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2nd CCFV, 


Chap..-i— . Copyright No. ..^... 




i\ V 







privately printed 


. 7?:- ' 


Copyright, 1898, 


Frank Warren Hackett. 

B - 1898 

.^f ru>v>^ 


Press of H. L. McQueen, 




Sketch of Life axd Public Services . 1-145 


I. Mekting of the Bar of the Court of 

Claims iii-xxxix 

Remarks of 

William A. Maury iy-x 

Belva a. Lockwood xi 

John W. Douglass xii-xiii 

John B. Cotton xiv-xxii 

George A. King xxiii-xxvi 

John C. Chaney xxvii-xxix 

William B. King xxx-xxxv 

Charles B. Howry xxxvi-xxxix 

II. Proceedings of the Court. 
Remarks of 
Assistant Attorney - General 

Joshua Eric Dodge xl-xlii 

Mr. George S. Boutwell . . . xliii-1 

Judgk Weldon 1-1 vii 

III. Eeport of the method adopted by 

Assistant Secretary Richardson, 
AT London, to keep safe thk 


Funded Loan Iviii-lxix 

IV. Degrees, commissions, etc., held by 

William Adams Richardson . . . Ixx-lxxv 

V. A partial bibliography of the 

published writings of William 

Adams Richardson Ixxvi-lxxviii 



It was my good fortune to make the acquaintance of 
William Adams Richardson upwards of thirty years ago, 
when both of us were living at Cambridge, Massachusetts. 
He was then judge of probate and insolvency for Middle- 
sex county, while I had but recently opened a law office 
in Boston. For a brief season we met daily at the table 
of the famous boarding house kept by Miss Upham, on 
Kirkland street, near the college. 

Early in 1873 my removal to Washington, where I 
have ever since practiced my profession, afforded me an 
opportunity, which I was glad to improve, of continuing 
our acquaintance. Though his junior by many years, I 
was honored by being to a certain extent admitted to the 
confidence of his friendship. The better I came to know 
the man, the more highly I esteemed him. 

Shortly after Judge Richardson's death one of the ex- 
ecutore of his will placed in my hands a letter addressed 
to myself. The Judge had written it without date. In 
modest terms he had expressed a wish that I might pre- 
pare a sketch of his life, to be printed and copies distrib- 
uted to friends, and to various public libraries. This office 
I have cheerfully accepted, solicitous only that his true 
proportions may be made to appear, and the leading fea- 
tures of his important public service be adequately set 

Upon the whole record of his achievements I am of 
the dehberate conviction that Richardson was an abler 
and a more valuable public official than has been com- 
monly supposed. The reader who shall peruse the nar- 
rative — particularly if he weigh the testimony of the bar 
and of the court given in the proceedings as printed in 
the Appendix — is already in a fair way, I believe, to 
reach a like conclusion. 

Judge Richardson loved the truth, and despised any- 
thing that savored of pretense. I have tried to tell a 
plain, straightforward story of his remarkably useful life, 
knowing that he himself would have wished the facts, — 
precisely as they occurred, — presented with simplicity and 

Fkank Warren Hackett. 
New Castle, New Hampshire, 
20 September, 1898. 



Of the tier of towns that stretch along the 
New Hampshire line, in Middlesex County, 
Massachusetts, all of them attractive in the 
season of summer, none is fairer than little 
Tyngsborough. With fields well tilled and 
comfortable dwellings, pleasantly shaded, her 
territory, cut in two as it is by the broad and 
placid stream of the Merrimack, presents to the 
traveller at well-nigh every turn a picture of 
rural delight. 

She has the name of Tyngsborough all to her- 
self. Not another spot on the globe is so entitled. 
A part of " Dunstable Plantation " it used to be, 
when land was cheaper and towns bigger. One 
Edward Tyng, it seems, born in the mother 
country, about 1600, had married Mary Sears, 
who, tradition says, came from Dunstable, 
England. He emigrated to Boston where he rose 
to be a person of consequence, after which, 
stimulated by your true Englishman's craving for 
broad acres, he spied out a tract of some three or 
four thousand overlooking the Merrimack at this 

beautiful site, and made it his own. Hither he 
removed and had descendants. " Dunstable " is 
said to have been named in 1673 in compliment 
to Mistress Mary Tyng; while it was left to later 
somebodies to bestow the oddity of the surname 
upon the modest borough carved out of a grander 

As in duty bound her local historian sounds 
Tyngsborough's praises, the starting place, he 
tells us, of boys who grew to be distinguished ; 
and, truth to sa}'^, for so small a place there has 
been a deal of happening there that the world 
ought more or less to keep in mind, notably 
in the way of births. 

Among these who going out of this quiet town 
have gained w^orldly success and honors, no one 
has reached higher distinction than William 
Adams Richardson, born at Tyngsborough, 2 
November, 1821, w^ho became Secretary of the 
Treasury; and who, when he died at Washington, 
19 October, 1896, was Chief Justice of the Court 
of Claims of the United States. 

The writer is about to attempt to outline the 
main features of the busy and exceptionably 
useful life of this eminent public servant, well 

*" Their great-grand-daughter, Madam Sarah Tyng Winslow, nearly a 
century and a quarter later, hecame the benefactress of a portion of the 
plantation, and in honor of her family name the new town in 1809 was 
christened Tyngsborough." MS. letter of J. Franklin Bancrojt, of Tynfi?- 
borough, 30 August, 1898. 

aware tliat perliaps little more need be done than 
to recount tlic numerous stations of trust and 
responsibility to which, one after another, he 
was summoned, and tell without embellishment 
with what measure of fidelity he filled each of 
them in turn. 

It may be said of William Adams Richardson 
that he was fortunate of descent. He could carry 
up his line through generations of strong and 
worthy ancestors of English breeding; men 
whose highest aim it was to live a useful life. 
The earliest known progenitor on the father's 
side was Ezekiel Richardson, who, with his wife 
Susanna, became a member of the church gath- 
ered at Charlestown, in Massachusetts Bay, 27 
August, 1630. As yet it has not come to light 
from what part of the kingdom Ezekiel Richardson 
emigrated, but the conjecture is not altogether 
without foundation that his home was in one of 
the southern counties. There is in fact scant room 
for doubt that the ship which brought him to 
these shores was one of the fleet bringing over 
the company under the leadership of Winthrop, 
in the spring of 1630. It is of record that 
Ezekiel Richardso;i was admitted as a freeman 
18 May, 1631. 

Sundry entries in the records of Charlestown 
testify that Ezekiel Richardson must have been 
a man of more than ordinary capacity. His 

landed possessions, as recorded in 1638, were 
extensive; in fact, Le ranks among the largest 
owners, while his brothers Samuel and Thomas 
follow close upon him in the same year, their 
holdings being of nearh'^ as man}' acres.* The 
general court appointed him constable at 
Charlestown in 1633. Later he was chosen 
selectman, and sent as a deputy to the general 

The most noteworthy entry in the colon}'- 
records referring to the Richardsons is that tell- 
ing of his attitude towards the Reverend John 
Wheelwright, the faithful and zealous minister, 
who afterwards left Massachusetts and founded 
Exeter, in New Hampshire. This godly man 
was a connection by marriage of Mistress Anne 
Hutchinson. The religious views of Mistress 
Hutchinson, it will be remembered, threw the 
community of Boston Bay into agitation ; and in 
the controvers}'' that fiercely raged over the doc- 
trine of antinomianism Wheelwright did not 
hesitate to take sides with her. These views 
were in reality approved by a large proportion of 
the members of the Boston church, though the 
Puritan autliorities held them in abhorrence. 
With unsparing rigor the general court caused 
to be made known its disapproval of such sedi- 

* Report of Record Commissioners containing Charlestown land records 
1638-1802 (2nd edition) Boston, 1883— pp. 3, 4, and 5. 

tious teachings as that of Mistress Hutcliinson ; 
and straightway passed sentence upon the clerg)'- 
man who had lent suj^port to her obnoxious 

The current of popular feeling, however, set 
strongly in Wheelwright's favor, and many of 
the best people, as well as " the humblest artisans 
and day-laborers," hastened to come forward and 
sign their names to a petition of remonstrance in 
his behalf. This occurred in March, 1637. The 
names of the remonstrants are preserved. Ten 
persons likewise are designated upon the record, 
who having subscribed the document had later 
the comfort of seeing their names erased " on 
acknowledgment of their sin in subscribing it." 
Among the ten names we find that of Ezekiel 
Richardson, who thus escaped being disarmed ; to 
say nothing of other and w^orse penalties which 
a facing of the disapproval of the magistrates 
would have brought upon him. A modern 
writer remarks, naively enough, of Ezekiel Rich- 
ardson's conduct : " It is creditable to his mem- 
ory that he was willing to abandon an enterprise 
in which he had conscientiously but unwisely 
embarked." * 

The two younger brothers just mentioned, 
Samuel and Thomas, it is thought came to New 

* The Richardson Memorial, by John Adams Vinton, (Portland, 187C) p. 
33— a genealogical work to which the present writer is much indebted. 

England in 1636, six ^'■ears later than Ezekiel. 
We find the record of land assigned to the three 
brothers 30 April, 1637, on " Misticke side and 
above the Pond," that is to say, in what is now 
Maiden. Four years afterward (1641) the three 
Richardsons, in company with six other persons, 
founded the town of Woburn, not far from 
Charlestown. The brotliers lived near each other 
in the same street, which, because it had been 
continuously occupied by their posterity for years, 
long since gained the name of " Richardson's 
Row." The row formed a portion of Washington 
street in what is now the town of Winchester. 
Ezekiel Richardson played a conspicuous part in 
the public affairs of the community he had helped 
to establish. He was named, with two others 
(who were deacons in the church) " to end small 
causes under twent}'' shillings." 

After a life of much stir and activit}', though 
apj^arently not prolonged beyond five and fort}^ 
years, he died at Woburn, 21 October, 1647. His 
will is on file in Boston. The inventory of his 
estate amounts to a total of one hundred and 
ninety pounds. 

The second son of Ezekiel and Susanna Rich- 
ardson was Josiah, baptized at Charlestown, 7 
November, 1635. He was married June, 1659, at 
Concord, to Remembrance Underwood of that 
town. He thereupon removed with his brother 

James to Clielmsford, a town pleasantly seated oil 
the south side of the Merrimack. Here Josiali 
Richardson promptly came to the front as a 
man of enterprise and a leading citizen. Joining 
with two others he built the first saw-mill of 
the town. He was chosen constable and town 
clerk, as well as selectman ; and the military 
company elected him captain, no empty honor in 
those days of threatened trouble with a savage 
foe. From the record in the Middlesex county 
registry of a conveyance executed by two of 
Eliot's Indians, dated 19 January, 1688, we learn 
that Captain Josiah Richardson once owned that 
portion of the territory on which now stand 
nearly all of the large manufactories of the city of 
Lowell. It may not be advisable for us at this 
late date to probe too deeply into the nature of 
the consideration recited as supporting this deed. 
According to the language of the record, the 
Indians conveyed the land for " ye love wc bear 
for ye beforesaid Josiah." 

This latter ancestor had an elder son, also of 
the name of Josiah, who was born at Chelmsford, 
18 May, 1665. He likewise attained to military 
honors, enjoying the title of lieutenant. On 
14 December, 1687, Josiah Richardson married 
Mercy Parish of Dunstable, a town at that time 
in Massachusetts, now Nashua in New Hampshire. 
Though not advanced to so many or so high 

honors as his father, Lieutenant Josiah appears 
to have reached a prominence in public affairs 
somewhat similar to that of both father and 
grandfather. He was called by the people of 
Chelmsford to the office of selectman, and like- 
wise to that of town clerk. He led the quiet life 
of a farmer near Concord river. He appears to 
have been fairly well provided with what in those 
days must have proved a prime requisite for 
carrying on a farm, — namely, children. Accord- 
ing to the records, Josiah and Mercy Richardson 
were blessed with four sons and two daughters, 
all born at Chelmsford. Of these the youngest, 
William, first saw the light of day 19 September, 

It was the fortune of William Richardson to 
carry on a farm, like his ancestors. Upon reach- 
ing the age of twenty-one, he was married to 
Elizabeth Colburn, of Dracut, a town near the 
present city of Lowell. He settled in what later 
became Pelham, New Hampshire, which territory 
having originally formed a portion of the town 
of Dracut, in Massachusetts, found itself in 1741 
across the line as a part of another state. Pelham 
was incorporated as a town in 1746, and in 1751 
had its meeting house, and a minister to whom 
was voted, in addition to his salary, ''twenty -five 
cords of fire-wood annually." 

Here William Richardson passed an uneventful 

life, except that there fell to liim the family inher- 
itance of a military title, for he served as captain 
in the militia for many years. The people of 
Pelham sent him to represent them in the general 
court. He lived to a good, old age, long enough, 
in fact, to have heard the opening guns of the 
Revolution. His death occurred at Pelham some 
time later than the early part of 1776; his 
will dated the 1st of April that year, having 
been proved ,on the 7th of November following. 
William and Elizabeth Richardson had nine 
children, the youngest of whom was Daniel, born 
in Pelham, 1749. He was the grandfather of the 
subject of this sketch. 

Arrangements appear to have been made to 
confer upon Daniel Richardson. the advantages of 
a college education. To this end his father sent 
him to Dracut (not far, to be sure) in order that 
he might recite Latin to the Reverend Mr. Davis 
of that town. How faithfully the young man 
pursued his studies we are not informed, but he 
improved the opportunity there, it seems, to fall 
in love with Sarah Merchant,* a daughter of 
William Merchant of Boston. Mrs. Merchant, 
her mother, was Abigail Hutchinson, a sister of 
Governor Hutchinson. Miss Merchant favored her 

* Sarah Merchant was the oldest of several orphan children. Care of 
her had been committed to her uncle, Mr. Dennie, of Boston, a brother 
of her mother. Being a single man, lie sent Sarah at the age of eighteen 
to board and be educatedwith the family of Reverend Mr. Davis of Dracut. 
Mrs. Richardson is said to have been a woman of great ability and energy. 


suitor, and the result was an early marriage, oti 
26 January, 1773. Their union had the effect to 
change entirely the course of Daniel Richardson's 
life, for instead of going to college, he betook 
himself to tilling the soil, living in Pelham on a 
farm, a part of which belonged to his father. 

Daniel, as might be expected, had inherited 
the Richardson taste for military service. In 
those stirring times, it was not uncommon for the 
farmer to be transformed at short notice into the 
soldier. Daniel Richardson shouldered his musket, 
and did his share of service in the revolutionary 
war. He enlisted 1 January, 1777, in the First 
New Hampshire Regiment, Colonel Joseph Cilley, 
and served until 5 January, 1780.* Mention is 
made of his having fought in the battle of Mon- 
mouth, 28 June, 1778. In the following summer 
he was of the expedition led by General Sullivan 
into the Indian country, in the western part of 
the state of New York. Upon returning home he 
became captain of a military company in New 

Everything that we learn of Daniel Richardson 
stamps him as a man of firm character, and 
worthy of the marked respect in which he 
appears to have been held by his neighbors. He 
lived to the ripe age of eighty-four, and died at 

* History of the First New Hampshire Regiment in the War of the Rcvolu- 
tirni, by Frederick Kidder, Albany, 1868. 


Pelham 23 May, 1833. His children were three 
sons, all born in Pelham; William Merchant, 
born 4 January, 1774; Samuel Mather, born 12 
February, 1776; Daniel, born 19 January, 1783. 

Of these sons the eldest, AVilliam Merchant 
Kichardson, achieved an honorable distinction as 
chief justice of New Hampshire. He was grad- 
uated from Harvard College, in the class of 1797, 
with Horace Binney, Daniel Appleton White and 
John Collins Warren as classmates. For a season 
he was preceptor at Groton Academy. Studying 
law with Samuel Dana, of Groton, he later became 
a partner of that distinguished man. The people 
sent Mr. Richardson as representative to Con- 
gress from the Groton district in 1811, to fill a 
vacancy. He shortly afterwards resigned his 
seat in Congress and removed to New Hamp- 
shire, where he was made United States attorney, 
with his office at Portsmouth. Such remarkable 
ability did he display from the beginning that 
on the reorganization of the courts in 1816, 
Governor Plumer sent in his name to be chief 
justice of the highest court of the state, and he was 
unanimously confirmed, in spite of the- intensity 
with which party spirit raged at that season. 
This high office Chief Justice Richardson filled 
until his death, for a period of twenty-two years, 
to the great satisfaction of the bar and the people 
of the state. 


When the new chief justice came to the bench, 
there were no published reports of adjudicated 
cases. He at once set about to remedy the defect. 
He introduced a number of improvements in the 
methods of practice. To the end that stability 
and harmony might be insured in the adminis- 
tration of inferior judicial offices, he prepared 
manuals respectively for justices of the peace, 
sheriffs and town officers, containing all needful 
forms and directions. In a word, the chief justice 
to the last proved himself to be a man of original 
ideas, with plenty of courage and energy to put 
them into operation. 

The ability and remarkable activity that he 
evinced in this elevated position gained for Wil- 
liam Merchant Richardson a reputation which is 
to-day one of the cherished possessions of the 
people of New Hampshire. It has lately been 
said of him by a writer well qualified to express 
an opinion that, with the exception of Judge 
Jeremiah Smith, perhaps no occupant of the 
judicial bench has done so much as he to shape 
the jurisprudence of that state.* 

Chief Justice Richardson is to be remembered 
as a man of greater attainments than those of a 
mere lawyer. In various directions he may be 
styled a man of learning. He maintained through 

* Bench and Bar of New Hampshire, by Charles Henry Bell, Boston, 
1892, p. 72. 

( 13 

life a familiarity with the classics; and in a com- 
mnnity where such accomplishments were by no 
means frequent, he had become admirably well 
versed in French, Italian and Spanish. Of botany 
he knew much ; and he was something too of a 
musician. Indeed, there were exhibited in Chief 
Justice Richardson unusual intellectual powers 
coupled with a deep-settled determination to be 
useful by mastering thoroughl}'' the subject in 
hand, qualities destined to shine forth at a later 
day in the person of his nephew, the late chief 
justice of the Court of Claims. 

Of General Samuel M. Richardson, the second 
son, it may be briefly noted that he lived in Pelham, 
where he achieved prominence as an active and 
public-spirited citizen. For twelve years he was 
sent as representative to the general court; he 
became a state senator, and served in the war of 
1812 as a major in the army. He likewise 
enjoyed the rank of brigadier-general of the 
militia. General Richardson died at Pelham, 11 
March, 1858, leaving a handsome estate, a portion 
of which he gave to charity. Of this will his 
nephews, Daniel S. Richardson and William A. 
Richardson, then both of Lowell, were executors 
and trustees. 

The third son, Daniel, father of the subject of 
this sketch, if less conspicuous than his brotliers, 
was a man of like strength of character and of 


mucli native ability. He studied law at Groton, in 
the office of Samuel Dana, at the time his brother, 
William Merchant Richardson, was Mr. Dana's 
law partner. 

Upon admission to the bar young Richardson 
selected as the scene of his future professional 
triumphs the retired town of Tyngsborough, 
eight miles from Lowell, and twenty-five from 
Boston. The choice was certainly a modest one, 
for Tyngsborough though an attractive place of 
residence was not populous, nor had it showed 
signs of ever becoming such. It was almost 
exclusively an agricultural community. There 
were a saw and grist mill, and a small water- 
power shop, but they did not much disturb the 
quiet of the village. A stage from Amherst, 
New Hampshire, to Boston, passed through the 
town, and the Middlesex canal company had a 
wharf here — and these were the chief activities. 

But young Richardson doubtless knew his lim- 
itations. He was at any rate resolute and fond 
of work. He exhibited traits of business that 
soon attracted the notice of the neighborhood, 
and before long clients had found their way to 
the country law office.* Indeed, if we may credit 

* " His law office was situated in the store of the village merchant, 
that kind that kept cod-fish, silk, N. E. rum, and thread all on one shelf. 
The post-office was in the store. There were two other lawTers in town 
at that time, Charles Butterfleld, (Harvard, 1820) brother of his first wife ; 
and John Farwell, though neither of them practiced very much." MS. 
letter of J. Franklin Bancroft, 21 August, 1898. 


tlie statement of a former sheriff of Middlesex (and 
nobod}^ watches j' oung lawyers more sharply than 
the sheriff), Daniel Richardson at the opening of 
the term of court used to enter more suits than 
any other lawyer in the county. 

Mr. Richardson was one of that class of prac- 
titioners who can readily turn a hand to the 
performance of some useful or profitable duty not 
altogether within the strict line of the profession. 
He was made postmaster of the town; and he 
must have distributed the mail to general sat- 
isfaction since he held the appointment for the 
long period of thirty-five years. Of course, such 
a man found his way into the general court; 
and he went there as a whig representative of the 
town. He was elected state senator for two or 
three terms, and he occupied from time to time 
town offices of trust and responsibility.* 

His was a life that knew no idle moments. At 
the age of fifty -nine years Daniel Richardson died 
at Tyngsborough, 12 February, 1842, respected 
and lamented by all who knew him. The first 
wife of Daniel Richardson was Betsey Butterfield, 
daughter of Asa and Abiah (Coburn) Butterfield of 
Tyngsborough, to whom he was married 10 May, 
1810. She died young without issue. In April, 

* " He owned several houses in the middle of the town, and was what 
Avas called in those days ' well to do.' "—Ibid. 


1816, he was married to Mary,* second daughter 
of William and Mary (Roby) Adams of Chelms- 
ford. Of this marriage there were two children, 
both born at Tyngsborough, Daniel Samuel, born 
1 December, 1816, and William Adams, the sub- 
ject of this sketch, born 2 November, 1821. 
Says Mr. Bancroft : 

When Daniel Richardson came to Tyngsborough he 
rented one-half of a house near the centre on the Dunstable 
road. This house was large, square and substantial, with 
" l)rick ends." It stood a little back from the road on a slight 
eminence commanding a fine view of a handsome sheet of 
water, with the wooded hills of the Tyng farm bounding the 
horizon to the south ; nearer hills shut ofl' the view and cold 
winds on the west, north and east. It was in this house that 
the Judge took his first gasp of New England weather in 1821. 

*Mary (Adams) Richardson, the mother of the chief justice of the 
Court of Claims, was herself descended from Ezekiel, the first settler. Her 
father, William Adams, was a son of William and Elizabeth (Richardson) 
Adams of Clielmsford, Elizabeth Richardson being descended from John, 
Josiah and Ezekiel. Mary (Adams) Richardson's mother was Mary Roby, 
daughter of William and Hannah (Lund) Roby of Dunstable, now 
Nashua, New Hampshire. William Roby was a second lieutenant in a 
New Hampshire regiment at Bunker Hill, and afterwards first lieutenant 
in Col. Bedell's (N. H.) regiment, was taken prisoner in Canada and died 
in the service. William Adams, the maternal grandfather of the chief 
justice, was -descended from Henry Adams, who came from Braintrec in 
Essex, it is tliought in 1634, and settled in that part of Braintree which 
is now Quincy, Massachusetts, the line being Henry, Samuel, Joseph, 
Benjamin, William. He was born at Chelmsford 30 April, 1762, and died 
there 25 December, 1843. When a lad of fifteen he enlisted as a revolu- 
tionary soldier, and served for six months. Then he enlisted again and 
served for eight months. In a family record, written by him in mature life, 
he says : 

" While I was in service at West Point, I witnessed the execution of 
Major Andxe, which made so lasting an impression on my mind that it is 
with tender and melancholy feelings that I look back upon that time." 

He was a revolutionary pensioner. 


Later in life " the Squire " moved into the village and occupied 
a house built by Mr. Adams, his father-in-law, who also owned 
the store, and perhaps kept it * 

When William was between three and four 
years of age, 1 August, 1825, his mother died. In 
November of the year following, his father was 
married to Hannah Adams, sister of the late 
wife, being the fourth daughter of the same 
parents. The only child of this marriage was 
George Francis Richardson, born 6 December, 
1829 (Harvard, 1850), a prominent and able 
lawyer of Lowell, and a former mayor of that 

Fortunately the child was not suffered to feel 
the absence of a mother's devotion, for a sister 
of his mother, as we see, had come into the 
household to bestow upon him care and nurture. 
Of William's boyhood few incidents have been 
preserved; and we are left to conclude that it 
resembled that of most New England lads brought 
up under discipline strict, yet kindly, in families 
of worth and refinement, f 

*MS. letter of J. Franklin Bancroft, ante. 

t Since this was written ]Mr. J. Franklin Bancroft, of Tyngsborough, 
has kindly favored the writer with a few particulars that afford us a 
glimpse of what sort of a youngster William Richardson must have been. 
The subtle flavor of Mr. Bancroft's style ought not to be spoiled by any 
attempt at editing : 

" You ask me what kind of a boy the Judge was. I put the question 
in the same words to Mr. J. T. Lund, a very close friend of the Judge's 

in their school days. The answer was forcible, if not elegant— 'A d 

good one.' 

" Everybody says he was a real New England live Yankee boy. Thor- 


Though not an expert at out-of-door sports, he 
was fond of skating, as what boy is not who has 
ever tasted the joys of a New England winter. 
One of liis favorite occupations was to stuff birds. 
He must have been somewhat of a self-reliant 
youth. It is known at least that he early showed 
a disposition to be careful of the pennies that 
were given him, or that came in the way of earn- 
ings. A more trivial fact related of him is to the 
effect that when in common with other boys and 
girls he attended singing school, and took part in 
the exercises, the master would point at young 
Richardson and remark : " There is discord — 
right there." 

oughly reliable, good disposition, good-hearted, always ready to help 
those in trouble, full of life and the devil, but nothing vicious in his 
make-up, he was open, frank and always ready to lead or follow, as the 
crowd desired. With this character it can be easUy seen that he investi- 
gated the ins and outs of the land and water around his home. 

" He was exceedingly popular in school among his classmates, and 
was liked by everybody, great and small. . . . 

" That even as a boy he would not be coerced is shown by a little in- 
cident related to me by Mr. W. B. Cummings, better known as ' Uncle 
Brooks,' that happened when the Judge was ten or twelve years old. 
Even in those days the boys played ball, and the principal game was 
always played on Fast day, in the ' old field.' 

" At this time preparations had been concluded at a singing school 
one evening, when a great lout of a ' bully,' who worked in a shop out of the 
center of the town, declared his intention of taking a hand in the game. 
The boys not liking him objected, and William told him squarely that 
they wouldn't have him. This brought out the ' bully,' and he catching 
William by the throat, threw him across a settee, and attempted to choke 
him into acquiescence, but no amount of choking could change his an- 
swer, and No was all he could get. Uncle Brooks thought it his duty to 
interfere at this point, and he says, ' I took the bully by the top end and 
fired him down stairs, telling him if he showed his face on the ball-field 
J would drown him.'"— J5id, 


At a tender age he was put at a primary school. 
Before he was eleven years old his father sent him 
away from home to study at Pinkerton Academy, 
where his brother Daniel had been educated, in 
the attractive town of Derry, in New Hampshire, 
not far from the Massachusetts line. The distance 
from Tyngsborough was some thirty miles or so, 
which meant a long way off, at a period when 
travel had to be accomplished by stage or by 
vehicle. The school, composed of about eighty 
boys, under the charge of Abel F. Hildreth 
(Harvard, 1818), an instructor of more than ordi- 
nary talent, appears to have been in a flourishing- 
condition. Dr. Hildreth had earned for the 
academy a high reputation during his adminis- 
tration from 1819 to 1846.* 

A more wholesome place could hardly have 
been selected than Derry — a town built up by 
sturdy and independent families of Scotch-Irish 
descent, whose children to this day are noted for 
thrift and prosperity. 

The name of William Adams Richardson first 

* " He was a singularly successful teacher, and while he lived and la- 
bored here he made his institution second to none other in New England." 
—Daniel S. Richard-ion, 12 September, 1861,— Serai-Centennial Anniver- 
sary of Pinkerton Academy (Concord, 1866), p. 55. 

Judge Richardson writing a letter of regret from Boston, 31 August, 
1866, shows his practical turn of mind by saying : " I wish the trustees 
would follow the example of other academies and print a catalogue of all 
the graduates of the institution, with their present residences, etc. Such 
catalogues are very interesting and are the best advertisements which can 
be printed and circulated," (Ibid., p. 106.) 


appears upon the list of the academy students 
for the school year 1833-1834, wliich began in 
August; and it is also found recorded for the two 
following years. Says John C. Chase, of Derry: 

Among those who were at the academy at the same time 
with Richardson who have been heard from in after hfe I find 
the names of John M. Pinkerton, who at his death, some fif- 
teen years ago, gave his estate, amounting to about ?b50,000, 
to the institution that had been founded and endowed by his 
father and uncle ; Nathaniel G. White, for many years presi- 
dent of the Boston & Maine Railroad ; Aaron F. Stevens, of 
Nashua, a member of Congress ; Joseph B. Walker, of Con- 
cord ; Edwin F. French, brother of Henry F. French, late of 
Washington ; Judge Samuel F. Humphrey, of Bangor, Maine. 
There are only tw'o pupils of his time now resident in town, 
and they have no recollection of him. * 

In the summer of 1833, a tremendous stir was 
created throughout New England by the visit 
of Andrew Jackson, then President of the United 
States. The chief magistrate had not the facil- 
ities for going about the country that are now so 
common, and Jackson was cordiall}^ hated by most 
of his political opponents, whose sole idea of him 
had been derived from their party newspapers. 
At all events, it was for many people a great priv- 
ilege to get a sight of " Old Hickory." Upon his 
reaching Cambridge, Harvard College, it will be 
recalled, conferred upon liim the degree of doctor 
of laws, the only honorary degree given that 
year. It so happened that William Richardson, 

* MS. letter, 21July, 1897. 


then a boy of eleven jeRvs, was at home from 
school, probably uj^on a vacation, at the time of 
tlie coming of the President. The following inci- 
dent is related of General Jackson's journey : 

The course of the presidential party toward Nashua was 
that generally travelled, on the south side of the Merrimack 
river. While passing through Tyngsborough a boy came out 
upon an eminence which commanded a fair view of the Pres- 
ident and his companions. He had in his hand a fowling- 
piece, having been out hunting that morning without a 
thought, however, of the possibility of coming upon the lion 
which he so suddenly confronted. When the President's 
barouche came opposite, the lad snatched ofi'his cap, swung it 
in the air, and gave three as vigorous " hurrahs " as his small 
voice would permit, at the same time discharging his gun. 
Observing the act of the boy, the President removed his 
hat and bowed with as much formality as he would have 
done had there been a regiment before him. The boy who 
was fiivored with this consideration was the Honorable 
William A. Richardson, a native of the town, late Secretary 
of the Treasury of the United States.* 

After William Richardson had attained to 
man's estate few persons of discernment could 
have talked with him without instantly perceiv- 
ing that from boyhood he must have acquired 
and exercised the habits of a student. The pres- 
ence of this trait, however, is not to be left to 
inference. Among sundry papers labelled and 
laid away by the late chief justice for preser- 
vation, is one yellow with age, and bearing an 

* From a paper read before the Old Residents' Historical Society ot 
Lowell, iu 1875, by Mr. Z. E. Stone, entitled "The Visit of President 
Jackson to Lowell in June, 1S33." The paper is printed in the published 
"Contributions" of that society, Vol. n, p. 132. 


inscription in his handwriting, " This is the first 
letter I ever received. W. A. R." Any young- 
man might well have prized it. The sheet ap- 
pears to have been originally sealed with a wafer. 
It is addressed, " Master Wm. A. Richardson, 
Derry, N. H., Pr. j)oliteness of your fatlier." The 
letter reads thus : 

Tyngsboro, June 4th, 1834. 
Mr. William A. Richardson, 

My respected young friend, 

I am happy for the present opportunity to write to one with 

whom I have had so many hours of pleasure and dehght. 

Your good nature, high spirit, lively turn, all serve to raise 

you above those of your mates in my estimation. Always 

ready to oblige you can not but demand the obligation and 

esteem of others. Always happy and cheerful you shed much 

happiness and good feeling around you. 

I am happy to learn that you continue to mainta,in 
abroad the same cheerfulness as at home. Prompt to obey 
your teacher, and never caught in mischievous or low bred 

I am happy to learn likewise that you are determined to 
embrace the advice of your parents and make the best of your 
new superior advantages. In so doing you will make yourself 
wise and honourable in after life not only on your own account 
but by gratifying the wishes and expectations of your parents. 

I remain sir with much esteem, very respectfully yours, 

Saml. Elliot.* 
In haste 

Please write when you have an opportunity. 

*" Popularly known as 'Deacon Elliot,' though he had no con- 
nection with the church. He was the village store-keeper, and kept the 
store in which was the post-office. He was a member of the school com- 
mittee, well educated himself, a friend of education, always encouraging 
the pupils to ' hitch their wagon to a star.' He removed from here to 
Elmira, N. Y., and died shortly after." MS. letter of J. Franklin Bancroft, 
21 August, 1898. 


Master Richardson was then in his thirteenth 
year. How fragrant even to this hour the act of 
writing and sending that letter. The boy never 
forgot the day that it had been put into liis hand. 
" This is the first letter I ever received." Kind 
and considerate friend, your text, after the fashion 
of the day, may be a little stilted, but your 
lionest and well-timed praise found its way to a 
boy's heart. Who can say that it did not mightilj'' 
help him to become " wise and honoura])le in 
after life." Truly, a word spoken in due season, 
how good is it. 

Before the summer of 1837 had closed, the 
schoolboy now advanced to his sixteenth year, 
was transferred to new quarters, in order to com- 
plete the course of study required for admission 
to Harvard College. The academy at Groton, 
Massachusetts, besides that the town was nearer 
home, held out peculiar advantages, both of an 
educational and of asocial character; and accord- 
ingly young Richardson was entered there as a 
student. Groton is a delightful town ; and we 
know, from his later utterances, that it must have 
been to him a scene of almost unalloyed enjoy- 
ment. At that date about a hundred scholars, 
nearly equally divided between boys and girls, 
attended the academy. Mr. Horace Herrick, a 
recent graduate from Dartmouth College, was the 
preceptor, assisted by Miss Clarissa Butler, 


The institution known as " The Groton Acad- 
emy," a name borne from its foundation, main- 
tained a deservedly high repute throughout tliat 
part of the country. After Richardson had left 
it, the name was changed, in 1846, to " The 
Lawrence Academy," in recognition of the muni- 
ficence of the Lawrences, of Boston, natives of 
Groton, wdio in their gifts to this institution of 
learning signalized, as they had done in numer- 
ous other instances, the noble uses to which wealth 
can be applied. 

When young Richardson began his studies at 
Groton, the railroad, it is to be remembered, had 
not yet come in to change the relative importance 
of New England towns. Seated uj^on the direct 
line of travel, the main street of the village pre- 
sented a busy scene of passing wagons and stage 
coaches, while the taverns were centres of no little 
activity and bustle. Indeed the life and stir of 
a Groton tavern must have wrought a deep im- 
pression upon the student mind, to judge from 
what may be found in a book of reminiscences of 
the academy, published in 1893, at the date of its 
hundredth anniversary. 

Says Judge Richardson : 

The most prominent and conspicuous in tlie town were 
the stage drivers and tavern keepers ; I remember well Mr. 
Joseph Hoar, who kept one of the village inns, The Central 
House, and who was always with an unlighted stump of a 
cigar in his mouth. I used to wonder who smoked all the 


cigars from which he had so many stumps, for he was never 
seen with a hghted cigar, and I think he never smoked nor 

Then there was Thomas O. Staples, proprietor of the hne 
of stages from Boston to Keene, with its famous Concord 
coaches, a man of splendid physique and a distinguished 
driver. His wife, too, could handle the reins nearly as well 
as her husband and occasionally she drove the coach and six 
from Boston to Groton, to the admiration and astonishment 
of everybody who saw or knew her. 

Judge Richardson was one of the active pro- 
moters of a celebration by the alumni at Groton 
in 1854. He was the leading spirit also in car- 
rying forward to a successful result a similar 
celebration of the two anniversaries, that of 1883 
and that of 1893. His heart ever warmed to the 
scenes of his boyhood, nor could any one have 
enjoyed more keenly the pleasure of meeting old 
classmates ; while they in like manner when they 
have occasion to write or speak of him do so in 
very affectionate terms. 

One of the pleasing incidents of his life at 
Groton is described by him as the festival of the 
crowning of the king and queen of May on the 
first day of May, 1839. He writes of it 1 May, 
1893, exactly fifty-four years later: "After a 
march up the street to the fields where the wild 
flowers could be gathered, the boys and girls 
returned. Then a girl placed upon the head of a 
boy a wreath of flowers, while young Richardson 
placed on the head of a girl a similar wreath." 


The Judge mentions the pleasing fact that after 
fifty-four years had passed all four were then living 
and in good health. It may be added here 
that he was in the habit in later years of sending 
his family to Groton for the summer, and of 
going there himself for such vacations as he 
could be persuaded to take. 

Richardson was admitted to the freshman class 
of Harvard College in the summer of 1839, and 
was graduated in 1843. Of the sixty-nine who 
took degrees, thirty were living at the fiftieth an- 
niversary of their graduation. Among the more 
prominent members of the class there may be 
mentioned Charles A. Dana, of the Neiu York Sun; 
Octavius B. Frothingham, Unitarian minister and 
writer; Arthur B. Fuller, chaplain of the sixteenth 
Massachusetts regiment, who died at Fredericks- 
burg, Virginia, in 1862; Thomas Hill (a life-long 
friend of the subject of this sketch) afterward 
(1861-8) president of Harvard College; John W. 
Kingman, territorial governor of Wyoming; John 
Lowell, United States circuit judge; Charles C. 
Perkins, widely known as a writer upon art ; Hor- 
ace Binney Sargent, of Boston; E. Carleton 
Sprague, a leader of the Buffalo Bar; Eben F. 
Stone, of Newburyport, a lawyer, active at the 
bar of Essex and in the state legislature, later a 
member of Congress ; and Alexander W. Thayer, 
musical author and critic. 


Richardson's chum throughout the four years' 
course was William Henry Adams, of North 
Chelmsford, who was with him at Groton acad- 
emy. He died in 1845. 

It does not appear that Richardson made any 
special mark in college.* He was quiet in his 
ways, and studious, but disinclined to struggle 
for honors, either of the college or of the class. 
Some time after graduation his classmates elected 
him class secretary, a post of honor wliich he held 
for many jeavs and until his death. It is hardly 
necessary to add that he performed the duties of 
the office, which called for no inconsiderable labor 
on his part, with a scrupulous care and prompti- 
tude. Upon the occasion of the fiftieth anni- 
versary (1893) it was Chief Justice Richardson, 
their secretary, whom the class had selected to 
speak for them at the commencement dinner. 

His successor as class secretary writes : 

I saw little of him in our college life. ... In 1883, he 
prepared and distributed a "Memorabilia" pamphlet of the 
class for the meeting that year, and issued a similar report of 
the class meeting in 1893. 

The lines of our lives have not brought us in contact since 
graduating, except casually. He was a painstaking and per- 
sistent laborer where interested. He certainly was ambitious 
to leave a good record. t 

*0ne of his classmates, since (1898) deceased, John A Loring, a 
lawyer of Boston, informed the writer that Richardson in his freshmau 
year began to work upon the revised statutes of Massachusetts, and that 
probably no other living person than Mr. L. knew of the fact. 

tMS. letter, 14 August, IS'J", of Thomas B. Hall, secretary of the Class 
of '43. 


Another classmate, who has since died, said of 
him : 

I should be pleased to give you tiny facts in regard to 
my classmate Richardson which might he interesting to his 
friends, but he was a retiring man and had but few intimates, 
and I do not know that I was among the number, though our 
relations were perfectly friendly. Pie went to Cambridge to 
study, and he studied conscientiously ; was what in those days 
was called a " dig" ; always prepared with his task, rather by 
dint of hard work than by facility of acquisition. I doubt 
if Sargent, who graduated our first scholar, ever devoted the 
time to study that Richardson did. 

I do not ever remember seeing him engaged in any game, 
either athletic or intellectual. He wrote a small, crabbed, 
school-boy hand. 

" Richardson," said Professor Johnson, one day, looking 
over one of his themes in the presence of the class, " Richard- 
son, I don't think your handwriting is just the thing for 
elegant literature." A trifling incident that survives nearly 
fifty-five years, while so many things that are worth remem- 
bering, have escaped and are forgotten.* 

This well-meant criticism from the professor 
may not have been without its effect, for in later 
years liis handwriting could not be said to have 
given cause for complaint. Indeed it had become 
a good, legible hand, plain but strong, well suited 
to the purposes of one who worked in a study 
and wrote much for the printer. 

Although Mr. Richardson may not have been 
conspicuous among his classmates, or taken high 
rank as a scholar, it is evident that he had im- 
bibed at Cambridge a deep and abiding affection 

* MS. letter of Jolin J. Russell, Plymouth, Massachusetts, 20 July, 1897 . 


for Harvard College. His life as an undergrad- 
uate was we may be sure a pleasant one, seeing as 
we do so many tokens that his college associations 
were in after life dear to him. He was loyal to 
the best traditions of Harvard. For twelve years 
(1863-1875) he served as a member of the board 
of overseers, elected for the first term of six years 
bj^ the legislature, and for the second term by the 

At this post his labors were constant, and at all 
times well directed. Upon removal to Wash- 
ington, he remitted nothing of his vigilance in 
watching every change pro23osed at Harvard, of 
which it is to be said that more than one perhaps 
owed its first impulse to some suggestion from 
him. By means of active correspondence he 
sought to help forward plans for broadening and 
strengthening the institution in various direc- 
tions. Few friends of the university whether of 
its official family, or outside, had bestowed more 
elaborate thought upon the legal relations of the 
college, its charter and its propert}' rights, as well 
as upon various questions which arose from time 
to time in respect to the need of organic changes 
in the administration of its affairs. 

Subjects of historic interest, pertaining to the 
college, or her graduates, also occupied largely 
Mr. Richardson's attention. He prepared and 
published a list of the alumni who had held high 


public position, state or federal, — data of percep- 
tible value, as attested by similar lists from 
other universities, the work of compilers who 
followed his footsteps. He was one of the earliest 
promoters of the plan of taking the election of 
overseers out of the control of the legislature, 
and entrusting it to the hands of the alumni. 
Nor did matters of minor concern escape his eye, 
wherever an actual improvement could reason- 
ably be counted upon. He appears to have been 
the first graduate to advocate earnestly the print- 
ing of the Quinquennial in English, and he lived 
to see the change effected. 

Immediately upon being graduated, Richard- 
son began a course of reading at the law office 
of his brother Daniel, at Lowell. For a while 
also he studied in the offices, at Boston, of Fuller 
and Andrew, the junior partner being John A. 
Andrew, afterwards the famous war governor of 
Massachusetts. After 4 March, 1845, he entered 
the Harvard law school, whose professors were 
Joseph Story (who died in September following), 
and Simon Greenleaf. Here he remained for 
eighteen months, taking the degree of bachelor of 
laws at the end of that period, according to the 
easy requirements then in force. Upon motion 
of Mr. Andrew, who was six years his senior in 
the profession, Mr. Richardson was admitted to 
the Suffolk bar 8 July, 1846. On the next day, 


at Lowell, his partncrsbip with his brother, 
Daniel S. Richardson (Harvard, 1836), was an- 
nounced, and he was to be found at his desk, 
ready to serve a client. The alliance was in the 
nature of a fortunate opening for the younger 
member of the firm, since his brother, a lawyer 
of fine abilities and a man of lovable character, 
had not only established himself in a lucrative 
and growing practice, but had come to be ex- 
tremely popular with the bar. 

Well educated, eager for work, modest, and 
with slight taste for public speaking, — certainly 
with no inclination for facing a jury, — one may 
conceive what kind of practice fell to the junior 
member of the firm. What with making collec- 
tions, drawing leases and deeds, looking up titles, 
attending to the probate of wills and the admin- 
istration of estates, young Richardson, pains- 
taking and methodical to the utmost, had no 
reason to complain of his prospects. 

After three years of practice, the future chief 
justice, it appears, felt equal to supporting a wife. 
He was married 29 October, 1849, to Anna Maria 
Marston, daughter of Jonathan and Sarah (Holt) 
Marston, of Machiasport, Maine.* The union 

* Their only child, Isabella Anna, was born in T.ov,-ell on 21st Decem- 
ber, 18.W; died at Washington, D. C, 4 April, 1898. She was married 
2.3 November, 1876, to Alexander F. Magruder, passed assistant surgeon 
United States navy, son of the late Dr. Magruder, of Georgetown, D. C, 
and a descendant, on his mother's side, of the Fitzhugh family, of Vir- 
ginia. They had three children : William Richardson Magruder, born in 


proved to be most happy in every respect. Mrs. 
Richardson possessed qualities of both person 
aud mind that fitted her to be, in the best sense 
of the word, a helpmate. Whether in their quiet 
home life at Lowell, or at a later period when 
called upon to meet social obligations at Washing- 
ton, as the wife of a member of the cabinet, or of the 
chief justice of the Court of Claims, she was always 
equal to her duties. Handsome and accom- 
plished, Mrs. Richardson's cordial manner of wel- 
coming the visitor, together with her animated 
and genuine interest in the welfare of those 
around her, won for her a large circle of friends, 
and redounded greatly to the advantage of her 

The conduct of a man thus occupied with his 
own affairs is watched, and, if he is seen to be 
diligent and faithful, he is wanted before long for 
this or that minor public position. In 1849, Mr. 
Richardson was elected to the common council of 
the city of Lowell. Again elected in 1853 and 
1854, he was made president of the board. The 
circumstance is interesting, and perhaps is without 
a parallel in our municipal history, that three 

Washington, D. C. 20 December, 1S78 ; died in Groton, Massachusetts, 
1883 ; Alexander Richardson Magriider, born in Nice, France, while his 
father was stationed there on dnty, 17 January, 1S83 : Isabella Richardson 
Jlagruder, born in Washington, I). C, 20 April, 18S6. 

Dr. Magruder was retired as full surgeon. He went upon the active 
list, however, at the breaking out of the Spanish war, and served at the 
marine headquarters, Washington. 


brothers [Daniel S., William A., and George F.] 
should each in turn have held this honorable 
position. Meanwhile, he had been made (1846- 
1850) judge advocate of a division of the militia 
with the rank of major ; while Governor Briggs 
later ap23ointed him an aide-de-camp with the 
rank of lieutenant colonel, a gold-laced position 
which brings a young man into wider notice. 
The trustees of the Lowell Five Cent Savings 
Bank elected him one of their number; and he 
served for several years on the finance committee 
of that institution. 

He had been early chosen a director of the 
Appleton Bank. Subsequently, he resigned that 
position in order to accept the presidency of the 
Wamesit Bank, afterwards the Wamesit National 
Bank, which office he held until 1867, when he 
returned to the Appleton, that had meanwhile 
become the Appleton National Bank. With this 
institution he continued as director until his 
appointment as Secretary of the Treasury, when 
he resigned the office and sold out his stock. His 
experience in the management of these banks, and 
of the savings bank previously named, developed 
a sagacity and acuteness that served him in good 
stead when called upon subsequently to deal with 
the vast business of the treasury of the United 

At a somewhat later period he was chosen 


president of the Middlesex Mechanic's Associ- 
ation, an honor in itself the more to be valued 
because it gave him opportunity to assist in the 
reorganization of tliat important bod}'. This 
office he filled for two years. 

In May, 1855, Mr. Richardson it seems made 
his first venture as an author, or let us rather 
sa}^, compiler. With the sanction, and perliaps 
at the instance of the bank commissioners of the 
state, he prepared and published a handy volume 
upon the banking laws of Massachusetts, being a 
compilation of the statutes relating to banks and 
savings institutions, with notes of decisions, etc. 
The modest little book, which doubtless served a 
useful purpose in its day and is now chiefly note- 
worthy as a model of arrangement and indexing, 
was published at Lowell and Boston. 

Employments such as these had no effect to 
divert him from a punctual and devoted attention 
to the wants of his clients. Whatever else Judge 
Richardson may have been, he always remained 
the lawyer, with a liking for the application of 
legal principles to the daily concerns of life. The 
prospect of litigation did not attract him ; wliere 
he found pleasure was in facilitating the prompt 
and safe transaction of the every-day business 
affairs of those who sought his professional aid. 
Here he was getting an admirable training when 
a summons to engage in work of larger scope 

came to him most unexpectedly, though it found 
him, we may believe, prepared fairly well for 
the task. 

The tendency of state legislatures to make 
changes at every session in the statutes, whether 
by way of repeal or amendment, or by bringing 
forward entirely new provisions of law, has be- 
come proverbial ; and Massachusetts, it must be 
confessed, at no period of her political history 
furnishes an exception to the rule. By this time 
the statute law of the commonwealth had grown 
into an unwieldy mass, so that particular provis- 
ions were difficult of ascertainment, and when 
found, were fruitful of perplexities. The only 
remedy was revision. Already the governor had 
appointed commissioners to determine upon a plan 
in accordance with which the revision might best 
be accomplished. Upon a report from them the 
legislature, 16 February, 1855, passed a resolution 
empowering the governor to appoint three com- 
missioners to consolidate and rearrange the stat- 
utes, with authority to — 

Omit redundant enactments and those which may have 
ceased to have effect or influence on existing rights ; to reject 
superfluous words, and to condense into as concise and compre- 
hensive a form, as is consistent with a full and clear expression 
of the legislature, all circuitous, tautological and ambiguous 
phraseology ; to suggest any mistakes, omissions, inconsist- 
encies and imperfections which may appear in the laws to be 
consolidated and arranged, and the manner in which they 
may be corrected, supplied and amended. 


These terms indicate to what lengths the re- 
sponsibility extended and how Ijroad a discretion 
was to be reposed in the commission. Governor 
Gardner, on the 9th of March following, named 
for the office Joel Parker, of Cambridge, Royal 
professor of law at Harvard and formerly chief 
justice of New Hampshire ; William A. Richard- 
son, of Lowell; and Andrew A. Richmond, of 

The appointees accepted the office and entered 
at once upon the work, although Mr. Richmond's 
health prevented his taking an active part therein. 
A disproportionate share consequently fell upon 
Mr. Richardson. But the junior commissioner 
felt no discouragement at what confronted him ; 
on the contrary the work laid out was exactly to 
his taste ; and he bent himself with unflagging 
energy to go through the body of the statutes so 

* As illustrating the trutii that chance sometimes has much to do with 
a young man's opportunity for advancement, the following remarks once 
made by the chief justice as to how he happened to he appointed to this 
important office, at the age of thirty-four, may not inappropriately find 
room here : •' I do not think that the governor (Henry J. Gardner) had 
ever heard of me, until some one, a senator, suggested my name as a 
candidate. I came very near not getting that appointment. When the 
senator first mentioned my name the governor said he had just settled 
upon the list of names, and it was too late to make a change in it. There 
were three commissioners. A few days afterwards the governor sent for 
the senator, and asked more about me, saying that after all he might make 
a change in the list ; and he did so, and I was named as one. When the 
appointments came out afterward, I learned in course of time that be- 
tween the first and second interview with the senator, the governor had 
some trouble with one of the three he had selected, a man from Newton, 
a warm personal friend up to that time, and on that account had struck 
bis name off the list and substituted mine." 


as to have a report read}-^ by the autumn of 1858. 
Of" course, sucli an undertaking was to the last 
degree laborious. Indeed, considering how much 
there was for a single man to do, it must always 
remain a marvel that the volume, which ulti- 
mately grew out of the work of the commission, 
proved so admirable in plan, and so faultless in 
execution. The volume referred to is the General 
Statutes of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts 
of 1860, embodied in an act passed 28 December, 

The duty of editing and superintending the 
printing of the statutes, forming as the}^ do a 
book of upwards of eleven hundred pages, was 
entrusted to William A. Richardson and George 
P. Sanger. Circumstances obliged them to send 
the sheets to the printer under a pressure of some 
haste, but the completed volume shows no sign of 
it. They prefixed the constitution of the United 
States and that of Massachusetts, furnished chapter 
headings in detail, and supplied to the text, both 
of the constitutions and of the statutes, copious 
notes, citations and cross-references. To this they 
added a glossary and an index, the latter having 
the merit of accuracy and fulness. 

While praise is unquestionably due to Judge 
Sanger for his share of the undertaking, no one 
who knows the requirements of such a task, and 
who besides has seen what Judge Richardson 


at a later period accomplished in his revision 
of the statutes of the United States, will be at 
a loss to determine what proportion of the de- 
sign is to be credited to him. Unlike previous 
revisions, many of which went little further than 
to rearrange the several enactments, the report 
made by Messrs. Parker and Richardson amounted 
to a re-writing of nearly the whole body of the 
statute law.* In several instances they changed 
the language of the statutes, especially under the 
head of criminal law. Notwithstanding some 
opposition in the legislature, every one of these 
changes was approved, and most of them after- 
wards justified themselves as being of practical 

It was a subject of pride with Chief Justice 
Richardson that in his younger days the honor 
should have been his of taking part in this 
severe and protracted labor of revision; and 
that the volume in the preparation of which he 
applied himself with so much ardor, had stood 
the test of time and proved to be substantially, if 
not literally, free from error. 

* One day during the early sessions of the board, Judge Parker, the 
chairman, handed to Mr. Richardson a chapter drawn up informally and 
told him to take it up and see what he could do with it. This was said 
at the State House in Boston. Mr. Kichardson took the manuscript that 
night to Lowell, twenty-five miles away, and sat up all night working 
upon it. The next morning he brought it back to Boston compressed into 
about three pages. It was adopted and printed as he had written it, and 
ever since has formed a chapter in the statutes as revised. 


Some one has well said of it : " The amount of 
lahor, patient study and legal skill required in 
mastering so much complication, and bringing 
the mass into harmonious order, may be imagined 
by all ; but its successful accomplishment can only 
be appreciated by an experienced legal mind." 

Judge Richardson continued to edit and super- 
intend the issue of an annual volume of the IMas-. 
sachusetts statutes for a period of twenty -two 3'ears. 
The stereotype plates of the General Statutes of 
1 860 were destroyed by the great fire at Boston 
in 1872. Pursuant to an act of the legislature he 
edited, in conjunction with Judge Sanger, a new 
edition in 1873, as well as a supplementary vol- 
ume of legislative enactments since 18G0. This 
last-named labor was accomiDlished, it should be 
stated, at a time when the editor-in-chief was at 
Washington, immersed in the business of the 
Treasury Department. 

Later achievements in the line of statutor}' 
revision may convenientl}^ be noted here. It is 
doubtful whether there can be named a lawyer in 
successful practice, or a judge upon the bench 
who has ever exhibited a willingness, nay, let 
it rather be termed a desire, comparable to that 
of Chief Justice Richardson, to undergo the 
drudgery of bringing into orderly and systematic 
arrangement the vast material of the statute law. 
To begin with, it is a species of unmitigated 


toil that onl}' a select few would think of under- 
taking. Without reckoning a conception of the 
plan as a whole, the almost endless detail which 
is of necessity involved, exacts of one an amount 
of manual labor that would deter most men from 
thinking of taking upon themselves this burden, 
even with competent assistance. 

An ability to carry along in the memory the 
meaning, not to say the precise wording, of an 
enactment, with a view of fitting to it a note or 
reference, or the disconnected terms of some other 
statute, is a gift rarely possessed. But Chief Justice 
Richardson had this gift; and, what is more, he 
had an unerring perception of where a line of 
text belonged. He was endowed, too, with an 
instinct, one is almost tempted to call it genius, 
for indexing. Besides, he has more than once 
displayed a rare judgment in the difficult art of 
book-making. He knew exactly how to arrange 
printed material in dress and collocation so as 
to wear the most attractive look of which it is 
capable ; while the system of catch-lines and mar- 
ginal annotations that he employed, and to a large 
extent originated, is such that he who has fre- 
quent occasion to use the volume, almost conceives 
a friendly feeling for the author. 

Soon after the passage of the revised statutes of 
the United States (1874) it became a daily habit 
with Judge Richardson to watch the legislation of 


Congress while in session, and to enter references 
thereto upon liis note-book. This work he kept 
up for the rest of liis life because he liked it. It 
is safe to say that probably no one in the United 
States at any day during this period had in hand 
such a thorough knowledge of the exact condition 
of the federal statute law as Judge Richardson. 
With the progress of time these annotations grew to 
be of large volume, and correspondingly valuable. 
The collection was unique. Nobody else appa- 
rently had thought to do the like. Congress, when 
made aware of its existence, took steps to provide 
for its official publication. Acts were passed 
directing^ that the statutes of the United States 
should be printed with the annotations of Judge 
Richardson, and under his direction, and that the 
work should be stereotyped. 

Owing to his forethought and his persistent 
labor, day after day, the bar is now enabled to con- 
sult in a very convenient form, supplements of 
the revised statutes of the United States from 1874 
to 1895. Moreover, this admirable plan of publi- 
cation once adopted has now apparently become 
the settled policy of Congress. The work, it is 
true, meets the e^'e of but a limited number 
of people. The world at large knows and cares 
little about it ; still, lawyers, judges, legislators 
and public officials turn to these volumes with 
more or less frequency ; and, it ma}'^ truthfully 


be added, always with satisfaction. It is difficult 
to see in what particular the plan, as devised 
by Chief Justice Richardson, can be improved 
upon. Although the work is destined in time to 
be supplanted, a new compilation must perforce 
follow the lines of the old. For this reason 
"Richardson's Supplements" are likely to remain 
a monument to the honor of him who con- 
ceived a well-nigh faultless plan of bringing to 
the public a knowledge of the provisions of the 
federal statutes. 

In the spring of 1856 Judge Samuel Phillips 
Prescott Fay (Harvard, 1793) resigned the office 
of judge of probate for Middlesex county ; an 
office which he had held since 1821, for a period 
of nearly thirty -five years. Governor Gardner 
appointed Mr. Richardson, 7 April, 1856, to fill 
the vacancy. The choice met the general consent 
and approval of the bar. The new incumbent, 
already favorably known to the governor by his 
labors upon the commission to revise the statutes, 
had demonstrated satisfactorily to the people of 
Lowell and the county in general that he was pecu- 
liarly well suited to the position. The change 
from office practice to a seat upon the bench was, 
we may believe, very acceptable to the incoming 
judge. He was glad to be thus honored in liis 
own county, and he welcomed the multiplied and 
arduous duties that awaited him. 


A judge of probate, it need hardly be explained, 
ought to know a good deal more than the rules 
of law governing the administration of estates. 
He not only sits to act upon petitions and decide 
controversies, but people resort to him daily, "the 
widow and the orphan," for advice and counsel. A 
selfish man, or one of stern demeanor, would not 
be tolerated there ; an impulsive, tender-hearted 
judge, lacking in firmness, would be equally out 
of place. Happily Judge Richardson possessed 
just the qualities needed for a successful admin- 
istration of the oflfice.* 

* Governor Frederick T. Greenhalge, who, before entering into public 
life liad reached distinction as a lawyer at Lowell, said at a memorial 
meeting of the bar upon the occasion of the death of George M. Brooks : 
''' Judge Brooks succeeded a most remarkable man, singularly adapted to 
the work of the probate court— Judge ^^■illiam A. Richardson— and yet 
no one ever fulfilled with more success, with more conscious exactness to 
law, fact, sympathy and efficacy of action, the work assigned him than 
Judge Brooks." 

Says A. V. Lynde (November, 1897) a prominent practitioner and one 
of the oldest lawyers at the Middlesex bar: "Richardson was the best 
judge of probate they ever had in Massachusetts. His power of despatch- 
ing business was tremendous. There was a case in which George P. Burn- 
ham (who had gained local notoriety during the ' Shanghai chicken ' 
craze), was a party. The question was whether a sum of 810,000 should be 
allowed in a probate account. On one side was Butler, Rockwood Hoar, 
Brooks and other strong counsel. I had as an associate Theodore H. 
Sweetser. AVe had more than forty hearings before Judge Richardson, he 
not intimating in the least what his opinion would be. At the last hear- 
ing, upon the close of the argument, Richardson said, ' I shall not allow 
this claim,' adjourned court, and took his hat and left the court house." 

Mr. Lynde spoke of talking one day with Judge Richardson about his 
method of disposing of cases rapidly. The judge said he preferred in pro- 
bate hearings to give an immediate opinion. "Are you not sometimes 
wrong?" a.sked Mr. Lynde. "Oh, yes," replied the judge, "I suppose 
that sometimes I decide wrong, but in the majority of cases, I think ray 
first impressions are right ; and then it is best to get through them 
quickly, or cases would consume too much time in argument." 


The judge was a critical observer of the means 
employed in the administration of judicial affairs. 
He studied practice closely. He believed in ex- 
tending, where it could safely be done, the field 
into which his court should enter. He was not 
a man content to settle down into old-fashioned 
ways of doing business, when after careful inspec- 
tion he had once satisfied himself that a method 
could be improved. Accordingly his busy inge- 
nuity conceived a plan of enlarging the jurisdic- 
tion of the probate court ; and he was largely 
instrumental in securing action by the legislature 
conferring upon that tribunal concurrent juris- 
diction with that of the supreme court, in the 
construction of wills and the administration of 
estates. To his wisely directed influence it is 
due that the probate court in Massachusetts has 
acquired an exclusive original jurisdiction over 
many subjects that formerly it did not enjoy. 

It was left also to Judge Richardson to propose 
to his fellow judges of probate a scheme of uni- 
formity in the matter of practice. He had seen 
that each one of the fourteen counties had its 
own forms, which had been followed since the 
days of the Revolution. The blanks in use 
varied with each court, and there was an absence 
of uniformity in almost every particular. Each 
judge was naturally inclined to treat the settled 
forms of his own court as the best to be devised ; 


and the young Middlesex official who urged the 
benefits of regularity and uniformity had to en- 
counter a weighty opposition. Many of the older 
practitioners likewise were conservative,and viewed 
any proposed modification Vv'itli scant favor. 

But the earnestness and persistency of the 
advocate for reform prevailed; the judges met, 
and upon his motion named a committee to re- 
vise the probate blanks and make them uniform 
throughout the state. They selected Richardson, 
of course, together with Judges John Wells and 
Samuel F. Lyman, both of them new to the bench, 
though the latter had been a register of probate 
for many years. Having started the project. 
Judge Richardson, as generally happens in such 
cases, was allowed by his associates to go ahead 
and do all the work, — which he did, and what 
is more, did it gratuitously. We may gather 
from the following memorandum of the judge 
himself what must have been the nature of the 
undertaking, — a task much more onerous, it 
will be observed, than perhaps would at first 
have been suspected : 

Two judge?, both older than myself, were put on the com- 
mittee and I, who alone had experience in the probate court, 
was added. My associates were both fi-om the western part of 
the state, and we were all three far separate, so that we could 
not meet for consultation. 

I made an arrangement with the state printer in Boston to 
print the blanks, in expectation that the counties would take 
their respective shares, for we had no money at our disposal 


for the expenses. Of course, the whole labor fell upon me, 
who alone had an office in Boston, and was familiar with the 
practice of the probate courts, and had started the scheme 
myself. I had already formed my opinions as to the blanks 
generally. Up to that time each of the fourteen counties had 
its own system and its own blanks, and they had been diverg- 
ing from each other for two hundred years or so. Of course, 
there was very little similarity, — none except such as the 
statutes required or suggested. 

The very first set of blanks that I had printed and sent to 
each of the judges, raised opposition from two counties ; all the 
others were quite satisfied. One of my associates resigned from 
the committee, saying that he could not agree to such radical 
changes of forms which were older than the constitution of the 
state. The other associate made no objection, and I rarely 
saw him. Once in a great while, when in Boston from one of 
the extreme western counties, he came into my office, but he 
had no opportunity to do anything, and being a new man 
without experience in court, he had no suggestions to make. 

I worked over these blanks for more than a year. When 
completed I took them to Chief Justice Bigelow of the supreme 
court, who was a friend of mine, for adoption by that court, in 
accordance with a provision of the statutes which had been in 
force for a quarter of a century without any action taken. 
Bigelow adopted, or rather approved them at once, and for the 
court ordered them [11 April, 1861] to be adopted in all the 
counties. One county, Essex, still manifested hostility and 
came into the plan with great reluctance. Bigelow, who was 
constantly inquiring, whenever we met, as to how I was getting 
on, told me that if the judge in Essex did not adopt the forms, 
he would issue a mandamus to show cause, and would compel 
him to adopt them. But I did not want to press matters, and 
they finally got into use even there. 

Some years afterwards (nearly twenty years), the supreme 
court held that the forms as thus adopted were part of the law 
of the state, and could not be changed but by that court, as 
they were so ordered to be adopted. {Ba.vkr v. Blood, 128 
Mass. 543.) 

The principal advantages gained were and are, absolute 
uniformity of forms in the whole fourteen counties. In the 
blanks themselves some matters may be mentioned as among 
the most important changes : Stating the exact date of 
the death of the decedents. Before, no date was given. 
Naming all the heirs and next of kin, with the place of resi- 
dence, and the husbands of married women. In these partic- 
ulars the probate records of Massachusetts will in time prove 
a mine for exploration by the genealogists. 

The judge had occupied the office scarcely 
two years when the legislature efiected a radical 
change in the system of the probate courts by 
consolidating them with the courts of insolvency, 
and creating a court of probate and insolvency, of 
whicli Judge Richardson was made a judge for 
Middlesex. The real object in view was to bring 
about, by act of the legislature, the removal of 
Edward Greely Loring (Harvard, 1831), judge of 
probate for Suftblk county, a man of ability and of 
the highest integrity. As a matter of fact Judge 
Loring was removed from office by Governor 
Banks, 19 March, 1858, upon a supersedeas, in 
compliance with the address of the legislature.* 

* Loring was, however, not long deprived of judicial honors. A va- 
cancy having recently occurred on the bench of the Court of Claims at 
Washington, through the death of Chief Justice Gilchrist, of New Hamp- 
shire, the President named Loring to be a judge of that court, and he was 
confirmed 6 May, 1S5S. In this capacity he served the country honorably 
and well. He relinquished his seat, after having passed the age limit, 
in 1S77. Alike on the bench or in retirement, the judge was a man of 
charming personality, a raconteur of the very highest order. He, with 
his wife and daughters, each brilliant and witty, rendered the Loring 
home, on K street, a centre of social delight, unsurpassed elsewhere at 
the Capital. 


Judge Loriiig held the office likewise of com- 
missioner of the circuit court of the United 
States, and in his capacity as such had rendered 
a decision which had the effect to return Anthony 
Burns to his owner under the fugitive slave law, 
a decision the circumstances of which created 
intense excitement in Massachusetts, and have 
been to this day held in remembrance as forming 
one of the dramatic preludes to the war for the 
Union. The action of the commissioner, though 
in obedience to the plain dictates of the law, and 
governed by the purest motives on his part, was 
bitterly reseiited by the people. 

Because he had discharged his dut}'' Judge Lor- 
ing suffered an odium as profound as it was unjust. 
The newspapers poured upon him a stream of vio- 
lent denunciation. Wendell Phillips, the orator 
without a peer, stirred the people almost as never 
before, with words of scornful acrimony and fiery 
wrath. Every abolitionist had wrought himself, 
and a good many of his neighbors, up to the 
highest pitch of resentful indignation. Some 
safety-valve had to be supplied for so tremen- 
dous a pressure of explosive material ; and from 
all over the state came a stern demand for the 
removal of tlie offending judge. 

The legislature passed an address to the gov- 
ernor, asking that Judge Loring be removed, in 
accordance with the constitution of Massachu- 


setts, which provides that any judge may be 
removed by the governor upon the address of 
both houses of the legislature. Governor Henry 
J. Gardner, who it seems was a conservative man, 
refused to execute the will of the legislature, as 
he had a right to do. He believed that Loring 
had done nothing more than he was bound to 
do under the law; and that this act he had per- 
formed not in the capacity of a judge of probate, 
but as a United States commissioner, over whose 
conduct in office the state had no control what- 
ever. The governor, therefore, declined to take 

The members of the legislature, who had been 
elected in the autumn of 1857, came together in 
January, 1858, fresh from the excited people, and 
burning with vengeance against Loring, whose 
removal they were determined to accomj)lish. 
They meant to make an example of him. No 
matter what might stand in the way, they were 
bound to have his official head taken off. 

But a respectable number of men in the legis- 
lature and outside entertained more conserva- 
tive views ; while sympathizing with the feeling 
against Loring, they were not willing to have 
him removed by address. Circumstances fovored 
them at least in one respect. There were in 
each county a judge of probate and a judge of 
insolvency. Those favoring a moderate course 


conceived the idea of uniting the two offices, and 
having but one judge in each county, under the 
pretence, that Avhile one judge could do all the 
business, the expense of two courts, or of two 
judges, would thus be reduced ; and moreover, 
that by raising the salar}'' of a single judge above 
the sum then paid to each of the two, the people 
would secure a better class of judges. The real 
object, of course, was to remove all the judges, 
among whom would be the obnoxious Loring, at 
whom alone the scheme was aimed. 

This proposal, ingenious though it was, by no 
means appeased the members bent upon ven- 
geance. They announced themselves disposed to 
agree to the new plan of abolishing and consol- 
idating the courts, but they demanded that the 
address for Loring's removal should be first passed. 
The chairman of the committee upon the consoli- 
dation scheme, Eben F. Stone, of Newburyport (a 
classmate of Judge Richardson), sent out circulars 
to the judges asking their views. They all replied 
opposing the scheme, with the single exception of 
Richardson. Seeing that the result must come, 
and could by no possibility be avoided. Judge 
Richardson had discreetl}^ made up his mind to 
accept the inevitable. Instead of opposing the 
plan, therefore, his reply suggested what seemed 
to him the best way to accomplish its purpose. 
It was not to disturb the two courts of probate 


and of insolvency, but to abolish the offices of 
the judges, and then provide for the appointment 
of one judge of probate and insolvency in each 
county, who should ex-offi,cio be judge of both 
courts. By this method of procedure the business 
of the two courts would be kept entirely separate. 
To be sure, a question of the constitutionality of 
the project at once presented itself; and while 
to many of those who had considered the subject 
it appeared to be a matter of more or less doubt, 
Judge Richardson, always extremely cautious 
when projecting the draft of a statute, himself 
felt confident upon that point, and so assured the 

The plan thus recommended by Judge Rich- 
ardson was finally adopted. A bill drawn up 
b}'^ Chairman Stone was reported, abolishing the 
offices of judge of probate and judge of insolvency 
in each county, and establishing the office of 
judge of probate and insolvency. This bill and 
the address to the governor stood upon the leg- 
islative calendar at the same time. The friends 
of the two measures had each determined to get 
their own bill up first, for neither wanted to 
vote against the other; besides, if the consoli- 
dation bill should 'first pass, the address would be 

The remainder of the narrative may be told in 
Judge Richardson's own words : 


The address was a little ahead, came to a vote and was 
passed. After much debate, the consolidation bill then came 
up and went through without opposition. This turned out of 
office twenty-seven judges, two in each of thirteen counties, 
and one judge of probate in the very small county of Dukes, 
where he had done the business of both offices for some years. 
Then came the appointments, which were announced a month 
or two afterwards. Banks was governor, and he promptly 
removed Loring, though he had been opposed to that way of 
getting rid of him. Still he found it necessary to accede to 
public opinion, unlike his predecessor, Governor Gardner, 
who had refused to do so the year before. 

I had not voted for Banks at the preceding election, and 
he knew it. I voted for Gardner, who had twice honored me 
with appointments, although I had not voted for him at his 
first election. I belonged to the old whig party, and followed 
its fortunes until it expired with thedefeatof Governor Wash- 
burn, in 1854, by the election of Governor Gardner. Parties 
were in a transition state, and men voted as they pleased 
without much reference to party ties, except the Democrats, 
who never faltered. There seemed little chance for me at the 
hands of Governor Banks. But when the appointments were 
announced I was named judge of probate and insolvency for 
Middlesex. Of the twenty-seven judges only four were 
re-appointed, two probate and two insolvency judges, and 
nine new men were brought out. I was one of the fortunate 

For the more convenient prosecution of busi- 
ness, Judge Richardson, in 1860, removed his hiw 
office from Lowell to Boston, and took up a resi- 
dence in Cambridge. Here for nearly ten years 
he pursued the even tenor of his way, regular 
and punctual in attendance at court, where, free 
from distractions, he dispatched each day's busi- 
ness with ease and rapidity. One might say of 


him that he was " content, because all things 
were to his liking." 

At this point a word or two may be permitted 
with regard to tlie political and religious tenets 
of the subject of this sketch. .Judge Richardson 
was originally (as his father had been before liim) 
a whig, and by natural transition he became a 
republican. In saying this, the writer is not 
unmindful of that small fraction of the whig 
party in Massachusetts, pro-slavery in sentiment, 
who, after the death of Webster and the disrup- 
tion of the whig party, found themselves in the 
democratic camp. Judge Richardson was not a 
partisan, but he held firm political convictions, 
and gave his unswerving adherence to the doc- 
trines of the republican faith. Regardful of the 
proprieties of the bench, however, he abstained 
from mingling in party politics. When tlie 
rebellion came, it found him intensely loyal to 
the cause of the Union, and in fullest sympathy 
with the public utterances and acts of Abraham 

It used to be good-naturedly said of Judge 
Story, that so fixed were his views upon religious 
subjects, and so hearty his belief in his own 
church, that, with rare exuberance of spirit, 
whenever he met a stranger and the conversa- 
tion reverted to the topic of religion, he, unless 
informed to the contrary, took it for granted 


that his companion was a Unitarian. Judge 
Richardson did not go to this length. Indeed, he 
rarely discussed the subject of any man's belief, 
or of attendance upon public worship. He was 
a Unitarian, and at Washington was an active 
and valued member of a church of that denomi- 
nation, where he was esteemed as a man of good 
works, as well as of liberal belief.* It may be said 
of Judge Richardson that alike in politics and 
religion, he entertained decided views, but he 
enjoyed them in serenity, and with no desire to 
impose them upon others. 

The career of the American lawyer who sticks 
to his profession is for the most part uneventful ; 
and the life we have had under review has thus 
far flowed with a smooth current. The labor of 
the bench proving to his taste Judge Richardson 
had reason to look forward in the ordinary course 
of events to a long continuance in office. But 
fate had willed it otherwise. Without previous 
warning, he who above others felt himself bound 
by strong ties to home and familiar scenes, was 
called upon to put off the judicial robe and enter 
into a field of public service, of a character wholly 
different from that to which he had hitherto been 

When General Grant had taken the oath of 

* All Souls', of which for many years he was a trustee. One of the 
most beautiful windows of stained glass in the country is that in memory 
of Mrs. Richardson, placed in that church in 18S1, by her husband. 


office for his first term as President of the United 
States, he treated the country, it ma}'^ be recalled, 
to a genuine surprise b}^ sending to the Senate 
the name of A. T. Stewart, of New York, to be 
Secretary of the Treasury. Hardly had the news 
of the President's choice gone to the country, 
when somebody discovered that Mr. Stewart, 
being in trade, was disqualified under the law. 
Withdrawing the nomination, the President sub- 
stituted a name at the announcement of which 
the people were as much gratified as they had 
before been astonished. Notwithstanding that he 
had already taken one member of the cabinet 
from Massachusetts, the President honored that 
state still further by selecting for the treasur}-, 
George Sewall Boutwell, one of the ablest of 
a distinguished line of statesmen sent by the 
Commonwealth to Congress, or elevated to the 
position of her chief magistracy. It is enough to 
say of Governor Boutwell that the reputation 
earned by his long and varied public service, 
gave assurance to the country that the grave 
question of our financial policy, — the problem of 
the hour, — would be wisely solved by him, a 
confidence indeed that subsequent events amply 

A resident of Groton since 1835, Boutwell had 
been from that date a warm personal friend of 
Judge Richardson. That he accepted the Treas- 


ury, yielding after a brief time only for delibera- 
tion, was in part because his mind had reverted 
to his friend on the bench in Middlesex, as the 
man of all others that he wanted for assistant 
secretary. President Grant had, as it were, im- 
pressed Governor Boutwell into service, and the 
latter in turn literally reached out for the Massa- 
chusetts judge to come to his help. The first 
intimation to Judge Richardson that he was 
needed reached him in the shape of a telegram 
from the new Secretary of the Treasury, asking if 
he would accept the office of assistant secretary. 
He hastened to Washington, and after a protracted 
consultation between the two friends, his consent, 
most reluctantly yielded, was given to take the 
position for the time being. This occurred near 
the end of March, 1869. 

Meanwhile a vacancy happening on the bench 
of the superior court of the state. Governor Claf- 
lin, unwilling that the services of such a man 
should be lost to Massachusetts, tendered the 
appointment to Judge Richardson. The honor 
was declined, upon the earnest protest of the Sec- 
retary of the Treasury, although the Governor had 
proceeded so far as to make out the commission. 

The post of assistant secretary of the Treasury, 
at the head of a force of officers and clerks which 
numbered in Washington alone nearly twenty- 
two hundred persons, was, it may well be imag- 


ined, no sinecure. It offered a certainty of hard 
work, to be kept up without cessation. This 
prospect, however, rather attracted Judge Rich- 
ardson than otherwise. That his duty, as it 
seemed to him, plainly lay at home, accounts for 
the extreme reluctance which marked his tarry- 
ing at Washington. As a matter of fact, while 
day after day went by, he attempted more than 
once to resign, but his repeated resignations were 
disregarded. Meanwhile, he retained the office 
of judge of probate and insolvency of Middlesex, 
expecting before long to be at home in Cambridge. 
The unusual character of his entry upon ad- 
ministrative duties at Washington is noted here 
in order that the reader may the more completely 
enter into the spirit of generosity and friendship 
with which Secretary Boutwell alludes to this 
interesting period of their joint career. In an 
address of mingled force and feeling, delivered 
before the Court of Claims, upon the occasion of 
the proceedings in memory of the Chief Justice, 
the distinguished ex-Secretary, having dwelt upon 
the reluctance of his friend to come to Washing- 
ton, observes: 

After a delay of several months, he yielded to my impor- 
tunities, but against his own inclinations, and thus entered a 
larger field of public service. 

In the three and a half years of our association, he contrib- 
uted largely to whatever of success was attained during my 
administration of the Treasury Department.* 

^Appendix, post, p. xlv. 


It will thus be seen that in consenting to take 
upon himself the burden of an office, new to his 
experience, the assistant was admitted to the 
fullest confidence of his chief. The two rejoiced 
not only in the harmony of a close friendship, but 
in the growth that comes from daily contact of 
one superior mind with another while dealing 
with subjects of large concern, and breathing the 
free atmosphere of high, intellectual endeavor. 

Whatever diversity of opinion may prevail as 
to the wisdom of the policy adopted by Secretary 
Chase of issuing paper money to carry on the 
war, it gave birth at least to one chapter of our 
financial history that excites nothing but admir- 
ation. The resolve of the people to maintain at 
the highest possible standard the credit of the 
United States, while bearing the burden of an 
enormous war debt, won for them the respect of 
the world. It is of course impossible to ascribe 
to any one man, or set of men, the credit for this 
sound public sentiment; yet there were leaders of 
political thought to whom special honor is due 
for advancing and unflinchingly maintaining 
correct and hopeful views, whence came the im- 
petus that ended in legislation appropriate to this 
desired end. Of these eminent men no one stands 
deservedly higher in public esteem than George 
S. Boutwell. 

The debt of the United States when largest 


(1 March, 1866) stood at the enormous figures of 
$2,707,850,000.22. Such was the legacy left to 
the American people by the war for the Union. 
The original legal-tender act, in its title, was an 
authority for " the issue of notes and the redemp- 
tion and funding thereof," and it provided for 
the funding of the floating debt of the United 
States. It required that duties on imported goods 
should be paid in coin, and that such coin should 
be set apart as a special fund, first for the pay- 
ment in coin of the interest on the bonds and 
notes of the United States; and next for the pur- 
chase or payment of one per centum of the entire 
debt of the United States, to be made within each 
fiscal year after the 1st of July, 1862, this to be set 
apart as a sinking fund, and the interest thereon, 
in a like manner, to be applied to the purchase or 
payment of the public debt as the Secretary 
of the Treasury should direct. While war was 
flagrant, the government struggling for existence 
was still borrowing money to pay old loans, and 
creating new ones, so that no steps were taken to 
establish a sinking fund as such. Coin in the 
Treasury, however, was allowed to accumulate to 
the amount of about $100,000,000. 

President Grant in his inaugural address, 4 
March, 1869, employed this significant language : 

A great debt has been contracted in securing to us and to 
our posterity the Union. The payment of this, principal and 


interest, as well as the return to a specie basis, as soon as it 
can be accomplished without material detriment to the labor 
classes, or to the countrj' at large, must be provided for. 

A prompt yet safely conducted reduction of the 
public debt* was the key-note of Secretary Bout- 
welPs administration. To this end with a firm 
and inflexible purpose he bent his energies. He 
meant that not a single item of taxation should 
be prematurely given up, but that the country 
should practice economy and devote every dollar 
it could save to the payment of its bonds. He set 
at once to work to begin the creation of an actual 
sinking fund, in literal compliance with the law 
of Congress, hitherto neglected. He proposed a 
plan for funding the national debt which Con- 
gress sanctioned and embodied in the important 
legislation of 14 July, 1870, enabling the Secretary 
to fund in new securities at a lower rate of interest, 
that part of the national debt represented by five- 
twenty bonds, t 

Although to one looking back upon its suc- 
cessful execution, the plan may now appear per- 
fectly simple and easy, it in truth represented 
at the time the result of anxious thought, a 
courageous faith, and the exercise of sound 
judgment. Gold, at that period, it should be 

*The public debt, 1 March, 1869, was »2,525,463,260.01, a reduction of 
about 1180,000,000 from the highest point it had ever reached. 

t So-called because redeemable at the pleasure of the United States 
after five years, and payable twenty years from date. They were first issued 
in 1862 ; and they bore six per cent, interest, payable semi-annually. 


remembered, still commanded a premium; and 
there were many who insisted that resumption of 
specie paj'ments could not be accomplished, and 
that it was only a delusion to believe that the 
war debt of the United States would ever be 

Now that the policy of tlie government had 
taken shape, it remained for the Secretary of the 
Treasury to accomplish the business of disposing 
of the new five per cents. This was a task of no 
little magnitude. The previous season, owing to 
the Franco-Prussian war, was unfavorable for 
placing a loan of the United States abroad ; and 
that branch of the work had to be temporarily 
deferred. Meanwhile, at the request of the Sec- 
retary, the amount of the five per cents had 
been increased by Congress from $200,000,000 
to $500,000,000, and a discretion had been con- 
ferred upon him to make the interest payable 
quarter-yearly. The assistant secretary entered 
zealously into the spirit of the enterprise. He 
was active in letter writing and in personal con- 
ference with leading bankers and capitalists, 
where he displayed a thorough knowledge of the 
needs of the government, and of the capacity of 
private individuals, firms and corporations to take 
the loan, and .showed likewise a keen insight into 
the practical workings of the money market. As 
illustrating with what clearness of vision he sur- 


veyed the situation, the following extract may be 

cited, from a letter of his to the Secretary of the 

Treasury, 17 March, 1871, reporting the result of 

an interview on that day in New York city with 

certain prominent bankers : 

I can see the reason they want me here, which I did not 
understand at first. They are all deeply engaged in other 
matters ; they can not be got together unless it is to meet some- 
body ; and when they do get together they are all in a hurry 
to get away, and all talk at the same time, and they want 
some one to bring order out of the chaos of their discussions 
and to sum up the general conclusions, which I have done as 
well as I am able. As you take up the matter where I leave 
off I trust you will not think their conclusions were reached 
at once and were discussed afterwards. I think it is a decided 
advantage that you can consider these propositions from an 
entirely different standpoint from that of the parties who 
discussed them, and from that of myself who heard them 

The Secretary had caused public announcement 
to be made in February, 1871, that on the 6th 
of March following books would be opened in this 
country and in Europe for subscriptions, the first 
preference being given to subscribers for the five 
per cents. By the first of August nearly sixty -six 
millions had been taken, chiefly by the national 
banks, leaving one hundred and thirty-four mil- 
lions to be disposed of in Europe, with such 
added subscriptions at home as might reasonably 
be counted upon at that advanced stage of the 

The banking house of Jay Cooke & Compan}'-, 


confident of their ability to place the loan, had 
undertaken to obtain subscriptions for this large 
amount, the bonds to be delivered on the first day 
of December, 1871. The house was not however 
an agent of the government under any specified 
authority. Upon making subscriptions each sub- 
scriber was to pay down five per cent, on the sum, 
which amount was to be applied to the payment 
of the principal of the bonds when the same were 
delivered; if the subscriber was disinclined to take 
the bonds, the five per cent, became forfeited to 
the banking firm. 

At that season, it should be understood, the 
house of Jay Cooke & Company was a strong one, 
full of resources. Their energy practically brought 
about the result at which they had aimed, namely, 
a disposition of the whole of the remaining amount 
of the five per cents, almost all of which was 
placed abroad. The new bonds had to be shipped 
to London, and could be delivered to Jay Cooke 
& Company there upon payment by them in gold, 
or by delivery of an equal amount of five-twenties, 
both sets of bonds being reckoned at their respec- 
tive par values. 

The tremendous responsibility of handling 
these new bonds rested upon Secretary Boutwell. 
Of course, he had to trust somebody with their 
actual custody and delivery in a foreign country. 
The one man whom he knew that he could rely 


upon to discharge efficiently this duty was close 
at hand. He selected the assistant secretary, 
though a temporar}' absence of that officer from 
his post would be severely felt at the Treasury. 

Another duty not less grave, and one that re- 
quired for its successful performance much tact 
and delicacy, was to examine the ground, both in 
England and upon the continent, with reference 
to negotiating a similar loan at four and a-half 
per cent. It is no exaggeration to sa}"- that for 
this office, at the period named, no one of a fit- 
ness superior to Judge Richardson could have 
been suggested. 

Plans were concluded for the safe transporta- 
tion to London of the new securities, and for the 
redemption thereby of the five-twenties for which 
a call had been issued. A clerical force having 
been specially selected and arrangements com- 
pleted for their transportation, Assistant Secre- 
tary Richardson, accompanied by Mr. J. P. Bige- 
low, chief of the loan division, sailed from New 
York on the 14th of June. They went directly 
through to London. 

Upon arrival, the assistant secretary lost no 
time in securing proper quarters. His object 
was to occupy rooms in close proximity to the 
banks, and yet wholly apart from any banking- 
house. Quarters were finally obtained at 41 Lom- 
bard street, in the City, a locality that may be 


described as tlie actual financial centre of the world. 
Here the clerks, provided with ledgers and other 
conveniences for keeping accounts and carrying 
on, under proper checks, the business of issuing 
bonds, and buying and cancelling bonds that had 
been redeemed, were ready to work out the de- 
tails of the important transaction for which they 
had been brought across the w^ater. It was to all 
intents and purposes a branch of the Treasury of 
the United States, opened at London. 

The new^ bonds were in condition for shipment, 
and were sent from the Treasury on the first of 
September. Three clerks, in whom the depart- 
ment imposed a more than usual confidence, were 
given charge of a safe containing the bonds, whose 
value ran up into the millions. These men were 
armed. Not for one moment from the time the 
safe left the Treasury building in Washington 
(except while in the " strong room " of a Cunard 
steamer) until it was delivered to Assistant Sec- 
retary Richardson in person, at the branch office 
in London was the precious object out of the 
sight of at least two of these government officials. 
Similar precautions w^ere observed in shipping 
home the bonds which were received in exchange: 
and in fact w^henever it became necessary to take 
securities across the ocean. 

The Treasury Department could know only in 
a general way how large was the volume of the 


coupon bonds of the United States held in Europe. 
What amount was owned in England, what in 
Germany and what in Holland, it was impossible 
to determine. Besides, it was not easy to get 
word to holders that their bonds had been called, 
and it resulted that while a very large proportion 
quickly reached London for redemption, much 
remained outstanding. On 17 September, 1S71, 
the assistant secretary of the Treasury had in his 
possession at London $30,000,000 of the new five 
per cent, bonds. 

His first action was to sell outright a portion 
of them, for which he received gold. This gold 
he placed on deposit in the Bank of England,* 
and with it he was ready to pay such holders of 
5-20's as preferred to receive in exchange money 
rather than new bonds. The amount called was 
$100,000,000, and interest ceased 1 December, 
1871. From a report of the Secretary of the 
Treasury of that date we learn that the depart- 
ment had in its possession 1 December, 1871, 
more than $80,000,000 of the bonds. Of these, 
$17,000,000 had been paid in coin, while the 

* Not a little difficulty was experienced by him in arranging this de- 
posit so as to conform to the rules of the Bank of England, and at the 
same time render it possible for him to draw out the money upon his own 
check. The solution of this problem will be found described in a report 
from Assistant Secretary Richardson to Secretary Boutwell, which is 
printed in the Appendix, pos<. At one time there was on the books of the 
Bank standing to the credit of the assistant secretary more money than 
had ever been on deposit to the credit of any one man since the Bank 
was created. 


remainder had been received on deposit in ex- 
change for five per cents. 

The business once set in operation went on 
with a considerable degree of regularity. The 
clerks worked willingly, sometimes far beyond 
the usual office hours. The supply of bonds for 
redemption, as already intimated, varied in 
amount so that at some seasons the work to be 
accomplished was greater than at others. 

The mission entrusted to Assistant Secretary 
Richardson, as we have seen, was such as to test 
his ability not only as an executive officer, but as 
a diplomat, so to speak, in finance. To distribute 
by safe and expeditious process an enormous 
amount of public securities already bespoken, 
constitutes in itself a work that few men are 
qualified to prosecute. But to go further, and 
while engrossed in this work to watch closely the 
field of European finance, with a view of placing 
most advantageously another loan at a lower rate 
of interest ; to measure the capacities, and to over- 
come the prejudices of the great bankers of Eng- 
land and of the Continent, — this indeed was to tax 
the powers of the most astute and experienced 
leader in public financial affairs. Herein Judge 
Richardson displayed talent of a rare order. At 
each step he proved himself alert, keenly observant, 
and to a remarkable degree sagacious. 

He appears to have sought from the beginning 


by all available means to enlarge the circle of 
persons abroad who were really influential, and 
whom it was desirable to acquaint with the 
nature of our securities. His methods were far- 
sighted. He labored to inculcate a belief in the 
stability of our government, and in the certainty 
that our indebtedness would be paid dollar for 
dollar. Above all he kept steadily in view the 
fact that, with credit improving, we could borrow 
at a lower rate of interest. He contrived to meet 
in person and talk with the heads of the great 
banking houses. At these interviews, his atti- 
tude was that of a man having something to sell, 
which the prospective customer wanted to get as 
cheaply as possible. It was a prime requisite 
that the official representing the United States 
should be able to feel sure of his ground, by 
reason of his complete apprehension of the 
financial situation. So far as one may ascertain, 
from papers, official and otherwise, bearing upon 
the subject, this requirement was amply met. 

The reader ought to be reminded that although 
the United States, from the day that the war 
closed, had caused it to be made known that 
their obligations would be paid dollar for dollar, 
and had in proof of good faith gone on diminish- 
ing the amount of the indebtedness, still so vast 
was the total that the credit abroad of the 
government, while in the main good, was by 


some banking firms held under suspicion. The 
financial editor of the Times, for example, did not 
hesitate to inform the representative of the 
Treasury that, for his part, he did not consider 
as quite safe the loan of any country governed 
by universal suffrage. One of the great mone}^ 
kings, whose name if disclosed would be recog- 
nized the world over, though proffering social 
advances, and treating the assistant secretary 
with all proper respect, could scarcely conceal 
from him a profound sense of hostility to the 
loan. Not only this, the members of his banking- 
house were actually discouraging investors from 
purchasing our new bonds. The house, it seems, 
was then devoting much attention to the French 
loan, and Judge Richardson was favored with 
the remark, "Of course, everybody would prefer 
a French bond to an American one at the same 

Nor had the treaty of Washington, with its 
avowed purpose of healing enmities between 
England and America and of bringing the two 
countries into closer accord, the effect in the 
slightest to render our securities popular among 
the banks and the investors of London. One 
reason why mone}^ lenders in England were not 
disposed to look with favor upon large purchases 
of United States securities was because of the 
great losses suffered by many who, eager for large 


dividends, had invested in the Erie raih'oad. 
This corporation, it will be remembered, through 
the management of Fisk and Gould, had brought 
into public notice abroad the uncertainty, to say 
the least, of investments in an American bonded 
debt. Government bonds of the United States 
suffered because Englishmen had lost money 
which they had put into the securities of a 
private American corporation. 

These facts are laid before the reader in order 
that he may possess a proper sense of the obstacles 
with which Judge Richardson had to contend. 
After having exchanged views with the represen- 
tatives of the great houses in London, he visited, 
on a like errand, Amsterdam, Frankfort-on-the- 
Main, Hamburg, and Paris. At each of these 
cities, in his capacity as representative of the 
Government of the United States, he met the 
leading men who controlled financial operations, 
and talked with them in explanation of what 
the United States expected to accomplish. He 
appears to have acquired a wholesome respect 
for Dutch bankers, esteeming their capacities as 
much in advance of those of the heads of the 
great banking houses in London. He frequently 
dined out, and was the recipient of numerous 
social attentions, quietly taking the measure 
all the while of the men whom he met, and 
their power to control large sums of money. Of 


one of these bankers, for instance, he remarks, "I 
was with him a good deal, dined with him, and 
talked much about our bonds and investments 
generally. Socially, I liked him very much, but 
financially, I found him of no account whatever." 

Then, too, he noted and made due allowance 
for the inevitable jealousies and heated rivalry 
that his presence in Europe upon such a mission 
could not but engender. To add to his respon- 
sibilities, there were one or two Americans, of 
foreign birth, with whom he had to deal, indi- 
viduals who affected to know precisely how fund- 
ing operations should be carried on, and who 
were free in their criticism of the policy of the 
administration. These men took pains to have 
it understood that they were foreign correspond- 
ents of influential journals in the United States. 
In what Judge Richardson said, and still more 
in what he omitted to say, to all such persons, it 
is known that he acted with admirable tact and 

His reports, both official and private, to the 
Secretary of the Treasury show that he was 
easily master of the situation. He counted upon 
returning home, where he much wished to be ; 
but there was more for him to do, and conse- 
quently his return was, with his cheerful assent, 
postponed until spring. He speaks of meeting 
persons of character and standing almost daily 


who desired to talk with him in relation to our 
national debt, the new loan and the resources of 
the country, as well as the policy of the admin- 
istration. To all who soupfht it he could furnish 
information, in full detail, better perhaps tlian 
any other man who might have been sent abroad. 
He says : 

I am sowing the seeds, the fruits of which to some small 
extent are seen and will continue to be seen more and more 
In the increased popularity of our new loan, at reduced rates 
of interest, among the investors of England. 

The governor of the Bank of England, for ex- 
ample, after expressing the greatest admiration 
for the policy of the United States, in regularly 
and largely reducing the national debt, admitted 
to the assistant secretary that — 

Until lately he had always thought that the debt could 
not be reduced, but it had been shown that the resources of 
the country were so enormous, and the determination of the 
nation to pay the debt so fixed and settled, we should now be 
able to borrow money at four per cent. 

In acquainting the Secretary of the Treasury 
with the circumstances of this interview, the judge 
adds shrewdly : 

I can not help believing that the fact of your having some 
three millions pounds sterling here in London, for which the 
government appears to have no immediate use, has con- 
tributed no little in the mind of the governor and the directors 
of the Bank of England, and others who know it, to strengthen 
the credit of the United States in this great metropolis. 

We pass over the details of his stay to mention 
one occurrence of striking import. There are 
many now living who can recall vividly the 
intense excitement that seized upon the English 
press and people over the prospect of "the indi- 
rect claims" for the depredations of the Confed- 
erate cruisers being made the subject of action 
by the tribunal at Geneva, under the treaty of 
Washington. Perhaps no single event in recent 
British political history, of interest to Americans, 
is more striking than the suddenness and depth 
of the popular feeling in England which threat- 
ened to wreck the treaty and postpone the settle- 
ment of the Alabama claims. 

Judge Richardson went through this tempest 
with calmness and with a perfectly clear vision. 
He did not in the least degree misconceive the 
impression made upon the English people of all 
classes of society, or exaggerate its importance. 
Writing in February, 1872, he says : 

It is astonishing what a scare this case has made in 
England. People are fearfully alarmed lest there should be 
war. All hopes of any further negotiations of the funded 
loan until this scare is over must be abandoned, but it 
enables me to buy old bonds. I have bought largely for 
delivery by the middle of February, and I think by the 
middle of March, if not sooner, I shall have invested all the 
money I shall have received. The last million of bonds sent 
over will not be sold unless there is a great change in public 


One of the first results of the fright at the 
spectre of the indirect claims was, as the judge 
remarks, to send down, in the London market, 
the price of our bonds. It would be interesting 
to know, if some genius at figures were to work 
out the problem, how much was saved to the 
United States Treasury by this depreciation for 
the time being in our securities. 

Assistant Secretary Richardson did not return 
home until early in the spring of 1872, reaching 
New York in the "China" of the Cunard line, 
and bringing home the books and official 
records. The last instalment of $12,000,000 of 
retired bonds arrived in New York about the 
same time by another steamer. The system 
which he had established was continued; and 
the way once opened the work was kept up with 
more or less fluctuation, according to the course 
of events, tending to advance or depress the 
market price at London of the securities of the 
United States. 

An interesting outcome of the successful plac- 
ing of this loan was the complete change of tone 
that ensued on the part of English bankers. 
The very individuals who had expressed in such 
positive terms their conviction of the precarious 
nature of the securities of the United States were 
now entertaining an entirely different opinion. 
An animated demand for the bonds began to 

spring up in every direction. TJie power and 
the perfect good faith of the United States had 
been most satisfactorily demonstrated. No small 
share in this success may, with propriety, be 
credited, and indeed ought to be credited, to 
the faithful services of the quiet, modest repre- 
sentative of the Treasury, whom Secretary Bout- 
well had sent abroad. From that time onward 
no difficulty whatever has been experienced in 
Europe in disposing of any portion of our public 

Immediately after arriving at Washington, he 
resigned his probate judgeship, thus settling for 
the time being at least, the question of his stay 
at the Capital. In a letter 11 April, 1872, to the 
governor of Massachusetts (Washburn), he says : 

With great attachment for the county of my birth, and the 
people among whom I have always lived, my own preference 
has been and still is, to remain in the position in Massachu- 
setts which I have held so many years ; but on returning to 
Washington at this time, I have been induced, contrary to my 
own inclination, to continue for some time longer as assistant 
secretary of the Treasury; and now, having decided upon 
that course, I prefer to forward to you my resignation. 

The retention of a judicial office during so 
long a period of absence from the State was, to 
say the least, somewhat out of the usual course. 
It is however readily explained. When dis- 
patched abroad he had been given to understand 
that his labors would be required there for a 


brief season only. He looked forward to a speedy 
accomplishment of the object of the mission, and 
a return to his home at Cambridge, where offi- 
cial labors were so much to his taste. But upon 
his reaching Washington, he was persuaded that 
the familiarity he had now acquired of the work- 
ings of the Treasury Department, and the invalu- 
able experience gained by his stay in Europe 
combined to make it his plain duty to remain at 
the post of assistant secretary. 

In the campaign of 1872, the Republicans 
stood as a unit in their determination to nomi- 
nate President Grant for a second term. The}'' 
selected as candidate for vice-president, Henry 
Wilson, at that time senator from Massachusetts. 
The election of Grant and Wilson by an unpre- 
cedented majority showed how strong was the 
hold of the Republican party uj)on the country, 
and how great was the confidence of the people 
in the integrity and wisdom of General Grant. 
Soon after the election it became apj^arent that 
Massachusetts would send Secretary Boutwell 
to the Senate for Wilson's unexpired term. 
Knowledge of this purpose evoked a curiosity 
more than usually active as to who should suc- 
ceed to the Treasury. Those who liad closely 
watched the current of events, and who knew 
how firm was the President in his friendships, 
had no great difficulty in determining for them- 


selves who was the man that he had in mind. 
It was a well-known trait of General Grant, 
exhibited both in his military and civil career, 
that he attached himself warmly to his intimates, 
and that he stood by a friend with admirable con- 
stanc3^ Already the President had come to know 
and highly esteem Assistant Secretary Richardson. 
The names of Governor Morgan and of Messrs. 
Cisco and Clews, were brought forward by the 
press of New York city as those of whom one 
was likely to receive the appointment. It is 
doubtful, however, whether the President ever 
conceived the idea of appointing any other per- 
son than Richardson, who was in fact appointed 
17 March, 1873.* 

Many bankers, capitalists and business men of 
New York city were very urgent in their com- 
mendation of one or more of the gentlemen 
named, for the reason that what had come to be 
known as the "Boutwell policy" was not entirely 
to their liking. There existed more or less dis- 
trust of the secretary, on the ground that he 
took too lax a view of the power of the Pres- 
ident to issue treasury notes up to the limit of 
$^.0,000,000. While it was wholly without 
foundation, there was yet a belief that Secretary 

*The Cabinet consisted as follows : 

Hamilton Fish, Stale; William W. Belknap, War; William A. Rich- 
ardson, Treasury; George M. Robeson, Navy; John J. Creswell, Post Office; 
Columbus Delano, Interior ; George H. Williams, Attorney General. 


Boutwell, and tliose who thought with him, were 
too partial to paper money. Such a feeling 
could but add to the insistence with which the 
names of New York candidates were brought 
forward and urged upon the President. 

We have just seen how reluctant was the sub- 
ject of til is sketch to lay down judicial office, 
and apply himself to national administrative 
work. The same considerations of duty that 
determined him to forego his own choice and 
remain at Washington, were not without their 
force when the question of promotion to be Sec- 
retary of the Treasury presented itself. That the 
honor and the prestige of the high office carried 
great weight with Judge Richardson, it is idle to 
deny. Nor should it be intimated that the offer 
of a seat in the cabinet found him other tlian 
willing to accept the distinction. It deserves to be 
said, however, that the place was not sought by 
him, nor was it taken as a reward of ambition. 

President Grant liked Secretary Richardson ; 
and the appointment brought with it the mingled 
pleasure of a promotion for public service well 
rendered, and a token of personal friendship and 
esteem. The condition of the public finances at 
this particular time must have gone far to influ- 
ence the new secretary in his decision to remain 
at Washington. At a later day, speaking of the 
period of his accession to the Treasury, he char- 


acterized the situation as being " the worst time 
in the worst condition of things that ever existed 
under any secretary." 

He had been identified, as we have seen' with 
the successful conduct of funding operations 
abroad; and as these were to be continued, he 
must to some extent have felt an obligation 
(when so invited) to remain at the side of the 
President until that great work had been carried 
nearer to completion. Again, it is to be observed 
that Judge Richardson had some prescience of the 
financial trouble that lay ahead, a consciousness 
that appealed to him to stand b}' the President, 
and vindicate the soundness of the plans which 
Secretar}'- Boutwell with the aid of his assistant 
secretar}'- had set in operation. In a letter to 
Boutwell, President Grant had said (and the 
country was glad to hear it) that with the 
new Secretary of the Treasury there would be 
" no departure " from the financial policy of 
his predecessor. Tiiere was a certain sense of 
relief in the assurance that a man of exper- 
ience and a close friend of Secretary Boutwell 
was to continue at the head of the Treasury. 
Still, it should be added that in certain quarters 
the promotion met with no little opposition and 
criticism. There were those who, while freely 
admitting that the assistant secretary had admir- 
ably done his part, were apprehensive that a 


like measure of success might not attend his 
elevation to a post, exacting in its many grave 
duties, and compelling him to take upon himself 
the entire responsibility. 

Much lias been written of the radical social 
changes wrought by the M^ar for the Union. 
Prominent among these changes, and one per- 
haps the most to be deplored, may be reckoned 
an increasing love of display, extending in some 
instances to a lavish and therefore vulgar 
expenditure of wealth. So far as such a 
tendency to deterioration in national character 
was to be attributed to the disturbing influence 
of the sudden acquisition of large fortunes in war 
times, it has no doubt, in fact, been checked by a 
return to peace, as well as by the good sense of 
the American people. A lingering effect of this 
false estimate of the uses of money was per- 
ceptible, however, at the Capital for many years 
after the war had closed. 

The assertion had come to be frequently made, 
and in some quarters acquiesced in, that a 
cabinet officer ought to spend the greater part of 
his salary in social entertainment. The amount 
of salary at present paid to a cabinet officer, it 
must be admitted, is none too large; in fact one 
may well doubt whether it be sufficient for a proper 
discharge of the duties of the position. At all 
events, it is very generally understood that a pub- 


lie man can ill afford to take a seat in tlie cabinet, 
without liaving at least a respectable income of 
his own bc3'ond what the salary yields. 

Secretary Richardson, though not wealthy, 
met in a generous spirit all the social obligations 
of his official rank and station. While not spe- 
cially fond of society, he did not fail to recognize the 
advantage to the administration of entertaining 
upon the scale that had become customary, and 
that in one sense the world had a right to expect. 
He took a large and handsome house on H street 
between Fourteenth and Fifteenth streets known 
as the " Kennedy house," and celebrated in years 
gone by for its scenes of hospitality. Here 
Mrs. Richardson and her daughter welcomed the 
visitor, and won for the secretary the reputation 
of possessing one of the most attractive homes in 

A commendable trait of him, the events of 
whose public life we are rapidly passing in re- 
view, was his modest and unaffected bearing in 
office, and his abstention from seeking popular 
applause. Of course Secretary Richardson had a 
desire to stand well in public esteem — what right- 
minded servant of the people has not? — but he 
spurned everything like notoriety, and did nothing 
consciously from a motive of attracting favorable 
attention. When he could, he preferred to do 
his work quietly and unobserved, letting the 


public learn that the work was accomplished as 
their first intimation that he had been engaged 
in doing it. 

An instance of his carrying through to success 
a highly important undertaking, and yet dispens- 
ing with any "flourisl] of trumpets" about it, is 
seen in the circumstances attending the method, 
originated and carried out by him, to effect the 
payment by Great Britain of the fifteen and a half 
millions of dollars in gold coin that she was obliged 
to pay by the terms of the award, in 1872, of the 
Geneva Tribunal. The j)lan was happily con_ 
ceived. The whole business was most creditable to 
the secretary, yet he treated it as a simple matter 
that came along in the routine of work, and said 
nothing about it until ten years later, when he 
was asked to write out a narrative of the transac- 
tion as an event of historic interest. 

The money, which would weigh twenty-eight 
and a half tons in coin, by the terms of the 
treaty had to be paid within a year from the 
third of September, 1872. Naturally the expecta- 
tion of moving so large a sum from London to 
New York caused anxiety among business men 
and bankers, lest a financial disturbance, created 
thereby, might seriously affect and disturb ex- 
change and business relations generally between 
this country and Europe. To effect a pay- 
ment quietly and almost without observation 


was a task peculiarly congenial to Secretary 
Richardson. He adopted and successfully i)ut 
into operation the following ingenious method of 
transferring this extraordinarily large sum without 
danger and without disturbing in the slightest 
degree the business interests of the two countries. 

As we are already aware, the Treasury Depart- 
ment at this period was engaged in the business 
of calling in for redemption the six per cent, 
bonds of the United States, and paying therefor 
with the proceeds of the sale of the five per cent, 
bonds of the funded loan under the act of July 
4, 1870. The agency instituted at London for 
this purpose had been in successful operation, 
and the work was being prosecuted without the 
least difficult}'' or disturbance. 

The Secretary of the Treasury availed himself 
of the existence of this office in London to effect 
the payment of the fifteen and a half millions in 
gold coin. He called on the 6th of June, 1873, 
for the redemption of twenty millions of 5-20 six 
per cent, bonds of the loan of 1862. But fifteen 
and a half millions of this were required, but 
experience had shown that a certain percentage 
of the amount called for did not respond, owing 
to the fact that holders lacking the information, 
or for some other reason, would defer action until 
long after the maturity of the call. 

Nearly all the coupon bonds of this loan of 


1862 were held in Europe, and could be pur- 
chased in the London market. Accompanying 
tlie issue of the call were instructions, which were 
forwarded to the Treasury agents in London, that 
if parties desired to deposit at the agency called 
bonds or matured coupons (practically the same 
as coin) to the credit of persons in the United 
States, to be applied in payment of money pay- 
able to the United States, on or after the time of 
the maturity of the call of that date, the agents 
might receive such bonds or coupons, telegraph- 
ing from time to time the amount and the names 
of the parties to whose credit they had been 
deposited. The agents were then to cancel and 
forward to the Treasury Department at Washing- 
ton, just as soon as possible, such bonds and cou- 
pons as they should receive. They were directed 
not to mingle in any way the account of these 
bonds and coupons with the receipt of those in 
connection with their funding operations. The 
amounts payable on account of such deposits were 
to be accounted for and settled by the Treasury 
of the United States at Washington. 

It will be seen that these specific instructions 
had in mind the receipt and cancellation of at 
least fifteen millions and a half of bonds, for the 
purpose of paying the Geneva award money. 

At the same time the parties who were under- 
stood to be employed by the British government 


to make this transfer, and the public likewise, 
were notified of these instructions. As early as 
June, therefore, certain parties began to buy 
called bonds and matured coupons, and turn 
them over to the United States Treasury agents 
in London. Before the date for the payment of 
the award, tliese parties had deposited in the 
Treasury of the United States, either directly or 
through the London agency, the whole fifteen 
and a half million dollars. They had taken 
coin certificates in different sums from time to 
time as they made the deposits, instead of draw- 
ing the coin from the Treasury in payment. 

All these certificates were returned and can- 
celled 9 September, 1873, and one coin certificate 
for the full amount of fifteen and a half million 
dollars was issued to the depositors and made 
payable to their order. They were Drexel, 
Morgan & Company, Morton, Bliss & Company, 
and Jay Cooke & Company. These bankers en- 
dorsed the certificate "to the joint order of H. 
B. M. Minister, or Chargc-d' Affaires at Washing- 
ton, and Acting Consul-General at New York." 
These officials, Sir Edward Thornton, then min- 
ister, and Mr. Archibald, consul-general, endorsed 
the certificate to the order of Hamilton Fish, Sec- 
retary of State. Mr. Fish added his endorsement, 
" Pay to the order of Honorable William A. Rich- 
ardson, Secretary of the Treasury." 

The Secretary of the Treasury, upon receiving 
this certificate, proceeded to carry out the provis- 
ions of the act of 3 March, 1873, providing that 
as soon as the money should be paid it should be 
used to redeem, as far as it might, the public 
debt ; for the amount of the debt so redeemed, 
the act said, should be invested in the five per 
cent, registered bonds of the United States, to be 
subject to the future disposition of Congress. 

Secretary Richardson, accordingly, issued to 
the Secretary of State one five per cent, registered 
bond of the funded loan, for fifteen millions and 
a half of dollars. Of course, there was no en- 
graved bond for that amount that could be used. 
In order, however, to carry out the purposes of 
the act in harmony with the issues of registered 
bonds generally, the Secretary had a special de- 
sign made of a bond, elegantly written, with suit- 
able ornamentation and border. It followed the 
system of numbering and was registered as Bond 
No. 1 of that denomination.* 

" Thus you see," says the chief justice, writing of this trans- 
action in 1882, " that the whole business was done ^ritliout the 
payment of actual coin into the Treasury. The bonds and 
coupons in Europe were bought up with money paid there, 
not by the United States Government, and together with 
those deposited here, were redeemed without the payment of 

* Credit for this fine piece of work is due to Edwin B. MaeGrotty, a 
clerk in tlie division of loans and currency, who ^vas an expert penman. 
Mr. MaeGrotty to-day (September, 1898) is in the division of book-keeping 
and warrants of the Treasury. 


money, but by the issue of coin certificatea, which were paid 
or redeemed in a bond of the funded loan. 

" The transaction was carried on so gradually, extending 
over a period of three months, that its effect upon exchange 
or business was too insigniiicant to attract notice of any kind, 
if indeed it had any effect whatever one way or the other." 

The panic of 1873 will long be remembered. 
Bankers and merchaiits one after another failed, 
and the business of the country received a shock 
from which it took years to recover. The crisis 
was inevitable. Corporations, firms and indi- 
viduals had gone heavily in debt. Speculation 
was at its height. Although securities of almost 
every description enjoyed a high nominal value, a 
protracted course of over-trading had brought 
business generally into a condition of imminent 
peril. The crash came. A season of fright 
ensued when all eyes were turned to the Presi- 
dent and the Secretary of the Treasury. Help 
was implored of them. Their response was 
just what it should have been — a calm, judicious 
announcement, based upon a strict adherence to 
law. The events of that momentous period, as 
may well be imagined, form a most striking 
chapter in the public experiences of Secretary 

On Thursday, 18 September, 1873, the banking 
house of Jay Cooke & Company, of Philadol})hia, 
which had become closely identified witli the 
Northern Pacific Railroad, suddenly suspended. 

Immediately the First National Bank of Wash- 
ington shut its doors, and other financial institu- 
tions intimately connected with Jay Cooke & 
Company, in various parts of the country, did 
the like. The news spread like wildfire, and 
universal disaster was threatened. In this emer- 
gency the weak and failing bankers and business 
men looked for aid to the Treasury of the United 
States. This was the place above all others where 
they never should have looked, for the Treasury 
had its full share of burdens to preserve the 
public credit in the general crash. But the sen- 
timent in New York city was very strong that 
somehow the government ought to come to the 
rescue. Many of the bankers there knew Presi- 
dent Grant personally, and some of them were 
his warm friends. 

The cry was that the Secretary should at once 
issue the reserve, and by this means ease the 
money market. At that time there was in the 
Treasury a reserve fund of forty-four millions 
of United States Treasury notes, or " greenbacks," 
as they were popularly called. The total amount 
that Congress had authorized to be issued was 
four hundred millions. The law had required the 
Secretary to retire this amount from circulation 
gradually. The j)rocess of retiring had been 
entered upon, when by a later act Congress had 
stopped it, leaving three hundred and fifty -six 


millions in circulation. The forty-four millions 
difference, received and cancelled at the Treasury, 
was the subject of an almost endless contention 
as to whether the Secretary of the Treasury 
had the authority under the law as it then 
stood to re-issue it or any part of it. Secretary 
Boutwell conceived that such power existed, and 
Judge Richardson was of a like opinion. The 
latter while assistant secretary had furnished 
Senator Conkling of New York with a paper set- 
ting forth, in clear and cogent terms, the argu- 
ment in favor of the power, under date of 21 
January, 1873.* 

The President, naturally sympathetic and 
warm-hearted, was inclined at first to grant what 
was besought of him by those whom he had 
been taught to regard as sound and far-seeing in 
matters of finance. At that particular time the 
President was taking a vacation at Long Branch, 
not far from New York city. The Secretary of 
the Treasury had remained at his post in Wash- 
ington. Meanwhile as tlie news of successive 
failures came over the wires, the excitement in- 
creased in volume, and more and more urgent 
grew the appeal for help from the public funds. 

The Secretary knew well enough that even if 
he had an undisputed power to issue at once the 

* A financial journal in New York city, tliat gave Secretary Richard- 
son advice as to the management of the Treasury, spoke of him as "the 
expositor of inflation." 


entire reserve, it would be only adding fuel to 
the flames, while crippling the Department, and 
bringing it to actual repudiation ; since a halt 
would have to be called after a while in paying 
the indebtedness of the government, as soon as 
the reserve should have been exhausted. The 
debts coming in for payment would inevitably 
exceed the revenue to be depended on for meet- 
ing the public obligations. 

We may pause here for a moment to view the 
condition of the national finances as respects the 
means at hand to sustain the public credit. 

When Secretary Richardson came into office 
(March, 1873,) the reserve of forty-four millions 
in greenbacks had been drawn upon to the extent 
of two millions, or more. The first thing he did 
was to "take in sail and strengthen the reserve."* 
By so doing, he had succeeded at the time the 
panic came upon the country in accumulating 
about fifteen millions of dollars. 

The situation abroad with reference to United 
States securities should also be borne in mind. 

* The reason for this precaution lay in the condition of our imports. 
For some yeara they had exceeded the value of our exports by several 
millions of dollars. Plainly the country was getting into debt, and to all 
debtors there must come a time of settlement and pajonent or a failure. 
One or the other, so reasoned the Secretary, is always inevitable. When 
the bureau of statistics had completed their tables for the year ending 30 
June, 1873, Judge Richardson took the figures to President Grant and 
pointed out to him the impending danger. He explained to the President 
the plan upon which he was acting in order to strengthen the Treasury 
by accumulations of money. As to this the President and Secretary were 
in entire accord. 


The Department, as we know, liad a force of clerks 
in London engaged in carrying on the business 
of buying and selling bonds. Had it been tele- 
graphed to London that the Treasur}-, unable to 
meet the ordinary obligations of the government, 
had stopped payment, there would have been a 
panic in London in United States bonds and the 
credit of the government would have suffered. 
It was due to the prudent management of the 
Secretary of the Treasury that there was not the 
least sign of excitement in London, and that our 
bonds maintained their former price, the credit of 
the government being in no wise impaired. 

It seems that the pressure was great on both 
sides of the question of issuing the reserve. On 
one side, the administration was beset not to issue 
any more greenbacks, and to stop payment if 
necessary. On the other side, there were frantic 
calls for the President and Secretary of the Treas- 
ury to put forth the whole reserve. Both of these 
demands, Secretary Richardson resisted, and was 
sustained therein by the President, though (it 
must be added) not without great efforts and 
much argument on the part of the Secretary of 
the Treasury.* 

♦The following incident illustrates the courage of Secretary Richard- 
son, and the good sense of General Grant. Upon one occasion the Presi- 
dent telegraphed the Secretary from Long Branch to issue a large quantity 
of the reserve, and buy bonds and give notes the next morning, he himself 
starting for Wa.shington that night. On arriving the next morning the 
President found that his Secretary had not obeyed the order. Going at 


On Saturday, 20 September, the President tel- 
egraphed to Secretary Richardson from Long 
Branch, to meet him tlie next morning in New 
York city at the Fifth Avenue Hotel. The Sec- 
retary himself, at the office of the telegraph com- 
pany in Washington, on Friday night at half 
past eleven o'clock, had written and sent a tele- 
gram to the sub-treasurer at New York, author- 
izing him to purchase $10,000,000 of bonds on 
Saturday. Arriving in New York early Sunday 
morning, the Secretary drove to the Fifth Avenue 
Hotel. Before taking breakfast, he went to the 
President's room and spent an hour with him, 
going over the situation, and pointing out the 
position of the department. 

He took the ground that the Treasury must be 
kept strong for the sake of its own credit, and so as 
to be able to afford relief to the country after the 
panic was over; that a decision must be had at 
what amount to limit the bond purchase ; that, 
with the concurrence of the President, he would 
limit the amount to $12,000,000, and stop there. 
Should all the banks suspend by agreement, then 

once to the White House, the Secretary explained the necessity of keeping 
the Treasury strong and out of the whirlpool. A few words sufficed to 
explain why the order had not been obeyed . The President expressed 
his entire satisfaction that the Secretary had acted as he did. 

Indeed, it may be said here that throughout his term of office Secretary 
Richardson enjoyed the fullest confidence of the President, who did noth- 
ing contrary to his advice. President Grant once said to Secretary Morrill, 
who at a later date had taken the Treasury, that he (the President) had 
never made a mistake when he had followed the advice of Secretary 


lie would at once stop purchasing. He assured 
the President that it was their duty at all hazards 
to keep the department out of the panic. He 
pointed out the condition of affairs in London, 
and the eflect upon our bonds should it become 
known there that the department was in any 
way unable to meet its obligations by reason of 
having expended its store of ready money. The 
reader must know that in 1873, the prospect of an 
ultimate payment of the national debt was not 
at all wliat it now is. There were very many 
persons, both in the United States and in Europe, 
who believed that in the end our bonds would 
not be paid. These and similar perils the Secre- 
tary pointed out to the President, who quickly 
grasped the situation. 

Arrangements had been made for the interview 
with the President on the part of the bankers and 
business men. Ten o'clock was fixed upon as the 
hour. They had come to the hotel in great num- 
bers. It was Sunday, but the hotel was crowded, 
and so were the streets in the neighborhood. A 
prominent republican senator, one of the foremost 
statesmen of the country, was there, as a guest 
of the hotel, and to judge from competent testi- 
mony he was the most frightened man on the 
premises. He seemed to be bewildered, and 
really knew not what to do. 

Reverdy Johnson was also present, consulted 


by the bankers, whom he furnished with a legal 
opinion, taking the curious ground that under 
the law, the President and Secretary had no 
power to issue the greenbacks, but that if he 
were in the President's place, he would feel it his 
duty to issue them ; and that in his opinion the 
country would sustain the President in so doing.* 

At the appointed liour, the President and the 
Secretary took their seats at a table in one of the 
large parlors, and the bankers, with others, came 
in. Among those present were Commodore Van- 
derbilt, Henry Clews, the Seligmans, George P. 
Opdyck^, Isaac H. Bailey, William Orton of the 
Western Union Telegraph Company, William L. 
Scott, Robert Lenox Kennedy, H. B. Claflin and 
Mr. Vail, of the Bank of Commerce. 

The excitementran high. Many speeches were 

* " The President without doubt is without legal power to issue any 
portion of the forty million reserve. He says as much as that himself: 
and on meeting me in the corridor asked my opinion about it. I told 
him there was no legal warranty, but if I were in his place and deemed 
that the exigency demanded such a measure, I would surely order it. 
This has become a national calamity. To-morrow, unless relief is given, 
all the city banks will suspend. The result would be a general suspen- 
sion throughout the country, and a prostration unequalled even by the 
catastrophe of 1857. The President coincided with me, and I am to write 
him a letter on this subject at five o'clock." Reported intervieiu wit/i Rev- 
erdy Johnaon—Neio York Tribune, 22 September, 1873. 

It also appears that he advised that the sub-Treasury law had been 
repealed, though it is not clear what use could be made of that fact. The 
bankruptcy law had attached to it a schedule of repealed acts and amongst 
them was the sub-Treasury act as well as other important acts. This was 
a mistake clearly arising from an intention to repeal some parts of that 
act, and had always so been regarded. From a memorandum o/ Chief Jus- 
tice Richardson. 


made, some of tlicm almost violent in tone, call- 
ing upon the President at once to issue the 
whole forty-four millions reserve. The speakers 
said if the panic were not stopped, we should see 
the worst mob in New York the next day that 
had ever been known in that city ; that already 
the streets were full of men, and in the morning 
the situation would be worse. 

It seemed to have occurred to no one to point 
out how the reserve could be issued, or to desig- 
nate the manner in which it could be put into 
circulation. The President sat perfectly calm. 
At last he said that anything to be submitted to 
him must be in writing, so that he could know 
exactly what they thought should be done. 

The result of the interview was that a com- 
mittee was formed, who retired for delibera- 
tion. An hour or two later, they had agreed to 
request that the Treasury Department would lend 
$20,000,000 to the banks, upon the receipt of 
clearing-house certificates, with a promise of more 
money, if necessary. This proposition was sub- 
mitted in a writing, signed by firms and indi- 
viduals, representing a large amount of money. 

As affording an insight into tiie purposes of this 
historic interview, it may be helpful to append 
the text of this application to President Grant. 
It bore date " New York, September 21st, 1872," 
and read as follows : 


The undersigned do respectfully represent to the President 
that, in the present situation of affairs, a fnumcial deadlock 
will inevitably occur to-inoirow unless relief be afforded by 
the government. 

They respectfully suggest that no measure of relief will be 
adequate that does not place at the service of the city banks, 
twenty millions in greenbacks. 

They respectfully petition the President to authorize the 
Assistant Treasurer to receive from the city banks, clearing 
house certificates, secured by ample collaterals and for which 
certificates all the city banks are jointly and severally j-espon- 
sible, and to issue to the banks in exchange therefor, green- 
backs to the extent if necessary of twenty millions on such 
terms as to issue and redemption as may be satisfactory to the 
Secretary of the Treasury. 

The undersigned deprecate any intention of soliciting a 
violation of the law. They believe that the above measure of 
relief is in strict accordance with the spirit of existing statutes 
and they are quite satisfied that it is indispensable to avert a 
crisis which would wreck the country to its centre. 

The undersigned are firmly persuaded that this action 
on the part of the government would restore confidence 

H. B. Claflin & Co. Peake, Opdycke & Co. 

Anthony & Hall. Fked Butterfield & Co. 


Whittkmore,Peet, PosT&Co. J. M. BuNDY, " Evening Mail.'' 
Payne, Goodwin & Co. Wm. L. Scott, Prest. 2 Nat., 

Geo. Cecil & Co., Logansport, Erie, Pa. ' 

Indiana. Goodwin & Co. 

D. & A. KiNGSLAND & Sutton. A. Boody, Prest. 

Geo. W. Perkins, Cashier. 

Harper & Bros., Franklin Square. S. L. B. 

Fifty additional firms of the highest standing in the mer- 
cantile community were here and agreed to sign this i)aper, 
but so much delay was made in preparation that they have 
dispersed. Petitions have been sent to them to sign and ten 
thousand names can easily be obtained for signature. 


Of course, as every one now perceives, there 
could have been but one reply given to such a 
request. The President could act only within the 
law; and there was absolutely no law that by 
any stretch of construction could be held to have 
converted the Treasury Department into a loan 
institution.* Such was the answer. 

Several years after this occurrence the chief 
justice wrote out, somewhat hurriedly, a few notes 
of what had taken place, meaning to revise them 
at his leisure; but that leisure seems never to 
have arrived. These notes have been freely used 
by the present writer. What follows, however, 
is ex-Secretary Richardson's own language. The 
incident related has never before been made pub- 

* Secretary Fish, ivriting from his country place, Garrison's, Putnam 
County, New York, under date of 22 September, 1873, to Secretary 
Richardson, says : 

" I congratulate you, for I believe that the decision of Sunday will 
prove a step in the resumption of specie payments, which, I think, should 
be the object and the great financial feature of General Grant's second 
term, as the reduction of the debt was of the first. * * * I hope that it 
may be your lot to accomplish the restoration in value of the promises of 
the governmeut with gold. You have a nation's thanks." 

Writing to him again, on the 26th of the same month, Mr. Fish 
remarks : 

" * * * I assure you that nothing that the President has ever done 
seems to give more satisfaction than the decision which you and he 
reached on Sunday last. I hear from everj-one, except those interested 
in speculative stocks or bonds, one universal approval of the ' heroic 
action of the President and Secretary of the Treasury,' and but one 
expression of hope that you will adhere to the policy of non-expansion. 
It may be a severe remedy, but severe cases require severe remedies. 
* * * I agree with Henry Wilson in urging you to stand like a rock. 

" Hoping to see you on Tuesday and in the meantime ready to do what 
I can to aid and sustain your act, I am, very faithfully yours." 


lie; and it therefore seems allowable to print 
the roughly drafted outline as it stands. 

Before their departure, the leading speakers had urged that 
the President and Secretary should go into Wall street the 
next morning, and be at the ofhce of the Sub-Treasury, ready 
to do whatever v.'as necessary. They stated that we should 
find the street crowded and the excitement intense. To this 
the President at once assented, without much consideration, 
but desiring to do all that was possible for the unfortunate 
men who were involved in the impending ruin. We had 
agreed to dine that evening at the Union Club where a lai-ge 
number of gentlemen were to be assembled. 

When the room was cleared, I locked the door to keep out 
intruders, and with President Grant all alone, I said to him, 
substantially : 

" I\Ir. President, the first thing now for us to determine is 
where we shall be to-morrow." 

" Oh," said he, " I agreed that we would be at the Sub- 
Treasury in Wall street to-morrow to take such action as 
might seem necessary." 

To this I replied — " That is just the place where we ought 
not to be, according to my view. The District of Columbia is 
made by the Constitution the seat of government, and the 
statute provides that all oflices attached to the seat of govern- 
ment shall be exercised in the District of Columbia. In times 
of local excitement there is the place for public oflicers to be, 
away from the influence of frenzied people, and out of the 
reach of the mob. 

" This panic was not brought on by anything done by the 
officers of the government, and nothing they can do Avill stop 
it. The merchants and business men of New York have 
caused the whole trouble ; they have speculated, got over- 
whelmingly in debt, and are in deep water to which there is 
no bottom for them. The banks have all been encouraging 
them in their wild career and the bubble has burst. The 
banks have gotten them into this difficulty, for without the 


banks they could not have borrowed much money, and the 
banks alone can furnish the only relief to be attained. This 
is a case for action on the part of the banks and must be left 
to them to take care of. 

"All we can do is to preserve the credit of the government 
by keeping its finances out of the panic. This can be justi- 
fied before the people, and no other course ever can be. 
Besides, while the country everywhere is affected somewhat 
by this panic, there is no excitement except here in New 
York. The people of the West and elsewhere are calm and 
collected, and are looking to this city for every kind of 
demonstration. If there is to be a mob, here it will be, and 
the President and Secretary of the Treasury should be as far 
away from it as possible. 

" What will the people outside of New York think and say 

'if it be reported in newspapers to-morrow that the President 

and Secretary of the Treasury are in the midst of the mob in 

Wall street, at the Sub-Treasury, watching and awaiting 


" Moreover, just as long as these men look to the United 
States Treasury for help, just so long they will do nothing to 
help themselves. They will hope and expect the Treasury 
to do everything for them, and it can do nothing whatever. 
The very fact of your being in Wall street will attract the 
crowd, and add to the chances of a mob ; and the rest of the 
country will behold with amazement that the President and 
Secretary of the Treasury, have left Washington and have, as 
they will think, joined hands with the money power of Wall 
street, of which the people are all jealous. 

" My opinion is that our place in a condition like this is 
in Washington, aloof from excitement and where we can take 
a broader and cooler view of the situation. That is the place 
which the wise framers of the Constitution intended should 
be the quiet abiding place of public officers in times of local 
troubles ; and if the public find we are there, they will feel 
great confidence and entire safety in the situation. If we are 
on Wall street, they will be filled with apprehension and fear 


at what may happen. In my opinion we ought to go to 
Washington to-night and keep away from Wall street and 
this excitement." 

The President was convinced and agreed at once to my 

I unlocked the door, the President called Babcock (his 
private secretary) and told him the change in program that 
we had agreed upon, but charged him not to tell of it until 
after the great dinner that evening. Finally it was arranged 
that Babcock should have carriages at the Union Club house, 
and the President and I should slip out from the dinner 
separately, so as not to be observed and go directly to Wash- 
ington. This plan was carried out, and the next morning we 
were at our posts at the seat of government. 

Before the morning papers went to press our movements 
were known, and our whereabouts was announced in the 
first edition, and all New York knew in the early morning 
where we were. The result was that there was no further 
excitement, AVall street was as quiet as Sunday and no crowds 
filled the streets anywhere. The Tribune announced in large 
letters, " The panic over," and President Grant returned to 
Long Branch. 

No intelligent student of our political history 
will now be found to question the wisdom of the 
Secretary's advice. Of the good sense exhibited 
by General Grant it may be said that it is pre- 
cisely what would have been expected of him in 
the circumstances. 

The firm stand taken by tlie President and 
his Secretary worked an immediate result. The 
banks, finding that the government declined to 
identify itself with the panic, and resort to strange 
and unheard of measures in an effort to restore 


confidence, took the only practical course open 
to them. They issued clearing-house certificates, 
and so contrihuted largely to allay excitement, 
and bring around again a normal state of the 
money market. While the panic was not entirely 
over, for it was temporarily renewed, the Treasury 
Department kept at its legitimate business and 
bought such bonds as were offered — the only 
lawful method of taking money from its vaults 
and putting it into circulation. 

On 24 September, the Secretary at Washington 
telegraphed to the President at Long Branch as 
follows : 

If the panic contimies unabated to-day, we must decide 
at what amount to limit bond purchase?. The Treasury must 
be kept strong for tbe sake of its own credit, and to afford 
relief to the country after the panic is over. If you concur, 
I would limit the amount to about twelve millions and stop 
there ; and if all the banks suspend by agreement, I M'ould 
stop at once. I don't think it is well to undertake to furnish 
from the Treasury all the money that frenzied people may 
call for. 

As might be expected. President Grant ap- 
proved of this sensible view ; and Secretary 
Richardson pursued calmly his accustomed path, 
and thus "kept tlie Treasury Department out of 
the panic." 

The requests, amounting almost to importu- 
nities upon the Secretary, to do something out of 
the usual course, with a view to relieving the 


strain upon the money market, were however 
kept up, notwithstanding the plain language of 
the reply already given. The president of the 
New York Produce Exchange, under date 30 
September, 1873, urged a plan divided into two 
heads : First, that currenc}^ be immediately issued 
to banks or bankers upon satisfactory evidence 
that gold had been placed upon special deposit in 
the Bank of England in London, upon the credit 
of their correspondent there, to be used wholly for 
the purchase of bills of exchange. Second, that 
the President of the United States and the Sec- 
retary of the Treasury are respectfully requested 
to order the immediate prepa3^ment of the out- 
standing loan of the United States, due January 
1, 1874. 

That such a proposition as the first request 
should be considered possible to be entertained 
by the President seems at this length of time 
strange indeed. A prompt answer was re- 
turned that to embark in such a scheme 
would involve the government in the business 
of importing and speculating in gold. It was 
entirely out of the question ; nor was it possible 
under the law to comply with the second request. 

Through all these trying hours the President, 
in a manner most creditable to him, upheld the 
hands of his Secretary of the Treasury, The 
country was fortunate in having these two men 


at the head of affairs, for had a mis-step been 
taken it is fearful to contemplate how disastrous 
a wreck would have been made of the credit of 
the government. As it was, the firm conduct of 
the administration added a chapter to our public 
financial history that can always be regarded 
with a just pride by the American people. 

The annual report to Congress of the Secretary 
of the Treasury 1 December, 1873, is a business- 
like document, that bears the impress of having 
been written by a practical man of aftairs. Each 
important topic in turn is treated with good sense, 
the facts clearly stated, and the course of admin- 
istration set forth in concise terms. Let any one 
to-day read this state paper with deliberation 
and he will be forward to acknowledge that the 
author approves himself equal to the discharge of 
the great trust committed to his keeping. There 
are exhibited here a broad and comprehensive 
grasp of public questions, sound reasoning and 
a conception of duty adequate to the situation. 
The report when critically examined distinctly 
enhances Secretary Richardson's reputation. 

While he was assistant secretary, it may be 
noted that Judge Richardson, busy as he was, 
found time to prepare and publish a book of 
special value to all persons interested in a busi- 
ness way in the public loan. It was entitled 
"Practical Information concerning the Public 


Debt of the United States, with the National 
Banking Laws for Banks, Bankers, Brokers, Bank 
Directors and Investors." Though professing to 
be nothing else than a compendium of the stat- 
utes upon the subject, it really contained not a 
little original matter in elucidation of the law. 
The volume made a timely appearance. Its chief 
excellence consisted in the arrangement of the 
various provisions of the statute law, and the 
means afforded, including an index, for speedy 
reference. It was designed to be a " handy book." 
Possibly its use by bankers in Europe was not 
left out of contemplation, the subject then (1872) 
being of extraordinary interest abroad as well as 
at home. A second edition of this useful publi- 
cation was issued in 1873, when the author had 
become Secretary of the Treasury. 

During his term of office at the head of the 
Treasury, Secretary Richardson received a flatter- 
ing offer to become a member of a great banking 
house in London. The offer, though tempting 
from a pecuniary point of view, he did not care 
to accept. An opportunity presenting itself, 
however, for his going upon the bench of a 
United States Court for life, he resigned tlie office 
of Secretary and was made a judge of the Court 
of Claims. His name for the new position went 
to the Senate on the same day with that of Ben- 
jamin H. Bristow, of Kentucky, as his successor 


in the Treasury. Both nominations were speedily 
confirmed by the Senate, 4 June, 1874. 

The Court of Claims, as its name indicates, is a 
tribunal in which claims against the United States 
may be submitted to the decision of judges. It 
was established by the act of Congress of 25 Feb- 
ruary, 1855, which provided for the appointment 
of three judges, to hold their offices during good 
behavior.* The jurisdiction of the court is con- 
fined to alleged obligations growing out of con- 
tracts. It does not deal with torts, except where 
Congress by special act refers a matter such, for 
example, as a collision in which a public vessel 
is charged as having been in fault, to the deter- 
mination of the court. 

The United States admits its liability to be 
sued, and prescribes how this shall be done. The 
Court of Claims has no jury, the court being- 
judges of the fact as well as of law. As originally 
designed, the tribunal amounted to little more 
than a special committee of Congress; for it was 
the duty of the court to report to Congress, at 
the commencement of each session, and at the 
commencement of each month of the session, all 
cases upon which they had finally acted, together 

* Judge Richardson contributed to the March, 1882, number of the 
Southern Law Review an interesting article describing the origin and 
growth of the court. This he expanded three years afterward into a 
pamphlet, entitled " History, Jurisdiction and Practice of the Court of 
Claims," a valuable piece of work, the source of much that the writer 
here presents, in relation to the subject. 


with the material facts and their opinion, with 
the reasons of the opinion. The court also was 
required to prepare a bill in cases which received 
their favorable decision. 

These requirements were the cause of so many 
delays that Congress later radically changed 
the organic act creating the court. By statute, 
3 March, 1863, two judges were added, and 
an appeal given to the Supreme Court of the 
United States. The judgments of the court were 
to be paid out of an}' appropriation made for the 
payment of private claims. This desirable change 
had the effect to add to the importance of the court; 
and since that period it has dealt with a volume 
of business that year by year exhibits a steady 

At the time Judge Richardson took his seat 
upon the bench, Charles D. Drake, of Missouri, 
was chief justice; and Edward G. Loring, of 
Massachusetts, Ebenezer Peck, of Illinois, and 
Charles C. Nott,* of New York, were the other 
members of the court. 

* During Richardson's occupancy of this bench his associates other 
than those named in the text have been J. C. Bancroft Davis, of New 
York (Harvard, 1840), 1877-1881 and 1882-1883 ; William H. Hunt, of Lou- 
isiana, 1878-1881 ; Glenni W. Schofield, of Pennsylvania, 1881-1891 ; Law- 
rence Weldon, of Illinois, 1883—; John Davis, of the District of Columbia, 
1885—; Stanton J. Peelle, 1S92— . 

Upon the death of Chief Justice Richardson, Judge Nott was nomi- 
nated and confirmed as chief justice of the court. The vacancy thus 
created in the number of judges was filled by the appointment of tlie 
Honorable Charles B. Howry, of Mississippi. 


The court sat in rooms at the Capitol. In 
1879, the space thus occupied being needed by 
Congress, the court was provided witli larger and 
more convenient rooms in the building known 
as the Department of Justice, opposite to tlje 
north front of the Treasury, where it has ever 
since held its sessions. 

From time to time Congress has committed to 
this tribunal certain subjects of controversy other 
than those falling within the strict language of 
the original act. One branch of jurisdiction, for 
example, involving a great many cases, and de- 
volving an immense amount of labor upon the 
judges, is that of the French Spoliation Claims. 
The bar of the court is composed for the most 
part of lawyers resident at Washington; but cases 
of importance bring from time to time prominent 
lawyers of other cities before the court as of coun- 
sel for claimants. 

A special assistant attorney general is charged 
with the duty of defending the United States in 
suits prosecuted in the Court of Claims. This 
official has assistants to aid him, who are also 
law officers of the government. While many 
cases involve questions of fact only, and others 
bring forward points of law of no general interest, 
it may be remarked that a great majority of the 
contested cases present features that are highly 
interesting, both in respect of the facts and the 


principles of law involved. Occasionally, a law 
question of very great importance comes on for 

A judge of this court, therefore, is not infre- 
quently called upon to exercise the best powers 
of his mind in solving legal problems. While 
its business in the main lacks somewhat of that 
variety in subject matter and principles of law 
which abounds in common law courts, it yet em- 
braces subjects of inquiry that are calculated to 
improve and strengthen the mind of the judges 
who deal with them. Sometimes a test case arises 
of novel impression, that is not only difficult of 
determination, but is highly important as govern- 
ing the disposition of very large sums of money. 

The new judge had reached fifty-two years of 
age when he took a seat upon the bench, destined 
to be for twenty-two years the scene of his con- 
tinuous labor, and of his most pronounced intel- 
lectual triumphs. Here was his true sphere of 
action. If there can ever be an instance where a 
man of conceded ability and of unlimited capacity 
for work has found at last, after a varied experi- 
ence, the one station exactly suited alike to his 
powers and his taste, surely the elevation of Judge 
Richardson to the bench of the Court of Claims 
furnishes that instance. The judicial gift that 
was his by nature he had made the most of in 
early manhood — and his strength undoubtedly 


lay in achievements of that character. With a 
mind developed by a course of training in na- 
tional executive duties, rich in practical results, 
not least of which is to be reckoned the widening 
influence of foreign travel, he now returned to 
the field illumined by " the gladsome light of 
jurisprudence." It was an accession that obvi- 
ously strengthened the court. 

To be sure the present tribunal differed alto- 
gether from that in which he had gained his 
Massachusetts experience ; but the points of dif- 
ference were very largely comprehended in a 
knowledge of the practical workings and traditions 
of that great department of the government of 
which he had made himself so complete a master. 
The new judge went diligently to work. With 
what facility and exactness he performed the duties 
of the position may be seen upon consulting the 
opinions of the court, delivered by him and 
printed in the reports, from the tenth to the thirty- 
fifth volume, inclusive. 

Engaged in congenial labors and blest with 
continued good health, the judge's prospect for the 
future was bright and unclouded. The sessions 
of the court were such as to permit a long ab- 
sence from Washington during the summer vaca- 
tion. Early in the season of 1875 the judge with 
Mrs. Richardson and tlieir daughter started to 
make a tour around the world. Wlien President 


Grant learned of the project he signified his at- 
tachment to his friend by sending him a letter of 
introduction, under his own hand, to our officials 
abroad, commending Judge Richardson and his 
family to their kind attentions. The journey was 
a delightful one. The party went through Japan, 
into China, returning by way of Saigon (in Cochin 
China), Singapore, Ceylon, Aden, the Red Sea, 
and so tlirough the Suez Canal and Egypt, and 
thence to more familiar points in Europe. The 
Judge hurried home to take up his duties at the 
court, leaving his wife and daughter at Paris, to 
pass the winter. 

Late in the year Mrs. Richardson was taken ill 
with what developed later into an incurable disease. 
She was tenderly cared for by her daughter, yet in 
spite of all that the best medical skill and nursing 
could do the malady proved fatal. Mrs. Richard- 
son died at Paris, 26 March, 1876. The young 
daughter bore up bravely, and alone made the 
voyage home with the remains of her dear mother. 

The force of the blow to the devoted husband 
may not be a subject of estimation here. One 
might almost pronounce it a cruel thing that she 
should have been taken away at a time when he 
could not reach her bedside for even a last look of 
recognition. The chapter of their union in hap- 
piness unalloyed was closed. The lonely survivor 
turned to his studies and to his dailv labor for 




companionship ; while the daughter took her phice 
at the head of the household. Not long afterward 
Miss Richardson became the Avife of Doctor Ma- 
gruder of the Navy, and the young couple lived 
with the Judge. To provide for their comfort, 
quite as much as for his own, he built a commo- 
dious house at the northeast corner of II and 
Seventeenth streets, — where he lived (and the 
Magruders with him) to the end of his life. 

In addition to his other occupations he accepted 
a professorship in the Law School of Georgetown 
College in 1879, and delivered law lectures there 
regularly until his resignation in the summer of 
1894, when the faculty of that institution by 
unanimous vote elected him emeritus professor. 
In announcing to him their action, under date of 
28 June, 1894, the faculty express their very 
deep and grateful sense of his " most valuable 
services as professor, extending over so long a 
period of years, almost indeed from the very in- 
ception of the school." The chair that he filled 
was that of statutory law and legal maxims. He 
was greatly liked by the students, for his lectures 
were practical, and delivered in a style capable 
of being readily understood. 

Between the months of April and September, 
1878, Judge Richardson expended his spare mo- 
ments in one of those incidental occupations of 
which he was so fond. With an industry that is 


truly marvelous, considering the nature of his 
other engagements, he prepared in this interval, 
ibr the second edition of the Revised Statutes of 
the United States, a complete index that took the 
shape of two hundred and thirty pages, closely 
printed in double columns. This engrossing- 
labor he was willing to enter upon for reasons dis- 
closed only since his death, which are interesting 
to the public and highly creditable to the two 
men chiefly concerned. 

His life-long friend, Governor Boutwell,it seems, 
had been appointed, under an act of Congress, 
2 March, 1877, a commissioner to prepare and 
publish a new edition of the first volume of the 
Revised Statutes, the first edition not having 
proved satisfactory. When the Governor had 
completed his labors, and had in hand the manu- 
script ready for the printer, Congress passed a 
supplementary act, approved 19 April, 1878, 
requiring the commissioner to revise and perfect 
the index to the new edition. This formidable 
task, so entirely distinct from the duties of an 
editor, the distinguished commissioner shrank 
from undertaking. He knew, however, that Judge 
Richardson could perform this work if any man 
could, and he accordingly betook himself to his 
friend for help. 

The Judge has left on record a statement of the 
circumstances in Avhich he found it his duty to 


come forward and take upon himself the burden 
of this great responsibility. He says : 

Governor Boutwell came to me and said that he had never 
done such work and did not feel hke undertaking it, and rather 
than do so he would resign, and would resign unless I would 
assist him. I told him that I would not assist, because an In- 
dex must generally be the work of one mind; that two men 
could not cut wood at the same time with one axe. The 
result was that he said I must make the Index and I agreed 
to do it. 

And I did make it, myself,— wrote out in manuscript every 
word and figure in the Index to the Second Edition of the 
Revi.'=cd Statutes of the United States. Boutwell wanted to 
state the fact in his preface, but I objected to his mentioning 
my name. Plowever he does make a nameless allusion to the 
fact. How well the work was done it must itself tell. 

To make it well required a thorough knowledge of the stat- 
utes themselves, which I had, for I had for several years an- 
notated my own copy. The trouble with the first Index was 
that the maker used unimportant words found in the text, or 
words which did not convey the whole idea— the substance, 
without regard to the subject matter. I adopted a different plan'. 
I used words which expressed the meaning and sense of the 
section, whether they were used in the text of the Revision 
or not ; as, for instance, under " Auditors " I included the 
Commissioner of the General Land Office, and under 
" Comptrollers " I included the Sixth Auditor (Comptroller 
for the Post Office) and the Commissioner of Customs (who is 
auditor only and nothing else, for the customs business, and 
should have been designated as Third Comptroller). And so 
on through the whole Index, I was governed by meaning 
rather than by words. Governor Boutwell read the proof 
with me. 

Of the execution of the work it is enough to 
say that the index remains a model of its kind. 


At the earliest moment when it was permitted to 
the survivor to break silence, he took occasion to 
make the facts public and gratefully accord to his 
departed friend the credit due to protracted and 
unselfish labor. After commending the plan 
adopted by Judge Richardson, and explaining to 
what extent his handiwork applied, Governor 
Boutwell feelingly adds, " The death of Judge 
Richardson gives me the only opportunity that 
was possible of placing the honor of the index, 
which must mean something with the profession, 
to the credit of his name and memory.* 

For a period of nearly eleven years Judge 
Richardson did his duty faithfully as a judge of 
the Court of Claims. Upon the retirement of 
Chief Justice Drake (who had reached his seventy- 
fourth year) President Arthur sent to the Senate 
the names of William A. Richardson to be chief 

* Appendix, post, p. xlviii. 

All the more praise is due to Judge Richardson for this achievcinciit, 
because he was perfectly well aware how little is the gain to a man's rep- 
utation from the faithful performance of work like this. Indeed, he has 
said of index-making that, " most persons would not regard it as exliibit- 
ing a high order of merit." A man who is an index-maker and nothing 
else may be said to aim low, even though he succeed in making an ad- 
nnrable piece of work. Where such labor is performed, however, out of 
friend.sliip, at intervals of time that by other men is made a period of 
leisure, its successful results awaken a gi-ateful sense of obligation, no less 
than unstinted admiration for the unselfish motive that accompanies 
it. In view of the superiority of Jiidge Richardson's work, and the 
pleasing circumstances in which it was executed, his modest unwilhng- 
ness, as now revealed, to be known as its author, affords us a phase of his 
character which his friends may justly admire. 


justice of tlie Court of Claims, and John Davis 
(tlien assistant secretary of state) to be a judge 
of the court.* The nominations, which were 
regarded with ahnost universal favor, were 
promptly confirmed, 20 January, 1885. The 
rules of the Senate were suspended that notice of 
the confirmation of the chief justice might be 
given immediately to the President and he was 
sworn in the next day, 21 January. 

Though the honor of a promotion had been 
fnirly earned, the new chief justice seems to have 
determined by his administration of the office to 
demonstrate that no mistake had been commit- 
ted in entrusting added responsibilities to his 
hands. He knew perfectly the opportunities of 
the position, and he set about to improve them 
to the utmost. In this praiseworthy endeavor he 
met, it is no exaggeration to sa}'^, with complete 
and enduring success. 

In a presiding justice, personal qualities count 
far more than in an associate member of a bench. 
The chief justice is the executive of the court. 

*The conjunction of the names of Drake and Da\'is serves to recall 
the following sli^jht incident : The writer had the pleasure of moving the 
admission of Mr. John Davis, then a young lawyer, to the bar of the 
Court of Claims. The court sat at that time in rooms at the Capitol. 
Chief Justice Drake looked through his glasses, and said with a grim 
smile ; "John Davis ! That is an honored name in this Capitol." The 
allusion was to " Honest John Davis," once a Senator from Massachusetts, 
the grandfather of his namesake,— the present accomplished and able 
iudge of the court. 


Business feels his touch instantly. It lags, or it goes 
speedily forward, according as he is wanting, or 
is well equipped in the qualities needful for the 
control of affairs. The chief is the spokesman of 
the court; the official medium of communication 
between bench and bar. Much — one is tempted 
to say all — depends upon his manners and breed- 
ing. If considerate and courteous, it is well ; if 
irritable and fussy, it is deplorably ill. 

Lawyers who practiced in the Court of Claims 
were of one mind as to the qualifications of Judge 
Richardson to succeed to the post of chief justice. 
They united in saying that he proved himself 
everything that a presiding justice should be, — 
courteous, patient, ready to make due allowance 
for shortcomings of counsel, yet withal prompt, 
firm and insistent upon getting speedily to the real 
point at issue. He evinced a wonderful power of 
dispatching business. At the same time he dis- 
played — and it is something more than tact — that 
nameless quality which encourages counsel to do 
their best, and yet can convey a suggestion— 
sometimes an urgent command even — without 
wounding the pride of the most sensitive recipient. 
You felt, while in his presence, that both court 
and counsel were working to their utmost, and 
yet there was no friction, no haste. The record 
of what the court accomplished during the eleven 
years or more that he presided over it, is to a 


measurable degree an honorable testimonial to 
his efficienc3^* 

A great deal of work is done by the Chief 
Justice of the Court of Claims in chambers. Of 
this it was justly said at the bar meeting held in 
his memory : 

The executive duties necessary to sucli a court, largely 
carried on in chambers and imperfectly api)reciated by us as 
members of the bar, increasing with the years of the court, 
were enormous, but always met with a patience, a careful 
consideration, of which we have little conception. f 

His thoughts were daily with the court. He 
studied to strengthen it and enlarge its sphere of 
action. One of his many vigils was to keep close 
watch upon Congress that they should take no 
untoward step in legislating with regard to a 
tribunal which they had created, the workings of 
which might readily be a subject of misconception. 
The enlarged jurisdiction of the court in later 
years is to be traced to him, yet he was scrupulous 
to guard against a radical change in its organiza- 
tion. In view of these and other like considera- 
tions, the reader may understand how engrossed 

* A who had practiced before the court during the entire 
period that Judge Richardson was upon the bench says of him : " lie 
was a sr)lcndid administrative officer. Nobody dispatched business so 
rapidly and so well. He was considerate of the comfort and convenience 
of the bar. If he saw a lawyer sitting within the bar, and he thought him 
to be waiting for the coming on of a case tliat he knew would not be 
reached, he would send down a note to him. This was his invariable 
custom. The bar all liked him." 

t Appendix, p. xix. 


was the active mind of the chief justice alike in 
the trial of causes, and in thoughts for the welfare, 
growth and permanence of the court itself 

It was a habit of the chief justice to bestow a 
good deal of care upon his opinions ; and as a 
result, besides being well reasoned, they are favor- 
able specimens of a good judicial style. He rarely 
employed his pen in other fields than that of 
law; what little he accomplished beyond opin- 
ions and articles upon legal subjects, was chiefly 
confined to papers of an historical character. 

As early as 1857 he was elected a resident 
member of the New England Historic Genea- 
logical Society of Boston; and he was made an 
honorary member in 1873. In January of that 
year he was chosen an honorary vice-president of 
the society, and thereafter was elected annually 
to that office for a period of fifteen years. He 
had pursued investigations into the early history 
of his native town of Tyngsborough, and pub- 
lished a valuable article on that topic in the 
Lowell Daily Courier of 4 April, 1881. Upon one 
of his visits to England he made researches in 
aid of this local history, and he succeeded in 
bringing to light several interesting facts, that 
enabled him to correct errors in the statements 
of earlier writers. This modest undertaking was 
much to his taste. It is further to be observed 
that he contributed several articles to tlie New 


England Historical and Genealogical Register of 
considerable importance.* 

Proof sheets of one of these historical papers 
reached the house of the chief justice in Wash- 
ington during his last illness, too late, however, 
to- be submitted to his revision. The article iii 
question was entitled, "The Government of Har- 
vard College, Past and Present." It appeared 
in the January number of the Register, following 
his death. The same painstaking application 
appears hei-e as in his earlier work. In order 
to prepare it he had consulted records, legis- 
lative and collegiate, covering a period from 
1636 to the present day; and he has succeeded 
in producing an article which takes rank as au- 
thority upon a subject of which little has here- 
tofore been accurately known. In a letter which 
he had sent with the manuscript to the editor, he 
observes : 

The length of the carticle is entirely out of proportion to the 
time I have devoted to it. To condense a mass of matter 
which I have had to examine, into a short readable article on 
the salient points of the subject, has cost me much trouble 
and researcli. 

I am the last survivor of those who were members of the 
board of overseei-s by the election of both the legislature and 
the graduates of the college. Of those who were members in 
18r.8, when I was first elected, there are but two others still 

i= See bibliographical note in Appendix, post, pp. Ixxvi, Ixxvii. 


The society of which he had been an honored 
member was not unmindful of the worth of such 
labor as his in the chosen field of early New Eng- 
land annals. The language of the following 
extract from resolutions adopted upon learning 
of his death denotes, it may confidently be be- 
lieved, something beyond the ordinary express- 
ion of regret upon like occasions : 

His interest in the future of the society was constant and 
generous. During his long connection with the society he was 
a frequent contributor to the pages of the Register. Tlie death 
of Chief Justice Richardson is a public national loss, and this 
society, as only an inadequate expression of its regard for his 
services in behalf of accurate historical knowledge and good 
learning, adopts the following resolutions : 

Resolved, That this society is deeply impressed with the 
value of the work and influence of Chief Justice Richardson 
in behalf of the objects for which it was formed. 

Resolved, That his death is a special loss to the society and 
to historical students in general.* 

Fortunately for the chief justice he had in- 
herited an unusually good constitution. All his 
life he had been a temperate man and regular in 
his habits. As a reward, his health was for the 
most part vigorous, giving promise of length of 
years ; but there can be no doubt that he put to 
a severe strain his power of endurance, by taxing 
himself with laborious application day after day. 

* Proceedings of New England Historic Genealogical Society, upon the 
death of the Honorable William Adams Richardson (1897). 


Not content to labor through the hours usually 
allotted to that purpose, he borrowed of time 
needed for sleep. He rose very early in the 
morning and went immediately to work. A 
large part of what was done by him upon the 
statutes he accomplished before breakfast. 

His daily morning appearance at the consulta- 
tion room of the court was an example of punc- 
tuality. Here he busied himself with scarcely 
a pause, unless when actually compelled by the 
presence of some one to turn away from the rou- 
tine work in hand. During his period of three 
and tw^enty years upon the bench in the Court of 
Claims he never once missed a day in his attend- 
ance upon the sessions of the court, with the 
single exception of a week's confinement at home 
owing to an injury to his hand — a really remark- 
able instance of devotion to duty. 

To even the mildest form of mental diversion 
he remained a complete stranger. Unlike most 
men, he cared nothing whatever for light read- 
ing, or for amusements such as billiards or a game 
of cards. It appears as though he had estimated 
the precise amount of time that he could devote 
to his chosen work, and that in so doing, he had 
purposely left no room for those moments of re- 
pose and recreation so needful in the daily rou- 
tine of life. 

His exercise was chiefly walking. He did not 


take the vacations that others allowed themselves. 
Several times he went abroad in the summer (in 
1893 he had crossed the Atlantic nineteen times) ; 
but upon these trips he was not idle ; and his 
brain frequently was not permitted to rest while 
away from the desk. One might almost say that 
he had sat as judge at a trial of himself, had 
convicted the prisoner, and had sentenced himself 
to hard labor for life. 

Tluit such an unceasing stretch of work vio- 
lated the laws of health can not be denied; and 
the chief justice sooner or later had to i)ay the 
penalty. When he had reached the allotted term 
of three score and ten, there was, it is true, no 
perceptible diminution of vigor in his walk and 
bearing. " He is one of those genial, sunny 
men," some one had earlier written of him, "upon 
whom time makes no impression." But not long 
after passing that milestone slight signs indicated 
that his many years were beginning to tell 
upon him. Still, he was constant in attendance 
upon his duties, and as ready apparently to go 
forward with the regular burden as ever. 

In the summer of 189G, his friends were not 
blind to an admonition that his strength was 
somewhat abating. About a year before while 
in England he had a stroke of paralysis, from 
which he recovered by the best of nursing, so as 
to return home and resume his place upon the 


bench. The fact of this warning was not gener- 
ally known, but those close to him held it con- 
stantly in mind and could not but be aware that 
his days of continuous labor were numbered. 
The end, however, came more swiftly than they 
had counted upon. 

It so happened that the court had taken its 
usual adjournment in the summer to meet on 
the morning of Monday, 19 October. There is a 
certain melancholy interest in noting that on the 
very morning appointed for the court to assemble 
for the new term, the chief justice passed away. 
He died at his residence in Washington, on H 
street northwest, at the northeast corner of 18th 
street, about nine o'clock on the morning of that 
Monday. He had been ill for about two weeks; 
and yet, until shortly before his death, no appre- 
hension had been entertained of a fatal result. 

His daughter, Mrs. Magruder, her husl)and, 
and their two children were living with him 
at the time of his illness, and were present to wit- 
ness how peaceful was the end.* The funeral 
services were simple, as he would have wished. 
They took place at All Souls' (Unitarian) churcli, 
on the afternoon of Wednesday, 21 October. The 
pallbearers were J. C. Bancroft Davis, Lawrence 
Weldon, John Davis, Stanton J. Peelle, Frank W. 

* Mrs. Magruder, his only child, did not long survive him. Slie died 
at Washington, 4 April, 1898. 


Hackett, George A. King, William A. Mauiy and 
Joseph J. McCammon. 

The Reverend E. Bradford Leavitt, who but 
shortly before had been settled as minister to this 
churcli, conducted the sei'vices. His brief remarks 
were in perfoct keeping with the occasion. He 
spoke of the long continuance in high public 
position of him wliose body they were about to 
commit to the grave ; and dwelt upon his toler- 
ance and his faithfulness as a member of the 
church. The body was taken to the beautiful 
cemetery of Oak Hill (Georgetown), Washington, 
and laid beside that of his wife. " Man goeth forth 
to his work and to his labour until the evening." 

A meeting of the bar of the Court of Claims 
was held in the courtroom on the forenoon of 
Friday, 20 November, 1896. Few lawyers of 
those accustomed to practice before the court were 
absent. A spontaneity and genuineness of feeling, 
that could not be misunderstood, pervaded the 
proceedings. The resolutions of the meeting, 
together with the remarks of those who paid their 
tribute of respect by speaking of the late chief 
justice, were far more interesting and impressive 
than is usual at such times. 

The same is true of the occasion wdien tlie 
court received the report of the resolutions of 
the bar on Monda}^ 23 November. The Honor- 
able Charles C. Nott presided, and there sat with 


the judges the Honorable J. C. Bancroft Davis, 
formerly a judge of the Court of Claims, and 
the Honorable Martin F. Morris, associate jus- 
tice of the Court of Appeals of the District of 
Columbia. Mr. Justice Morris, besides being 
an intimate friend, had for many years been 
associated with the chief justice as a professor 
in the law school of Georgetown University. 
Mr. Assistant Attorney General Joshua E. 
Dodge offered the resolutions to the court in a 
few words happily expressed. He was followed 
by Mr. George S. Boutwell, who by vote of the 
bar meeting had been requested to second the 
resolutions. Allusion is elsewhere made in these 
pages to certain features of Governor Boutwell's 
tribute. Aside from the faithful portraiture that 
it affords, this brief address is worthy of special 
commendation for its undoubted literary merit. 
The Honorable Lawrence Wei don responded on 
behalf of the court. A single sentence will indi- 
cate with what discernment Judge Weldon had 
studied the mental characteristics of his chief. 

He was highly educated in the perfect discipline of his 
mind, being enabled because of such discipline to bestow 
upon any subject of investigation the undivided and pro- 
longed thought of his whole being ; and that in the end is the 
perfection of education. 

The event, one of the most important in the 
history of the court, was particularly grateful to 


the friends of Chief Justice Richardson and to 
the bur.* 

The senior judge became chief justice; a new 
judge took his seat upon tlie bench, and the bus- 
iness of the court went on. But there were those 
about the court room, — judge, clerk, bailiff or 
fiiithful messenger alike, — who missed the figure 
and the kindly greetings of one who for well-nigh 
a quarter of a century had found here his liappi- 
ness in daily toil. The traditions of the bar, 
already settling down upon the name and mem- 
ory of the late chief justice, will deal gently with 
his faults, and speak in no uncertain tone of his 
diligence and his unswerving fidelity to duty. 

* At a meeting of the Harvard Club of Washington resolutions were 
passed, speaking in fitting terms of the loss of one of its most distinguished 
members. The chief justice, with all his ardent love for the College, 
could seldom be prevailed upon to attend the annual dinner of the Har- 
vard Club. He did come once or twice when the club was young and 
struggling, but his aversion to large dinners was enough to keep him 
away regularly, notwithstanding the fact that he remained in hearty 
sympathy with the purposes of the organization. 

The graduates of Dartmouth College at NA'ashington had a warm 
regard for Chief Justice Richardson, an adopted son, (for he received 
the honorary degree of LL.D. from that institution in 1886) as is shown by 
the fallowing extract from the record of the proceedings at the annual 
meeting of the Alumni Association, held at the Raleigh on the evening 
of 19 January, 1897. On motion of S. R. Bond, Esquire, this resolution 
was unanimously adopted : 

" In all the positions which he held he was distinguished for inde- 
fatigable industry, high conception of duty and incorruptible integrity, 
and the result of his labors will remain of lasting service to his fellow- 

" It is appropriate that at this first meeting of the association since his 
death, in consideration of his affiliation with our aZma water, we should 
commemorate his distinguished life and services, and recognize the loss 
sustained in his decease." 


Having thus hastily surveyed the leading feat- 
ures of the ever husy life of the subject of our 
sketch, let us for a moment contemplate such traits 
of character as appear chiefly to have guided his 
conduct, and for the most part to account for the 
measure of success or failure justly to be accorded 

These pages, it must be confessed, are fairly 
open to the criticism that stress has again and 
again been laid upon the fact that Chief Justice 
Ilichardson loved work. An intense love of work, 
however, — and it is not a hasty conclusion to say 
so, — is really the key-note to his character. He 
was to the last degree utilitarian. Born on a 
rugged soil, where generations had gained a sub- 
sistence only by the exercise of an indomitable 
energy, young Richardson from the first came 
under an inspiration to dedicate himself to toil in 
any direction where he could see that his labor 
would produce a good result. His mind was 
eminently practical. He had no idea whatever 
of what it is to "dwell in a world apart." He 
found himself in this working-day world at a very 
busy season, among people tireless and inventive; 
and his thoughts became engrossed in the hard- 
headed New England business of earning a com- 
petence, and making himself meanwhile of use 


and value to tlie community around him. Such 
were liis aspirations. 

Keeping in sight the predominating, not to say 
absorbing, influence of tliis idea of life's duty, let 
us examine what Judge Richardson accomplished 
respectively as lawyer, statesman and judge; and 
ascertain, if we may, what rank should be accorded 
to him among his fellows. 

When a career has ended, we ask, was it a suc- 
cess? Tliough men differ widely in their estimate 
of what standard should be applied as the one 
true measure of success, yet they generally admit 
the life of him to have been successful in a certain 
sense, who, judged b}' the standard fixed by 
himself, has fairly attained the ends for which he 
lias striven. 

Judge Richardson started to make his own way 
in life with a plentiful stock of "common sense." 
He saw tilings as they were, and indulged in no 
vagaries. He meant to be a lawyer, as his father 
iiad been before him ; and he studied hard to fit 
himself for the profession. He was a singularly 
modest man ; in fact, had his nature been a little 
more aggressive, he doubtless would have im- 
pressed a sense of his real abilities more deeply 
upon those with whom he mingled. This mod- 
esty of his, amounting in some circumstances 
almost to timidity, probably accounts for the fact 
that lie took no part in the contests of the bar, 


where ready, oil-hand speaking was required. 
His preference, as we have seen, was from the 
first for office practice. 

He has liimself welh ex]>ressed tlie estimate in 
whicli in his opinion a talent for pubHc sjjeaking 
or forensic oratory should be held. That he was 
content to yield to others tlie glow of triumphant 
encounter at the bar, and felt it to be no great 
deprivation, is apparent from the following lan- 
guage of an address delivered by him in 1869 
to the students of the Columbian Law School, 

It is a mistaken notion, too often believed by young men, 
that to be a lawyer, one must be an advocate, and therefore to 
become successful after leaving the law schools one must be 
an eloquent speaker. It is true that a mere advocate may 
easily make a pecuniary fortune and gain extensive notoriety, 
but if he is not something more his abilities thrive but for a 
day, and he leaves little or no mark behind him. When his 
contemporaries, who are charmed by his voice and manner 
pass away, he is forgotten. 

The real lawyer need not be an advocate, but he must be 
a man of great acquirements and learning. He must be 
learned in facts as well as in law. A lawyer in large practice 
has more to do with facts than with law, and therefore the 
more extensive his acquirements in all things which influence 
the conduct of men, and affect the material interest of the 
world, in the history of the past and in the passing events 
of the present, the more certain and great will be his success. 

He mastered legal principles after close study ; 
and since he gained his knowledge only by 
long-continued application, he held it tenaciously, 


and was always prepared to apply it to a case in 
hand. He may be said to have been a good 
lawyer, who had in him many of the elements 
that go to make up the great lawyer. It is safe to 
assert that no man in his day had acquired a 
wider or more thorough knowledge of the statute 
law than Chief Justice Richardson. From his 
experience in this branch of learning he came to 
possess great aptitude in construing the language 
of enactments so as best to express the legislative 
will. He also grew to be an expert draftsman, 
whose precision and accuracy could always be 
depended upon. 

The following practical hints in dealing with 
the subject of drafting or revising statute law 
attest the truth of this statement. They are set 
forth in a paper drawn up by him and entitled 
" Some suggestions for revising the statutes formed 
after long and extensive experience and obser- 
vation " : 

1. Never use the two words "the said" together. Eitlicr 
one is sufficient. 

2. Avoid too frequent use of " any." The same idea may be 
often better expressed by " a " or " an." 

3. In statutes relating to crimes and offenses, instead of 
the formula, "If any person shall falsely make," etc., say 
"Whoever fiilsely makes," etc.; or, instead of "Any person 
who shall steal," etc., say " Whoever steals," etc. 

4. Instead of "It shall he the duty of the Commissioner of 
Pensions" (or other officer), etc., say "The Commissioner of 
Pensions shall" (Rev. Stat. U. S., sees. 3203, 4701, 4769, 4786, 


etc.). Instead of "The Secretary of the Interior" (or other 
officer) " is authorized," etc., say " The Secretary of the Inter- 
ior" (or otlier officer) "vmy." (Examples Rev. Stat. U. S., 
sees. 477(3, 4777, 477S, 4780, 1704, etc.) The Revised Statutes 
abound in such expressions. 

5. Employ no provisos, but divide each long section into 
two or more. (Rev. Stat. U. S., sec. 3173.) (It is difficult to 
usepronsos with technical accuracy.) So with long sections 
without provisos. (Eev. Stat. U. S., sees. 639, 641, 643.) 

6. Sections embracing the same general idea with shades 
of variations should be consolidated and rewritten. It is often 
easier to interpret one section than to construe several har- 
moniously together. (See Rev. Stat. U. S., sees. 1763, 1765, 
1766, which have given rise to much litigation.) 

7. There are many superfluous and worse than useless 
words in every section, which should be omitted or the sec- 
tion recast in more concise language. 

8. Paragraphing is of great advantage wherever there are 
changes in the ideas, or divisions of the subject. (See striking 
example of the want of it in "The Compiled Statutes of the 
District of Columbia, 1891," "Descent," sec. 1, pp. 192, 193.) 
For example of its use see Supplement to Rev. Stat, everywhere. 
Cases cited should be in columns and not run together aa in 
Rev. Stat. U. S., margin of sees. 629, 639, 649, 652. 

9. Material changes in the language should be explained 
in notes, pointing out the object and whether or not any 
change in the law is intended. 

10. Most of these suggestions are just as applicable to 
drafting new acts as to revising old ones, and in all law docu- 
ments, such as deeds, findings of fact, and opinions, may be 
observed with advantage. 

Judge Richardson's career upon the bench of 
the Court of Probate and Insolvency of his native 
state lias already been characterized as eminently 
successful. He there dealt with a range of sub- 


jects in which he had made himself second to no 
man, for thorough acquaintance with the kiw. 
The systematic and orderly procedure of the court, 
even the regularity with which numerous details 
are rapidly taken up and disposed of, were to him 
specially pleasing. In what to many minds 
seemed a maze of complications and perplexities, 
he saw only an o})portunity for deducing order 
and perspicuous arrangement. Though the work 
in time got to be largely a matter of routine, the 
Judge enjoyed it ; and one reason why he enjoyed 
it may have been because it was left for him to 
explain to both lawyers and laymen the real sim- 
plicity of a system, otherwise by them indiffer- 
ently well understood. 

Of course the thought occurs to the reader that 
there must inevitably be some risk of a lack of 
breadth in a life entirely spent in work such as 
this ; but a timely transfer to the new and untried 
duties of an assistant secretary of the Treasury, 
rescued Judge Richardson from any such conse- 

A man whose native bent is judicial, and who 
has enjoyed the experience of many years' training 
upon the bench will, if suddenly transplanted to 
an executive life, rarely make a success of the 
new undertaking. This is eminently true of a 
judge whose predominating tastes are those of 
the student, rather than those of a practical man 


of affairs. Judges are aided by argument from 
counsel, and they deal with questions that they 
have time carefully to consider. The bench to 
a large extent follows precedent. Its chief busi- 
ness is to ascertain what legal principles rule the 
facts, as settled by the evidence. There are times, 
to be sure, but they occur rarely, when a supreme 
test is made of the courage and fearlessness of the 
court, whether a single judge, or consisting of 
several judges sitting in bank. The ordinary 
experience of men in judicial position, however, 
is not of a character to foster readiness to incur 

As has already been intimated, the subject of 
this sketch had in his makeup not quite enough 
of that bold, aggressive and self-confident spirit, 
which one to be a successful leader of men must 
possess. It is indeed a rare quality. Natural 
disposition, early training and long continuance 
upon the bench had fitted Judge Richardson 
rather for the quiet contemplation of the merits 
of a legal controversy, than for rendering off-hand 
decisions of what ought to be done in this or that 
urgency involving large responsibilities. 

When Judge Richardson came to Washington 
it was to enter a field of public duty altogether 
different from that to which he had been accus- 
tomed. It was an interesting work, however, and 
although for three j^ears he continued to regard 


his absence from Cambridge as a temporary one, 
lie soon began to adapt himself to the new con- 
ditions. At this post, as we have seen, he did 
faithful service, and achieved what his friends 
deemed a gratifjdng measure of success. 

Later, upon being advanced to a liigher office, 
where all the responsibility rested upon his own 
shoulders, he had to meet requirements immeas- 
urably graver. A host of questions, many of them 
of momentous consequence, demanded instant 
decision. He was brought face to face with many 
perpilexities, some of them growing out of the 
action of men in high political station, who sought 
to impress their views upon him, or have him 
grant their personal requests. Secretary Rich- 
ardson, it must be observed, had not served in the 
State legislature or in Congress ; and his actual 
experience of the ins and outs of political life was 
necessarily limited. 

It would do this honest and pure-minded pub- 
lic servant a great injustice to assert that he 
lacked the nerve to refuse point-blank a political 
request ; or that he betrayed too ready a disposi- 
tion to yield to strong and persistent pressure. 
Such is not the fact. But in the many emergen- 
cies requiring the quick exercise of an inflexible 
will, and the daring to go ahead, be the conse- 
quence what it might, — he felt a need which a 
sterner and bolder nature would not perliaps have 


recognized. Ex-Secretary Boutwell, his life-long 
friend, who knew better than any one else the 
strong and the weak points exhibited by Judge 
Richardson in his administration of the Treasury, 
alludes to this phase of his character, as follows : 

I have once made this remark in a public way : There is a 
rough side to government, and there must be a quaUty of harsh- 
ness in those who administer governments successlully. Such 
generalizations, even if true as rules of action, are subject to ex- 
ceptions. If it had been the fortune of Judge Richardson to 
have served on the executive side of the government for a 
period of years, and there had been any just cause for criticism , 
it would have had its origin in the absence of the quality of 
harshness in his nature.* 

In advancing this statement the writer must 
not be understood as intimating that Secretar}'' 
Richardson lacked anything of courage or ability 
in the prompt decision of large questions of state, 
such, for example, as are laid before his cabinet 
officers by the President in the general admin- 
istration of the government. Here it is indis- 
putably the fact that Secretary Richardson mani- 
fested a clear insight, and a praiseworthy readi- 
ness to assume the fullest measure of responsibil- 
ity. It was rather in matters of importance rank- 
ing above merely minor questions of administra- 
tive routine that he was disposed to refer to pre- 
cedent, and look to the views of others around 
him — a course very natural for one whose train- 
ing had hitherto been almost exclusively judicial. 

* Appendix, pp. xlvi, xlvii, post. 


There is of course a vast amount of routine work 
going on at the Treasury of which the Secretary 
from the nature of things can know but little, no 
one man having time or strength to give it per- 
sonal supervision. But the head of that great 
department, like the general in command of an 
army, makes himself felt, so to speak, all along 
the line. The traditions of the department are 
to the effect that in Secretary Richardson's day 
energy was infused into the channels of ordinary 
business, and subordinates worked cheerfully 
under the eye of their chief He was popular 
throughout the department. 

Public questions of great magnitude, as has just 
been remarked, were sure of receiving at his 
hands prompt and wise disposal. The Secretary 
relied upon his own unaided powers wherever 
necessary. His cool and courageous action dur- 
ing the panic of 1873 richly entitles him to grate- 
ful remembrance as a resourceful and trustworthy 
officer of the government. Indeed, his reputa- 
tion may be safely left to the record of service 
rendered in that trying emergency. It is S2:)eak- 
ing within bounds to say of Secretar}^ Richard- 
son that in his official acts his motives were pure, 
his diligence unwearied and his judgment uni- 
formly sound. To an eminent degree faithful in 
his great trust, he secured the affectionate esteem 
of General Grant, and gained the respect of all who 


were closely connected with him in administer- 
ing the affairs of the government. 

Says ex- Attorney-General George H. Williams, 
the only surviving member of the cabinet of 
which Secretary Richardson was a member : 

I was favorably impressed with his executive abilities as 
the assistant of Secretary Boutwell, and used my influence 
with the President to secure his appointment as Mr. Boutwell's 
successor. Judge Richardson never said or did anything to 
produce a sensation. His ambition was to perform his public 
duties faithfully and honestly, without ostentation or display. 
He was modest and unassuming, and in my judgment was not 
current in popular estimation at his real worth. He has left 
an enviable reputation.* 

Mention has already been made of the conspic- 
uous fitness of Judge Richardson for a seat upon 
the bench of the Court of Claims. There were 
able lawyers on that bench during his incum- 
bency, but no one surpassed him in the possession 
of those qualities which are specially needful to 
command the highest measure of judicial success. 
He was greatly respected and liked by the entire 

It had seemed to the writer, therefore, pecu- 
liarly appropriate that the testimony of the bar 
and court to the true position held by their de- 
ceased brother should be preserved in the form of 
an appendix to this fragmentary sketch, in order 
that the reader may resort to these authoritative 

» MS. letter, Portland, Oregon, 19 July, 1897. 


sources, and learn with what measure of respect 
men who knew him intimately agree in esti- 
mating his talents and acquirements. It were 
unfitting to attempt to add anything to what is 
there said with so much acuteness of observation 
— so much precision and integrity of expression. 
For no one can lend ear to the utterances of that 
occasion, and fail to be struck with their sincerity 
of tone and their wliolesome freedom from exag- 
geration. They are words of honest praise. To a 
degree rare in like circumstances, the portrait of 
the man is outlined with striking fidelity to the 
form and feature of the original. It is much to 
have deserved such a tribute; yet those who 
knew the chief justice from the vantage ground 
of intimate acquaintance will say that his mem- 
ory does in truth deserve it — every word. 

We may in a spirit of hearty approval borrow 
the language of one of the most discriminating 
of the speakers, who thus felicitously sums up 
the leading characteristics that in his opinion 
entitle the late chief justice to be classed among 
the most eminent of American jurists: 

Thus reviewing his judicial attainments, I think that with- 
out danger of undeserved eulogy we may say that the minute 
accuracy of his knowledge, his capacity for hard work, his 
quick apprehension of the issue of a case, his sound judgment 
and his convincing expression of his conclusions, entitle him 
to rank among the great lawyers of the nation.* 

* Mr. William B. King, Appendix, page xxxiii, post. 


That Mr. Richardson of the Middlesex bar 
developed into a model judge of probate, and 
later became an excellent judge of a federal court, 
— rose to be its chief justice and administered 
that responsible office with unparallelled skill 
and ability, is not to be wondered at when we 
reflect that it was the strict rule of his life that 
when upon the bench he should never attempt 
to be anything else than a judge. His aim was 
single. It was with a far-seeing design that he 
had limited to himself the scope of his exertions. 
Within those self-imposed limits we may plainly 
see his to have been indeed a 

Life of endless toil and endeavor. 

All his days he was a student of law. Aside 
from something of current political measures, he 
appears to have cared for little in the world 
around him except the tribunal in which he sat, 
and its steady growth and development in the 
public favor. He concentrated all his powers 
upon the judicial office. A will of iron confined 
his efforts to that circle within which it was his 
ambition to excel. Broad and general culture is 
an almost necessary equipment for a judge; and 
the chief justice did not shut his eyes to the fact, 
but the test he first applied to a subject was, is it 
immediately useful ? 

Such a course of conduct as this, pursued year 
after year, by a man of native ability, could 


hardly fail of its object ; and it made of William 
Adams Richardson, if nothing else, a superb 
master of all the varied duties of his office. So 
complete a dedication of self to the accomplish- 
ment of one supreme end is rarely witnessed, 
except in the lives of men who possess elements 
of greatness. His triumph, for it was a triumph, 
came as the reward of sheer grit and perseverance. 

As might be expected, his time was engrossed 
in the stud}'' of legal questions, leaving little 
opportunity for the enjoyment of general litera- 
ture, or the fine arts.* The habit of persistent 
industry in the line of his chosen occupation so 
grew upon him that he found his happiness only 
there. What he called relaxation took the shape 
of labor given to the compilation of statutes, or 
bj'' way of indexing, or other like employment, of 
a nature not far removed from the severer duties 
of the judicial office. He would, for example, 
be up at early day-light, working on the statutes, 
and deem it a species of leisure entertainment. 

This capacity and liking for work in one 
direction is reflected in his writings — most of 
which are opinions announcing a decision of the 
court. While his style is clearness itself, a cer- 
tain precision void of any attempt at ornament 

* It could not be truthfully said of him, as it was of his class-mate 
Sprague, that " He breathed the still air of delightful studies " ; except 
that it was an incomparable delight to Richardson to study the intri- 
cacies of the statutes. 


or illustration reminds us tliat the writer is 
rather intent upon reaching a conclusion by a 
sound logical process, than to attract or enlighten 
the reader. There are no allusions that indicate 
an acquaintance with the great writers; no 
lingering fondness for the classics; no glimpse of 
a world of fancy beyond that in which men carry 
on traflBc, and disagree as to their rights. 

Let it not be inferred from what is here said 
that the subject of our remarks was uncompan- 
ionable. On the contrary, though he eschewed 
general society and the club, he was of kindly 
disposition, most considerate of others, tactful 
and responsive to the friendship of his intimates, 
and the courtesies of every-day fellowship. In- 
deed, there were few men with whom it was a 
greater pleasure to converse. He spoke only of 
subjects that he knew something about, and he 
was ready to listen attentively to those who were 
perhaps better informed than he. A good talker, 
of animated manner and pleasing voice, he never 
committed the mistake of being disputatious, or of 
displaying a readiness to monopolize the con- 

One of his strong points was a tenacious 
memory, and those who were privileged to hear 
him talk of the judges and lawyers of the earlier 
day knew with what relish he could tell an anec- 
dote, or illustrate a phase of character. He had 


schooled himself to be accurate, and he liked to 
have others accurate in what they said. Not in- 
frequently he would allude to some prevailing- 
error, in popular usage, and do his part towards 
correcting it. Himself methodical and orderly, 
he wanted to see others careful in these respects. 
What keenness of observation he possessed has 
already been alluded to; it seemed as if nothing 
could escape him.* 

It was the misfortune of Chief Justice Richard- 
son that he was not a man of a large and com- 
manding presence. He was of medium height 
and size. In mixed company his manner was 
somewhat retiring and unobtrusive. Whether 
this was due to innate modesty, or was the 
result of an acquired liking for the contempla- 
tion of the stud}', one may not easily divine. But 

* Take, for instance, the court and bar : he used to note any peculiar- 
ity in those who practiced before him. He said of a certain mouibcr of 
the bar that he had a habit of bringing a book down violently upon the 
table, making a great noise. Another gentleman had a peculiarity of 
gesture that was annoying. Said the chief justice, "He is a young 
man of talent, and sometimes I have thought I would speak to him about 
it. It is a sweep of one arm, very unpleasant and ungraceful to witness." 
"Another member of the bar," the judge continued, "has a habit of 
rising upon his toes when he is speaking, a practice by nomeans pleasing 
to the bench." So, of a writer's style: Upon one occasion somebody 
spoke of a lawyer who constantly used the word " practically." Another 
of the company remarked of a practitioner that he seldom went far in 
oral argument without employing the word "thereupon." Chief Justice 
Richardson said if the opinions of Chief Justice Bigelow of Massachusetts 
were examined it -would be found that he was much given to bringing 
in the word "familiar." "Upon familiar principles " is a phrase fre- 
quently recurring with him. These are trivial illustrations of Chief 
Justice Richardson's habit of noticing slight peculiarities. 


with all his acute power of observation, his tact 
and his knowledge of human nature, he was not 
disposed to mingle freely with others, or take a 
prominent part in the company in which he hap- 
pened to be thrown. Tliis trait may be consid- 
ered unfortunate, because without doubt it con- 
tributed to a i)ublic estimation of his abilities and 
Ids talents that was below his deserts. Many a 
person may have been in his company for a brief 
season, and come away with an altogether inade- 
quate impression of his real ability. 

A fair conception of how^ the chief justice 
looked may be gained from the excellent engrav- 
ing by Stuart, of Boston, that faces the title page. 
It is proper to add, however, that the photograph 
from which it is copied, being of early date, has 
not reproduced those lines of thought furrowing 
the brow which, in the recollection of those who 
knew him w^hile he was chief justice, had im- 
parted to his looks a perceptibly greater degree 
of intellectual force than is here portrayed. His 
was one of those countenances that light up 
and beam with animation, when not in repose. 
There was something cheery about him when you 
met him and spoke to him.* 

He was a familiar figure for many years in the 

* Of portraits there is one iu the Treasury by Stagg {formerly of Boston) 
and a good piece of work by Robert Hinckley, of Washington. A less sat- 
isfactory work by an Italian artist hangs in the court room of the Court 
of Claims at Washington. 



streets of Washington — on foot, for he preferred 
walking to riding. 

In his family relations he was kind and affec- 
tionate — a most devoted father. To his grand- 
children he was particular^ attentive. He would 
himself buy their presents at Christmas and at 
other times, going to great pains to select articles 
that he knew would give them pleasure. His prac- 
tical turn of mind is evinced by the ftict that he 
left behind him a letter for his grandson, with 
instructions that the seal shall be broken, and the 
letter read by him, on reaching his one and twen- 
tieth birthday. 

Of his friendships, it may, with truth, be said, 
that no man prized a friend more highly, or was 
more loyal in his attachments. The circumstance 
that his taste withdrew him largely from general 
society rendered him all the more sensible how 
precious was the possession of a true friend. 
Many of his more intimate associates he had out- 
lived. The relation between him and his hon- 
ored predecessor in the Treasury, continuing un- 
broken as it did for so many years, is beautifully 
illustrated by the spectacle of the survivor stand- 
ing in the presence of his juniors and paying 
tribute in words of chastened eloquence to the 
memory of the departed. 

The great statesman of England who this sum- 
mer (1898) has been laid to rest enjoins it in his 


will that no laudatory inscription be placed over 
him. In a like spirit it would have been the 
wish of William Adams Richardson that the 
record of what he has accomplished, with no word 
of praise thereon, be left to speak for him. It 
may chance, however, that a solitary copy of 
these pages shall escape the ravages of time, and 
convey to some curious reader, years after all the 
actors of this period have long been asleep, some 
knowledge of the events recited here. If he 
would care to learn what form of words misfht 
best sum up the aspirations and the achievements 
of him in whose memory this brief story has been 
told, let him know the simple truth, "He was 
content to be useful." 




A meeting of the Bar of the Court of Claims, 
called by a Committee of the Bar, was held in the 
court room, at eleven o'clock of the forenoon of 
Frida)^, 20th November, 1896. The attendance 
was unusually large. In calling the meeting to 
order Mr. Assistant Attorney- General Dodge, speak- 
ing for the Committee, said : 

Upon so impressive an event as the death of the 
Chief Justice of the Court before which we practice, 
especially when that event, as now, breaks an asso- 
ciation between counsel and judiciary extending 
through the larger part of a generation, it is meet 
and proper that we should pause in our struggles to 
testify to each other our memories of the one who 
has gone from among us, to note those qualities 
which have won from us confidence and affection. 

We have among us one distinguished by an in- 
timacy of association with the deceased, extra- 
ordinary in its character, an intimacy in professional 
life, in oflBcial life and in close personal friendship, 
which has extended through a period longer than 
the lives of most of us. It has seemed to the Com- 
mittee, and it seems to me most eminently proper 
that I should ask that associate in profession, fellow 
in official life and warm personal friend of our Chief 
Justice, to preside over us. I therefore present to 

you the name of the Honorable George S. Boutwell 
to be the presiding oflScer of this meeting. 

Mr. Boutwell, accordingly, was chosen to preside. 
On motion of Mr. John W. Douglass, Mr. Archibald 
Hopkins was elected Secretary. 

Upon the motion of Mr. Maury the Chairman ap- 
pointed the following gentlemen as a Committee to 
withdraw and report such action as might seem 
suitable : Messrs. William A. Maury, Joshua Eric 
Dodge, John W. Douglass, W. H. Robeson, George 
A. King, Frank W. Hackett and Alexander Porter 

The Committee, after having retired for a brief 
season, returned, when Mr. Maurj^ said : 

Mr. Chainna7i, I am directed by the Committee 
to make the report which I hold in my hand, and 
which, with the permission of the meeting, I will 
now proceed to read : 

The death of Chief Justice Richardson brings to 
mind Lord Coke's remark, adopted from Seneca, 
with reference to the death of Littleton, that "when 
a great, learned man (who is long in making) dieth, 
much learning dieth with him." So true is it that 
the parsimony which saves to earth the smallest 
atom of our dust has no place in the realm of the 
spiritual. It becomes, therefore, an ofl&ce which we 
owe not only to the great dead, but to ourselves, to 
commemorate the qualities which made them great, 
that, at least, the remembrance of those qualities 
may not also perish from the world, and with it the 
incentive of great examples. 

The late Chief Justice was one of the strong 

iufluences which Massachusetts has contributed to 
the Union, and which have entered largely into the 
warp and woof of the National greatness. 

Duty and usefulness were the twin stars that 
guided his career. Under their influence his pains- 
taking, laborious diligence seemed to have no limit 
but that of his capacity of endurance. In whatever 
he undertook there was completeness of execution. 
His revision of the statutes of Massachusetts, and 
his supplemental revision of the statutes of the 
United States, earned him general commendation ; 
and the same fidelity of performance marked his 
administration of the ofiSces of Secretary and Assist- 
ant Secretar>^ of the Treasury. 

But it was in the Court of Claims that his greatest 
work was done. There he presided to the entire 
acceptance of the bar and the public, and, if possible, 
strengthened the hold of the Court on the general 

The terseness, accuracy and thoroughness of his 
judgments proved his fitness for the judicial sta- 
tion, while his dispatch and administrative talent 
gave him admirable efl&ciency as Chief Justice. 
To sum up his character as judge, he never delayed 
justice to any, nor did he remove a single landmark 
of the law. 

Resolved, That the Bar of the Court of Claims 
deplore the death of Chief Justice 
Richardson as a serious loss to the 
National judicature; that they recog- 
nize in him an upright, able and 

learned Magistrate, who contributed 
much to the establishment of justice in 
the land, and that they hold in grate- 
ful remembrance the courtesy and 
consideration he uniformly extended 
to them. 

That the Chairman is hereby requested 
to furnish the Assistant Attorney- 
General in charge of the Government's 
business in the Court of Claims with 
a copy of these proceedings, with the 
request that he will present the same 
to the Court, and move that they be 
entered in its minutes. 

That the Chairman is hereby requested 
to transmit a copy of these proceed- 
ings to the family of the deceased, 
with an expression of the sympathy of 
this meeting. 


Mr. Chairman : Before .submitting the motion, 
which I now make, for the adoption of the Report, 
I feel that I must allow myself the gratification of 
saying a few words, and then give way to other 
gentlemen who are more competent to speak of the 
late Chief Justice. 

As one who had the honor of intimate relations 
with the Chief Justice, I can truly say that his death 
has left a wound which time will scarcely heal. You 
can bear me witness. Sir, that those relations, in 
which you participated also, taught the lesson of the 
value and the beauty of friendship with more eflfect 
than what Cicero and the other moralists together 
have written on the subject ; the difference being 
between virtue in energy and virtue as an abstrac- 

You also. Sir, have, in common with myself, felt 
the elevating and helpful effect of contemplating his 
even, tranquil nature, his long-suffering patience and 
perfect charity, his affectionate loyalty and sym- 
pathy, his refusal to harbor resentments, and his 
uniform disposition to overcome evil with good. 

But now. Sir, " when anything lieth on the heart 
to oppress it," we shall look in vain for the 
particeps airarum to whom we have long been ac- 
customed to turn, and shall miss the grasp of his 
vanished hand. 

Need I say here, in the midst of all these wit- 
nesses, that the late Chief Justice possessed admir- 
able qualities for the Bench ? He was just, able, 
learned, laborious and prompt. He worked with 
facility, and with such energy and concentration, 
that formidable difficulties seemed to melt away 
before him. 

But I must not omit to refer to another valuable 
distinguishing trait, that love of accuracy which was 
to be seen in everything he did. I was particularly 
struck with it about a year ago, when he was pre- 
paring an article, for some periodical, on the occa- 
sionally mooted question, whether the presiding 
judge of the Supreme Court should be styled "Chief 
Justice of the United States," or " Chief Justice of 
the Supreme Court of the United States." A some- 
what similar question having, in late years, arisen 
in England, with regard to the proper title of the 
Lord Chief Justice there, his restless desire to get 
to the bottom of the subject and exhaust every 
possible source of information led him into corres- 
pondence with Lord Russell. Need I add. Sir, that, 
by the time he completed the article, nothing re- 
mained to be said that could be said on the subject ? 
It was this habit of accuracy that prevented him 
from slurring over his work, and gave a satisfactory 
completeness to whatever he did, whether it was 
great or small. 

His experience as Secretary and Assistant Secre- 
tary of the Treasury was useful to him as a judge, 
rendering him the better qualified to add to the mass 
of valuable learning to be found in the Court of 

Claims Reports, in connection with a large variety 
of questions afifecting the administration of the Exec- 
utive Department of the Government in its various 

The thoroughness of his supplemental revisions 
of the Statutes of the United States, and the marks 
they bear of painful labor and research, intensifies 
my regret that he did not accomplish a general 
revision of the whole body of the written law of the 
Federal Government. 

During his last illness, his power of will supported 
him while he was completing the index of the 
current number of the second volume of his Supple- 
mental Revision. 

Too much can not be said in his praise for under- 
taking that laborious and exacting work when age, 
with its infirmities, had begun to tell upon him. 
The remuneration was small, a mere pittance, and 
the sole inducement that impelled him to put this 
new burden on his already bending shoulders was 
the unquenchable desire to be useful in every way 
he could. 

I trust, Sir, that you, or some other competent 
hand, will be invited to prepare a sketch of the life 
and labors of the late Chief Justice, to accompany 
the next volume of the Supplemental Revision, 
when it shall be completed, that his fellow-country- 
men may know how much they owe to this man 
of useful toil. 

The last time I saw him, which was a very few 
days before his death, his countenance shone with 
an extraordinary brightness, I was going to say 

effulgence, which I had never observed before, and 
which I could not but think was the joyful expres- 
sion of his pure soul as the hour of its release drew 
near. Thus we see with what cheerfulness the mor- 
tal puts on immortality who has the testimony of a 
good conscience and is in perfect peace with all 
the world. 

Mr. Chairman, our dear friend has left an example 
which we may hope will "reach a hand far thro' all 
years" with its lesson of "nobly to do, nobly to 


Mr. Chairinan : I feel it a duty imposed upon me 
to-day, to say that I cordially agree with the resolu- 
tions that have been presented, and that I heartily 
endorse the same. I have been a member of this 
Bar for seventeen years, and it seems very pertinent 
that I should add my testimony to the uniform 
courtesy, kindness, and to the justness, to the indefat- 
igable work of the Chief Justice of this Court, who 
has always been accessible, always approachable, 
whether on the bench or in chambers. This has 
been particularly impressed upon my mind for the 
reason that I have recently been requested to testify 
to a prominent historian of Belgium and Germany, 
as to the treatment which women receive in this 
country from the Bench and Bar, and I then most 
cordially testified as to their uniform courtesy. 

I most heartily give my testimony to the uniform 
kindness, to the fairness, and to the achievements 
of Chief Justice Richardson, the late deceased. 


My first acquaintance with the late Chief Justice 
was when he became the First Assistant Secretary 
of the Treasury under Mr. Boutwell. After he had 
succeeded to the Secretaryship, I saw him daily, as 
my position of Commissioner of Internal Revenue 
required constant consultation with the head of the 

He was affable and easy to approach on business, 
evidently being animated by the desire to do his 
duty promptly and with an eye single to the good of 
the public service. 

If I mistake not, it was while he was Secretary 
that the radical change in the machinery of the In- 
ternal Revenue system was inaugurated, by which 
change some eleven or twelve hundred of the as- 
sessing ofiicers were dispensed with, and the assess- 
ment of taxes transferred to the main office in the 
Department. This reform in the civil service, though 
it struck off a large number of the political friends 
of the administration in every State of the Union, 
had his hearty support, and the result justified his 
interest in the movement. 

When I left the Treasury Department in the spring 
of 1874, and returned to professional occupation, 
the Judge was on this bench. Here, also, he was al- 
ways courteous, attentive and patient ; and his labors 

were unremitting, as was his habit whenever and 
at whatever eniplo5'ed. 

I met him once while he was engaged on the digest 
of the United States Statutes, and, in reply to my 
inquiry, how he found time enough outside of his 
judicial duties to perform the other work, he replied 
that the work on the statutes was largeh' done be- 
tween daylight and breakfast time. While the 
large majority of us were in bed, he was probably up 
and busy with his additional labors. A life of well- 
put activity, as his was, is a blessing to the country 
that enjoys it, and a just pride and joy to associated 

On another occasion, a little while after the Bar 
meeting in honor of the late Chief Justice Drake, in 
conversation with Judge Richardson about that occa- 
sion, he said rather pathetically : " Well, Douglass, 
some of these days you will be at a meeting of the 
kind for me. ' ' I replied, ' ' Whenever that happens. 
Judge, the speeches and resolutions will be such that 
your family and friends will rejoice in them." He 
smiled and we parted soon after. 

He was a good and faithful ser\'ant from first to 
last, in every place that he held, and is now reaping 
no doubt the promised reward. 


Mr. Chairman and Brethreti : Interesting and 
instructive as it may be to review the earlier years 
of Chief Justice Richardson, during the long period 
in which he was judge of probate and insolvency in 
the great Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and in its 
most active and populous centre ; his part in revising 
and editing statutes ; duties which laid the founda- 
tion for similar work in a broader and national field, 
the fruits of which every counselor practicing in state 
or national tribunals enjoys ; his connection with 
that great executive department of the Government, 
the Treasury of the United States, where he imbibed 
a varied knowledge so essential to the right solution 
of intricate problems in this Court — it is as Justice 
and as Chief Justice of the Court of Claims that I 
knew him best, and in this sphere I shall speak of 
his connection with the Bench and Bar. 

I hazard nothing in saying that, of the multitude 
of tribunals, from that of the most simple and lim- 
ited jurisdiction in the State to that of the highest in 
the nation, there is none of which the more than 
seventy millions of our people have so little knowl- 
edge of the character, the scope of investigation, of 
the practice and decisions, as that of the Court of 

Its growth for almost half a century has been pre- 
eminently an evolution. So silently has this devel- 
opment been that, notwithstanding the importance 
the Court has attained, outside a limited circle of 
practitioners its real value is either unknown or un-. 
appreciated. One of the distinctive features of our 
federal system is that it has relations, not with States, 
but with the citizen personally. Our English ances- 
try considered the King the "fountain of justice." 
The ordinary tribunals were insufficient to supply in 
many instances remedial justice, and an innate sense 
of right found expression in the petition to the sov- 

Tljat could hardly be called the most perfect form 
of government in whose constitution could not be 
found some germ whose unfolding would give the 
citizen a means of obtaining and enforcing rights of 
property and contract. This he has found in the 
Court of Claims. I am a firm believer that the time 
will come when, by a still further evolution, torts 
done a citizen by the Government will have a more 
certain source of remedy than the legislative branch 
of the Government. 

This is not the occasion to trace the steps by which 
the Government has created this tribunal. Its his- 
tory is portrayed in one of the last works of our late 
Chief Justice. 

That Chief Justice Richardson appreciated the phi- 
losophy upon which the Court of Claims is founded 
is seen from his quotation of the words of that emi- 
nent lawyer, Charles O' Conor. ' ' The Court itself, ' ' 
he says, ' ' is the first born of a new judicial era. As 

a judicial tribunal, it is not onl}'' new in the instance, 
it is also new in principle. . . . Prior to the 
institution of this court, all rights as against the na- 
tion were imperfect in the legal sense of the term ; 
every duty of the nation was a duty of imperfect ob- 
ligation. There was no judicial power capalsle of de- 
claring either ; no private person possessed the means 
of enforcing the one or coercing the other. 
But we are authorized to look higher than the mere 
convenience of suitors and the dispatch of public bus- 
iness. Enlightened patriotism will contemplate 
other and more important consequences. Caprice 
can no longer control. Here equity, morality, honor 
and good conscience must be practically applied to 
the determination of claims, and the actual authority 
of these principles over governmental action ascer- 
tained, declared and illustrated in permanent and 
abiding forms. As step by step, in successive decis- 
ions, you shall have ascertained the duties of Gov- 
ernment towards the citizen, fixed their precise 
limits, upon sound principles, and armed the claimant 
with means of securing their enforcement, a code 
will grow up giving effect to many rights not here- 
tofore practically acknowledged." 

Engrossed, brethren, in what we are pleased to term 
the practical duties of our profession, we are too apt 
to lose sight of the fact that we best honor it by ever 
keeping in view the equally high obligation of build- 
ing to the ideal system. 

Such was the judicial organization, then and still 
imperfectly reaching upward, to which William A. 
Richardson was called as a Justice in 1874, and of 

which he became Chief Justice eleven years later. 
His advent was in a most fortunate period of his 
life ; not too old to have lost ambition, not too young 
to fail to realize the importance of his position. The 
years during which in his native State he had pre- 
sided in a court, — the creation of statute rather than 
of common law, — and yet requiring a knowledge of the 
common law for successful administration, were in 
some respects a preparation for a court whose vital 
breath is drawn from statutes, and j-et so compre- 
hensive in its jurisdiction that one unskilled in the 
learning and practice of the common law, can be 
neither a useful judge nor a successful practitioner. 

Judge Richardson brought to the Court something 
quite as essential as the knowledge thus acquired; a 
practical knowledge of structure, traditions and prac- 
tices of due of the great departments of the Govern- 
ment, as well as an acquaintance with those of all the 

He brought a "faculty of nice discrimination," 
methodical arrangement, natural as well as acquired 
by his already long experience in the study and com- 
pilation of statutes. I am aware how easily, on an 
occasion like this, we can pass from the regions of 
cold criticism to those which are warmed by our 
affections. But I fully believe it would be difficult 
to conceive a mind better prepared for the duties of 
Judge of the Court of Claims than that possessed by 
William A. Richardson, on his advent to this Bench. 

My personal recollection of Judge Richardson 
dates from the time I became an officer of this Court. 
But my knowledge of him is founded not alone on 

personal intercourse. It is gained from the spirit 
which per\^ades and gives tone to the decisions, the 
practice and traditions of the Court of Claims ; for 
it is old enough to have traditions. His influence 
is in all of them. From these sources I am able, 
to my own mind at least, to answer satisfactorily 
what, in part, ought to be said of the record of his 

Predominant in Judge Richardson's life, was an 
intense devotion to the welfare and upbuilding of 
the Court projected to bring about those conditions 
which I have quoted from the eloquent words of 
Charles O' Conor. So earnest was this interest, 
that those who were fortunate enough to possess his 
confidence, knew that at times he was apprehensive 
that b}^ some caprice the power that gave it birth 
' would recall its life. The apprehension was sincere 

but unfounded. The Court of Claims may be en- 
larged to greater usefulness but not destroyed. 
These apprehensions can only be accounted for by 
his jealous devotion. 

This devotion has been shown in other directions. 
"Where in the history of courts can we point to a 
judge whose life was more exclusively given to a 
single object than was Judge Richardson's? Rarely 
absent from his seat on the Bench, the few hours 
each week, which in common with his brethren he 
^y^ gave to the hearing of cases, formed but a small 

portion of the time occupied by him in its duties. 
Term time did not measure it. The long vacation 
hardl}^ knew a cessation from his labors. His opin- 
ions rendered failed fully to evidence his work. The 

executive duties necessary to such a court, largely'- 
carried on in chambers, and imperfectly appreciated 
by us as members of the Bar, increasing with the 
years of the Court, were enormous, but always met 
with a patience, a careful consideration of which we 
have little conception. For more than twenty years 
Judge Richardson literally devoted his life to the 
work, denying himself the pleasures which others 
take, and when he did break away from its routine, 
he carried with him something to do which should, 
by way of information or otherwise, redound to the 
benefit of the Court. 

Of the quality of his work, as embodied in his 
opinions, there can be but one mind. Our views of 
the work of a judge may be as much prejudiced by 
favorable as by adverse judgments. Every well- 
balanced mind will eventually settle itself aright, 
aided by time and reflection. That so few of Judge 
Richardson's opinions have been overruled by the 
Supreme Court, is a deserving tribute from that 
august body. He watched the results of review by 
that Court, not merely upon his own opinions, but 
those of all the members of his Court, and had a 
pardonable pride whenever its judgments were 
afl&rmed. When overruled I have on occasion 
heard him gracefully acquiesce in the justness of the 
decision. Judge Richardson in his written opinions 
did not always confine himself to a mere statement 
of the facts and law of the case. Designedly or 
otherwise, his mind seemed naturally to regard it 
as appropriate in many cases to give a full and com- 
plete history of a statute, or practice. The utility 


of such a course is undoubted. The earlier reports 
of many tribunals have been in some degree text- 
books for students of the law. That Judge Richard- 
son's opinions frequently embody his varied and 
extensive knowledge of the history of the statutes 
and customs of the Government, is no slight addition 
to their worth. 

How shall I speak of his relations with the Bar ? 
On an occasion like this any past irritations between 
the Court and the Bar, happily few here, fall into 
merited oblivion. When it is remembered that the 
cases of individual attorneys, few compared with 
the aggregate number on the docket of the Court of 
Claims, probably exceed that of any court in the 
land, if not in the world, and that like an avalanche, 
these cases are poured down upon this Bench, one 
does not wonder that the late Chief Justice, who so 
well knew how valuable was time, should early in a 
hearing seize upon the vital points of the case and 
urge their consideration. Such suggestions were 
always kindly made, and no right-minded member 
of our Bar ever had cause to resent them. Some- 
times suggestions were mirthful ; they never had a 
malicious sting. He believed this a business Court. 
What he desired was a clear-cut statement of the 
law and facts relied on. 

The Court of Claims is pre-eminently patient under 
lengthy discussions. Whatever might be his view 
of the utility of the argument, rarely did Chief 
Justice Richardson interfere to shorten it. Our 
minds are not always receptive in the excitement of 
an argument, and we often fail to see the force of the 

Court's suggestion. Seldom in sucli a case did Judge 
Richardson persist. More often he allowed us to 
proceed according to our own notions. To be 
satisfied that we have had a fair hearing, is a large 
factor in ending litigation. Either designedlj', or 
from intuition, Judge Richardson acknowledged the 
force of this idea. 

He believed that no technicalitj^ should dispose of 
a case when possibly a fuller exposition of its merits 
would decide it otherwise. Until there was a com- 
plete exhaustion of its merits the Chief Justice was 
unwilling to close a cause. So he frequently pointed 
out to counsel the weakness of their position, and 
allowed them to strengthen it, if possible. It is 
questionable whether a closer observance of some of 
the technical rules of common law practice would 
not benefit the Court and parties litigant. But to 
this Judge Richardson was opposed in theory and 
practice. Hence his unvarying kindness to the 
members of the Bar in all the details of business. 

I would not if I could disassociate my personal 
relations with the late Chief Justice from those 
which were once ofi&cial. I want to give my tribute 
of grateful praise to him, when, coming into a new 
and untried field, I ever found him read}^ to explain 
the practices and theories of the Court, so difierent 
from those in which I had had experience, and made 
smooth many a path in an unknov/n field. 

Others will speak of his varied learning on curious 
legal topics ; of the facility with which he wrote of 
them, and of his relations outside the Court. But 
here I knew him best and of that I have spoken. 

His da5^s were lengthened by much doing. To 
state it as a little more than three score and ten 
would be unfair to his memory. We have seen him, 
brethren, in these latter days come into and go out of 
this room, battling with ill health, yet always assid- 
uous in his duties, courteous and attentive. He has 
departed, not because there was no more work to do, 
but because the machinery, grown frail with years, 
could not longer perform its functions. Our restricted 
vision does not comprehend all he has wrought. 
That it has been much we know. How much, no 
one save Him whose eye is all-embracing can tell. 


My acquaintance with Chief Justice Richardson 
did not begin till he had been many years a member 
of the Court of Claims. Thus his judicial services 
to his native State, as also his career in the Treasury 
Department as Assistant Secretary, and later as Sec- 
retary, are to me but a part of the history of the 
country, except in so far as they were brought more 
prominently to my notice through the interesting 
personality of the Chief Justice, and his conversation 
about his past life while occupying these positions — 
a style of conversation which was of very frequent 
occurrence with him, as in later years he lived much 
in the past, and delighted to recall his busy, young 
life, both as a judge in Massachusetts and as a finan- 
cier in one of the most critical periods of President 
Grant's administration. 

During the greater part of the time of my acquaint- 
ance with him he was the presiding ofiicer of the 
Court. In such a tribunal as the Court of Claims, 
where a personal appearance of either parties or 
witnesses is of the rarest occurrence, and where 
the proceedings are conducted wholly between coun- 
sel and the Court, and largely in writing, there is no 
very marked difference between the duties of the 
Chief Justice, and those of the other members of the 

Court. Generally speaking, however, the Chief 
Justice is both the presiding and the executive officer 
of the Court As presiding officer, his personal 
manners and bearing exercise a considerable influ- 
ence over the general tone and temper of the tribunal, 
and may render its atmosphere an agreeable one, or 
otherwise, to the members of the Bar practicing 
before it. In this particular, Chief Justice Richard- 
son made his Court a decidedly pleasant one in which 
to practice, especially for the younger or less exper- 
ienced counsel who happened to come before it. His 
manners were uniformly suave and affable, and he 
was always ready to bear with patience the natural 
timidity and nervousness of counsel addressing for 
the first time a national tribunal whose jurisprudence 
and practice occupy so different a field from that of 
every other in the country, whether State or National, 
as to render experience before other courts of compar- 
atively slight value. At the same time, his remark- 
able quickness of apprehension made him impatient 
of mere platitudes, and he was apt to insist with 
some strictness, though it never could be called asper- 
ity, upon arguments being addressed to the precise 
point before the Court. His own judicial opinions 
are marked by the same characteristic. They are 
uniformly terse and direct and generally confined to 
the precise point involved in a case. Where anything 
outside of this is given, it is purely for purposes of 
illustration or analogy. But few of his opinions can, 
like many of those in the reports of the Supreme 
Court, be read as complete essays upon any one 
branch of the law. Sometimes, however, as in the 

McKm'g ht Q2is^,m the 13th Volume of the Court of 
Claims Reports, he made an exception to this rule ; 
and in that case the most complete statement of 
the system of Treasury accounting ever given is 
made the basis of his opinion ; while, five years 
later, his opinion in the Hodges Case, in the i8th 
Court of Claims Reports, is a summarj- of the 
history of the Captured and Abandoned Property 
Act, and of the business done under it. These, 
however, are somewhat exceptional, and in the very 
few instances of this kind, it will be found that the 
digressions from the exact point involved were usu- 
ally made for the purpose of putting on record his- 
torical facts which were not to be found in any 
standard treatises or other works on the subject. As 
more usual samples of his judicial method, I should 
name such opinions as that in the Johnsori Case, in 
the 14th Volume, on the Doctrine of Presumption of 
Regularity of Official Acts ; or the Hitchcock Case, 
in the 27th Volume, on the Assignment of Claims 
against the United States. 

His turn of mind was eminently practical. For 
this reason he but rarely placed upon record a dis- 
sent from the opinion of the majority of the Court, 
even when he had not concurred in the decision. 
He regarded the decision when made by a competent 
majority, as the resolution of the Court, to be made 
the basis of action ; and which it were better not to 
weaken by suggesting even well-founded doubts of 
its correctness. 

His mark will long remain on the jurisprudence 
of the Court ; and he took great and just pride 

in the prominent part he had taken in the evolution 
of the present system under which demands against 
the Government are to the utmost attainable extent 
taken out of the region of political or personal 
favoritism and are brought as completely within 
the domain of scientific jurisprudence as is the law 
of real property, or of patents. 

In politics he was from earliest youth a staunch 
Whig, and an ardent Republican from the very in- 
ception of that party. The only perceptible influence 
of his political views upon his judicial opinions is in 
the broad and generous view which he always took 
of the powers of the General Government. There 
was certainly nothing sectional in the spirit of his 
decisions, which were as just to the war claim of the 
South, or the Indian depredation of the West, as to 
the French Spoliation claim of his native New Eng- 
land. He regarded all citizens as alike entitled to 
the protection of the General Government, and to 
the fulfillment of its obligations to them, in whatever 
part of the country they might live. 

In religion he was during all his life a strict mem- 
ber of the Unitarian communion, and during his 
residence in Washington was an active participant 
in the work of All Souls' Church, of which he was 
trustee for three terms of three years each. He will 
be specially mourned by his fellow-members of that 
Church, where his regular attendance and hearty 
co-operation were for so many years a contribution 
to its welfare and advancement. 


Chief Justice Wm. A. Richardson was among my 
first acquaintances in Washington. He impressed 
me from the first as a man of even temper — a Judge 
who always wanted to be right. He was an inde- 
fatigable worker, a conscientious judicial executive 
oflBcer. His education was supplemented with 
abundant energy so that the business before the 
Court went speedily on. 

The members of the Bar of the Court all recog- 
nized his fairness in the methods and purposes of the 
Court. He was jealous of the dignity of the Court, 
which was a source of pride to the people of the 
United States. The judicial ofi&ce holds such a re- 
lation to the affairs of men that its dignity is as 
sacred as the ermine with which the judge is clothed. 
The Court of Claims of the United States is one of 
the most important courts in all the land. The 
variety of questions constantly recurring, and the 
amounts involved in the cases brought in this court, 
make it a great tribunal in the economy of the Gov- 
ernment. It is the people's court. 

The dignity of the office held by Mr. Justice Rich- 
ardson is second only to that of the Chief Justice of 
the Supreme Court of the United States. Judge 
Richardson appreciated this, and in his bearing on 

and off the bench there was never occasion for 
unfavorable criticism. He liked responsibility. He 
liked work. 

Congress has for years looked to him for the com- 
pilation and revision of the statutes of the United 
States ; and the Revised Statutes bear the impress 
of his genius and his zeal for a convenient and ready 
reference to the modifications of the laws inherited 
by the country. 

His learned associates all recognized his quick 
conception of the statute law. While in legal erudi- 
tion he may have been surpassed by others who sat 
with him in counsel, he rarely ever erred in the ap- 
plication of the law to an established statement of 

My tribute to Justice Richardson is, that he was 
a man of wholesome integrity and candid sociability, 
a learned, industrious lawyer and a conscientious, 
upright judge. The Bench and Bar have not 
suffered by his administration of the Court's 

Now that he has been so suddenly called to his 
reward, it will lead us all to a more kindly consid- 
eration of the labor imposed upon the Bench in its 
search for the truth, as revealed by the laws it is 
called upon to interpret. 

I have an abiding faith in the immortality of the 
soul. I believe that this life is the nurserj^ where 
the soul is prepared for transplanting in the great 
orchard of eternity, there to go on in growth, ex- 
panding and brightening — glorifying the Creator ; 
that if the ledger-book of life shall unfold more assets 

than liabilities, the world has been made better by 
that life ; that if a man has been faithful over a few 
things he shall be made ruler over many things. 

Judge Richardson measured up to his responsibil- 
ities. The lessons of his life are useful to us, for in 
them is the inspiration of duty well done. The 
high position he attained is worthy of all praise and 
is the precious heritage of his family and friends. 


The late Chief Justice Richardson said on more 
than one occasion that he considered the work done 
by -him, which was of most value to his fellow- 
men, to be the revision of the Statutes of Massachu- 
setts, undertaken over thirty j^ears ago ; that this, 
in his judgment, outweighed his services on the 
bench of this Court. While this work, he said, had 
received no extraordinary amount of express com- 
mendation, he had felt that it had served its purpose 
well because almost no adverse criticisms had ever 
been heard upon it. He thought with that acumen 
which always distinguished his mature judgment, 
that the failure to find fault was a higher tribute to 
the meritof an impersonal work, such as the revision 
of statutes, than abundantly' expressed praise. The 
correctness of this opinion is strikingly illustrated by 
the fact that more than three hundred errors in the 
Revised Statutes of the United States were found and 
corrected by statute within a few years of the revis- 
ion, while many more have been pointed out but 
never corrected. 

We who are familiar with the work of the late 
Chief Justice in this Court are not willing to accede 
to his estimate of its value as secondary to his earlier 
work, but would rather ascribe his opinion to the 
essential modesty of his character, leading him to 
depreciate the importance of the particular work in 
which he was at the time engaged. 

The qualities first noticed by every observer as 
marking his work in this Court were his great learn- 
ing in matters of administrative and statutory law, 
his knowledge of the details of every case, and his 
untiring industry. These were always first spoken 
of. Yet I think that these are among the lesser dis- 
tinctions of his intellectual character. These quali- 
ties — industry, knowledge of details and specialized 
learning — must be possessed by every great lawyer ; 
yet a lawyer may have them all and not be great. 
There are other qualities possessed by the late Chief 
Justice that constitute the essentials of a great legal 
mind, but his unassuming appearance and his mod- 
est manner failed to thrust upon those associated 
with him, so prominently as otherwise might have 
been, the fact that he had the highest qualities go- 
ing to make up a great lawyer. 

Foremost among these was his ability to discern 
the real point at issue in any case. This is the cru- 
cial test of either an advocate or a judge. A lawyer 
may study his cases for many days, he may saturate 
himself with erudition, he may master even the mi- 
nutest details of a controversy, but unless he pos- 
sesses that rare and unusual quality of separating 
the chaff from the grain, of throwing aside the husk 
and shell and reaching the kernel, of seeing clearly 
the real point of a case, all his labor is but gathering 
material for a greater mind to use. When we con- 
sider the swiftness with which Chief Justice Rich- 
ardson seized the issue in every case, often before 
counsel had fully stated it ; when we recall that he 
never allowed his mind to be diverted from it during 

the trial ; when we remember the courteousl}'- con- 
cealed impatience with which his mind received un- 
necessarily prolonged explanations of unimportant 
details, we realize that his industrj^ and learning were 
crowned by the possession of that quality which is 
the first in constituting a great legal mind. 

And if to see the point of a case is the first legal 
gift, to express it so as to carry conviction to others 
is only secondary. Here indeed he was no less able. 

In older days, the charm of a writer was thought 
to be the possession of some special, yet self-conscious, 
style. But the literary canon of the future seems to 
be that the best use of language is that which leaves 
the reader unconscious of the writer and impressed 
only with his thought. Stimma ars celare artem. has 
taken the place of all other rules. It was this which 
marked the writings of Chief Justice Richardson. 
The first impression on reading one of his opinions 
is intellectual conviction. The reasoning advances 
by sure steps to a correct conclusion. A demonstra- 
tion in mathematics is the most perfect expression of 
logical reasoning, and I think that his opinions came 
nearer to this form than is found in the opinions of 
any but a few, and these the greatest, judges. In 
reading them, the mind is kept intent only upon the 
subject, unconscious of the writer or of the style. It 
is only after they are carefully examined that one 
realizes the exactness and conciseness of expression, 
and the clearness of the reasoning process by which 
the result is reached. The appearance of effort is 
entirely lost, yet those familiar with the methods of 
his work know that some of these opinions were held 

under consideration and amendment for many suc- 
cessive months before reaching their final form. 

United to these qualities was one of the most val- 
uable in a judge, soundness of judgment, called in 
plain speech sometimes " common sense," because 
very uncommon. It is generally the result of the 
action of a broadly synthetic mind upon an intimate 
knowledge of all the facts relating to the subject. 
This led the late Chief Justice to avoid the merely 
technical side of every case and to see its substantial 
justice. Therefore, while his mind moved on strictly 
logical lines, it moved with a broad comprehension 
of the justice underlying each case and of the rela- 
tion which the law declared in this particular case 
bore to the whole body of law on the subject. This 
breadth of vision prevented his judgment from being 
led astraj' by technicalities and gave it that sound- 
ness which is one of its chief characteristics. 

Thus reviewing his judicial attainments, I think 
that without danger of undeserved eulogy we may 
say that the minute accuracy of his knowledge, his 
capacity for hard work, his quick apprehension of 
the i-ssue of a case, his sound judgment and his con- 
vincing expression of his conclusions, entitle him 
to rank among the great lawyers of the nation. 
That his work was of a highlj^ specialized kind, 
brought directly to the attention of but a small class 
of his fellow-citizens, prevented his great ability 
from receiving the wider recognition which it 
would have had in some other tribunal, perhaps of 
far less importance, but of greater publicity. 

It is, therefore, mere justice to his memory that 


we, who know his work and appreciate his ability, 
should here declare our estimate of his intellectual 

His kindness to the younger men at the Bar is a 
matter which should not go unmentioned. It grew 
with his advancing years. No young and timid 
practitioner ever could complain of a rebuff. Youth- 
ful earnestness was always a safe-conduct to his con- 
sideration. Ability in a young man was constantly 
recognized. I have heard him more than once 
speak with appreciation of the efforts of the younger 
members of the Bar and express his hope for their 
success. Indeed, I should be wanting in due regard 
for his memory if I failed to declare my personal 
obligation to him for the repeated suggestions and 
sound advice which he has often given me as to the 
correct method of presenting cases in court. 

With all the personal modesty which marked him, 
the Chief Justice had a high opinion of the dignity 
of this Court. One need only recall his opinion in 
the case of Meigs, reported in the 20th Volume of 
the Reports of the Court (p. 187), where the Treas- 
ury Department had refused to follow the judgment 
of this Court on a later demand of exactly the same 
nature by the same claimant. The opinion reviewed 
the laws and decisions governing the relations be- 
tween this Court and the Executive Departments, 
with this conclusion : 

' ' Thus the course of legislation unmistak- 
ably indicates the intention of Congress that 
the decisions of the Court of Claims shall be 
guides and precedents for the executive depart- 

ments in all like cases. The wisdom of such 
legislation and of the intention of Congress 
indicated thereby is manifest. ' ' 

It was through his article on the ' ' History, Juris- 
diction and Practice of the Court of Claims" that 
more general public attention was invited to the 
Court and to the great importance of its jurisdiction. 
The eloquent words of Charles O' Conor, quoted in 
this article, and which have been referred to by a 
previous speaker, give a true picture of the work of 
the Court : 

" Here equity, morality, honor and good con- 
science must be practically applied to the deter- 
mination of claims, and the actual authority of 
these principles over governmental action, 
ascertained, declared and illustrated in perma- 
nent and abiding forms. As step by step, in 
successive decisions, you shall have ascertained 
the duties of government toward the citizens, 
fixed their precise limits upon sound principles, 
and armed the claimant with means of securing 
their enforcement, a code will grow up giving 
effect to many rights not heretofore practically 

For twenty-two years the life of the late Chief 
Justice was devoted to this end, and he died at a 
time when the ripest fruit of his mind was in this 
form given to the benefit of his country. His fame 
may well rest upon his services to justice in this 
tribunal and a permanent result for good to his 
fellow men will be found in the inestimable aid 
rendered by him in the establishment of the law 
controlling the relations between the citizens of the 
United States and their government. 


Mr. Chairman : We have met to commemorate 
the Hfe, character and services of the late Chief 
Justice of the Court of Claims. Nothing we can 
say can soothe "the dull, cold ear of death," but 
the language of eulogy is the tribute which the 
living are wont to express to the memory of the use- 
ful and the good, and those who live and follow the 
custom of according to those gone before the proper 
meed of praise for their actions here below thus 
unconsciously render homage to public and private 
virtue, and the good which death has claimed in those 
of whom we speak. 

It is fitting that the Bar should assemble to do 
honor to the memory of Judge Richardson, not only 
because of his usefulness as a man, but his excel- 
lence as a judge; and in assembling to honor him 
after his labors are over, we honor ourselves and the 
community and country he served so well. 

Merely to have lived three-quarters of a century 
signifies but little. Length of days and many years 
come to many, and material existence to old age is 
accorded to millions. But to have lived more than 
three-score years and ten, to have occupied high and 
honorable position, and to have attained prominence 

in the pursuit of useful ends and purposes, and 
finally to have died with the respect and esteem of 
men, signifies much and quite enough to justif)'' 
honor and praise from those who live. 

Coming to this city three years ago, my acquaint- 
ance with Judge Richardson began at that time. 
Thus it may be said I came to know him in the 
evening of his da5^s. Under these circumstances 
others can speak of his life work and to what he 
accomplished far better than I can, and I will not 
sketch his career. But ofiicial relations brought 
me in constant contact with him and with the Court 
over which he presided, and I came to know hira 
not only as a judge, but as a man, and to appreciate 
his many acts of ofl&cial wisdom and personal kind- 
ness. Where I had a right to expect only official 
respect and courtesy, evidences of personal regard 
were not long wanting in my relation with Judge 
Richardson which each recurring season strength- 
ened to such an extent I felt that in him I had 
truly a friend. So many evidences of this good 
will on his part were given to me from time to 
time, I shall always esteem my relations with him 
as one of the most pleasant memories of my official 
relations with the Court, of which he was the pre- 
siding Judge. 

We all know that men of strong individuality 
often possess some great - distinguishing traits of 
character, which in life largely control their actions, 
and in death becomes manifest as still the ruling 
passion. Historians tell us that Augustus Caesar 
died in a compliment and Tiberius in dissimulation, 

while the hand of God fell upon Vespasian in a jest. 
Judge Richardson died at his work. He was the 
incarnation of work. His eye was on everything 
connected with the Court and the work of the Court, 
and his vigilance over the details of every part of the 
business in hand was something extraordinar)'. 

He had great pride in his work and always seemed 
solicitous to be right, not merely because his action 
could be reviewed, but from an earnest desire to 
reach just and proper conclusions. Reminding him 
upon one occasion of Lord Bacon's warning that 
judges ought to remember that their office is jii^ 
dicere and noi Jus dare, to interpret law and not to 
make it, or give law, else it would be like the au- 
thority claimed for the church, and that no torture 
could be worse than the torture of the laws, — he was 
quick to respond to my objections to judge-made 
law that he hoped his opinions would lead an 
impartial public to say that he had followed his 
office 7^^ dicere. 

The Chief Justice had great consideration for the 
time and convenience of others ; keen appreciation 
of the difficulties which beset those assuming the 
prosecution, or charged with the duty of defending 
cases. He was ever ready to smooth the asperities 
engendered by the heat of active practice and the 
conflicts of the Court room. He was obliging and 
courteous, impartial and just, attentive and vigilant, 
cautious and careful of the rights of litigants, and 
in his death the Court of which he was chief has 
lost an able coadjutor, the Bar a friend, and the 
country an upright, good and capable judge. I will 

not say more, because worthy ends and expectations 
were attained by the late Chief Justice, and many 
warm and close friends are here ready to speak to 
what he did and what he was, while the splendid 
fabric of judicial work wrought by his care and 
patience and earnest endeavor in quest of truth will 
stand longer than anything we can say. 

On motion of Mr. Abrams the Resolutions were 
unanimously adopted by a rising vote. 

The meeting also voted that when the Resolutions 
should be presented to the Court on Monday next, 
the Chairman of this meeting (Mr. Boutwell) be 
requested to second the same with such remarks as 
he may desire to make. 

Mr. Boutwell : The chair will accede to the 
wish of the members of the Bar and will second the 
Resolutions on Monday morning. 

Thereupon, on motion of Mr. George A. King, 
the meeting adjourned. 



Monday, November 2j, r8g>6. 
Present: The Hon. Chari^es C. Nott, 


John Davis, 
Stanton J. Peelle, 

J. C. Bancroft Davis, 

Ex-Judge of the Court of Claims. 
Martin F. Morris, 
Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals 

of the District of Columbia. 

Mr. Assistant Attorney-General Joshua Eric 
Dodge addressed the Court as follows : 

May it please the Court : At a meeting of the Bar 
of this Court held on Friday last, November 20th, 
said by some of the older members to have been the 
most representative and largely attended meeting 
held within their memory, there were delivered 
numerous addresses commemorative of the character 
and services of the lately deceased Chief Justice, 
William A. Richardson, which it is hoped will be 
compiled in print and given permanence, either as a 
part of a memoir of the life of their distinguished 


subject, or by incorporation into the next volume of 
the Reports of the decisions. Many of them were 
eloquent, and all were worthy of a place in the 
history of the Court which he so long adorned. 

The meeting also directed me to present at this 
time the following resolutions, with a motion that 
they be spread upon the permanent records of the 
Court : 

[Mr. Dodge, after having read the resolutions, con- 

These resolutions were but the crystallization of 
the sentiments of bereavement, affection and admir- 
ation which pervaded that meeting of men, many of 
national rank and fame, who for many years had 
been in the contact of daily business affairs with the 
deceased. The sudden breaking of that routine 
forced upon each the realization that with all his 
modesty and unobtrusiveness, there had lived among 
us and gone from among us a man great in his 

With such realization comes almost perforce the 
query, ever renewed and always but imperfectly an- 
swered, What is greatness ; What qualities of mind 
and of heart constitute it ? None can answer by a 
generalization. We can but analyze the qualities 
of each individual, and sometimes satisfy ourselves 
what element of his character most led him to 
his measure of success in life. The man who has 
gone from among us commenced his life in an 
obscure little hamlet among the northern hills of 
Massachusetts, distinguished only by its name, 
Tyngsborough, which, as Chief Justice Richardson 


himself discovered, is not shared by any other com- 
munity in the United States. Why did it not run 
its course and end there among the petty but re- 
spectable duties, pleasures and afifairs which make 
up the lives of so many gentlemen of education and 
intelligence, instead of reaching out into the gov- 
ernment and courts of his State and of his nation, 
so that when the end comes, the great places of 
his countr}^ are troubled, and those charged with 
cares and duties as broad as this great country are 
brought to pause therein and to note that one high 
among them is no more ? 

To me it seems that the great dominating force 
in this career is an eminently practical and useful 
one, and one which in large measure can be devel- 
oped and cultivated by all, so that this life may 
stand out as a most useful guide to those who yet 
have in much portion their lives before them. A 
never-tiring, never-flagging devotion to the duties 
cast upon him, more than anything — perhaps more 
than all things else — distinguished our Chief Justice. 
Whether the duties were great or small, to them 
were devoted all of his excellent intellectual power, 
all of his ready tact and sound common sense, and 
all of his persistent industry ; and in the progress of 
his career from his hamlet home in Tyngsborough, 
through all the gradations to the nation's capital, 
and the control of some of the most important affairs 
of state, his life was a repeated fulfilment of the 
promise that ' ' he who has been faithful over a few 
things shall be made ruler over many things." 


Mr. George S. Boutwell said : 

May it please the Court : 

As a solemn duty I second the motion that has 
now been made that the resolutions which have been 
adopted by the Bar of the Court of Claims, in which 
the members have attempted to set forth their ap- 
preciation of the character and services of the late 
Chief Justice, be placed upon the records of the 
Court and made a part of the day's proceedings. 

Before I speak of his services and standing as an 
executive ofiBcer and a jurist, I shall avail myself of 
the opportunity now presented, that I may recognize 
the early, long-continued and uninterrupted friend- 
ship that subsisted between the late Chief Justice 
and myself. 

Our acquaintance began in the last half of the de- 
cennial period following the year 1830. At that time 
neither of us had attained to his majority. William 
Adams Richardson was a pupil in the Academy at 
Groton, Massachusetts, and I was a clerk in a village 
store. ' Reentered Harvard College in 1839, and for 
several years our ways of life diverged. Our meet- 
ings were casual only, but our friendship continued, 
although in politics we differed until we came together 
in the Republican party. Upon his graduation from 
Harvard College in 1843, he began the systematic 
study of law in the city of lyOwell, which became 
his residence for many years. 


During that period he was connected with the 
government of the city, and he was also interested in 
its institutions of finance and business ; and in the 
relations thus formed his opinions were much re- 
garded and largely followed. 

In 1856 he was appointed Judge of Probate for 
the County of Middlesex, the county that at that 
time was the most populous and the most important 
county in the Commonwealth. 

It was then that Judge Richardson became known 
to the State. In a few years thereafter he received 
the appointment of Judge of the combined Courts of 
Probate and Insolvency for the same County. 

His services in the two oflSces covered a period of 
about sixteen years, and his administration, from 
beginning to end, was free from criticism or com- 
plaint. During that period he was often called to 
act as referee in important cases, when the parties 
wished to avoid the delay and expense of litigation 
in the courts. 

In that same period he performed two most im- 
portant services, one for the State in the revision of 
its laws, and the other in behalf of good learning in 
the reformation of the Board of Overseers of Harvard 
College. He was a member of the Commission that 
revised the laws of the State as they appeared in the 
year i860. I would not be unjust to his associates 
upon the Commission, but it was the opinion of those 
who were most carefully instructed upon the subject, 
that the more delicate and difficult parts of the work 
were performed by him. To all of us, whether of 
the Bench or of the Bar, it is known that he was 


ready at all times in age as in youth to assume any 
work that was in the line of his duty, or of his pro- 
fession. He was one of three men, who, graduates 
of the college, were instrumental in securing a 
change of the law by which the election of the over- 
seers is vested in the alumni of the college. This 
change has contributed materially to the prosperity 
that has attended the college, in these last five and 
twenty 5^ears, under the wise and efiBcient adminis- 
tration of President Eliot. 

It was with great reluctance, and only after long 
delay and much urging on my part, that Judge 
Richardson consented to resign his office in Massa- 
chusetts and to accept the place of Associate Secre- 
tary of the Treasury. His office in Massachusetts 
was an honorable office, its duties were agreeable to 
him, he was among his early and long-tried friends, 
and on every side he was honored and respected. 

After a delay of several months he yielded to my 
importunities, but against his own inclination, and 
he thus entered a larger field of public service. 

In the three and a half years of our association he 
contributed largely to whatever of success was at- 
tained during my administration of the Treasury 

I pass over all minor events and incidents, that I 
may speak of one important service which may not 
have been paralleled in our history, or in the history 
of any other country. 

In the year 1871, a subscription was made in Lon- 
don for one hundred and thirty-four million of five 
per cent. United States bonds, the transaction to 


be consummated in L/Ondon, the first day of Decem- 
ber of that year, and payment to be made in gold, 
or in five-twent)^ six per cent, bonds. 

Judge Richardson was charged with the duty of 
making the transfer. He was assisted by a corps of 
clerks, but the duty and the responsibility were on 
him. The larger part of the new bonds was paid 
for by the delivery of old five-twenty bonds, par for 
par, but the payments in gold ran far up into the 
millions. The gold funds were invested subsequently 
in five-twenty bonds at par, and at the end of a few 
months the Treasury received one hundred and 
thirty-four million of redeemed five-twenty six per 
cent, bonds, in exchange for the issue of one hun- 
dred and thirty-four million of five per cent, bonds. 

The magnitude of this transaction may well make 
one shudder even after the lapse of a quarter of a 
century, and so proportionateh^ should be our admir- 
ation over the success of its execution. His term of 
office as Secretary of the Treasury must be measured 
by months rather than by years, and it was too brief 
to furnish a full view of his capacity as an executive 
oflBcer. His administration was marked by a wise, 
careful attention to business, and by a judicious dis- 
charge of every dut5^ 

I have once made this remark in a public way : 
There is a rough side to Government, and there must 
be a quality of harshness in those who administer 
governments successfully. Such generalizations, 
even if true as rules of action, are subject to excep- 
tions. If it had been the fortune of Judge Richard- 
son to have served on the executive side of the Gov- 


ernment for a period of years, and there bad been 
any just cause for criticism, it would have had its 
origin in the absence of the quality of harshness in 
his nature. 

I count it something — indeed, I count it much in 
au)^ man's career, that he enjoyed the friendship and 
confidence of General Grant. That was the good 
fortune of Judge Richard.son to the end of General 
Grant's life. 

General Grant spoke of his friends in a way that 
distinguished them from other persons. With them 
he dispensed with all appellations, whether Mr., Col- 
onel or General. In conversations General Sherman 
was only "Sherman" and Judge Richardson was 
only ' ' Richardson. ' ' 

While Judge Richardson held the office of Judge 
in this Court, and of Chief Justice of the Court, he 
performed other important work for which his labors 
in Massachusetts had given him large preparation. 
The Supplements to the Revised Statutes, which 
were prepared by him largely and always under his 
direction, are evidences of his painstaking industry, 
and of his aptitude rising quite near to genius, for 
the codification and arrangement and notation of 
statutes, qualifications not appreciated even by the 
members of the profession, and by the general pub- 
lic they are not considered, nor even known. If the 
index of the Revised Statutes of 1878 has ever been 
criticised, the criticism has not fallen under my no- 
tice. Indeed, the statement has been made that one 
of the States of the Union required the revisers of 
its statutes to accept as a model the index of the 


Revised Statutes of the United States. The plan 
and the organization of the plan of that index are 
due to Judge Richardson ; and of the work, especially 
in the arrangement, a large part was performed by 

Its volume may be realized from the fact that there 
are about twenty-five thousand references, and that 
there are at least three references by substantive 
words, to every phase of legislative action. His skill 
in the organization and arrangement of the index 
may be best seen by reference to the reading under 
the heading of " Crimes." 

The death of Judge Richardson gives me the only 
opportunity that was possible of placing the honor of 
the index, which must mean something with the pro- 
fession, to the credit of his name and memory. 

The indulgence of the Court must be asked when 
I say that it is the misfortune of the Court, now re- 
alized in the case of Judge Richardson, that it does 
not speak in the language which is the language of 
the courts of the country and of the English world. 
This Court deals largely with causes arising under 
statutes which gives the individual a right of action 
against the United States on claims sounding in con- 
tract. It has no jurisdictions over controversies be- 
tween private parties, it has no common law juris- 
diction ; and its equity powers, as granted by recent 
statutes, are limited, though as yet they have not 
been fully tested. By the statutes which gave to 
this Court a qualified jurisdiction over claims known 
as French Spoliation Claims, questions of interna- 


tional law, and questions touching the value of decis- 
ions of foreign courts, were considered by the tribu- 
nal, but at the end of an experience of half a cen- 
tury it is to be said that but few of its decisions are 
applicable as precedents, or as authorities in common 
law or equity courts. 

Hence it has happened that the bar and the judi- 
ciary of the country have been ignorant of the do- 
ings of this Court ; and hence it is that the late 
Chief Justice did not acquire the standing as a jurist 
that he would have reached had he had a seat in a 
court of general jurisdiction. 

These observations should not lead us to under- 
value the questions raised and the decisions rendered 
in this Court. There are but few courts in the coun- 
try, if indeed there are any, in which the controver- 
sies are of more importance, or in which the ascer- 
tainment of the facts is more difficult. 

As a summary, it is not too much to say that the 
late Chief Justice met, and fully met, every reqire- 
ment that is essential in a judge. In learning he 
was fully prepared for every exigency of the bar or 
of the bench ; he was urbane in manner and resolute 
in his purposes ; he was considerate of the rights of 
others and firm in the maintenance of the just au- 
thorit}'' of the Court. In fine, his judicial career is 
without spot or blemish. It is a great tribute to be 
able to say, and in truth to say, of an associate whose 
career is ended, that through a period of more than 
forty years he occupied important places in the pub- 
lic service, and constantly under the public eye, that 
he was everywhere and always equal to the duty be- 

fore him, that he never erred to the injury of State 
or country, and that at the end we are not tempted 
to draw the veil of oblivion over any day of his pub- 
lic or private life. 

Judge Weldon, on behalf of the Court, re- 
sponded as follows : 

Gentleme7i of the Bar : The Court receives the 
resolutions and proceedings of the Bar in relation 
to the death of the late Chief Justice, as a just and 
appropriate tribute to the memory of one whose ca- 
reer is well worthy of the highest appreciation of 
public esteem. 

Chief Justice Richardson had a most successful 
and honorable public career, discharging every re- 
sponsibility and trust imposed upon him with great 
credit to himself, and honor and profit to his country. 

In his infancy the lines had fallen to him in the 
golden medium between competency and wealth ; he 
was not borne down by privations, nor enervated by 
the expectancy of hereditary riches ; he did not 
encounter the difl&culty of want, nor the more 
dangerous influence of wealth, which so often blights 
the ambition and paralyzes the energy of youth. 

At the age of twenty-one he graduated from that 
institution, which has been from the earliest days of 


ttis country and is now, the pride and boast of 
American learning. Nature had endowed him with 
the highest and best qualifications of the student, 
lawyer and judge — industry. 

In his course at Harvard College he had acquired 
the ability of close, prolonged and mental 
application, the possession of which enabled him to 
perform with credit and discharge with success, the 
many responsibilities which through more than half 
a century devolved upon him. 

Underlying the individual efforts which he made 
as student, lawyer, executive ofiicer and judge, were 
the sterling qualities of that character which he had 
inherited from a long line of ancestry, embodying 
the characteristics of that noble race which developed 
New England in all the elements that constitute a 
great people. 

He was highly educated in the perfect discipline 
of his mind, being enabled, because of such discipline, 
to bestow upon any subject of investigation the 
undivided and prolonged thought of his whole being ; 
and that, in the end, is the perfection of education. 
Education is not necessarily scope and breadth of 
information ; its highest and best quality is the 
mental aptitude to investigate and understand the 
complex questions of mind and matter. 

Upon his graduation the Chief Justice chose the 
profession of the law as the vocation of his life ; and 
to its study and practice he brought habits of 
trained thought which he had acquired in the 
discipline of the schools. 

Public observation, which is not slow to discern 


aptitudes and qualifications fitting men for public 
trust, soon conferred upon him the confidence of its 
appreciation in his selection to revise the statutes of 
Massachusetts, a work which he continued to do for 
more than twenty years. He was again selected by 
the legislature to edit the Supplement of the Statutes, 
which he did to the satisfaction of the legislature, 
and of a bar, the most critical of any in the United 

In 1856, he became the Judge of Probate and In- 
solvency in a county second to only one in the State 
of Massachusetts. In the discharge of the duties of 
that important office, he again marked his official 
career with that ability and industry by which and 
in which were performed the acts of his whole life, 
as a guardian of a private or public trust. 

In 1869, having declined higher judicial honors in 
the State of Massachusetts, he became Assistant Sec- 
retary of the Treasury, his lifelong and devoted 
friend, Governor Boutwell, being the Secretary. In 
that capacity he went to Europe as the financial 
agent of the United States to adjust and arrange 
some of the most delicate and important matters 
connected with the public credit ; and on his return 
he became Secretary of the Treasury. In the dis- 
charge of the duties of that high office he infused 
the spirit of that industry and purity of purpose 
which in all the relations of life had been the marked 
individuality of his public and private career. 

He was Secretary of the Treasury during the 
panic of 1873 ; and by conservative and able counsel, 
the administration, in the conduct of the Treasury' 


Department, adhered to and maintained the wise 
policy of financial integrity. 

In 1874, the Chief Justice became, by the appoint- 
ment of President Grant, a Judge of this Court, in 
which capacity he served until he became Chief 
Justice in January, 1885. 

His judicial labors on this bench commenced with 
the tenth and ended with the thirty-first volume of 
the reports ; and it is a melancholy and sad reflec- 
tion that the opening of the present session marked 
the boundary of that life which has so richly con- 
tributed to the exposition of the law which defines 
and settles the rights of the citizen and the sovereign. 

It is almost useless for me to say to you. Gentle- 
men of the Bar, that during his labors the litigation 
of this Court has been very much enlarged, embrac- 
ing within its scope the decisions of the most complex 
questions of nearly every branch of the law and the 
evolution of truth from the widest range of human 
testimony. For more than twenty-two years, the 
arduous and responsible duties of a Judge and Chief 
Justice of this Court were discharged by him with 
an ability and faithfulness adequate to the full re- 
quirement of the positions. 

The information which he acquired while Secretary 
of the Treasury was of great service to the Court in 
the adjudication of cases involving questions of stat- 
utory construction applicable to that department. 
His mind had great power of retention, and a prin- 
ciple of administrative law was recalled with ready 
reference when it became applicable in the litigation 
of the Court. 


The twenty-one volumes of the reports in which 
may be found his opinions on the varied questions of 
our jurisdiction are a lasting memorial to his name 
and fame. They will remain as landmarks of the law 
as long as our system of government endures, and this 
forum shall be open for the adjudication of national 
obligations. The good of his life is not ' ' interred 
with his bones." 

During almost the entire period of his services on 
the Bench, notwithstanding the perplexing and mani- 
fold duties of the office of Chief Justice, he performed 
his portion of the labor incident to all the members of 
the Court, sharing every responsibility and shrink- 
ing from no task, however burdensome. 

He was most methodical in the habits of his life 
as a member of the Court, discharging the minor 
duties of Chief Justice with the same care and atten- 
tion that he bestowed upon the higher requirements 
of the position. In Court, as every member of the 
Bar will attest, he was as free from judicial tyranny 
as any judge could be, and administered the power 
of his high trust in the kindest consideration of all. 

The "insolence of office" sometimes manifested 
in courts of justice found no place in what he said 
or did in the discharge of his duty in the adminis- 
tration of the office of Chief Justice. Patience, for- 
bearance, courtesy and consideration toward all, 
marked the lineaments of his official character. 

In that beneficent economy of nature which pro- 
vides aptitudes for the necessities of the race, from 
the rudest state of society to the highest develop- 
ments of civilization, the Chief Justice was endowed 


with the faculty of justice, which discems through 
the mazes of judicial controversy the substantial 
rights of litigants founded upon the fundamental 
principles of the laws. 

* * * * For justice 

All places a temple, and all seasons summer. 

His mind was of the practical and substantial 
mold, free from intellectual prejudice, ready to 
change when reason dictated, uninfluenced by the 
pride of opinion, or the dangerous and unreasonable 
demands of consistency. 

His opinions are fine specimens of judicial state- 
ment, terse in words yet comprehensive in thought, 
saying nothing beyond the requirements of the case, 
and enunciating the principle of the decision so 
clearly that its authority is unquestioned. 

In the branch of statutory law, the Chief Justice 
had rare qualifications as a Judge. His knowledge 
of that department of jurisprudence has not been 
excelled in the history of this country. His patient 
and unremitting power of investigation, his accurate 
and clear conception of legal principles embodied in 
the forms of statutory enactment, his varied expe- 
rience in the revision and construction of acts of the 
legislature of his native State, and of the laws of Con- 
gress, conferred upon him the highest quality of 
ability involving the correct exposition of the law 
as founded upon the will of the legislature. 

The truth of this statement is abundantly verified 
in the many opinions delivered by him in this Court ; 
and in the volumes of the Revised Statutes, both State 


and National, which bear the imprint of his genius. 
They are more complimentary to his memory than 
the praise of a friendship, however fervent. 

In 1880, he was selected by joint resolution of 
Congress to prepare and edit the ' ' Supplement to 
the Revised Statutes," a work "embracing the 
statutes general and permanent in their nature, 
passed after the Revised Statutes, with references 
connecting the provisions on the same subject, 
explanatory notes, citations of judicial decisions 
and a general index." 

The work as first published extended from the 
date the Revised Statutes went into effect (1873) to 
the adjournment of the Forty-sixth Congress, in 1881. 
So useful was this work, in bringing together the 
permanent legislation of general import, segregated 
from the mass of private and temporary legislation 
with which it is intermingled in the Statutes-at- 
Large, that Congress, ten years later, provided for a 
second edition of the work, bringing it down to date, 
and including eighteen years of legislation, from 1874 
to 1 89 1, and constituting what is known as the 
"Supplement to the Revised Statutes, Volume i. 
Second Edition." In 1893, the work was made a 
continuing and permanent one, to be prepared at each 
session of Congress. 

During the summer, although wasted in form, 
broken in health and fully conscious of the near ap- 
proach of death, he continued his labors with undi- 
minished interest in the preparation of the present 
volume, surrendering at last to that invincible enemy 
which in the end conquers us all. 


His career was a success, filling as it did the meas- 
ure of a half ceutury with the fruits of patient and 
patriotic toil in the public and private relations of 

The positions which he occupied in the civil serv- 
ice are not surrounded by the glamour of popular 
applause, but in the conservative virtue of their in- 
fluence they are most important to the success and 
the perpetuity of that system of liberty which recog- 
nizes equality as the basis of civil and political power. 

His valuable labors on the bench, in the field of 
statutory publications, his services in the execu- 
tive branch of the government, entitle him to the 
respect and admiration of the bar and the gratitude 
of his country. 

The Chief Justice has passed into a memory ; but 
what he did remains. I^et us hope that his labors, 
in common with those of the sages of the law, may 
stand as a safe depository of the rights of individuals, 
ma3^ calm and mitigate the struggles of parties in the 
coming years of free institutions ; and that the voice 
of judicial reason may conserve and preserve the land- 
marks of constitutional liberty to the latest period of 

May our history vindicate the truth that 

Virtue alone outbuilds the pyramids, 

Her monuments shall last when Egj'pt's fall. 

By order of the Court the request of the Bar is 
granted, and the Resolutions will be entered of record, 
to endure as a lasting memorial to the memory of 
Chief Justice Wii^liam A. Richardson. 

The Court thereupon adjourned for the day. 







41 Lombard Street, 
London, /any 25th, iSy2. 
Hon. George S. Boutwell, 

Secretary of the Treasury. 
Dear Sir: 

It is my purpose in this letter to give you an 
account of the way in which I have kept the money 
arising from the sale of the Funded Loan, and the 
manner in which it has been drawn from time to 
time to pay for bonds purchased and redeemed. 

Immediately after the first of December, '71, the 
money began to accumulate very rapidly. Up to 
the first of December no money whatever had been 
received, all bonds delivered having been paid for by 
the called bonds and coupons, or secured by deposit 
of other bonds ; but on the second day of that 
month nearly two and a-half millions of dollars cash 
were paid to me ; then, on the 4th, nearly five 
millions of dollars more ; and on the 5th, above 
three millions, and so on in different sums till the 
present time. Of course it was wholly impracticable 
to receive, handle, count and keep on hand such 


large amounts of gold coin, weighing between a ton 
and three-quarters and two tons to each million of 
dollars. At one time my account showed more than 
sixteen millions of dollars on hand, and to have 
withdrawn from circulation that amount of coin 
would have produced a panic in the London market, 
and the risk in having it hoarded in any place within 
my reach would have been immense, especially as it 
would soon have been known where it was. 

I ascertained that there would be some difficulty 
in keeping an official government account in the 
Bank of England, and I did not feel authorized, or 
justified on my own judgment, in entrusting so much 
money to any other Banking Institution in this city. 
I found also that the Bank of England never issues 
certificates of deposit, as do our banks in the United 
States. But it issues "post notes," which are very 
nearly like its ordinary demand notes, but payable to 
order and on seven days time ; thus differing only 
in the matter of time from certificates of deposit. 
Availing myself of this custom of the Bank of Eng- 
land, I put all the money into post notes, and locked 
them up in one of the safes from which the bonds 
had been taken. This I regarded as a safe method 
of keeping the funds, and I anticipated no further 

But when the Bank made its next monthly or 
weekly return of its condition, and published it in 
all the newspapers as usual, the attention of all the 
financial agents, bankers, and financial writers of 
the daily money articles in the journals was imme- 
diately attracted to the sudden increase of the ' ' post 


notes ' ' outstanding, and the unusuall}- large amount 
of them, so many times greater than had ever been 
known before. They were immensely alarmed lest 
the notes should come in for redemption in a few 
days, and the coin therefor should be withdrawn 
from London and taken to a foreign country ; and 
lest there should be a panic on account thereof. 
Some of the financial writers said they belonged to 
Germany, and that they represented coin which 
must soon be transmitted to Berlin. The Bank offi- 
cers themselves, although they knew verj' well that 
these notes belonged to the United States, were not 
less alarmed because they feared that I would with- 
draw the money to send it to New York, which they 
knew would make trouble in the London Exchange. 
Money, which for a short time before had been at 
the high rate of interest, for this place, of five per 
cent., had become abundant and the people were 
demanding of the Bank a reduction in the rate. But 
so timid were they about these post notes that they 
did not change the rate till I took measures to allay 
their fears. This I did because I thought it would 
be injurious and prejudicial to the Funded Loan, 
to have a panic in London, in which the market 
price of the new loan would drop considerably below 
par just at a time when its price and popularity were 
gradually rising, and just as it was coming into 
great favor with a new class of investors in England, 
the immensely rich but timid conservatives. 

I determined to open a deposit account with the 
Bank of England, and in doing so experienced the 
difficulties which I anticipated. I assured the offi- 


cers that the mone}^ was governmeut (U. S.) money, 
which I did not intend, and was not instructed, to 
take home with me; but which I should use in London 
in redeeming bonds and coupons, and should leave 
in the Bank on deposit unless by the peculiarity 
of their rules I should be obliged to withdraw it. 
They objected to taking the money as a governmeut 
deposit, or as an official deposit in my name, having 
some vague idea that if they took it and opened an 
official government account, the}' should be liable 
for the appropriation of the money, unless documents 
from the United States were filed with them taking 
away that liability; but they could not tell me 
exactly what documents they wanted, nor from 
whom they must come. They did, however, agree 
to open an account with me, and that was the best 
I could do. In signing my name to their book I 
added my official title, and when, some time after, I 
came to dravv'ing checks I signed in the same way. 
This brought from the officers a letter, which I annex 
hereto, saying that my deposit would be regarded as 
a private and personal one. 

What I was most anxious to provide for was the 
power in some United States officer to draw the 
money in case of my death, (knowing the uncer- 
tainty of life,) without the delay, expense and 
trouble which must necessarily arise, if it stood 
wholly to my personal credit. I asked the officers to 
allow it to stand in your name as Secretary, and 
mine as Assistant Secretary, jointly and severally, 
so as to be drawn upon the several check of either, 
and by the survivor in case of the death of either 


one. I suggested other arrangements which would 
have the same result, but they said their rules pre- 
vented their agreeing to my requests, that they were 
conservative and did not like to introduce anything 
new into their customs. 

On the 15th day of January, 1872, I renewed my 
request in writing, after having had several conver- 
sations with the ofi&cers on the subject, and received 
an answer which, with the letter of request, is hereto 

In this, their most recent communication, thej'- 
express a willingness to enter the account in our 
joint names as I suggested, regarding it however as 
a ' ' personal account, ' ' and requiring that you should 
"join in the request and concur in the conditions 
proposed before either party can in that case draw 
upon the account." 

As I must now almost daily draw from the account 
for money with which to pay bonds I cannot join 
your name therein until you have sent me a written 
compliance with the conditions which they set forth ; 
because to do so would shut me out from the account 
altogether for several weeks. Besides, having no 
instructions from you on the subject, I don't know 
that you would care to give written directions as to 
the deposit. I know very well that, in case of m}' 
sudden decease, you would be glad enough to find 
that you could at once avail yourself of the whole 
amount of money here on deposit, and so I should 
have joined your name as I have stated. 

Now you can do as you please. I have taken 
every possible precaution within my power, and have 


no fear that the arrangements are insufficient to 
protect the Government in any contingency what- 
ever. With the correspondence which has passed 
between the officers of the Bank and myself, and our 
conversation together, the account is sufficiently well 
known to them as a U. S. government deposit, and 
is fully enough stamped with that character, as I 
intended it should be, however much they may 
ignore it now. 

But for still greater caution, I made a written 
declaration of trust on the very day of the first 
deposit, signed and sealed by me, declaring the 
money and account as belonging to our Government 
and not to me, a copy of which is hereto annexed, 

I also gave written instructions to Messrs. Bige- 
low and Prentiss to draw all the checks and how to 
draw them and keep an account thereof. As I make 
all my purchases through Jay Cooke, McCullough, 
& Co., every check is in fact payable to that house, 
so that the account is easily kept, and the transac- 
tions cannot be mingled with others, for there are no 
others. I annex a copy of these instructions. 

This, I believe, will give you a pretty correct idea 
of the difficulties which have been presented to me 
in the matter of taking, keeping, and paying out the 
money arising from the sale of the bonds, and the 
manner in which I have met them. 

I may add that when the officers of the Bank were 
satisfied that I was not to withdraw the money and 
take it to New York, they reduced the rate of interest, 
and there has been an easy money market ever since. 

There are now on deposit more than twelve millions 


of dollars; but I hope it will be reduced very fast next 
mouth. Had you not sent over the last ten millions 
of bonds, we should have been able to close up very 
soon. I hope now that you will make another call 
of twenty millions at least, because I think it would 
enable us to purchase more rapidly. 
I annex : 

1 . Copy of my declaration of trust. 

2. Copy of instructions for drawing checks. 

3. Copy of letter from Cashier of Bank of England, 

stating that the account would be considered 

4. Copy of my letter to the Governor of the Bank, 

asking that your name might be joined. 

5. Copy of reply to last mentioned letter. 

I am, very respectfully, 
Your obedient servant, 

W1L1.1AM A. Richardson. 


Whereas I have this day deposited in my name as 
Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, U. S. A., in the 
Bank of England, Two Millions five hundred and 
fifty thousand pounds sterling, and shall probably 
hereafter make further deposits on the same account. 

Now I hereby declare that said account and 
deposits present and future, are official and belong 
to the Government of the United States, and not to 
me personally ; that the monies so deposited are the 
proceeds of the sale of five per cent, bonds of the 
' ' Funded lyoan ; ' ' that whatever money I may at 


any time have in said bank under said account will 
be the property of the United States Government 
held by me officially as Assistant Secretary of the 
Treasury, acting under orders from the Secretary; 
that the same is, and will continue to be subject to 
the draft, check, order, and control of the Secretary 
of the Treasury independently of, and superior to my 
authority whenever he so elects, and that upon his 
assuming control thereof m^^ power over the same 
will wholly cease. In case of my decease before 
said account is closed the money on deposit will not 
belong to my estate, but to the Government of the 
United States. 

Witness my hand and seal. 

Wii^uAM A. Richardson, 
Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, U. S. 

IvONDON, EnG. [i.. S.] 

December 28, i8yi. 

rjNO. P. B1GEI.0W. 
Witnesses. ) k. W. Bowen. 

I Geo. L. Warren. 


41, Lombard St. 
lyONDON, Eng., Dec. 28, 18 jr. 
To John P. Bigelow, Chief of the Loan Division, 
Secretary's Office, Treasury Department, U. S. A. 
I have this day deposited in the Bank of England 
in my name as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, 
Two Million five hundred and fifty thousand pounds 
sterling money belonging to the United States, re- 


ceived in payment of five per cent, bonds of the 
Funded Loan delivered here in London. 

All money hereafter received for future delivery of 
bonds will be deposited to the same account. 

Herewith I hand you a declaration of trust signed 
by me, declaring that said account and monies belong 
to the United States, and not to me personally, also 
the deposit book and a book of blank checks num- 
bered from 35101 to 35150, both inclusive, received 
from said Bank, all of which you will take into your 
custody and carefully keep in one of the iron safes 
sent here from the Department, in the same manner 
as the books are kept. 

This money and all the money deposited in said 
Bank on the account aforesaid, will be drawn and 
used only in accordance with the orders of the Secre- 
tary of the Treasury to redeem or purchase five 
twenty bonds and matured coupons, or such other 
and further orders as he may make in relation 

When money is to be drawn to pay for bonds or 
coupons it must be drawn only by filling up a check 
from the book of checks above referred to, and you 
will open an account in which you will enter the 
amount of all deposits, the number and amount of 
each check drawn, specifying also to whom the same 
is made payable and on what account it is drawn. 

The checks will be filled up by Mr. Prentiss of the 
Register's Ofi&ce, who will place his check mark on 
the upper left corner, and will enter the same in the 
book. You will then carefully examine the check, 
see that it is correctly drawn for the amount actually 


payable for bonds or coupons received, and properly- 
recorded; and you will when found correct, place 
your check mark on the right hand upper corner 
before the same is signed by me. All checks will be 
signed by me with my full name as Assistant Secre- 
tary of the Treasury, as this is signed. 

WiLUAM A. Richardson, 
Assistant Secretary of the 
Treasury, U. S. A. 

Bank of Engi.and, E. C. 

^thjany, i8y2. 
Hon. W. A. Richardson, 

Assistant Secretary of the Treasury 

of the United States, 

41 I^ombard St. 
v^IR '. 

To preclude any possible misunderstanding here- 
after as to the character of the Drawing account 
opened in your name, I am instructed by the Gov- 
ernors to communicate to you in writing that, in con- 
formity with the rule of the Bank, the account is 
considered a personal one ; that the Governors have 
admitted the words appended to your name merely 
as an honorary designation ; and that the Bank take 
no cognizance of, or responsibility with reference to 
the real ownership, or intended application of the 
sums deposited to the credit of the account. 
I am, 

Your obedient Servant, 

George Forbes, 

Chief Cashier. 


41 Lombard St. 

London, Kng. 
January 75, i8'/2. 
Geokgk Lyali,, Esq. 

Governor of the Bank of England. 
Dear Sir: 

Referring to the several conversations which I 
have had with you, and with your principal cashier 
Mr. Forbes, relative to the manner and form of keep- 
ing the account which I desire to have in the Bank, 
I beg leave to renew in writing my request hereto- 
fore made to you orally, that the account of money 
deposited by me may stand in the name of Hon. 
George S. Boutwell, Secretary of the Treasury', U. 
S. A., and myself. Assistant Secretary, jointly and 
severally, so as to be subject to the several draft of 
either, and of the survivor, in case of the death of 
either one. 

I suppose I must regard the letter of Mr. Forbes 
to me, dated January 4, 1872, and written under 
instructions from the Governors of the Bank as ex- 
pressing your final conclusion that the account, in 
whatever form it may be kept, must be considered 
a personal one. 

You know my anxiety to have my deposits received 
by the Bank and entered in such way that in case of 
my death, the balance may be drawn at once by the 
Secretary of the Treasury or some other Officer of 
the Government, and although you are unwilling to 
regard the account as an official one, I hope that on 
further consideration you will allow it to be opened 


in the name of Mr. Boutwell and myself jointly and 
severally as above stated. 
I am Sir, 

Your obe'd't Servant, 

WiLiviAM A. Richardson, 
Assistant Secretary of the 

United States Treasury Dcpt. 

Bank of England E. C. 

ijth Jamiaiy, iSy2. 
Hon. W. A. Richardson, 

Assistant Secretary of the Treasury 
of the United States, 

41, lyombard St. 

I am directed by the Governor to acknowledge the 
receipt of your letter of the 15th inst., requesting 
that the account of money deposited by you in the 
Bank may stand in the name of the Hon. George S. 
Boutwell, Secretary of the Treasury U. S. A., and 
yourself, the Assistant Secretary, jointly and sev- 
erally, so as to be subject to the several draft of 
either, and of the survivor, in case of death of either 

I am to inform you that the Bank is prepared to 
open an account in this form, as a personal account ; 
but it is es.sential that Mr. Boutwell should join in 
the request, and concur in the conditions proposed, 
before either party can in that case draw upon the 
account. I am Sir, 

Your Obd't Servant, 
George Forbes, 

Chief Cashier. 


A striking proof of the busy life led by Chief Justice 
Richardson, is afforded by a glance at the following 
list of honors conferred on him, of official positions 
that he from time time held, and of the promotions 
that he earned.* 

It may attract attention that the promotion from 
a Judge of the Court of Claims to be Chief Justice of 
that Court was his fifth appointment as judge for 
life, viz. : i, Judge of Probate for the County of Mid- 
dlesex, 1856; 2, Judge of Probate and Insolvency 
for the same County, 1858; 3, Judge of the Superior 
Court of Massachusetts (declined), 1869; 4, Judge of 
the United States Court of Claims, 1874 ; Chief Jus- 
tice of that Court. 

Perhaps in States where the elections are for a 
short term, a judge may have had five, or even more, 
commissions ; but five life commissions must be 

*It is proper to say that the list is taken from a rough 
draft found among the papers of the distinguished Chief 
Justice. That he should have taken pains to jot down these 
statistics is eminently characteristic of the man. He liked 
(in fact it was almost a passion with him) to arrange and 
classify, and to present in clear and intelligible form, the 
"upshot of the whole matter." 



1843. Bachelor of Arts. Harvard College. 

1846. Bachelor of Laws. " " 

Master of Arts. " " 

1873. Doctor of Laws. Columbia University, D. C. 

1 88 1. " " " Georgetown College, D. C. 

1882. " " " Howard University, D. C. 
1886. " " " Dartmouth College. 


1846. Admission to Bar in Massachusetts. 

1869. Admission to Bar, Supreme Court U. S. 
1855. Commission to revise the Statutes of Massa- 

1859. Act of Legislature of Mass., appointing com- 
missioners to edit the General Statutes. 

1866. Commission as to laws authorizing formation 
of corporations with limited liabilities. 

1 8 70. Commission concerning Hingham and Quincy 

Turnpike and Bridges. 

1880. Act of Congress authorized editing and pub- 
lishing a Supplement to the Revised Stat- 
utes of the United States. 

1882. Appointment to edit Vol. 18, Court of Claims 

1 890. Act of Congress continuing publication of Sup- 
plement to Revised Statutes. 

1893. Act of Congress continuing same annually, 


1849. Member of Common Council, Lowell, 


1852. Member aud President of Common Council, 

I^owell, Mass. 

1853. Member and President of Common Council, 

lyOwell, Mass. 

1869. Assistant Secretary of the Treasury (U. S.) 
Acting Secretary, April 23, 1869, in absence 

of Secretar3\ 

Acting Secretary, June 8, 1869, until other- 
wise ordered. 

Acting Secretary, April 16, 1869, until other- 
wise ordered. 

1870. Acting Attorney-General, Sept. 8, 1870. 
1873. Secretary of the Treasury (U. S.) 


1856. Judge of Probate for Middlesex Count}-', Mass. 
Last to hold the office. 

1858. Judge of Probate and Insolvency for Middle- 
sex County, Mass. First to hold the office. 

1869. Associate Justice Superior Court of Massachu- 
setts (declined). 

1S73. Judge of Court of Claims (U. S.) 

1885. Chief Justice Court of Claims (U. S.) 


1847. Justice of the Peace for Middlesex County, 
Mass., for seven years. 

1853. Notary Public for Middlesex County, Mass., 

for seven years. 

1854. Justice of the Peace for Middlesex County, 

Mass., for seven years. 


1856. Justice of Peace and Quorum within all the 

counties of Massachusetts for seven years. 
1863. Same. 
1877. " 


1846. Judge Advocate of Second Division with rank 

of Major. 
1850. Aid deCamp to the Commander in Chief with 

the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. 


1852. Member of Middlesex Mechanics Association, 
Lowell, Mass. 

1857. Member of New England Historic Genealogi- 

cal Society, Boston, Mass. 
1863. Trustee of Lawrence Academy (Groton, Mass.) 

1872. Member of Washington National Monument 

Association (Washington, D. C.) 

1873. Honorary Vice-President of New England 

Historic Genealogical Society. 
Honorary Member of Middlesex Mechanics 
Association, Lowell, Mass. 

1874. Honorary Member of Nashua Historical So- 

ciety, Nashua, New Hampshire. 
Trustee of Howard University, Washington, 

D. C. 
1 88 1. Trustee of All Souls Church, Washington, for 

three years. 
1886. Trustee of All Souls Church, Washington, for 

three years. 


1886. F'ellow of American Geographical Society. 

1879. Member of Royal Historical Society (I^ondon, 


1880. Member of Society of Antiquities (Edinburgh, 

Honorary Member of New Hampshire Histor- 
ical Society. 

1889. Corresponding member of Maine Historical 


1890. Honorary and Corresponding Member of Old 

Residents' Historical Association (L,owell, 

1 89 1. Member of Society of the Sons of the American 

Revolution (D. C.) 
Member of Society of Sons of the Revolution 
1893. Honorary Member of New England Historic 
Genealogical Society. 


1863. Overseer of Harvard College, elected for six 
years by Legislature of Massachusetts. 

1869. Overseer of Harvard College, elected by the 
Alumni for six years. 

1883. Commission to test and examine the fineness 
and weight of coin at the several mints, 
appointed by President Arthur. 

Of many other appointments, such as Prof, of 
Law in Georgetown University, President of Bank, 
Director in Banks and Manufacturing Companies, 
etc., notice was given orally only. 



1853. Member of Ancient York Lodge, Lowell, 

1857. Member of Mount Horeb, Royal Arch Chap- 
ter, Lowell, Mass. 
Member of Boston Encampment of Knights 
Templar, Boston, Mass. 

1866. Sovereign Grand Inspector General of the 
33d Degree, etc., etc. 

1882. Commission of enquiry into the condition of 
Masonic Order abroad from Superior Coun- 
cil of Sovereign Grand Inspectors General 
of the 33d and last degree, of Northern 
Masonic Jurisdiction (U. S.) 


1865. Passports with numerous "vises." 

1 87 1. " as Assistant Secretary of the Treas- 

" " Bearer of Dispatches. 
1875. " " Judge of Court of Claims with 

letter of introduction from President Grant. 
Japanese passport to travel in interior of the 
country (with various documents relating 
to the journey). 
1890. Passport as Chief Justice Court of Claims, 
with letter of introduction from Secretary 
1865. Circular letter in Latin from Bishop of Boston. 

Letter of presentation to the Pope. 
1882. Circular letter to Historical Societies from 
New England Hist. Genealogical Society, 



I. Banking Laws of Massachusetts : Being a com- 
pilation of all the General Statutes of the Common- 
wealth, now in foi'ce, relating to banks, banking and 
savings institutions, with notes, references to altera- 
tions in the statutes, abstracts of decisions of the 
Supreme Judicial Court and quotations from reports 
of the bank commissioners. By William A. Rich- 
ardson, counsellor at law. Lowell : Merritt & Met- 
calf; Boston : Sanborn, Carter & Bazin. 1855. 8vo. 
pp. 82. 

II. Practical Information Concerning the Public 
Debt of the United States with the National Bank- 
ing Laws for Banks, Bankers, Brokers, Bank Direc- 
tors and Investors. By William A. Richardson, 
Assistant Secretary of the Treasury. Washington, 
D. C. : W. H. and O. H. Morrison, Law Publishers 
and Booksellers. 1872. 8vo. pp.186. [Second edi- 
tion was published in 1873.] 

III. Annual Report of the State of the Finances to 
the Forty -Third Congress, First Session, December 
I, 1873, by William A. Richardson, Secretary of 
the Treasury. Washington : Government Printing 
Office. 1873. pp. XXXIX. 

IV. Letter, December 23, 1881, to Hon. John 
Sherman, United States Senator, in relation to the 
best method of determining controverted questions in 
customs-revenue cases. Washington, 1881. pp. 5. 


V. Trials in Customs-Revenue Cases. No date, 
pp. 6. 

No^e. — This was written by William A. Richard- 
son and adopted by Mr. Lawrence, First Comptroller 
of the Treasury. 

VI. Receipt and Investment of the Geneva Award 
Money. Letter of William A. Richardson, June 22, 
1882. pp. 7. Reprinted from The Geneva Award 
Act, with notes and references to Decisions of the 
Court of Commissioners of Alabama Claims, by 
Frank W. Hackett, of the Washington (D. C.) Bar. 
Boston: Little, Brown, & Company. 1882. 

VII. History, Jurisdiction and Practice of the 
Court of Claims (United States) by William A. 
Richard.son, LL.D., Chief Justice of the Court. 
Washington: Government Printing Office. 1883. 
pp. 34. Second Edition, June, 1885. 

VIII. Harvard College. Class of 1843. Memora- 
bilia. 1883. "Time comes stealing on by night 
and day." Shakespeare. Prepared by William A. 
Richardson, Class Secretarj^ Printed for the use 
of the Class, June 27, 1883. pp. 37. 

IX. Harvard College Alumni who have held the 
Official Positions named. By William A. Richard- 
son, LL.D., Chief Justice of Court of Claims (U. S.) 
Washington, D. C. Reprinted from the New Eng- 
land Historical and Genealogical Register for July, 
1887. pp. 7. 

X. Report of Special Committee, on the Relief of 
Congress from Private Legislation, to the American 
Bar Association at its Tenth Annual Meeting, at 
Saratoga Springs, New York, August, 1887. (Re- 
printed from the transactions of the Meeting.) Phil- 
adelphia : T. & J. W. Johnson & Co. 1887. pp. 12. 

Note. — On the copy found among the papers of 
the Chief Justice, in his handwriting, is inscribed : 


"Written for the Committee by W. A. R., who also 
wrote the original Senate Bill. But what is erased 
on page 6 was not by W. A. R., but was interlined 
after he wrote the report, and is erroneous." The 
words erased are : ' ' also of all damages by vessels 
of the United States done by collision." 

XI. Harvard College Alumni who have received 
the Honorary Degrees named. By the Hon. William 
A. Richardson, LIv.D., Chief Justice of the Court of 
Claims, Washington, D. C. Reprinted from the 
New England Historical and Genealogical Register 
for April, 1889. pp. 12. 

XII. Chief Justice of the United States, or Chief 
Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States ? 
By the Hon. William A. Richardson, IvIv.D., Chief 
Justice of the Court of Claims, Washington, D. C. 
The New England Historical and Genealogical Reg- 
ister, for July, 1895. pp. 4. 

XIII. Harvard University. College Presidents and 
the Election of Messrs. Quincy and Eliot. By the 
Hon. Wm. A. Richardson, (H. U., 1843) IvL.D., 
Chief Justice Court of Claims. University Magazine, 
Dec, 1 89 1. Reprinted in the New England Historical 
and Genealogical Register for January, 1895. pp. 6. 

\*The list, it will be seen, does not include (i) Report 
as Commissioner to revise the Statutes of Massachusetts ; 
(2) Notes, etc., to General Statutes of that State, i860; (3) 
Notes, etc., in twenty-two annual volumes of Statutes of Mass- 
achusetts; (4) Notes, etc., to Supplements to the Revised 
Statutes of the United States. 



Roman Numerals Refer to Pages of the Appendix. 


Abrams xxxix 

Adams, Benjamin 16 

Hannah 17 

Henry 1^ 

Joseph 16 

Mary 16 

Samuel 16 

William 16 

William Henry 27 

Andre, Major 16 

Andrew, John A 30 

Anthony ^6 

Archibald ^^ 

Arthur, Chester A 114 

Babcock, O. E 100 

Bailey, Isaac H ^4 

Bancroft, J. Franklin 2, 14, 16, 17, 22 

Banks, N. P 47, 52 

Bazin l^^vi 

Bedell, Timothy 16 

Belknap, William W 77 

Bell, Charles Henry 12 

Bigelow, George Tyler 46, 142 

Bigelow, John ,P 64,ixiii,lxv 

Binney, Horace H 



Bond, Samuel R 126 

Boody 9^ 


Boutwell, George S . . . 55, 58, 60, 63, 66, 75, 76, 78, 79, 89, 

112-114, 125, 135, 137, iv, xii, 

xxxix, xliii-1, lii, Iviii, Ixviii, 

Bowen, E. W Ixv 

Briggs, George N 33 

Bristow, Benjamin H 104 

Brooks, George M 43 

Uncle 18 

Brown Ixxvii 

Buudy, J. M 96 

Burnham, George P 43 

Butler, Benjamin F 43 

Clarissa . . . , 23 

Butterfield, Abiah C 15 

Asa 15 

Charles 14 

Fred 96 

Carter Ixxvi 

Cecil, George 96 

Chaney, John C xxvii-xxix 

Chase, John C 20 

Salmon P 58 

Cilley, Joseph 10 

Cisco, John J 77 

Claflin, H. B 94, 96 

William 56 

Clews, Henry 77, 94 

Coburn, Abiah 15 

Colburn, Elizabeth 8 

Conkling, Roscoe 89 

Cooke, Jay 62, 63, 85, 87, 89, Ixiii 

Cotton, John B xiv-xxii 

Creswell, John J 77 

Cummings, W. B 18 

Dana, Charles A , 26 

Samuel 11, 14 

Davis, John 106, 115, 123, xl 


Davis, J. C. Bancroft 106, 123, 125, xl 

Rev.Mr 9 

Delano, Columbus 77 

Dennie, Mr 9 

Dodge, Joshua E 125, iii, iv, xl, xli 

Douglass, John W iv, xii-xiii 

Drake, Charles D 106, 114, 115, xiii 

Drexel 85 

Eliot, Charles W xlv, Ixxviii 

Samuel 22 

Farwell, John 14 

Fay, Samuel Phillips Prescott 42 

Fish, Hamilton 77, 85, 97 

Fisk, James, Jr 70 

Fitzhugh 31 

Forbes, George Ixvii, Ixix 

French, Edwin F 20 

Henry F 20 

Frothingham, Octavius B 26 

Fuller 30 

Arthur B 26 

Gardner, Henry J 36,42,49,52 

Gilchrist, John J 47 

Gould, Jay 70 

Grant, U.S 54,56,59,76,78,79,90-92,95,100,101, 

137, xlvii, liii, Ixxv. 

Greenhalge, Frederick T. . . 43 

Greenleaf, Simon 30 

Hackett, Frank W 124, iv, Ixxvii 

Hall 96 

Thomas B 27 

Harper 96 

Herrick, Horace 23 

Hildredth, Abel F 19 

Hill, Thomas 26 

Hinckley, Robert 143 

Hitchcock XXV 

Hoar, E. Rockwood 43 

Joseph 24 

Hodges XXV 

Holt, Sarah 32 

liopkins, Archibald iv 

Hoyt 96 

Howry, Charles B 106, xxxvi-xxxix 

Humphrey, Samuel F 20 

Hunt, William H 106 

Hutchinson, Abigail 9 

Anne 4 

Thomas 9 

Jackson, Andrew 20, 21 

Johnson xxv 

Professor 28 

Reverdy 93,94 

J. W Ixxvii 

T Ixxvii 

Kennedy 81 

Robert Lenox 94 

Kidder, Frederick 10 

King, George A 124, iv, xxiii-xxvi, xxxix 

WiUiam B 138, xxx-xxxv 

Kingman, John W 26 

Kingsland, A 96 

D 96 

Lawrence 24 

William Ixxvii 

Leavitt, E. Bradford 124 

Lincoln, Abraham 53 

Little, Charles C Ixxvii 

Lockwood, Belva A xi 

Loring, Edward G 47-50,52,106 

John A 27 

Lowell, Jolin 26 

Lund, Hannah 16 

J.T 17 

Lyall, George Ixviii 


Lyman, Samuel F 45 

Lynde, A. V 43 

MacGrotty, Edwin B 86 

Magruder, Alexander F 31,32,111 

Alexander Richardson 32 

Isabella Richardson 32 

Isabella Anna 31, 111, 123 

William Richardson 31 

Marston, Anna ]Maria 31 

Jonathan 32 

Sarah Holt 31 

Maury, William A 124, iv, vii-x 

McCammou, Joseph J 124 

McCullough Ixiii 

McKnight xxv 

Meigs xxxiv 

Merchant, Sarah 9, 10 

William 9 

Merritt Ixxvi 

Metcalf Ixxvi 

Morgan 77, 85 

Edwin S 77 

:Morrill, Lot 92 

Morris, Martin F 125, xl 

Morrison, O. H Ixxvi 

W. H Ixxvi 

Morse, Alexander Porter iv 

Morton, L. P 85 

Nott, Charles C 106, 124, xl 

O'Connor, Charles xv, xviii, xxxv 

Opdycke, George P 94, 96 

Orton, William 94 

Parish, Mercy . . 7 

Parker, Joel 36, 38 

Payne 96 

Peake 96 

Peck, Ebenezer 100 


Peelle, Stanton J 106, 123, xl 

Peet 96 

Perkins, Charles C 26 

George W 96 

Phillips, Wendell 48 

Pinkerton, John M 20 

Plumer, William 11 

Post 96 

Prentiss Ixiii, Ixvi 

Quiucy, Josiah Ixxviii 

Ptichardson, Anna M 31,32,81,109,110 

Daniel 9-11, 13-16 

Daniel S 13, 16, 19, 30, 31, 33 

Elizabeth 9 

Elizabeth A 16 

Ezekiel 3,5,6 

George Francis 17, 33 

James 6 

John 16 

Josiah 6, 7, 8, 16 

Mary Adam 16 

Mercy 8 

Samuel 4, 5 

Samuel Mather 11, 13 

Susannah ' 3, 6 

Thomas 4, 5 

William 8, 9 

William Merchant 8, 9, 14 

Eichmond, Andrew A 36, 37 

Robeson, George M 77 

W. H iv 

Roby, Hannah 16 

Mary 16 

William 16 

Russell, John J 28 

Sanborn Ixxvi 

Sanger, George P 37 

Sargent, Horace Binney 26, 28 

Schofield, Glenni W 100 

Scott, William L 94, 9G 

Sears, Mary 1 

Seligman 94 

Sherman, John Ixxvi 

William T xlvii 

Smith, Jeremiah 12 

Sprague 96 

E. Carlton 26, 140 

Stagg 143 

Staples, Thomas 25 

Stevens, Aaron F 20 

Stewart, A. T 55 

Stone, Eben F 26, 50, 51 

Z. E 21 

Story, Joseph 30, 53 

Stuart, F. E 143 

Sullivan, John 10 

Sutton, 96 

Sweetser, Theodore H 43 

Thayer, Alexander W 26 

Thornton, Sir Edward 85 

Tyng, Edward 1 

Mary 2 

Underwood, Remembrance 6 

Vail 94 

Vanderbilt, Cornelius 94 

VanVolkenburgh, P 96 

Vinton, John Adams 5 

Walker, Joseph B 20 

Warren, John Collins 11 

George L Ixv 

Washburn, Emory 52 

William B 75 

Webster, Daniel 53 

Weldon, Lawrence 106, 123, 125, xl, 1-lvii 

Wells, John 45 

Wheelwright, John 4, 5 

White, Daniel Appleton 11 

Nathaniel G 20 

Whittemore 96 

Williams, George H 77, 137 

Wilson, Henry 76, 97 

Winslow, Sarah Tyng 2 

Winthrop, John 3