John M. (John McAuley) Palmer.

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as if inspired, and rose to sublime heights. The last time that I heard him was in
Battery D, soon after his return from abroad and soon after he had made a visit
to Ireland, when he spoke with great power on the wrongs inflicted by England
upon that unfortunate and unhappy country. It was in this speech that he quoted
with such telling effect, "John Anderson, my Joe John, what have you been
about?" and then turning suddenly spoke of the great power which the public
press exerted upon the opinions of the people in keeping them informed upon
the current events taking place in the world, and said that its position here was
entirely unlike what it was in Europe, for with us it had long been settled that :

"Here shall the press the people's right maintain,
Unawed by influence and unbribed by gain;
Here Patriot Truth her glorious precepts draw,
Pledged to religion, liberty and law."

He was the foe of corruption in every form, and all of his gifts and influence
and power were enlisted in behalf of public virtue and the public good. He was,
in short, a model citizen and in many respects one of the greatest orators that
ever arose in our midst. He differed essentially and entirely from the versatile
Storrs and was much more Websterian in his manner and in his utterances.
I doubt whether he ever had a superior as a debater in this state, and I fur-
ther doubt whether many men have arisen among us who possessed such natural
gifts of oratory and such magnificent intellectual powers. Every aspiration of
his nature was for a higher life and a nobler existence. His integrity was never
questioned and when he died he left a memory without a stain.

James A. Mulligan, who enlisted at the very opening of the war and did
such signal service in behalf of his country, and who fell mortally wounded at
the battle of Kenstown, near Worchester, on the 24th of July, 1864, also was an
orator of great power, and distinguished himself on many occasions.

Thomas B. Bryan and Luther Laflin Mills have always been regarded as
among the most polished and able public speakers in the country, and Captain
W. P. Black and his brother, General Black, until recently United States district
attorney ; William J. Hynes, William E. Mason, and Kirk Hawes, now and for
some years members of the Chicago bar, are not easily outclassed ; neither is


E. B. Mason or James S; Norton, both most excellent types of university men
and university oratory. Mr. Norton died June 25, 1896.

General Israel Newton Stiles was another lawyer who was a master of per-
suasive and inspiring eloquence, as well as of logic, humor and irony. He began
practice in 1854 at Lafayette, Indiana, but when the war broke out enlisted in the
Union service and fought on the peninsula, before Richmond, but was taken
prisoner and spent some six months in Libby prison. He came to Chicago in
1869 and entered into partnership with Judge Tuley and Mr. Lewis, which con-
tinued until Tuley was elected to the bench, in 1879, when- the firm became Stiles
& Lewis. He was one of the truest, most appreciative and public-spirited citizens
that ever took up abode among us, and the community owes much to his ex-
ample. He hated vice and dishonesty in every form and his denunciations of
faithlessness in public servants were unceasing. He was engaged in behalf of
the public in many very noted public trials and his eloquence was always em-
ployed in behalf of the public. His success was great, but, being suddenly
stricken with blindness, he passed the closing years of his life in total eclipse, yet
cheerful and patient to the last.

A. W. Arrington was another lawyer who was not only profoundly versed
in his profession, but possessed of oratorical powers of the very highest order.
He was also a poet of no mean ability, and some of his poems abound in descrip-
tions of great beauty and pathos. His career was not only unique, but pictur-
esque. He was born in Iredell county, North Carolina, September 10, 1810, but
his father moved from there to Arkansas, and when he was eighteen years of age
he entered upon the life of an itinerant Methodist preacher, which for a time
enabled him to employ his imaginative powers in gorgeous word-painting and
poetic imagery. Tiring of this, he gave it up and commenced the study of law,
and was admitted to the bar in Missouri in 1835. For the next twelve years he
practiced in Missouri, Arkansas and Texas. He then came north and spent some
two years in literary pursuits in New York and Boston, at which time he wrote
"Sketches of the South and Southwest," "The Mathematical Harmonies of the
Universe," and that celebrated "Apostrophe to Water" which John Gough was
accustomed to declaim with such power and effect in his temperance addresses.
He returned to Texas in 1849 ar >d became a circuit-court judge.

He came north in 1852 or 1853 and wrote a novel entitled "The Rangers and
Regulators of Tanaha," and finally took up his abode here in 1856 and entered
into partnership with Thomas Dent, the partnership being known as Arrington
& Dent. He soon achieved a great reputation as lawyer and orator, and some of
his efforts were of the most pronounced success. I call to mind several occasions
when he surpassed all expectations. He was engaged in many very noted cases
and, although sometimes eccentric, yet his briefs were models and his arguments
convincing. He died December 31, 1867, greatly lamented. The bar meeting
which was held in his honor was one of the most remarkable and fully attended of
any one ever held. It was presided over by Corydon Beckwith, and elaborate
eulogies were pronounced over him by Judge John M. Wilson, Judge Drum-


mond, Edwin C. Larned, Thomas Hoyne, Thomas Dent, Melville W. Fuller and

But of all those who have been distinguished for oratory at the Chicago
bar none perhaps can compare in brilliancy and versatility with Emery A. Storrs.
No one whom I ever knew was so ready on all occasions to respond to the popu-
lar demand as he, and no one ever surpassed him in his ability to adapt himself to
any occasion or any emergency, however sudden and unexpected it might
have occurred. Nature had endowed him with gifts of the very highest order
and he had a genius for eloquence as marked as Cicero himself. His memory
was tenacious and his powers of description were wonderful. He was as great
in the forum as he was 'on the stump. As a political speaker he was not only
effective, but fascinating. As a jury lawyer he stood without a rival. He was
one of the readiest men at repartee I ever knew, and his witticisms would fill a
volume. He was once employed in a case which involved the question of a law-
yer's fee, and, being asked if his own charges were not apt to be rather large, he
turned to the court and said: "I do not propose that the inadequacy of my charges
shall ever be a disgrace to my profession." Again, someone remarked in his pres-
ence that our climate was very changeable, when he said that he thought that
was a mistake, for, so far, he had never observed but three seasons, "July, August
and winter." He was engaged in some of the most exciting and celebrated cases
which were tried in our courts or in the west. The last time that I ever saw him I
met him in the street and remarked to him that it was very strange that we had not
seen him before for months. "Ah, me," said he, "there is nothing strange about
that, for don't you know that we are all moving on parallel lines ?"

In the elaborate memorial which was drawn up and adopted by the Chicago
bar at the time of his death, Judge Henry W. Blodgett presiding, it is stated that
in their judgment Mr. Storrs occupied the very front rank as an advocate at the
American bar.

Upon the foundation of a native talent for advocacy, amounting to genius itself, he
added the elements of a varied and extensive culture, a copious diction, a memory which
treasured all that he ever heard or read, a keen and incisive wit, a severe logic, a marvelous
fertility in anecdote and illustration, and a power of persuasion perhaps unsurpassed
among his contemporaries. In him were blended also many of the characteristics of the
great advocates.- English and American, whose names have become household words in
the profession. He had the courteous presence, the elegant diction and the wonderful
mastery of pure English which were displayed in Erskine in his best days. He possessed,
too. in a marked degree, the dauntless courage so often shown by Erskine in asserting
the rights of a client against a hostile court or in defending an unpopular cause. He had
that unswerving devotion to his client of which Brougham perhaps affords the finest ex-
ample at the English bar, and which was so well displayed by that great advocate in his
defense of Queen Caroline. He possessed the tireless in preparation, the nervous,
magnetic energy in execution and the fertility of resources in trying emergencies which
were displayed in Choate, and he had the rare powers of analysis, of generalization and of
persuasion which were combined in Carpenter.

But while familiar with the great advocates who had preceded him, he built upon
no model but his own; he needed no other, and while we saw in his best efforts at the
bar some or all of the characteristics of those great leaders, we saw also an indefinable


something which, for want of a better name, we still call genius! an indescribable blend-
ing of wit and wisdom, of fancy and of persuasion, of pathos and of invective which were all
his own, distinct, individual, inimitable, at once the admiration and the wonder of all who
heard him. It is related of Erskine that when taunted with his lack of attainments as a
lawyer, he replied: "No one can be a great advocate without being a good lawyer; the
thing is impossible." What was true of Erskine was true of Storrs. He was an able
lawyer, as well as a brilliant advocate, or, rather, he was a great advocate because he was
a thorough lawyer. He died in a few hours after he had made one of the finest efforts of
his life, in an argument before the supreme court. The awful summons came to him al-
most in the very presence of the court in which his eloquent voice had just been heard.
Summoned,, without a moment's warning, from the bar of human to that of Divine justice,
we invoke for all his faults that merciful charity which soon or late we must crave for our
own short-comings. May it be our grateful duty to cherish with just and lasting pride the
memory of his brilliant achievements in the profession which he so long adorned.


Hon. James C. Conkling, of Springfield, himself a veteran, in an address
before the Chicago Bar Association January 12, 1881, said:

Forty years ago the wants and necessities of the profession did not afford an oppor-
tunity for a minute investigation into the recor'ds of the past or a profound study of
legal principles. There were but few libraries of a respectable size, either public or
private, in this state. In Springfield there were not more than two or three that con-
tained over fifty volumes. In Peoria, Quincy. and Belleville the profession was not
better supplied. In Chicago not more than half a dozen libraries contained over one
hundred volumes. The Revised Statutes, the Illinois form book, and a few elementary
treatises constituted the usual outfit in the smaller towns. Fortunate was the attorney
who could boast of a few English reports or those of New York, Massachusetts, or Ken-
tucky, which were then considered of standard authority. There were but few cases in
the courts that required an extraordinary amount of learning to manage. There was
no necessity for the application of the rule, stare decisis, for there were few or no
decisions to stand upon. Good, sound common sense, the gift of speech, a mixture of
natural shrewdness with politics, and a regular attendance upon the courts in the circuit
were the principal requisites for success. Forty years ago business was not so great
in extent as to occupy the full time of the lawyer. Suits were not so numerous or so
important as to afford a support for himself and his family. He engaged in political life
as an employment, and solicited office to improve his slender income. A much larger
number of the prominent members of the legal profession then became members of the
state legislature or congress than at present. The people demanded their political serv-
ices, and they were happy and anxioHis to accommodate the people. A political contest
gave them notoriety among the masses and afforded them an opportunity to display their
abilities. A reputation for eloquence and skill in debate was a recommendation as lawyers
in the practice of their profession. Hence we find the names of Reynolds, Edwards,
Cook, Casey,. Breese, Browning, Hardin, Baker, Williams, Shields, Douglas, Trumbull,
Lincoln, McClernand, and numerous others almost as frequently in the political annals
of our state as upon the records of our courts. As lawyers they were eminent. As
statesmen many of them became illustrious. Forty years ago the suits that were . insti-
tuted were generally simple in their character. The terrible crash of 1837 had left the
country in .a state of bankruptcy. The vast system of internal improvements which had
been projected in this state had been left unfinished. Contractors were unable to per-
form their obligations. Merchants found it impossible to collect their claims and could
not satisfy their own creditors. The masses of the people were poor and deeply involved


in debt. The two-thirds law was invented for their protection, and the bankruptcy law
became a refuge for those who were hopelessly insolvent. A very large proportion of
suits was for the collection of debts and to set aside fraudulent conveyances. Actions
of slander and trespass, for assault and battery, engendered by the state of feeling inci-
dent to pecuniary embarrassments, were frequent. The records of our courts and the
earlier volumes of our reports were not burdened with many cases of a very serious or
complicated character. The history of the law, as included in these reports, affords a
striking illustration of the remarkable -growth of our state in population and wealth.
The rapid publication of the former has been commensurate with the enormous develop- 1
ment of the latter. The sums involved in the earlier actions were small and trifling
when compared with those of recent years, which have frequently been colossal in size,
amounting to millions of dollars, while the questions to be decided have been of the most
difficult and intricate character.

Almost an ^ntirely new system of law has been developed, which has required
the exercise of sound judgment, clear perception, profound study, and extensive
research by our legal tribunals. The rapid increase of municipal corporations
has required the establishment of discriminating rules by which to regulate their
complicated interests and determine their relative rights and duties. Questions
concerning the validity of bonds involving many millions of dollars had to be
decided in such a manner as to protect the people against the imprudence or the
villainy of their public agents upon the one hand, and maintain the rights of
innocent purchasers upon the other.

The vast increase of life and fire insurance institutions has occasioned investi-
gations of the most complicated kind, while our commercial transactions have
multiplied to an almost infinite extent, affecting every department of industry and
enterprise and continually presenting novel questions for settlement by the courts.
The enormous expansion of our railroad system has also demanded the utmost
prudence in determining how far the right of condemnation, founded upon the
doctrine of eminent domain, should be exercised, and how far the power of the
legislature extends in establishing a system of rates and freights, and when it
may become necessary and proper to curb the fearful demands and exactions of
these overgrown monopolies upon the rights and interests of the masses.

Within my time the law relating to both municipal, railroad, manufacturing,
and all corporations for profit has been developed, expanded, and expounded to
an extent unheard of in the history of the world. Our courts have gone to ex-
tremes in holding municipalities responsible for accidents, and great frauds are
being perpetrated in getting up cases against them. The law of admiralty has
been extended from salt to fresh water, and interstate commerce has been placed
upon an equal footing with that of commerce carried on upon the high seas and
the lakes. The law of negligence as applicable to railroad and municipal corpora-
tions is of comparatively recent origin, and the same may be said in regard to the
liability of telegraph companies and of horse, cable, and electrical railroad com-
panies. The law in relation to conspiracies, strikes, and boycotts and the pre-
ventive remedies which courts of equity have been called upon to exercise are of
very recent origin, although the principles applicable to them are old.

Fifty years ago there was no necessity for resorting to the courts or to the


general government to protect property against strikes and boycotts such as the
public have become familiar with in these modern times, for none such took place.
It is now held that whenever a strike takes place which involves public transporta-
tion of either freight or passengers, then public interests become affected, and
the power of the United States can be invoked to prevent interference with the
transportation of the mails or with any interference with interstate commerce,
for the reason that railroads which reach -from state to state become national
highways, and the United States is bound to protect them.

Many of the strikes in modern times have many of the features of insurrec-
tions, and have never yet taken place without they have been accompanied by
the wanton destruction of property and with physical violence. Under these
circumstances the supreme court says : "We hold it to be an incontrovertible
principle that the government of the United States may, by means of physical
force, exercised through its official agents, execute on every foot of American
soil the powers and functions that belong to it. The government must exercise
its powers or it is no government." (Ex parte Seibold, 108 U. S., 371-95.)

So far as the mails and commerce are concerned, Chief Justice Waite said, in
the case of Pensacola Telegraph Company versus Western Telegraph Company
(92 U. S., 1-9) : "They (the powers of government over mails and commerce)
extend from the horse with its rider to the stage coach, from the sailing vessel
to the steamboat, from the coach and the steamboat to the railroad, and from the
railroad to the telegraph, as these new agencies are successively brought into use
to meet the demands of increasing population and wealth. They were intended
for the government of the business to which they relate at all times and under
all circumstances."

The law relating to patents has grown into mammoth proportions and ab-
sorbs a great deal of time in all of the United States courts throughout the coun-
try. The law of trusts and the creation of monopolies by the combination of
capital and artificial means is something new in this country, although instances
of monopolies created and sanctioned by the governments of Europe are not
rare. The rise and development of equity law and equity jurisprudence is one
of the marvels of the century, but it only shows that every age will devise such
methods as are necessary to transact the business of our courts, however slow or
however cumbersome.

The number of volumes which is showered upon the profession each year is
something appalling, and the number and kinds of cases which are decided by
our courts of last resort during each and every year correspond with the vastness
of our country and the variety and complication of its business. In the olden
time, when books were few, they were thoroughly studied and mastered. The
old common-law reports and treatises were, when within reach, at the fingers'
end of all lawyers, and such works as Chitty's Pleadings, Saunders on Pleading
and Evidence, Phillips on Evidence, Tidd's Practice, Viners', Rolls', Bacon's,
and Gilbert's Abridgment and Chief Baron Cormyn's Digest and Coke's In-
stitutes were the standards, and when anyone had these and the English com-
mon-law and chancery reports they were "rich beyond the dreams of avarice."


The practice of the law is now fast becoming, if not a trade or commercial
agency, a great business organized into bureaus, and those who are the most
successful and who attain the greatest renown in it are not those who alone
try cases in court, but they are the negotiators, the legal advisers, of the mana-
gers and directors and the promoters of great enterprises and who take care
of the legal aspects of the same and pass upon the legal questions which arise
in carrying them out. Such things as these require not only great learning and
ability, but an extensive knowledge of the laws of trade and commerce, both
in this country and in Europe, and of the powers of the government under both
the United States and the various state constitutions, and the decisions which
have been rendered in regard to them.

The schoolmaster is everywhere abroad, and almost every citizen has be-
come a constitutional lawyer, and there are more John Marshalls and Daniel
Websters found on the hustings, and at every political headquarters, and at pri-
mary meetings and ward caucuses, than were ever before known in the history
of the world. The relation of the lawyer to the community and the state ought
to be one of great responsibility, and he should be able not only to advise but to
direct in every good work which relates to the upholding and maintaining of our
institutions. We live at a somewhat -advanced age of the world's history, when
the requirements of the people are such as to not only demand careful consid-
eration but enlightened treatment, and there never was in the annals of the
world such a demand for wise and able counselors as at the present.


The remuneration which the lawyers received for their services in important
matters in the olden times would hardly pay for meal tickets from day to day
at the present time. Before the fire the records of Chicago as a village and Chi-
cago as a city were pretty complete, and from the records as a village it appears
that on the i6th day of August, 1834, Mr. Collins was applied to, to give his
opinion as to the right of the village to lease certain water lots, and that after
due deliberation he gave an opinion, for which he charged and received the
sum of five dollars; that on the 7th of October, 1835, John Dean Caton rendered
a bill against the corporation for counsel fees and other services during the
years 1833-4 for the amount of seventy-five dollars, which was paid. Times
were hard, and the services rendered were real and were not estimated at fancy
prices. Every case was examined and investigated in the most thorough manner,
and, when heard, was used for all that there was in it. Lawyers were at that time,
as a general rule, economical, and lived within their means.

Many of those who engaged in the practice of the law at an early day ac-
quired large fortunes, which were the result of their industry and foresight and
judicious investments in real estate. Among those who were thus fortunate
may be mentioned Justin Butterfield, John D. Caton, George Manierre, Mark
Skinner, Isaac N. Arnold, Thomas Hoyne, Grant Goodrich, Hugh T. Dickey,
L. C. Paine Freer, John H. Kedzie, E. B. McCagg, W. C. Goudy, and a num-


her of others. J. Y. Scammon was at one time possessed of a colossal fortune,
but met with many and severe reverses toward the close of his life and at the
time of the great fire, so that at the time of his death he had only a moderate
competency. John Dean Caton was, at the time of his death, a millionaire,
and the same, I think, may be said of Hugh T. Dickey. Among those who be-
long to a later age and who acquired great wealth may be mentioned Lambert
Tree, Wirt Dexter, Melville W. Fuller, J. M. Walker, Perkins Bass, Arthur
Ryerson, Van H. Higgins, Charles J. Hull and Chancellor L. Jenks.

Online LibraryJohn M. (John McAuley) PalmerThe bench and the bar of Illinois : Historical and reminiscent (Volume v.2) → online text (page 10 of 83)