clients, his untiring and ardent advocacy of their cause, 
his uniform courtesy as a gentleman to his ()|i]>onents in the court, to 
his honorable faithfulness to all engagenu-nts and understandings 
between counsel, and to his great success in his ])rofessioii. 

In 1855 he Avas appointed Justice of the Superior Court 
of the County of Suffolk, IJoston, and acfiuitted himself in that 
position so as to bring to himself merit and distim-tion. He resigned 
that position because its salary was utterly inadecjuate to the labor 
an<l b<M-e no com]>arison to the emolument of his ])rofession which he 
resunu'd in that city. 

lie was an aideiil democrat and receiveil the iionor of a seat in 
the house of rcpi-esentativos from that jiaiMy so early that it Avas 


almost (loul)tt'ul wlietlior lie was not too young to serve. Soon after 
lie was elected to tlie senate and served there with enviahle disthic- 
tion. He was a})]K)inted senior aide-de-eanij) to Governor JNTorton. 
He was candidate for congress, ]»ut heing in a district with a large 
majority against his l)arty his election was im})Ossil)le. 

When our unha])py Avar liroke out in 18G1, he remained truly 
and staunchly loyal to the country. I remember an incident on the 
seAcnteenth of April as I was going from Lowell to Boston to take 
connuand of the Massachusetts troops which were behig sent to 
Washington. Judge Ahhott met me in the same train of cars in the 
morning, and said : " Well, general, I hear that you are going to 
take command of our soldiers who go to Washington." T said : 
"Yes, judge; for want of a better." "Well," said he, "you will 
have with you poor soldiers in distress and suffering at some turn of 
affairs ; let me contribute my mite to relieve that suffering." Putting 
his liand in his pocket he took out some bills and handed me one 
hundred dollars. I said: "Judge, you are very generous, but let me 
give you a memorandum of this." " No, no, Butler," he said : " we 
have lived too long together to need a memorandum in a matter of 
this sort l)etween each other." I said : " Thanks, judge ; T will see 
to it that your mone}^ shall i-each its full destination." 

Soon after he gave two of his sons to the war. I use this phrase 
for they were literally given to the country, as he lost them both on 
the battle-field serving with high honor. Thus he did his duty to 
his country at the same time retaining his })olitical beliefs. 

In 1874 he was elected to eongress from one of the Boston dis- 
tricts. A new member of congress usually has to serve a tei-m or 
two as an apprentice before he can attain any considerable promi- 
nence in the house, but Judge Abbott's high standing and al)ilities 
gave him instantly high position with his i)arty, and when in 187() 
the best talent and the highest legal ability of the house on the dem- 
ocratic side was to be selected to sei've on that most important l)ody, 
the electoral commission, having to deal with new and unprecedented 
(piestions, Abbott was selected with singular unanimity. lie took the 
leading part in tliat commission. ITe was strongly impressed, to say 
the least, with the ir.regiilarities under which tlie local elections were 
held and especiallv in the states of Louisiana and Florida, which 
resulted in the claimed election of Hayes. The minority decided 
that a formal |)r()test should be made to the countiy, Mgainst the 
decision of the majority, and Abbott was selected to jirepare tliat 
protest, the work and performance of which required mucli legal 


U'lirniiiL!; and llic ^'reatest talent in itrescntation of the arguments 
w likli must acconii)aiiy it. Ho prepared the jtajter witli liis accus- 
tomed skill and ability. It was read before liis associates and 
aj (proved, but upon discussion the decision to make any ])rotest was 
reconsidered, all ao-reeing, however, that if such protest was to be 
ma<le the one just read was tlie very best })resentation of the case. 
Political reasons bearing on the future of the })arty were the grounds 
of n(m-presentation upon which the decision was based. I have had 
the pleasure of examining Judge Abl)ott's paper with great interest, 
l^o analvze it so as to do it justice would be far l)eyond the limits of 
such a letter as I am now writing. It must suffice to say that it Avas 
worthy of Judge Abbott and equal to any efforts of his life, that is to 
say, it was done as well as it could be done and with singular and 
quite judicial impartiality. 

I take leave to close by sayuig that a more honorable gentleman, 
a better or more loyal citizen or a more im})artial judge has never 
lived than Judge Abbott, and a truer friend to myself I have not the 
misfortune to mouj-n. I am, very truly yours, 



New York, November 2o, 1891. 
My Dear Mr. Coxdey : 

I regret not being with you at the Old Resi<]ents' Association 
meeting to-morrow evening to join you in doing honor to the mem- 
ory of Judge Abl)ott. While I feel that I could say much about 
him that would interest those who did not know him personally, I 
could impart but little to those who knew him well. To these he 
spoke while living, and told the story of what he was, with a com- 
pulsive eloquence which we who came after him can only echo back. 
I see you are going to read a paper on him. You knew him well. 
You will, with your delicate sense of appreciation and your accus- 
tomed eloquence, scatter his grave with flowers. They will be 
plucked from the garden of your knowledge of all men, varied and 
variegated ; blossoms worthy of his exalted character and supera- 
bundant manliness and gifts. I knew him during the last fifteen 
years of his life very intimately. My relations with him were such 
as to carry me near to him; and he became confidential with me as 
men are wont to do but seldom with their fellows. Let me write a 


word of his uncorninoii gift of greatness. His commaiuliMg talents 
were known to all. As the world advances, higher is the value 
placed upon that which a man is. Our admiration for mental traits 
and gifts, and the calisthenics of the intellect pales away, unless we 
discover some touch of greatness. Judge Abbott was superlatively 
great. Quick to make allowances for all men, he was a man without 
grievances. He seized upon that which was of value in men, dis- 
carding and forgetting the rest. He was all that nature intended 
him to be. How few there are that can be it ! Many can act the 
utmost that is in them, without bein^ it. To be is to act, while 
action, says Emerson, is only a trick of the senses. Judge Abbott 
was himself, wholly and always. He once told me he attended a 
school kept by Ralph Waldo Emerson. His description of Emerson 
as a school-master interested me most because I saw that Emerson 
had left his character on him in marks that would never wear away. 
He said Emerson never corrected, nor criticised, nor found fault with 
a boy, no matter what the boy had done; that only behind his 
wondrous smile, which almost concealed a faint expression of regret, 
could one read pages of what he would say, but never articulated. 
He said the worst boy in school was devoted to him. When some 
of the boys would become engaged in rough quarrels, he had seen 
Emerson appear at the door of the school-house with his heart in his 
face, and the boys would forget their quarrel in an instant. 

So it was with Judge Abbott himself. He moulded others and 
made them also great. Above malice ; above the trifling motives 
that mould so many, he grew to immense stature, and died as he 
lived, with his eyes ever on the horizon and toward the rising sun. 

Very truly yours, Fredk. F. Ayer. 


My father, Daniel Saunders, as early as 18:50, became aware of 
the water power between Lowell and the present site of Fawrence, 
although the fall between the two places was so gradual that a boat 
could be rowed the whole way. 

Judge Abbott, who was a nephew of my father, was consulted 
by him long before any positive steps were taken towards starting 
the enterprise which resulted in l)uilding the city of Lawrence. 
Most of the early legal work was |)erformed by Mr. Abbott; and in 
obtaining bonds he was frequently consulted, and his good judgment 


and lc'<j;al attainments were of great value in obtaining good titles to 
till' present site of Lawrence. So good was liis advice that no title 
obtained has ever been succiessfully contested. 

I am at the present moment unable to give you the number of 
farms ])urchased, but the whole territory j)urchased embraces about 
Lliree S(|uare miles. Thirty or forty dollars an acre would have l)een 
a lar<'C price for most of this land, which is now worth from ten cents 
to four dollars per square foot. 

Judge Abbott has been more or less connected with the cor]>or- 
ations of Lawrence as a stockholder, and for many years was a 
director and president of the Atlantic Cotton Mills, and he has always 
taken <'reat interest in the manufacturing enterprises of New Eng- 
land, being a large holder of stock in various corporations, as a 
director and president of one or more of such corporations in 
Ijcwiston, Me. 

Of his standing as a lawyer, his integrity as a man, and his 
position as a citizen, I need not sjjeak. They are known to all who 
ever knew him by acquaintance or reputation. 


I studied law in the othce of lion. Thomas Ilopkinson, after- 
wards Judge of the Court of Common I*leas, and I'resident of the 
pjoston and Worcester Railroad. 

Mr. Abbott and B. R. Curtis, afterwards Justice of the United 
States Supreme Court, tried a case at East Cambridge, and I 
expressed to Mr. Ilopkinson the general sentiment, even of that day, 
of the great ability of Mr. Curtis. Mr. Ilopkinson said that, as he 
was going down the stei)S of the court house, somebody else made a 
similar remark, when a member of the jury that was not trying the 
case said, " I like the tall one the best ; " meaning Mr. Abbott. I 
have often since then "liked the tall one the best." 

Though I have always been a great admirer of Judge Curtis, I 
have again and again been struck with the great fervor and vigor of 
Judge Abbott's jury arguments. He seemed to be glad when the 
evidence was closed, as if when he came to the argument, he was 
conscious of being master of the situation. I never knew him to 
make a j»oor argument. He always warmed uj) and went on like a 
rushing torrent. 

The bar of Middlesex was of cons])icuous ability — Judge Abbott, 


General Butler, E. Kockwood Hoar, Thomas Ilopkinson, ])aiiiel S. 
Richardson, Judge Nelson, G. A. Somerby and others, had to be 
sudi to compete with each other. They were, besides, followers of 
others older than themselves, who stru^Q-led to retain their lessenintr 
ascendency. I will not yield to the temptation to speak of them, 
however deserving they may be. 

When Mr. Abbott was appointed to the bench, he had his oflice 
with me in Boston, and we ever after had our offices together, and we 
continued close friends to the time of his death. 

You will not expect me to speak of his judicial or public career. 
It is known to everybody, and I have no especial knowledge of it. 
I will, however, mention one incident of the former: Coming into 
the office after the adjournment of the court, he said, there was 
brought before him a little boy for sentence, and he said to the dis- 
trict attorney, "You don't expect me to sentence that boy. 7" shall 
never sentence him. You must make some other disposition of his 
case ; " then he added, " I was not going to sentence a little boy 
like that." 

The professional and public career of Judge Abbott is so well 
known, that features of his personal character and habits will be 
quite as interesting to his old townsmen. He was very fond of tlie 
gentle art of fishing, and we scoured the ponds of Middlesex and 
Plymouth Counties. Sometimes in Middlesex County, Alden But- 
trick and Ilapgood Wright were with us ; but generally, and always 
in Plymouth County, we were alone. 

ITe lived on Stackpole Street and I on Alder Street, in Lowell, 
and ofter one o'clock in the morning whichever awoke fii'st would 
rattle his fish-pole against the other's window, and we would walk to 
Raymond Kimball's stable, ride to the Ridge Tavern in Groton, and 
j)ut u}) the horse. "Peter" would then take us in a wagon to Knop's 
Pond, where we would begin our sport. "Peter" came for us at 
meal times, and the evening would see us on our way home. We 
became very expert, and we never failed of a handsome catch of 
pickerel. Once Wm. G. Russell invited us to join him and others at a 
pond in Plymouth, where we had a memorable time. A gentleman 
from New York named Cleveland had, the year before, caught a 
seven ])Ound pickerel, and became the "King Fisher." On this 
occasion I was favored of fortune and caught the two largest pickerel, 
one Aveighing eight and the other five pounds. These were the finest 
fish, of the kind, I ever saw — very large ones for this region. 
The judge })ronounced them "sockdolagers." I once, when with 


Hapgood Wright, cauglit one in Springy Pond, in Groton, weighing 
four pounds and two ounces. Mr. Noah F. Gates told me that he 
saw a large one lying in the shoal water of the wooden wasteway of 
a mill in Concord ; that he got a pitchfork and speared it through the 
head against the wood underneath; that he gave it to Steadman 
Buttrick of Concord, then county treasurer, and he carried it about 
showing it to his friends in town. On opening it a pound pickerel 
was found, which Mr Gates had pushed down the big one's throat, 
and in that one another smaller one ; and so he had to go the rounds 
of his friends and neighbors once more. We used to fish all day, 
contending for the greatest catch. Each of us had a style of fishing. 
In some ponds with some kinds of water and weeds, he could always 
lead, while I held my own in others. 

No one who saw Judge Abbott in the latter part of his life? 
walking with a rather sad expression of countenance, would think of 
him as fishing in the ponds of Middlesex County and helping to draw 
skiffs from one pond to another. We sometimes fished through the 
ice. He told me that on one occasion almost immediately after cast- 
ing the lines through the ice of Muddy Pond, General Stark caught 
a five jiound pickerel. He wound up his line saying, " I have done 
my fishing for this day." There was not much luck on the part of 
anybody after that. 

Judge Abl>ott was the best of com|iany, energetic and vivacious 
all the day long. Though nervous and apparently excitable, he was 
patient in listening to others and entered into their feelings, hopes 
and fears. 

He was an indefatigable and rapid worker. He had none of that 
tendency which is the bane of lawyers generally, to delay and ])ost- 
pone things. lie rather j)ush his business than let his business j)ush 
him. He was always closing u{) his cases and reaping the results. 
This was one cause of his great success. 

I have alluded to Judge Abbott's method of arguing cases. 
Many times T have thought of his coming within this description of 
JMilton by .Afacaulay : 

"■ It is when jNIilton escapes from the shackles of his dialogue, 
wlien he is discharged from the labor of uniting two incongruous 
styles, when he is at liberty to indulge his choral raptures without 
reserve, that he rises above himself. Then, like his own good genius 
bursting from the earthly form and weeds of Thyrsis, he stands forth 
in celestial freedom and beauty ; he seems to cry exultingly : 

' Now my t.ask is smoothly done, 
I can fly or I can run,' 



to skim the earth, to soar above tlie clouds, to bathe in the Elysian 
clew of the rainbow, and to inhale the balmy smells of nard and 
cassia, which the musky winds of the zephyr scatter through the 
cedared alleys of the liesperides." 

You will not understand me, as making this in all respects appli- 
cable to Judge Abbott. He never wrote j^oetry; never quoted 
poetry; never quoted anything, though an omnivorous reader. He 
never aspired to elegance of diction. He always seemed to feel that 
when he came to his argument, he was master of the situation. He 
was eager to have the evidence closed. He always had his theory of 
the case, and towards the close of the evidence was anxious lest 
something should interfere with it. As he saw his case clear, he was 
eager to be freed from the shackles of further evidence, and was on 
tiptoe for the argument. Then he seemed to burst all barriers and 
rush forward as if there were no doubt about anything he said. 

I said that he never quoted anything. He did once and I have 
remembered it as the only instance within my knowledge. He and 
General Butler were trying a case in which some of the witnesses 
came from a place called Shabbakin, and while the evidence was 
going in. Judge Abbott alluded to Shabbakin in no complimentary 
terms. General Butler in his argument said "that notwithstanding 
Judge Abbott's allusion to Shabbakin, it ajjpeared that he took his 
pleasure rides through that place." To which Judge Abbott replied, 
" that in Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, Christian had to travel through 
the ' Valley of the Shadow of Death,' so he rode through Shal)bakin 
to the pleasant plains of Littletown where a portion of his family 
were sojourning." (There were Littletown men on the jury.) 


I entered the office of Abbott & Brown in September, 1851, and 
continued there most of the time till I was admitted to the bar, on 
Mr. Abbott's motion, at the April term, 1853, of the Supreme Judicial 
Court. I saw much less of Mr. Abbott than of Mr. Brown, for the 
reason that Mr. Brown was constantly in the office, while Mr. Abbott, 
during the sessions of the courts, was almost constantly in court, and 
made only flying visits to the office. When the courts were not in 
session he was there more, but then not so regularly nor for so long 
a time as Mr. Brown Mr. Abbott tried all the cases and Mr. Brown 
prepared them, or more particularly the law. Mr. Abbott also tried 
a great many cases as senior counsel for other lawyers, who of 


course, mainly prepared their own cases. " There were giants in 
tliose days " at the Middlesex bar. There was George F. Farley, 
much Judge Abbott's senior, who had won a great reputation in try- 
ing cases; Albert II. Nelson, with a voice and grace of manner 
almost e(pial to those of Edward Everett, who became chief justice 
of the Superior Court for Suffolk county, of which ^[r. Abbott was 
an associate ; Tappan Wentwortli, an indefatigable fighter ; Benjamin 
F. Butler, who then had a reputation for wonderful ability, whose 
fame has since become national, and who is a genius beyond dispute ; 
Charles IJ. Train, bright and easy-going, but never probably putting 
forth all his power ; G. A. Somerby, with marvellous powers of en- 
durance and marked ability in trying cases before a jury; Daniel S. 
Richardson, scholarly, a good lawyer, and with the dangerous power 
for an opponent of making juries believe that he was honest and told 
them the truth; Theodore H. Sweetser, not then so eminent as a 
lawyer as he subsequently became, who, for pure logic and clear 
statement, was unsurpassed by any of his associates ; Judge E. R. 
Hoar, eminent then and more eminent since as a lawyer, had been of 
this bar, but went early upon the bench ; and, finally, there was John 
Q. A. Griflin, younger than the others, my own playmate and school- 
mate in boyhood, a student of Mr. Farley, who, immediately upon 
his admission to the bar, went to the front rank, an exceedingly 
brio^ht and ready man, whose tongue was a Damascus blade cutting 
to the very quick, with wit, satire and sarcasm, a somewhat dangerous 
power, and whose pen was often used in writing most trenchant 
articles for the press. 

When I say that Judge Abbott was the peer of these men, and 
the superior of most of them, I claim for him very high ability as a 
lawyer and advocate. The Middlesex bar when these men were its 
conspicuous members, was noted for the ability, thoroughness and 
sharpness with which they tried their cases. Burke says " He that 
wrestles witli us strengthens our nerves and sharpens our skill. Our 
antagonist is our helper." What helpers were such men to each 
other! Here was a school of intellectual athletes. Strength, alert- 
ness, labor, vigilance and persistence were necessary, against such, 
for success. Judge Abbott had a more nervous temperament than 
most of them, but his head was always clear, even though liis nerves 
were at their utmost tension. He threw himself into his cases and 
tried them to win. He could not save himself if he would, and he 
would not if he could. When he began the trial of a case, his whole 
power, mental and physical, was put into it. His arguments were 


impassioned and impetuous. A sick headache was the usual sequel. 

He once said to me that he should not know how to 

practise law without Mr, Brown. They supplemented each other. 
It is said that some of the happiest matrimonial unions are formed 
by people who are opposites in taste and temperament. jVIr. Abbott 
and Mr. Brown were certainly opposites in every sense. Mr. Abbott 
was content in the court room, while Mr. Brown would have been 
wild with uneasiness. Mr. Brown was content in the office, while 
its duties would have been irksome to Mr. Abbott. Mr. Abbott was 
bold, confident and aggressive, while Mr. Brown was timid, cautious 
and hesitating. Mr. Abbott was no doubter, while Mr. Brown was full 
of doubts. Mr. Brown labored hard and long to reach his conclu- 
sions, while Mr. Abbott's conclusions might be termed intuitions. 
Mr. Brown had more knowledge of law books and Mr. Abbott of 
men. Mr. Brown in the preparation of cases looked not only on his 
own side but on that of the other, and probably, many times, thought 
of points against himself that never dawned on his opponent. In 
this way he was of great service to Mr. Abbott, who was thus put 
on liis guard. Many, however, of these ghosts of Mr. Brown's fears 
would down before Mr. Abbott's quick common sense.* 

Prentiss Webster, Esq., son of the late William P. 
Webster, and successor of his father as law partner of 
General Bntler, then read the following paper : 

Mr. President and Gentlemen — It is my first 
dnty to thank yon for yonr kind in^'itation to be present 
with yon this evening, and to join in honoring the mem- 
ory of Jndge Abbott. 

Many of yon gentlemen knew Jndge Abbott in liis 
boyhood days ; were with him in his development to 
man's estate ; saw him when he embarked on his career 
for life ; watched his mental growth ; followed him into 
public and private Ufe to learn his value as a citizen, a 
friend and a counsellor, and to jndge of his ability, 
learning and fidelity to his trusts. 

* Lowell Daily Courier, Dec. 29, 1891. 


It would 1)0 presuiiiptioiis on my part to attempt a 
surmise of the impressions lie made upon your minds ; of 
these it is for yon to tell and not for me. Yet I feel I 
but echo 3^our memories when I say that — 

" He above tlie rest 

111 shape aiid gesture proudly einiuent 

Stood like a tower." 

T can only bear witness to tlie impressions made by 
him on one of a succeeding generation, and these came 
to me when in his latter days he had left 3^our midst and 
made his home elsewhere — alas ! not without pain and soi'- 
row and kindly thoughts for those he had left behind. 

For the City of Lowell he always held the kindest 
of memories. To its citizens, his friends and neighbors 
of former years, he ever turned with wishes for them of 
long life and happiness. He was solicitous for the wel- 
fare of the city, kept apace with our growth and an 
interest in our affairs. 

During the past ten years it was my good fortune 
to see much of Judge Abbott, both in and out of court, 
having Ijeen interested with him in causes connnon to 
his own office and that of his life-long friend. General 
Butler. This brought me to him often many times each 
week, and when with him and work ended, he would 
turn to his early days in Lowell, replete with remarks 
on the many changes which had taken place. He loved 
to talk of his early associates at the bar ; of his former 
friends and acquaintances ; often making Jin inquiry for 
this man and for that man, whom he had favorably 
known in early years. From persons he would pass to 
things and tell of what building was formerly here and 
what building was there ; wdio lived in one place and 
who in another ; each and every conversation being of 
particular interest, because of the information he im- 


parted and the seeming pleasure lie had in talking of our 
city and its inhabitants. 

With delight he looked ])ack upon the continuous 
labor of days and nights spent in the preparation and 
trial of causes at Concord and old Cambridge. For those 
who preceded him he had a great admiration, and as 
they gradually gave up active work, their places were ably 
filled by Judge Abl)ott and others well known to you 
older citizens of Lowell. To call the roll of the practi- 
tioners of that time would be to call Judge Abbott 
among the first, a position wdiich he took and creditably 
maintained among his later associates in Suffolk County. 
Reminiscences of those days as told by him, were most 
interesting, replete with happenings which would to-day 
astonish judges, attorneys and the public. He compared 
the practice at old Concord with a happy family, where 
the relations Ijetween judge, attorney and juror were 
most intimate, living together with one object in view, 
to wind up the business of the court with a care that a 
proper meed of justice was bestowed upon the litigants, 
for which each and every attorney struggled hard to get 
a goodly share for his particular client. 

Judge Abbott's varied experience taught hiin to 
appreciate the struggles of his younger associates. To 
them he had nothing but words of encouragement; for 
them he was ever ready with acts of kindness, and fi-oni 
them he never denied his sound advice, that success at 
the bar could only be had by hard, hard work, devotion 
to the Ijooks, exercise of perceptive faculties, a steady 
outlook and scrutiny of every day occurences in life, 
coupled with an understanding of the lessons taught 
from public practice in the courts. Such had been his 
own life, and his example in itself was wisdom, to say 
nothing of impress made by contact with him. 

56 MEMOIR OF HON. ,IO.SlAll GAliD^■Eli AHliOTT, J.L. D. 

lie encouraged young men not to falter in their 
work before the criticisms of the pu1)lic on the lawyer ; 
for to him in every walk in life they were sure to come 
when thrown into troubles Avith their neighbors, whether 
on personal wrongs or wrongs done to their property. 

He was not inclined to harshness toward his younger 
opponents ; his relmkes would be conciliatory and well 
advised rather than critical; he abstained from doing 
any injury to their feeling unless he felt sure that there 
was an attempt to trick him, and then his manner would 
change ; though not often in open court, yet certainly 
in private he would take pains to bestow his kindly 
admonitions well laden with sound advice. 

Judge Abbott invariably treated his younger asso- 
ciates, who were with him in the same case, with marked 
consideration. He would carefully listen to their prep- 
arations before going into court, and when there w^ould 
never place them in an embarassing position, Init was 
ever on the alert to come to their aid wdien by force of 
circumstances his junior, through his own error, or the 
subtleties of their ^ opponents, w^ent Ijeyond his depth. 
By Avay of encouragement he woidd put i4)ou his junior 
associates all the burden of the fight that could be prop- 
erly entrusted to him without injury to his client's cause. 
His pui-pose was evidently to teach him to stand alone 
and gain confidence in himself. 

His noble form and dignified demeanor will be 
greatly missed from among them, and l)y you also, 
gentlenuni of the Old Residents' Association, who are 
gathered together here this evening out of affection and 
regard for his memory; and you should not forget that 

"Your kindly act is a kernal sown 
That will jirow to a goodly tree, 
ShedcUiii; its fruit wlum time has liown 
Down the irnll" of eternity." 



Pursuant to notice previously published in Boston 
and Lowell newspapers, the Bar of Middlesex held a 
meeting in the County Court House at Lowell to take 
steps to pay a suitable tribute to Judge Abbott's mem- 
ory. The meeting was held on the fifth of April, 1892, 
and was well attended. Mr. Cowley, the senior counsel- 
lor present, called the meeting to order, and said: — 

Brethren of the Bar : — 

It would be a strange disregard of many api)roved jirecedents, 
if the Bar of the historic County of Middlesex, in which the late 
Josiah Gardner Abbott was born and bred, in which he first wore 
the robes of an honorable profession, in which he continued to prac- 
tice more or less until his death, and to which, by his high rej)utatiou 
as a lawyer, a judge, a statesman, a patriot, and the father of heroes 
and martyrs, he imparted increased renown, should give no formal 
expression of their appreciation of the loss which has been sustained 
by the Commonwealth by his death. The very walls of this court- 
house, which so often resounded with the echoes of his eloquent 
appeals to juries in years gone by, would rebuke such a disregard of 
ancient and approved custom, suggesting to our minds, if not sound- 
ing in our ears, the old exclamation, "Wist ye not that a prince, nay, 
a great man, has fallen down in Israel ? " 

The name of Judge Abbott is so enshrined in the memory of his 
coevals, both within and without the Bar, that there is no danger 
that it will be forgotten. The Old Residents'' Historical Association 


has already held a memorial meeting in his honor. Pul)Iic journals 
have shown a generous appreciation of his character ; and you, his 
professional brethren, have met here and now for the purpose of 
considering how you Avill express your sense of his worth and of the 
public loss. It seems desirable that some organization of this meet- 
ing should first be made. Is it your pleasure to choose a chairman? 

George F. Lawton, Esq., was chosen, and upon tak- 
ino- the chair said: — 

Brethren of the Middlesex Bar : — 

I thank you for the honor conferred upon me. Nearly all of us 
who meet here to-day were admitted to practice at this Bar after 
Judge Abbott removed from Lowell and from this county. But it is 
not presumptuous for us to claim a share in his great name and fame 
for old Middlesex. It is a duty that some memorial of him should 
be preserved with us, that some formal notice of his death should be 
taken by us. 

He lived in Lowell when he was called to the Bar. All the 
early part of his honorable career was here in Lowell. Those who 
remember Lowell at all in those days, will remember his stately form 
upon our streets. His stature, his figure, his face, his majestic mien, 
raised him as far above others as did his great abilities and his high 
character exalt him above ordinary men. 

He was of old New England stock. Doubtless much of it was 
3^oeman stock. But where in the world have there been such yoe- 
men as in old Massachusetts in the last two hundred years? Those 
who are versed in his genealogy will perhaps be able to account for 
his great superiority by tracing his ancestry to a superior source. 
Of whatever blood he may have been, he was worthy to have sprung 
from kings. At all events he was noble, and by a better title than 
an inherited one. He was one of Nature's noblemen. 

Is it your purpose to complete the organization of this meeting 
by choosing a secretary? 

Harry A. Brown, Esq., son of Samuel Appleton 
Brown, for many years the hiw-partner of Mr. Abbott, 
was chosen as secretarj^, after which several members of 
the Bar spoke substantially as follows : 



Mr. Chairman: — 

It is eminently fitting that tliis Bar should participate in a tribute 
to Judge Abbott. He is identified with the best work of Lowell in 
its early and palmy days, and after he had gone to live in Boston, he 
continued to take a warm and affectionate interest in Lowell. He 
had spent many happy years here and the graves of his two heroic 
sons are here. I can give out of my own personal exj^erience an 
illustration of the interest he took in Lowell citizens. I was arguing 
a case before the full bench, as City Solicitor of Lowell — it was the 
case of Chase v. Lowell — Judge Abbott was present, and he ap- 
peared to give earnest attention to the argument. A day or two 
afterwards I received a most kindly letter from him saying how 
much he had been interested in the case, complimenting me very 
pleasantly upon my part in it, and asking me to dine with the Law 
Club, which was to meet at his house. And a most delightful dinner 
it was, and most delightful company, and delightful courtesy to my- 
self, especially from my host. His stateliness had nothing frigid 
about it, his courtesy nothing of condescension. His affability was 
marked by dignity and by sincerity. And as I have said, he seemed 
always eager to notice Lowell men and never lost his interest in 
Lowell affairs. Many members of the Bar here present can testify 
to the genial and noble traits of which I speak. 


Mr. Chairman: — 

I was born and brought up in Lowell, and from my earliest 
childhood I knew Colonel J. G. Abbott (for that was the title he 
bore when I was a boy, and when he was on Governor Morton's 
staff), and I always admired that commanding figure, that frank 
open face, that full voice, and that earnest manner of speaking, by 
which he moved and led many a public assembly. I was one of 
those who, though compelled by force of circumstances to earn a 
hving by working in the factories, felt strong intellectual cravings 
which could not be satisfied except by books and study. I became 
a member of the Mathew Institute, a society composed of the cream 
of the sons of the Irish immigrants in Lowell, devoted to mutual 
improvement. About the year 1850, 1 had a particular friend in that 
society who was studying law in the office of Abbott & Brown, and 


who was afterwards on General Butler's staff — Caj^tain Peter Hag- 
gerty, wlio died at Now Orleans during the war. As I often called 
on Ilaggerty at that office, I became acquainted with Colonel Abbott 
and his law-partner, Samuel A. Brown. At first, Colonel Abbott 
seemed cold and distant, too aristocratic to waste his time in talking 
to me. But as soon as he found that I was earnestly trying to learn 
the true merits of questions that came up for discussion, I got his 
sympathy at once, and he often aided me, as Avell as Haggerty, with 
facts and suggestions. 

I shared in the excitement of the agitation for the ten-hour law, 
and it was my dehght to address the workingmen of Lowell in be- 
half of that measure, and there were two or three occasions when, 
through Colonel Abbott's influence, I got invitations to speak at 
public meetings of the Democracy. The names of Abbott and But- 
ler were on all men's tongues as local leaders of the Democratic 
party, and of the Coalition, which elected George S. Boutwell as 
Governor and Charles Sumner as United States Senator, and cleared 
the way for many reforms. 

Judge Abbott was a true leader of the Democratic party, and I 
followed him with the same zeal with which the old Scottish clansmen 
followed Roderick Dhu. They swore by their chieftain's hat, and I 
swore by Colonel Abbott's polished beaver. In 1878, the year of 
the great split in the Democratic party, I was one of those who voted 
for Abbott for governor. That year the candidates of all the politi- 
cal parties for governor were, or had been, Lowell men — Abbott and 
Butler, the Democratic candidates ; A. A. Miner, the Prohibitionist, 
and Thomas Talbot, the Republican, who beat them all. I knew 
Ju<lge Abbott did not want the office, and that his only object in al- 
lowing the use of his name, was the preservation of the integrity of 
the party. 

Judge Abbott's sympathies were always on the side of the 
oppressed, no matter Avhat might be the form of the oppression. 
Who can forget his eloquent words in Boston in favor of Home Rule 
for old Ireland ? Who can forget the eloquent appeal for the Union 
which he made in front of the Merrimac House after the attack was 
made on Fort Sumter ? It was perfectly electrical. Since the war 
I have often met him at conventions, and he always inquired kindly 
after those whom he had known as boys in Lowell, and he was always 
glad to hear of any success that they had won. He gave me credit 
for showing good pluck in political contests, and I was very glad to 
have his encouracfement. I never had a truer friend. 


The following-named gentlemen were chosen a com- 
mittee to prepare suitable resolutions or a memorial of 
Judge Abbott : Hon. E. R. Hoar, of Concord ; Hon. F. 
T. Greenhalge, of Lowell ; James T. Joslin, Esq., of 
Hudson ; Hon. J. N. Marshall, of Lowell, and Charles J. 
Mclntire, Esq., of Cambridge. 

The meeting then adjourned subject to the call of 
the chairman and secretary, and was re-assembled by 
them in the County Court House, at East Cambridge, on 
the seventh of June, 1892. 

Judge Hoar, the chairman of the committee above 
named, being too infirm in health to attend to the duty 
assigned to him, wrote to Mr. Greenhalge as follows : — 
Dear Sir : — 

By a letter from II. A. Brown, Esq., I am notified that my 
name is on the committee appointed by the Middlesex Bar to prepare 
and present resolutions to the Court in relation to the death of Hon. 
Josiah G. Abbott. I regretted very much that the state of my health 
would not even allow me to be present at Judge Abbott's funeral, as 
I had great respect for his ability as a lawyer, especially as an advo- 
cate ; and I am sorry to say that it is wholly out of my power to 
accept the duty imposed by the vote of the Association. As you are 
the next in order in the list of the committee which was sent to me, 
I suppose it is proper that the notice of my inability to serve should 
be sent to you. 

Very respectfully and truly yours, 


Accordingly, Mr. Greenhalge acted as chairman of 
that committee, and, in its behalf, at the adjourned meet- 
ing presented the following memorial, which was unani- 
mously adopted, and Mr. Greenhalge was requested to 
present the same, forthwith, to the Superior Court. The 
Bar meeting then dissolved. 

The Superior Court was then opened by Judge 
James B. Richardson, and Mr. Greenhalge presented the 



Josiah Gardner Abbott was born at Chelmsford, in the County 
of Middlesex, Nov. 1, 1814. He graduated at Harvard College in 
1832, and was admitted to the bar in 1837. He soon rose to promi- 
nence in his profession, and the sphere of his labors was greatly 
enlarged. In 1855 he was appointed Judge of the Superior Court 
for the County of Suffolk, This position he resigned Jan. 1, 1858, 
at once resuming the practice of his profession. He held important 
political ofhces. He was a member of the House of Representatives 
of Massachusetts in 1837, and a senator in 1842 and 1843. He was 
a delegate to the Constitutional Convention in 1853. He was elected 
to the national House of Representatives in 1874, and was chosen a 
member of the Electoral Commission in 1877. He was president of 
the Boston & Lowell Railroad Company, of several manufacturing 
companies, and director in many others ; he had a large share in 
building up or developing Lowell, Lawrence, and Lewiston. His 
labors at the Bar did not cease until his death, which occurred July 
2, 1891. Such are the bare lines of a great, useful, and honorable 
career — of 

"A life in civic action warm — 

A soul ou highest mission scut ; 
A potent voice in parliament — 

A pillar steadfast in the storm." 

The life, character, and services of Judge Abbott are worthy of 
commemoration by the legal profession ; and such a commemoration 
cannot fail to be productive of solid benefit to the Bench and to the 
Bar. There is, too, a propriety in such a proceeding by the Middle- 
sex Bar. Judge Abbott, it is true, was a leader and an ornament to 
the Bar of Suffolk County, and latterly his home, and in a large 
degree, his practice, was in that county. But the pillar of his fame 
was reared in Middlesex, and it cannot be thence removed, any more 
than the memorial column on Bunker Hill. He was a stately and 
commanding figure at this Bar at a time when its members were pre- 
eminently distinguished for learning, for probity and power. 

He was a faithful and devoted student of the law. He took a 
large and reverent view of his professional obligations, whether to 
the Bench, to his brethren of the Bar, or to his client. He had a 
high, delicate, almost fastidious sense of honor, in these various 
relations of the man of law. His work and influence could not but 
raise the tone of the profession. His services on the bench main- 


tained and enhanced the reputation of the Massachusetts judiciary; 
at the Bar he proved what noble triumphs might illustrate the func- 
tions of the advocate, and what rich results might crown the patient 
labors of the counsellor. In spite of vulgar animadversion, the pro- 
fession of the law is one of the most trusted guilds among mankind, 
and Judge Abbott's life exemplified the fullest trust and confidence 
which a community could give to a member of that profession. 

And in the best and highest sense, he was prominent in political 
life. It is natural, and in many cases inevitable, that the functions 
of the lawyer should gradually expand into the political sphere. In 
the constitution of modern society, the labor of the lawyer is every- 
where demanded, and everywhere found. The peace of families and 
the peace of states alike depend upon the arduous and responsible 
work of the lawyer. And, as at the Bar and upon the Bench, Judge 
Abbott was always " to true occasion true." so too in political action 
he was faithful and firm. He was pre-eminently a man for a crisis. 
This is proved by many points in his career, notably in 1861 and 
1877. In such times of tremendous import, he never hesitated or 
faltered. He loved his party; but he loved his country more ; and 
though in the supreme hour a hostile party held his country's 
standard, he was among the first to range himself with his noble sons 
under that standard. On the altar of his country he offered up with 
the firmness of a Roman father the children he loved with more 
than Roman tenderness. He rose to the height of the second great 
crisis in the nation in 1877; and again, the measure of the occasion 
was not beyond the measure of the man. His sound judgment, 
trained and sharpened in his early conflicts with the giants of the 
Middlesex Bar, strengthened and broadened by his judicial experi- 
ence, combined with all the fervid loyalty of his nature, led him to 
prefer before every other object, the peace and safety of his country. 

Judge Abbott stands before the community as the type of the 
lawyer, zealous and able in all the duties of the citizen, devoted to 
his profession, to his family, and to his country. 

May it please the Court: 

I rise to second the resolutions presented by the committee. 
This is not a heartless formality. The subject of this memorial was 
a gentleman who appreciated the office and [)ower of friendshij) and 
the attachments which he formed were of an enduring character. 


To those of US who came to the Bar when Judge Abbott was at the 
height of his professional success, and who have been somewhat in- 
timately associated with him for the past thirty years, the impres- 
sions which his typical personality made will not be easily effaced. 

Early in my practice I had occasion to call Judge Abbott as 
senior counsel in the trial of important causes. From the first, I am 
sure I had his confidence and respect. It was a pleasure to be asso- 
ciated with him, so gracious and cordial was his demeanor, and so 
ready and willing was he to impart from his vast store of legal 
knowledge any information to remove a doubt or indicate the cor- 
rect line of practice in a given case. He always had the carriage 
and bearing of a gentleman, and to those not acquainted with the 
man he might at times appear haughty and reserved. He was not 
obsequious. He was no flatterer, and he did not go where he was 
not welcome unless duty called. 

To those, however, who desired to advance, to those who had 
an inspiration to rise, to the younger members of the legal profes- 
sion especially who were struggling amid difficulty and doubt. Judge 
Abbott was peculiarly kind and helpful. He had travelled the way 
himself and he knew the hard and trying passes as well as the dan- 
gers and pitfalls. The greatness of mind and the goodness of heart 
in him were exemplified, in that he never treated with levity the 
simplest question that the novice presented. Although it might, per- 
chance, be elemental or border on the simple, the inquirer's difliculty 
was seriously and candidly considered, and not unlikely would lead 
to a full and complete discussion of a number of cognate principles, 
thus making the way clear and luminous to the querist, beside filling 
his heart with gratitude for his friend and benefactor. It was this 
trait in Judge Abbott, I am sure, quite as much as any other, that 
caused the younger members of the profession to admire and respect 
him. They felt, and they had reason to feel, that Judge Abbott was 
their friend and helper. They could go to him as to a friend with 
the assurance that they would receive a friend's welcome, and de- 
parting carry with them a friend's benediction. Hence the meetings 
which were formal or occasional, between junior and senior, gradually 
grew into friendships which were mutually agreeable and lasting. 

Some of us recall the fact that two years ago at the opening of 
the June term of this Court our de])arted friend was present, and in 
an adjoining room held our closest attention for a half hour while he 
narrated many reminiscences of his early and later practice in this 
county. We were pleased that the weight of years apparently was 


hanging lightly upon him. It was the last, however, of such meet- 
ings here. In a few short months the summons came which called 
him to other scenes and higher service. 

The first twenty years of Judge Abbott's professional life were 
spent in this county with his office at Lowell. During that period 
he acquired distinction and eminence as a sound lawyer. Plis con- 
temporaries were men of ability, and many of them attained pre- 
ferment with himself. Hopkinson became a judge of the Common 
Pleas. Xelson was elevated to the Superior Court Bench in Boston. 
Ames became Chief Justice of the Superior Court of the state, and 
afterward was elevated to the Supreme Judicial Court. Gardner 
also secured a position on both the Superior and Supreme Judicial 
Court Benches. Truin became Attorney-General, and General But- 
ler has attained greater and wider distinction than any. Wentworth, 
Worcester, Farley, Sweetser, Richardson, Griffin, and others re- 
mained loyal to their profession and became celebrated. It was with 
and among such men as these that Abbott commenced, grew and 
excelled. He survived most of them and was the equal of any. 

During the last thirty-five years of his life he made Boston his 
headquarters, but Middlesex never surrendered him and he never 
ignored Middlesex. He belonged to the state and made his influence 
felt in Congress and in the Federal Courts. His life was exceptional. 
As a lad he was precocious. His education was thorough and early 
secured. At the advent of his majority he stepped into the arena of 
professional and public life. For more than half a century thereafter 
he discharged its manifold duties with fidelity, efficiency, and honor. 
As citizen, lawyer, jurist, statesman, and scholar his fame is secure. 
The Jjar has lost, in the death of Judge Abbott, one of its ablest and 
truest representatives. We may well pause to commemorate such a 
life and speak a word of eulogy over the departed ; nevertheless, it 
is not in the spirit of sadness that we think and speak of the life of 
our friend, replete with noble deeds and heroic acts, for 

'•' He is not dead, but f?one before." 

May it please the Court: — 

It is well that this commemoration should be in the hands of 
those among whom our Brother Abbott passed the earlier part, of his 
professional life and laid the foundation of his professional distinc- 
tion. It is well also, and a most gracious act of hospitality on the part 


of llie niannging committee, that representatives of the Suffolk Bar, 
who enjoyed his companionship in later years, and honored and loved 
him to the end, should be invited to meet here with his Middlesex 
friends and bear their part in this public expression of the high esteem 
in which he was held by his j^rofessional brethren. But I should do 
myself injustice if I did not claim the right to stand among the 
nearest of the friends of a man who was so true and valued a friend 
to me. It is a pleasure to be here and to express, although briefly 
and most inadequately, my sense of the loss we have all suffered by 
his death. 

My acquaintance with him commenced after he had retired 
from the Bench and established himself at Boston, being then in the 
very prime of his strong, brave, high-spirited, warm-hearted, stren- 
uous manhood. As time went on, our acquaintaneo grew more inti- 
mate, until within the last ten years I think I may fairly claim to 
have enjoyed his personal friendship, and I can truly say that during 
those years my respect and affection for him steadily increased. I 
value much the memory of those last few years when I felt most 
assured of his friendship for me and therefore most thoroughly and 
most honestly enjoyed his society. As they passed on and he ap- 
proached the evening of life, it seemed to me that the strong and 
simple outlines of his character stood out more and more distinctly 
and impressively like towers against a western sky. 

I am, as you see, not disposed now to dwell upon his professional 
capacity and accomplishments. I gladly confirm from my own 
observation what others have said here as to these. His ardent and 
impressive advocacy, his strong grasp of legal principles, his power 
of wise i)ractical counsel, his quick and healthy ethical sense, without 
which the best of advocacy or of counsel cannot be attained — all 
these and more I remember, as you do, with admiration and with 
pride. But what is uppermost in my thoughts is the force, eleva- 
tion, and purity of character which inspired, sustained, and guided 
his professional life. Everything else about it seems to me at this 
moment to fall into a secondary place. I should be ashamed for 
myself and for ray brethren to have to say that this distinction of 
our Brother Abbott was a rare one among us, but it is not given to 
all to have our quality tried by such a career as his. We cannot but 
feel proud for the sake of the brotherhood that the record of his 
professional life was a record not only of the strenuous devotion of 
superior faculties to worthy purposes, but of stainless honor, of mag- 
nanimity, generosity, courtesy — all those fine traits of personal 


conduct which keep the atmosphere of the Bar clean and wholesome 
and fit for a gentleman to pass his life in. 

He was a true knight. As I picture him now in my mind's eye, 
with his grave earnestness, his unassuming dignity, his ready and 
hearty friendliness with his equals, his kindliness towards the young, 
the weak, and the distressed, it does not seem to me extravagant — 
at least it suits my own feelings so well to do so, that I shall not 
hesitate — to quote and apply to him some of the words from the 
Lament for Sir Launcelot: "Thou wert the courtliest man that ever 
bare shield ; and thou wert the kindest man that ever strake with 
sword ; and thou wert the goodliest person that ever came among 
press of knights; and the gentlest that ever ate in hall among 
ladies ; and thou wert the sternest knight to thy mortal foe that ever 
put spear in rest." 

It is just this chivalrous combination of the strong arm and 
dauntless spirit with tenderness of heart, loyalty to friends, sincerity, 
dignity, courtesy, that was so charming in his friendship and is now 
so enduring in his memory. He had a lofty and imperious spirit, 
and a fine capacity of indignation at all mean, small, and indirect 
conduct. But this, I think, was quite unmixed with anything like 
arrogance. He was a proud man, but it was genuine pride. It was 
the gold coin of self-respect, not the baser substitute of self-esteem. 
His nervous organization was extremely sensitive. He could not but 
have felt keenly — no man more so — any personal wrong or indig- 
nity, and yet I believe — I know — that he was placable and forgiv- 
ing. Vindictiveness was, of course, far beneath a man of his quality. 
He was too proud as well as too generous for that. 

Let me, in passing, touch on one other point, his rare refinement 
of feeling. I think it worth while to note that the conversation of a 
man of such ardent temperament and such bold and self-reliant 
habit of mind, was free from all stain of immodesty or irreverence. 
His conversation, like his deportment, was that of a gentleman. 

It would be a very unfair view of his character which did not 
take account of the fact that he was a man of fixed ideas. Those 
who like may call it narrowness or prejudice. His judgment on 
questions of right were deeply rooted and stubbornly held. He did 
not care to discuss them at all. For him certain moral propositions 
were immovably settled. Now this is not now-a-days a popular type 
of man. We live in times when it is almost set up as a test of intel- 
ligence that a man should hold all his opinions subject to reconsider- 
ation, shall accept all truth "without prejudice." The most liberal 


and enlightened man is considered to be he who holds his convictions 
most loosely, and is readiest to surrender them on newly discovered 
evidence. There are some of us that think this to be an unhealthy 
intellectual climate to live in. Our Brother Abbott thoroughly dis- 
trusted and disliked it. He never incurred the woe denounced 
against those who "put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter, who put 
darkness for light and light for darkness." He had none of the fin 
de Steele spirit about him. He was indeed at heart and in his per- 
sonal life, a conservative of the conservatives, holding it to be true, 
as a general rule, that the " old is better." 

We have all, I think, a feeling that in his death we have lost a 
power and an influence among us not easily to be spared ; a power 
and an influence tending always to the maintenance of the simplest, 
and therefore the highest, standards of integrity and honor. It is 
such a character as his that lives longest, and most deserves to live, 
in the affectionate memory of men. 


3fai/ it please the Court : — 

I, also, am glad that I am permitted to say a few words on this 
occasion, for Judge Abbott was my friend, the friend of many years. 
During a large part of the time I knew him intimately. We were 
admitted to the Bar almost contemporaneously — he to that of Mid- 
dlesex in 1837, I to that of Suffolk in 1840. Speaking, therefore, 
from a long personal knowledge, I fully endorse all that is said of 
him in the memorial. It sets forth without exaggeration his merits 
as a lawyer, a judge, a citizen, and a man. In my judgment such is 
the opinion of the Bar, the Bench, and all who knew him. 

When reading for the Bar, Judge Abbott was a faithful and dil- 
igent student. He knew that there was no royal road to professional 
eminence ; that the labor required was severe, and that long and 
careful preparation was needed for the successful discharge of the 
arduous duties of attorney and counsellor. He felt with Lord Bacon 
that " every lawyer was a debtor to his profession from wliicli he 
seeks countenance and ])rofit, and should endeavor by way of amends 
to be a help and ornament thereto." Pursuing his studies in this 
spirit it is not surprising that he was well equipjicd for professional 
work when his name was placed on the honorable roll of attorneys- 


His talents and temperament well fitted him for the siiccessful 
practice of the law, which demands not only abilities of high order 
but peculiar abilities. Patient, pains-taking, and laborious in the 
preparation of his cases, when he reached a conclusion as to the law 
and facts therein he had the courage of his convictions, and his 
advocacy was earnest, zealous and bold. He always had faith in 
himself and his cause, and no disturbing doubts discounted his 
intense energy. 

As might be expected he soon reached a high place among the 
distinguished lawyers of both Middlesex and Suffolk ; and I may 
here say, that during his time no part of the Commonwealth had 
lawyers and advocates of greater ability than these counties. 

Judge Abbott secured, from the start, a large business, and the 
records of the Court show that for years he was employed for plaintiff 
or defendant in most of the important suits. He could accomplish 
a vast amount of business in a comparatively short time, because of 
his great capacity for work, his systematic habits, his learning, and 
his ability to see at once and grasp the principles of law involved in 
his cases. He was always interested in his work, and carefully and 
conscientiousl}'^ prepared it, doing nothing in a sluggish or prefunc- 
tory way. Espousing the cause of his clients with vigor and earnest- 
ness, he never wearied in his efforts in their behalf, and there was no 
relaxation of this vigor whether the amount involved in the contro- 
versy was large or small. Doubtless some of his zeal came from 
that love of victory, that '•'■ gaudium certaminis^'' which naturally 
animates the advocate. 

In his bearing to the Court he was always respectful, and in his 
relations to the Bar he never forgot those courtesies which give grace 
to professional intercourse and lightens professional labors. 

In the conduct of his business he was always controlled by the 
highest principles of honor and fair-dealing. All could rely upon his 
word; all knew that his promises and agreements would be honestly 
performed. While ever faithful to the interests of his clients, he 
never ignored what was due to the cause of truth and justice — 
forgot that the public had claims upon the profession which should 
be recognized. It may be truly said that when filling the high posi- 
tion of judge, he discharged its difficult and laborious duties to the 
satisfaction of the profession, for he possessed, in an eminent degree, 
those valuable judicial virtues — patience, impartiality, and industry. 
His long experience in the trial of causes before coming to the 
Bench, enabled him to see at once the real points of the cases before 


him as judge, and his quick perception of controlling facts, enabled 
him to guide the trials so as to save time and assist the juries in their 
duties, without encroaching upon their rights or those of lawyers or 
litigants. He rarely erred in his rulings, as the Reports show they 
were generally sustained by the Sui)rerae Court. Thus fitted for the 
successful discharge of judicial work, his resignation from the Bench 
was regretted by the Bar as a public loss. 

Judge Abbott's studies were not confined to the law. He was 
interested in many of the grave social problems which are occupying 
the attention of thinking minds wherever there is culture, and it was 
evident to those who enjoyed the privilege of his conversation, in 
his hours of relaxation from business, that his investigations of some 
of these subjects were neither slight nor superficial. He was at 
times greatly interested in public affairs and in questions of govern- 
ment and administration, holding therein, as might be expected from 
his temperament, positive and fixed opinions; but however widely 
he differed from others therein, such differences never caused enmity 
nor alienation, for all knew he was entirely honest and conscientious 
in his convictions. 

Judge Abbott has done the work of his life faithfully and well. 
He has furnished an example of devotion to professional duty which 
all who would obtain eminence at the Bar, should follow ; they 
should adopt his motto — the motto of the true lawyer everywhere — 
Pro cUentibus saepe^pro lege^ pro republica semper. 


May it please your Honor : — 

What my brethren have already said of our deceased friend, has 
been so well said that nothing remains for me but to add the tribute 
of my regards. 

Judge Abbott was an able lawyer and a distinguished citizen of 
this Commonwealth. Brought up here in Middlesex, where the 
reputation of its Bar for a century has been so deservedly brilliant 
for legal lore, he began his studies and practice under the stimulus 
of the high standard of learning and skill that had long distinguished 
this Bar. Well did he respond to it. 

The native keenness of his mind, his love of study, the energy 
with which he mastered the great principles of law and equity led 
him onward. He saw, like Webster, that there was room at the top, 


and he reached among the leaders of the Bar a place so distin- 
guished that his name will go down to posterity on the roll of the 
county of his birth as one of her most eminent lawyers. His sound 
and strong judgment, his unwearying perseverance, his careful study 
of his cases, his ready resources in a trial, and his clear, terse and 
impressive eloquence made their mark in the State and Federal 
Courts. His legal reputation was not bounded by the limits of state 
or section. His arguments before the Supreme Court at Washing- 
ton spread the reputation he already had made at home. P^or thirty 
years he stood among the leaders of our Bar; how then can a single 
sentence now express his qualities or describe his works? 

Judge Abbott was more than a lawyer. He reverenced the 
memories of the great men who founded our liberties and built our 
free institutions. He revered their work. The study of the Con- 
stitution of the United States was a passion with him. He believed 
in the principles of self-government, nothing doubting that the free- 
dom of thought and develoi)ment of judgment acquired by the 
exercise of its res})onsibilities would place the prosperity, happiness 
and intelligence of the people of the states of this Union on the 
broadest basis known to human government. He contributed his 
shai-e as a citizen to the public welfare. He studied the statesman- 
ship of his country in its foreign and domestic relations with the 
thoroughness due to his ability and patriotism. The breadth and 
strength of his grasp on public affairs are recorded in the annals of 
the General Court and of Congress. His public speeches bear their 
testimony to his generous sympathy with the interests of the people, 
to the cautious intelligence with which he guarded the perpetuity of 
their liberties. Amid the usual conflict of political opinion natural 
to our frame of government, the sincerity of his convictions was 
never doubted. In the broad fields of history, science and literature, 
the Judge was a constant gleaner of food for his active and reflective 

Witli all Ins earnest nature Judge Abbott also was a man of 
kindly intercourse, generous and helpful to young men in his jirofes- 
sion. Frank in the expression of his sentiments, he abhorred a mean 
thing and was always ready to do a kindly one. He was popular at 
the Bar, had the confidence of the Bench, and commanded the respect 
of all who knew him. Age did not destroy his habits of industry. 
His books, his farm, his family and his profession filled the measure 
of his daily employment to his absolute content. He was active in 
body as well as mind. Within a year of his death he told me that 


lie walked daily two and a half miles to his office and as far on his 
retnrn. To the junior members of the Bar I would say there is 
much of worthy example to be found in the life of this sturdy, high- 
minded, energetic and accomplished gentleman whose loss we deplore. 
We shall hear his eloquent voice no more in this Court Room, 
but the grasp of his vanished hand will linger on our nerves, and 
kind memories of him will long throng within these walls. 


31ay it please the Court : — 

After so much has been said, and so well said, in praise of Judge 
Abbott, there is no need that I should pass his career in further 
review. But in all this chorus of eulogy, one voice has been con- 
spicuous by its silence ; one well-known figure has been "conspicuous 
by its absence." Judge Abbott's life as a lawyer ran for many years 
on parallel lines with that of General Butler; and this occasion 
M^ould not have been permitted to pass without a tribute from Gen- 
eral Butler, were it not that an engagement before the United States 
Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston at this very hour deprives us of 
the General's presence here, and deprives him of the mournful satis- 
faction of laying upon Judge Abbott's bier the tribute of his affec- 
tion and esteem. 

In connection with what has been said by the distinguished 
gentlemen who have preceded me, in relation to Judge Abbott's 
uniform maintenance of the highest standards of personal and pro- 
fessional lionor and integrity, I can testify that during my connection 
with his office, oral agreements were made almost every day with 
other law offices, particularly General Butler's office, touching cases 
to be tried, and that they were always religiously kept. No lawyer 
that made an oral agreement with the office of Abbott &> Brown, 
ever had cause to blame himself for not having it put in black 
and white. All the agreements made between that firm and the 
office of Butler & Webster, were made orally, excepting those which 
the law or the rules of court required to be made in writing. In 
later years, when I have found myself, again and again, the victim of 
misplaced confidence in the oral agreements of other counsel, I have 
thought how much pleasanter the practice of law would be, how 
much more life would be worth living, if all lives were controlled by 
the same high principles which controlled his life. 


I would not violate the proprieties, I might say the sanctities, 
of this hour which your Honor has dedicated to Judge Abbott's 
memory, by introducing any subject of controversy, and I shall not 
do so by referring to his course as a member of the electoral com- 
mission of 1877, and particularly to his course as a member of the 
Congress to which that commission reported its decisions touching 
the electoral votes of the four contested states. As is well known, 
he was one of the minority of seven, against the majority of eight. 
But there are comparatively few who know how great a service he 
rendered to the country by insisting on carrying into effect the 
decisions of that majority when they came up for action in Congress. 
"The austere glory of suffering to save the Union," in the judgment 
of Kufus Choate, was the highest glory of Daniel Webster, By the 
sacrifices which he made in seating President Hayes, the same 
"austere glory" was won by Judge Abbott. 

Among the Democrats then in Congress, particularly in the 
House of Representatives, there were many who smarted under the 
feeling that their candidate had been defrauded, and who strongly 
favored resort to extreme measures to prevent the consummation of 
the work of the commission. This could only be done by obstruct- 
ing in Congress the counting of the electoral votes which the com- 
mission, by a vote of eight to seven, had decided to be entitled to be 
counted ; and they undertook, by every variety of argument, and by 
every form of persuasion, to induce Mr. Abbott to co-operate with 
them to that end ; but he stubbornly refused. Finding it impossible 
to secure any sort of active assistance from him, they called on him 
and labored with him all night, making the most urgent efforts to 
induce him to aid them passively by abstinence from action. Amon(»- 
other suggestions pressed upon him, perhaps the most plausible was 
this, that having voted in the commission against counting the Hayes 
electors from Florida and Louisiana, he was not obliged to vote for 
them in the House. No effort was spared, first, to induce him to 
absent himself fiom his seat in the House when the votes Avere to be 
counted ; second (failing in the first), to induce him to refraiti from 
speaking in the House in support of the decisions of the commissioti, 
from which he himself had dissented ; third (failing in the second), to 
induce hira to refrain from voting in the House in favor of those 
decisions. All these appeals, though made by his political friends, 
he met with an emphatic No. Nothing could induce liiin to ignore 
the distinction between his duty as a member of tiie House and his 
duty as a member of the commission. He held himself and his 
party bound to abide in good faith by the decisions of the majority 


of the commission, though he denounced those decisions as utterly 
wrong. He saw clearly, though he bitterly regretted it, that the 
decisions of the majority of the commission left the United States no 
alternative but to seat Mr. Hayes under the forms of the constitu- 
tion, though in violation of its spirit, or to permit General Grant to 
hold over as president by consent ; and like a true patriot he rose 
above party, and assisted in counting for Hayes all the votes which 
the commission had decided to belong to Hayes. Seldom has the 
patriotism of a public man successfully borne such a test. No 
advantage to his own party could tempt him to contribute, either 
actively or passively, to dispense with the forms of the constitution. 
He saw that future presidents would come and go, as past presidents 
had come and gone, like shadows; but that ''government of the peo- 
ple, by the people, for the people," could only be preserved by a firm 
adherence to constitutional forms. Time has approved his decision. 
It seemed to me entirely proper that I should recall the memory 
of this great episode in Judge Abbott's public life, here in the county 
which gave him birth. Of the fifteen members of that electoral 
commission, two were natives of Middlesex — Judge Abbott and 
Senator Hoar. General Garfield was not born in this county, but 
his ancestors were, and one of the purposes for which he left the 
White House on the morning when he was shot, was to visit 
the homes of those ancestors in two Middlesex towns. Middlesex 
County was well represented on that commission. She has generally 
been well represented on great occasions. I am glad to see her so 
well and so largely represented here to-day.* 


Gentlemen of the Bar : — 

There is a propriety, as you have so well said, in your selection 
of a court in this county in which to present this expression of your 
respect for the character, and tribute to the memory, of your dis- 
tinguished brother ; not that his professional work was all, or even 

*Hon. William D. Noitlieiid of Salem, who was expected to be present as a repre- 
sentative of the Essex Bar, was prevented by his duties elsewhere from laying liis 
wreath upon the bier of his friend of many years. As a member of the State Senate in 
1861, he was peculiarly cognizant of the part taken by Judge Abbott at the beginning of 
the Confederate War; how he urged the calling of a special session of the l.egislature, 
the establishment of camps of instruction and other war measures. Governor Andrew 
wrote to .senator Northend. urging him to confer with Judge Abbott as to the best 
measures to meet the new conditions which the war had created. With characteristic 
foresight, the Governor wrote, " When we get a session of the Legislature, we ought to 
be prepared in advance with bills approved by leading meml)ers of the Senate and 
House, so that uo time shall be lost by delays or by casting about for a policy." 


chiefly, done here, for we know thmt it was not ; but because at the 
Bar in this county was the beginning of his long and notable career 
as a lawyer, and he Avas prominently and actively identified with 
many large business enterprises, and with the growth of the laroest 
city, located in this county ; and it is fit that where the foundation of 
his career was laid and formed, should be found this record of your 
appreciation and approval, at its completion. 

Not only that. I think that however much he may have valued 
the good opinion of the world in general, he especially prized the 
favorable judgment of you, who were in practice with him at this 
Bar, and who knew him so intimately and so long. 

Judge Abbott resigned from the Bench of the Superior Court 
for the County of Suffolk in 1858, about two years before the pres- 
ent Superior Court was established. I have always supposed that he 
could have gone upon the Bench again if he desired, but that active 
practice at the Bar, with its greater personal freedom, was more 
congenial and attractive to him, and it certainly was more lucrative. 
For many years after his resignation he enjoyed a large and remun- 
erative practice, and became an authority in the law of railroad cor- 
porations, a branch or body of law which he saw grow up and develop 
into a system of laws and regulations of such magnitude, that their 
due administration occupies a very considerable part of the time of 
legislatm'es and courts. 

He lived in a famous period of the Middlesex Bar. One of his 
biographers has said that Webster was educated into a lawyer by 
being often opposed by Jeremiah Mason. Judge Abbott had hardly 
less advantageous instruction — or discipline — from the group of 
very great lawyers of this Middlesex Bar, whom he used to meet a 
quarter of a century or more ago, several of whom, at a venerable 
age, prove by their presence and words here to-day, their sincere 
respect for the life and character which you have briefly, but so well, 
described in your memorial address. 

He enjoyed the advantage of membership in another body of 
remarkable men, which, from the accounts which have come down to 
lis in many ways concerning them, as well as from the published 
proceedings, was not only a distinction but must have been itself a 
liberal education, at least upon great questions of the first importance 
in the administration of law in the Commonwealth. I refer to the 
Constitutional Convention of 185B, in which were Choate, Bartlett, 
Rantoul, Hillard, Butler, Dana, Mortoij, Otis P. Lord, Greenleaf, 
Train, Prince, Aldrich, Charles Allen, Hallett, Dawes, Sumner, Peleg 


Sprague, Joel Parker, Nathan Hale, and others like them, constitut- 
ino- an assemblage of men which, for learning, ability, and high char- 
acter, I think, has not been surpassed in this country in this century. 

I first knew Judge Abbott when I was a student in an office 
with which he had much business, and from that time to the time of 
his last appearance in court — about thirty years — I met him very 
often, and whether for business or otherwise, always with pleasure. 
He sympathized with a young lawyer who had to depend upon him- 
self. He looked at life and business seriously and was always in 
earnest. Perhaps he needed, in the later years of his life, greater 
occasions than the ordinary contentions in our courts to call out his 
full power ; at least, I had this impression after hearing,'about twelve 
years ago, an argument of very great power and eloquence made by 
him in the Supreme Court of the United States, when it was obvious 
that he felt the stimulus incident to addressing that great tribunal in 
an important cause.* 

But he was not a lawyer merely. He was a student, a great 
reader of books, a man of business, and took an active interest in 
public affairs. He held many positions of confidence and trust, and 
honorably performed his duty in them all. He hated shams,;pretence, 
and hypocrisy, and did not deny himself the pleasure of showing it 
when in his opinion he ought to do so. He had a positive individu- 
ality. He was loyal to his cause, his clients, and his friends. Socially 
he was a dignified, courtly, gracious gentleman. 

The record to be made here now is of no consequence to him, 
but it concerns us, and is of interest to the Commonwealth. It is 
important that it be made certain that every person who renders 
conspicuous service to the Commonwealth, who contributes to her 
prosperity, to her power, or to her honor, shall in his appropriate 
place, have that share in her good name, and that place in her annals, 
which he deserves. 

In compliance with your request, your memorial, with a memo- 
randum of these proceedings, will be placed upon the records of the 
court, and, as a further mark of respect, the court will adjourn. 

* This was the case of Land Company v. Daniel Saunders, lOS'United States Keports. 



At a meeting of the Bar Association of the City of 
Boston, held Oct. 8, 1892, John A. Loring, Esq., said 
he had been requested by the committee appointed at a 
previous meeting to prepare a resolution with regard to 
the death of Judge Abbott, consisting of Messrs. Causten 
Browne (chairman), Benjamin Dean, and Jabez A. Saw- 
yer, to present the following resolution, which he then 
read : — 

Resolved, That the secretary be directed to place on record the 
follomng expression of the sense of the Association with regard to 
the deatli of the late Josiah G. Abbott. 

Josiah Gardner Abbott, an honored member of the Boston Bar 
Association, born at Chelmsford, Massachusetts, Nov. 1, 1814, was 
graduated at Harvard in 1832, admitted to the Bar in 1837, served 
as Associate Justice of the then Superior Court of the City of Boston 
from 1855 to 1858, and upon his resignation of that office, took up 
his residence at Boston, and continued in the practice of law as a 
member of the Suffolk Bar until his death at his home in AVellesley, 
Massachusetts, June 2, 1891. 

The professional career indicated thus briefly was in a very hio-h 
degree useful, honorable, aifd distinguished. Brother Abbott'was a 
well-read and broad-minded lawyer, a judicious and candid adviser, 
an earnest, able and eloquent advocate, an upright," fearless, vigorous, 
justice-loving judge. 

All liis professional work bore the stamp of clear intelligence, 
purity of purpose, manliness, frankness, and integrity. h\ his inter- 


course with the brethren of the Bar, tliey found him always straight- 
forward and magnanimous, dignified and courteous, intolerant only 
of chicane, affectation, or trifling, a knightly foe, and a steadfast and 
loyal friend. 

His professional career throughout stood for an example of the 
liest principle and the best conduct, and is remembered by us to-day 
as a valuable part of the heritage of the Bar. 

Called, on many occasions, to iindertake important duties in pub- 
lic life, he acquitted himself always Avith honor and distinction ; and 
the Bar joins with the public in recognizing our common debt of 
gratitude for his services, his influence, and his example as a citizen 
of our Commonwealth and country. 

[Signed.] Causten Browne, 

Benjamin Dean, 
Jabez a. Sawyer. 


It were vain for me, Mr. President, to attempt to add to Avhat 
these resolutions so truly and emphatically express in regard to our 
late deceased brother. The first I ever heard of Judge Abbott was 
when I was a lad in the town of Andover, where I was born ; and 
his first American ancestor was one of the first settlers of that town, 
and his descendants are scattered throughout various sections of the 
country, and many of them are in the old town now. 

The first I knew of him was as a leading Democrat at Lowell, 
and after that as a leading member of the Bar of Middlesex County, 
and afterwards as a Judge of the Superior Court and as a leading 
lawyer in Suffolk County. I have been associated with him, and 
have been against him, and never did I meet with more courteous 
treatment from any brother in the profession than from him. lie 
was my friend, and for the last ten years I have known him inti- 
mately, and have seen him in the private walks of life — in his own 
household. He was a model husband and father. His abilities are 
recognized by all, and also his fairness and magnanimity. 

I Avill add to the resolution offered by the committee, the 
following : 

Resolved, That a coj)y of these resolutions l)e furnished to the 
family of the deceased. 



There is an age at which it is becoming that one should speak 
on an occasion like this ; there is an age at which it is more becoming 
to be present and to be silent! It may be that, for me, the latter 
period is reached. Be that as it may, I cannot be silent where 
silence would seem to indicate failure to recognize the worth of one 
who M^as a friend for more than forty years. 

Strength and vigor were the striking characteristics of Judge 
Abbott. They were illustrated in every feature, every line, of his 
marked countenance, and of his manly form as he strode along the 
city street or the country by-way, or stood at the Bar, or sat in 
council. The strength and vigor were intellectual or they were 
physical. They were demonstrated in a long life of contest at the 
Bar, in the j^olitical arena, and in the short term of service upon the 
Bench, in which he showed his ca})acity to fill any judicial position 
however high. 

It is not of those traits, however, that I would now s})eak ; but 
rather of those personal traits which attracted and attached to Judge 
Abbott those who came within the closer sphere and knew him inti- 
mately. In his terse way he would say of another, " He had a heart 
as biff as an ox." I am sure that is what he would best like to have 
said of himself, and it is truth to say it. He was warm-blooded, 
warm-hearted, earnest, impulsive, vehement in expressing what he 
sincerely felt. This gave him half his force — it gave him much 
more than half his power to charm. He had a high, keen sense of 
honor. In a time and country where the code of honor, so-called, 
prevailed, it may well be supposed that he would not have gone 
through life unscathed, or at least without meeting an adversary • 
for he had, as he transmitted, fighting blood. Yet in council and in 
action he was calm and judicious in matters involving personal right 
and honor. More than once when some younger brother has come 
for aid on questions of personal or ^professional conduct. Judge 
Abbott's advice has been sought, and on such questions his judg- 
ment always rang true. No man in si;ch case, under his advice, ever 
sacrificed his self-respect, many a one has avoided a needless quar- 
rel. It is not a paradox that the best fighter may be the best 

Judge Abbott was at times hasty in speech. It is possible to 
respect, it is difiicult to find one who never is so. But he had that 


innate kindness of heart which Avill cause to be blotted from the 
record many a stray expression, and Mall place in its stead many an 
act of charity, good feehng and brotherly love. That record is made 
up, and it is one of which we, his brethren, may well make note, and 
in which we may well take pride. 

The question being put the resolutions were unani- 
mously adopted. 


Draft of the Address Prepared for the Minority 
OF THE Electoral Commission of 1877, 


The following is the text of the proposed address 
of the minority of the electoral commission of 1877, 
protesting against the decisions of the majority of that 
commission; referred to on pages 39, 44, 45, 73 and 74 
of this volume : — 

To the People of the United States : — 

The minority of the joint commission established by the act of 
Congress of Jan. 27, 1877, to decide questions arising in the count 
of the electoral votes, desire to address the people of the whole 
country on the subjects submitted to and decided by that commission. 

No more important questions can ever come before any tribunal 
or people for consideration and determination. Upon their determi- 
nation depends who shall be the president of this country, and 
whether he shall owe that great office to the free, honest choice of 
the people, or to bribery, forgery and gross fraud. 

The minority of that commission, by the law establishing it, had 
no opportunity of reporting the reasons for their action to the two 
Houses of Congress. The presence of a stenographer at these con- 
sultations was denied, so that no record thereof exists. No way is 
open to those who did not join in, but on the contrary protested 
against, the decisions of the commission, to make public their pro- 
test except by this address. 

The returns of the electoral vote of four states — Florida, 
Louisiana, Oregon and South Carolina — were submitted to and 
decided upon by the commission. 



In the case of Florida there were three certificates. The first, 
signed by the governor, certified that the four Hayes electors were 
elected according to the law of Florida and the acts of Congress. 
The second was signed by the attorney general, and the third by the 
governor elected on the seventh of November last ; and both certi- 
fied the election of the Tilden electors. The attorney general was 
one of the three persons first canvassing the votes. 

To the third certificate were attached certified copies of all the 
returns of votes from every precinct in the state, which were origi- 
nally made to the secretary of the state, together with an act of the 
Legislature providing for a new canvass of the vote, according to the 
law as it had been decided by the Supreme Court, and the result of 
the new canvass thus ordered. 

It was offered to be proved, and it was not denied that such was 
the fact, that by counting all the votes returned to the secretary of 
state, according to the law of Florida as expounded by the Su})reme 
Court, the Tilden electors had been duly elected. 

It was offered to be proved, and was not denied, that the Tilden 
electors commenced proceedings in quo loarranto against the Hayes 
electors in the court of that state having jurisdiction by its consti- 
tution, notice of which was served on the latter before they gave 
their votes, and as soon as they were declared elected, and which 
was prosecuted to this judgment — that the Hayes electors had not 
been elected and had no title to the office, but that the Tilden elec- 
tors had been legally elected and were entitled to the office. 

It was offered to be proved, and was not denied, that the two 
canvassers who had made the certificate of election of the Hayes 
electors, which by the law of Florida was made only prima facie 
evidence, had erred in their construction of the law and exceeded 
their jurisdiction by so doing, in their canvass of votes on which the 
certificate was based. 

Thus, it was offered to be proved, and the facts were not denied 
that the governor's certificate given to the Hayes electors was false, 
and that the determination and certificate of two of the three who 
made up the board of canvassers was false in fact and in violation of 
the laws of Florida, and that in making it the two had exceeded 
their jurisdiction. It was offered to be proved that the Supreme 
Court of Florida had, in effect, decided that the two canvassers had 
made a false certificate and exceeded their jurisdiction, and that the 


Circuit Court bad so decided. It was offered to be proved tbat botb 
tbe Legislature and tbe executive of tbe state bad so determined 
and bad attempted by all means in tbeir power to prevent tbe state 
being defrauded of its true and real vote. 

Tbe majority of tbe commission decided tbat tbe determination 
and certificate of two of a board of tbree canvassers, witb minis- 
terial powers only, and wbicb by law was prima facie^ not con- 
clusive, evidence, must stand and decide tbe great question of tbe 
presidency, althougb it could clearly be proved to be false in fact, 
and tbat in making it tbe two canvassers bad exceeded tbeir jurisdic- 
tion and autbority, as beld by tbe Supreme Court of tbe state, and 
altbougb tbe Legislature and governor bad botb declared it false? 
and tbat by giving effect to it tbe state would be defrauded of its 
true and real vote; and altbougb tbe electors, in wbose favor it was 
made, bad been declared by tbe courts not to bave been elected. 
Tbe injustice of tbis decision was tbe more marked and flagrant by 
contrast. All tbe state oflicers, from tbe governor down, wbo 
were voted for on tbe same ticket with tbe Tilden electors, and bad 
been counted out by tbe same two canvassers, at tbe same time, and 
by tbe same canvass by wbicb tbe latter were counted out, bad been 
declared elected by tbe action of tbe bigbest court of tbe state, and 
are now and bave been bolding tbeir several ofiices to tbe general 
contentment of tbe citizens of Florida. But tbe Hayes electors 
alone are permitted by tbis decision to consummate tbe wrong, and 
act in offices to wbicb tbey were never elected. 

Against tbis decision of tbe commission tbe undersigned pro- 
tested and now protest as wrong in law, bad in morals, and worse in 
tbe consequences wbicb it entails on a great country. 

It gives absolute power to two inferior ministerial officei's to 
witbbold tbeir determination till tbe day wben tbe electoral vote is 
cast, as was done in tbis case, and then give tbe vote of a state to a 
candidate who has never received it, as was done in tbis case, and 
tells tbe people there is no redress for such an outrage. 

It is a decision admirably calculated to encourage fraud, and 
ensure its being perpetrated witb success and impunity. 

It is a decision by wbicb the people of a state may be defrauded 
and robbed of their dearest rights by a few unprincipled wretches, 
and be then compelled to acquiesce in tbe great wrong. 

It is decision claimed to be based on tbe doctrine of state rights, 
but, in fact, is in direct conflict with that grand doctrine, for by it, 
states and the peoples of states can be stripped of their rights and 
liberties, with no power to resist. 


We protest against the decision finally because by it the people 
of the whole United States are defrauded and cheated ; because by 
it, a person is put into the great office of president, who has never 
been chosen according to the Constitution and law, and whose only 
title depends on the false and fraudulent certificate of two men in 
the state of Florida, instead of a majority of the legal voices of the 
whole people, declared through and by their electoral colleges. 


In the case of Louisiana, the decision of a majority of the com- 
mission is a stupendous wrong to the people of that state, and all 
the other states, and in defiance of all right, justice, law, and fair 
dealing among men. 

The law of that state establishes a returning board to consist of 
five persons of different parties, with power to fill vacancies, and to 
canvass and compile the returns of votes from the different parishes 
I and precincts, and declare the result. The board is given power and 
I jurisdiction, provided affidavits are annexed to and received with the 
return from any precinct or parish, to inquire whether intimida- 
tion has existed, and if it is established to throw out the return for 
'\ such parish ; but this jurisdiction is carefully confined to cases where 
affidavits are attached to and returned with the returns of the votes ; 
in no other case whatsoever is the power to reject votes given. 

It was offered to be proved, and was not denied, that the board 
giving the certificate to the Hayes electors consisted of four persons 
j — all of the Republican party — instead of five persons of different 
I parties, as required by law ; that these four members had been re- 
quested and required by Democrats to fill the vacancy with a Demo- 
crat, but had uniformly refused to do so. 

It was offered to be proved, also, that this board of four persons 
— all of the Republican party — in order to perpetrate the frauds 
with ease and impunity, employed five disreputable persons as clerks 
and assistants, all of whom had been convicted, or were under indict- 
ment, for various offences, ranging from subordination of perjury up 
to murder. Indictment, at least, if not conviction, seemed the only 
admitted qualification of employment by that extraordinary board. 

It was offered to be proved, and was not denied, that this board, 
in order to give the certificate of election to the Hayes electors, had 
rejected ten thousand votes, and this was done, although not a return 
thrown out had been accompanied by the requisite affidavit to give 
juriijdiction to act at all. 


It was offered to be proved that the members of this returning 
board in order to give the certificate of election to the Hayes 
electors, had resorted to and used affidavits known by them to be 
false and forged, had themselves been guilty of forgery, and had 
been paid for making their determination, thus adding bribery to the 
catalogue of their crimes. 

Numerous other corrupt and fraudulent practices were offered 
to be proved against the members of this returning board, among 
the least of which was a wicked conspiracy to rob the people of 
Louisiana of their rights and liberties. 

The decision of a majority of the commission rejected all this 
evidence, and held that the certificate of election given to the Hayes I 
electors must stand, and could not be inquired into, if all such offers 
of proof could be substantiated. 

By that decision the people of the United States are told that 
the certificate of a board constituted in direct defiance of the law 
establishing it, and made by grasping a jurisdiction never granted to 
it, arrived at by forgery, perjury, wicked conspiracy, and the grossest i, 
frauds, and finally bought and paid for, must stand, and cannot be ; 
set aside ; that although thus steeped in sin and iniquity, it must 
make the chief magistrate of a great, free, and intelligent people. 

The undersigned protest against this decision, also, as bad in 
law, worse in morals, and absolutely ruinous in its consequences. 

They denounce it in the presence of the people of the United 
States, and in the face of the world, because, if intended and de- 
signed for such a purpose, it could not have been more cunningly 
contrived than it is to encourage the grossest frauds, conspiracies and 
corruptions in the election of a president. 

They denounce it, because it will debase the national character, 
deaden the public conscience, and encourage fraud and corruption in 
all the public and private transactions and business of the people. 

They denounce it, because for the first time it declares to the 
people that by their organic law, the Constitution, it is ordained that 
a man may seek for, obtain, and hold this great office of chief magis- 
trate of two and forty millions of freemen by fraud and cheating. 

Nay, more, that he may openly buy the votes to elect himself, 
and pay down the price when the purchase is consummated by the 
count by the two Houses of Congress, and call them to witness the 
payment; and that there is no help for it but revolution. 

They denounce it, because, in effect, it puts up the great office 
of president at auction, and says to the whole world that it may be 


bought in safety, and that there is no way known to man by which 
the title by purchase can be disputed or gainsaid. 


In the Oregon case, a certificate signed by the governor and 
secretary of state, and under the great seal of the state, certified 
to the election of two Hayes and one Tilden elector. The three 
Hayes electors produced no certification of election signed by 
any person — only a certificate of certain results — from which 
it was claimed that it could be inferred who were elected. The 
law of Oregon required a list of the persons elected to be signed 
by the governor and secretary of state, under the great seal, and 
this requirement, as well as that of the acts of Congress, was 
fully met and satisfied by the first certificate. There was no 
certificate in the second case in any manner complying with the laws 
of Oregon or the acts of Congress. Yet by the decision of the 
commission, the first certificate was rejected and the second taken, 
although clearly neither in conformity with state or federal law. 

The undersigned voted against counting the vote of the Tilden 
elector, because, notwithstanding the certificate of the governor and 
secretary of state, they were satisfied he had not been elected by the 
people of Oregon, and that his vote would not have been the true 
vote of that state. 

The majority of the commission decided to set aside and reject 
the certificate and return, precisely the same in character that they 
had hoUlen to be conclusive against all evidence in the Florida and 
liOuisiana cases. They adopted and acted on a certificate insufficient 
if they regarded their former rulings, under any law, state or 

The undersigned denounce the Oregon decision as utterly at war 
with and reversing the rule established in the two former cases, and 
because it changes the law to meet tlie wants of the case, establish- 
ing dilTerent rules applicable to the same facts to bring about a 
desired result. 

In the Florida case, where the evidence failed to establish the 
fact, the majority of the commission voted to receive evidence to 
prove one elector held an ofHce of profit and trust under the United 
States when appointed. 

In the Louisiana case, where there was no doubt that two elec- 
tors held such offices when appointed, it was voted not to receive 



evidence of the fact, because it was not offered to be proved that 
they continued to hold sucli offices where they voted. 

Apparently, the rules change as the requirements of the case 


In South Carolina the undersigned voted against the Tilden ( 
electors being declared elected, because they had not received a 
majority of the votes of the people. 

In t^^at case it was offered to be proved, in substance, that 
United States troops in large numbers were sent to the state before 
the election, for the purpose of influencing and controlling ihe votes 
to be given thereat, by interfering with and overawing the people, 
and that the militia of the state was used for the same purjjose; 
that the polls were surrounded by armed bands, who by violence and 
force prevented any exercise of the right of suffrage except on one 
side ; in fact, that tlie election was controlled by the armed forces 
of the state and nation, and a resort to all manner of brutality) 
violence, and cruelty, and was not free. 

The majority of the commission refused to admit the evidence, 
on grounds that would fairly warrant a president of the United 
States in using the wliole arroy to take possession of all the ballot 
boxes in any slate, and allow no voting except for himself if he was 
a candidate for re-election, or for his party, and which would require 
both Houses of Congress to recount the vole so obtained, and to 
give him the fruits of such a wilful and wicked violation of all con- 
stitutional law and right. 

If any decision better calculated to destroy the liberty of a free 
people, to destroy all faith in a llepublican form of government, a 
government of the ])eople by the j)eople, could be devised and con- . 
trived, the undersigned have not been able to discover it. 

They denounce the decision as an outrage upon the rights of all 
the people, and, if sustained, and acted on, as the utter ruin of our 
institutions and government. 

The foregoing is a brief statement of the action of the commis- 
sion. To defeat that action the undersigned have done all in their 
power. They protested against it before it was accomplished, and 
they protest against it now. 

They know the commission was established to receive evidence, 
not to shut it out. 


They know the conscience of this great people was troubled by 
fear that any one should obtain the high office of president by fraud, 
cheating and conspiracy, and that it demanded that the charges and 
counter-charges of corrupt practices in reference to the election in 
three states should be honestly investigated and inquired into, not 
established and sanctified, by refusing all inquiry and examination. 

They know the conscience of the whole people approved the 
law establishing the commission, nay, hailed it with joy, because it 
established, as all believed, a fair tribunal, to examine, to inquire 
into, and determine the charges of fraud and corruption in the elec- 
tion of three states; and they believe that this conscience has been 
terribly disappointed and shocked by the action of the commission, 
which establishes fraud and legalizes its perpetration, instead of 
inquiring into and condemning it. 

The undersigned believe the action of the majority of the com- 
mission to be wrong, dangerous, nay, ruinous in its consequences and 

It tends to destroy the rights and liberties of the states and of 
the United States and the people thereof ; because by it states may 
be robbed of their votes for president with impunity, and the people 
of the United States have foisted upon them a chief magistrate, 
not by their own free choice honestly expressed, but by practices too 
foul to be tolerated in a gambling hell. 

By the action of the commissson, the American people are com- 
manded to submit to one as their chief magistrate who was never 
elected by their votes, whose only title depends on fraud, corruption, 
and conspiracy. 

A person so holding that great office is an usurper, and should 
be and will be so held by the people. As much an usurper as if he 
had signed and held it by military force ; in either case, he equally 
holds against the consent of the people. 

Let the people rebuke and overrule the action of the commis- 
sion. The only hope of the country rests on this being done, and 
done speedily and effectually, so that it may never become a prece- 
dent to sustain wrong and fraud ia the future. 

It is the first and highest duty of all good citizens who love 
their country to right this foul wrong, as soon as it may be done 
under the Constitution and laws. 

Let it be done so thoroughly, so signally, so effectually, that no 
encouragement shall be given to put a second time so foul a blot on 
our national escutcheon. 


The original manuscript of the foregoing address 
was destroyed ; but the proof-sheets, corrected by Judge 
Abbott, have been preserved, bound together, and phaced 
on private deposit in the PubUc Library of the City of 
Boston, where they are marked and numbered H 90a 11. 
These proof-sheets bear the following endorsement in 
Judge Abbott's own hand : 

" This address was drawn up by me at the request of some of 
the minority members of the electoral commission, to whom it was 
submitted, and approved by them. But some doubted the wisdom 
of publishing the address at the time, and so it was not signed. 

"J. G. Abbott." 

This proposed address was first published in the 
twenty-seventh volume of the Magazine of American 
History, February, 1892, pp. 81-92, as an important 
historical state paper, eminently worthy of consideration 
and preservation. 

The arguments made by Judge Abbott in the con- 
sultations of the commission on the cases of Florida, 
Louisiana, Oregon and South Carolina, are reported, in 
substance, on pages 932-955, of the volume printed by 
Congress, entitled, '' Count of Electoral Votes : Proceed- 
ings of Congress and Electoral Commission, 1877." 
They are specimens of his best work in advocacy. He 
never put forth his full powers except when he had a 
cause to establish, or an opponent to demolish; and 
when he had several opponents, he always grappled with 
the strongest, l^hus, in discussing the case of Florida, 
he grappled with Senator Edmunds, Senator Morton, 
and (though he does not mention him by name or office) 
with Judge Bradley, whom the democrats had ex- 
pected to vote with them, but who finally, perhaps 


through the influence of Judge Miller,* voted with the 

In discussing the case of Louisiana, in the commis- 
sion, Judge Abbott aimed his guns directly at Miller, 
citing against him his own decision in the case of Schenck 
V. Peay,t turned Miller's own batteries against him, and 
closed this argumentum ad homimcm by saying : •" I 
commend this decision of Mr. Justice Miller to the care- 
ful consideration of Mr. Commissioner Miller." At this 
point, the sensation in the commission was intense. The 
words above quoted were toned down by Judge Abbott 
in the published report. 

In discussing the case of Oregon, he again "locked 
horns" with the senators from Vermont and Indiana — 
Edmunds and Morton ; and in discussing the case of 
South Carolina, he had another shot at Judge Bradley. 
It is not, however, proposed to consider the doings of 
the commission here,| but only to call attention to theni 
as showing how well Judge Abbott sustained himself in 
that conflict of giants in, perhaps, the highest tlieatre in 
which he ever exercised his marvellous powers. 

Judge Abbott and Samuel J. Tilden had been per- 
sonal and political friends for many years. They had 
been in the Free Soil movement together in 1848. One 
of the judge's sons, Franklin Pierce Abbott, had studied 
law in Mr. Tilden's office. When he saw that there was 
to be trouble over the counting of the electoral votes, 

*Mr. Seymour D. Thompson writes: "Bradley had drawn np an opinion on the 
other side of the Florida question, but Miller argued with him so strongly that he induced 
him to change his views." — 20 American Law Review, p. 43'J, May-June, 1892. 

t Woolworth's U. S. Circuit Court Keports, 175. 

t For a republican view of the electoral commission, see Blaine's Twenty Years in 
Congress; for a democratic view, see Cox's Three Decades of Federal Legislation; for a 
foreign view, see Bryce's American Commonwealth. Other views might be cited, but no 
stuaent of our political history, and no lawyer, should fail to read the volume above 
quoted, published by Congress. 


Judge Abbott called on Mr. Tilden at his house in Gra- 
mercy Park, and had a long interview with him. Find- 
ing Mr. Tilden undecided, he urged him to consider the 
situation well, and to announce some course which his 
supporters might follow. The situation called for reso- 
lute action. But Mr. Tilden did not — perhaps he could 
not — determine upon any policy. In this supreme 
crisis of his life he seemed paralyzed and incajDable to 
act. As Rufus Choate said on a different occasion, 
" He saw the situation ; he hesitated — and was lost, 

lost, LOST ! " 


The following is the original draft of Judge Abbott's 
letter to the president and secretary of the Republican 
State Convention of 1861, declining the nomination for 
attorney-general, referred to on pages 23 and 24. The 
sentence enclosed in square brackets is omitted in the 
letter as published by Mr. Stockwell in the Boston Jour- 
Uiii at the time : 

Boston, 14th of October, 1861. 

Hon. II. L. Dawes, President, 

Stephen N. Stockwell, Esq., Secretary. 

Gentlemen : — Your favor of the third instant, directed to me 
at Lowell, reached rae some days since. In it you inform me of my 
nomination for the office of attorney-general by delegates from all 
parts of the Commonwealth assembled in convention at Worcester. 
I desire to express through their officers my sincere acknowledgment 
to the gentlemen of that convention for this kind and entirely unex- 
pected exjiression of their consideration. I have carefullv and 
anxiously considered and weighed the matter. The offer of so im- 
portant and honorable an office from those differing from me on 
political subjects, is necessarily gratifying, and from that fact the 


more embarrassing, but for reasons upon the whole satisfactory to 
my own mind, not necessary to be given, I do not feel compelled by 
an imperative sense of dut}" to accept the nomination, and therefore 
must respectfully decline it. 

Permit me to add that I take this course from no want of feeling 
for, or interest in, the great good cause — that of the Government, 
the Constitution, and the Laws. In this war now being waged against 
the nation, I know of but one great absorbing question of political 
duty and that is, how shall the government and the laws be sustained, 
established and maintained throughout the length and breadth of the 
land. All other considerations in reference to our political action 
fade into insignificance in its presence. To solve it successfully I am 
wiUing to do and to suffer to the end. I yield to no one in my 
devotion, to the extent of my means and abilities, to the Constitution 
and its establishment in all its integrity. 

[We have now but one all controlling political duty, and that is 
to bring all that there is of power and strength in the loyal states and 
people to crush rebellion and punish traitors until that Constitution 
and those laws, which South as well as North helped to make, and 
solemnly agreed to, and under whose protection both have lived and 
])rospered, shall be respected and obeyed from the extremest limits 
of Maine to those of Texas.] This contest now going on seeks to 
impose no l>urden on the South not equally borne by the North. 
We are obliged to submit to and obey the laws — they of the South 
must be compelled to like submission and obedience. Until that time 
comes he is aiding the public enemy who suggests compromise with 
armed rebels. The Constitution, pure and simple, should be the 
Avatchword of all true and loyal men until armed resistance to law- 
ful authority is once for all effectually ended. 

In common with all others who love their country, I pray with 
all my heart and soul for that good time when the mighty power and 
strength of twenty millions of freemen, rich in all the arts of civiU- 
zation, intelligent and brave, may be so put forth and directed to 
sustain the best government ever devised by the vat of man as for- 
ever to crush out this wicked rebellion against law and right. Let the 
government strike quickly, heavily, and overwhelmingly, and it will 
command all of the lives and the means of good and true men. 

I remain, gentlemen, with much respect, 

Your obedient servant, 

J. G. Abbott. 







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