and found myself cjuite a personage in this rough assembly.
GOVERNOR WILLIAM P. DUVAL. I9I
"The next morning court opened. I took my seat among the lawyers,
but felt as a mere spectator, not having a suit in progress or prospect, nor
having any idea where business was to come from. In the course of the
morning a man was put at the bar, charged with passing counterfeit money,
and was asked if he was ready for trial. He answered in the negative. He
had been confined in a place where there were no lawyers, and had not had
an opportunity of consulting any. He was told to choose counsel from the
lawyers present, and to be ready for trial on the following day. He looked
around the court and selected me. I was thunder struck. I could not tell
why he should make such a choice. I, a beardless youngster; unpracticed
at the bar; perfectly unknown. I felt diffident yet delighted, and could have
hugged the rascal.
" Before leaving the court he gave me one hundred dollars in a bag as a
retaining fee. I could scarcely believe my senses ; it seemed like a dream.
The heaviness of the fee spoke but lightly in favor ot his innocence, but
that was no affair of mine. I was to be advocate, not judge nor jury. I
followed him to the jail, and learned from him all the particulars of his case ;
from thence I went to the clerk's office and took minutes of the indictment.
I then examined the law on the subject, and prepared my brief in my room.
All this occupied me until midnight, when I went to bed and tried to sleep.
It was all in vain. Never in my life was I more wide-awake. A host of
thoughts and fancies kept rushing through my mind ; the shower of gold that
had so unexpectedly fallen into my lap; the idea of my poor little wife at
home, that I was to astonish with my good fortune ! But then the awful
responsibility I had undertaken ! to speak for the first time in a strange
court ; the expectations the culprit had evidently formed of my talents ; all
these, and a crowd of similar notions, kept whirling through my mind. I
tossed about all night, fearing the morning would find me exhausted and
incompetent ; in a word, the day dawned on me a miserable fellow !
" I got up, feverish and nervous. I walked out before breakfast, striv-
ing to collect my thoughts and tranquillize my feelings. It was a bright
morning. The air was pure and frosty. I bathed my forehead and hands
in a beautiful running stream, but could not allay the fever-heat that raged
within. I returned to breakfast, but could not eat. A single cup of coffee
formed my repast. It was time to go to court, and I went there with a
throbbing heart. I believe, if it had not been for the thoughts of my little
wife in her lonely log-house, I should have given back to the man his hun-
dred dollars, and relinquished the cause. I took my seat, looking, I am
convinced, more like the culprit than the rogue I was to defend.
" When time came for me to speak, my heart died within me. I arose,
embarrassed and dismayed, and stammered in opening my cause. I went
on from bad to worse, and felt as if I were going down hill. Just then, the
public prosecutor (Grundy), a man of talents, but somewhat rough in his
ig2 BEN HARDIN.
practice, made a sarcastic remark on something I had said. It was like an
electric spark, and ran tingling through every vein in my body. In an
instant my diffidence was gone. My whole spirit was in arms. I answered
with promptness and bitterness, for I felt the cruelty of such an attack upon
a novice in my situation. The public prosecutor made a kind of apology.
This, from a man of his redoubted powers, was a vast concession. I
renewed my argument with a fearless glow, carried the case through
triumphantly, and the man was acquitted.
"This was the making of me. Everybody was curious to know who
this new lawyer was, that had suddenly risen among them, and bearded the
prosecuting attorney-general at the very outset. The story of my debut at
the inn, on the preceding evening, when 1 knocked down a bully and kicked
him out of doors for striking an old man, was circulated with favorable exag-
gerations. Even my very beardless chin and juvenile countenance were in
my favor, for people gave me far more credit than I really deserved. The
chance business which occurs in our country courts came thronging upon me.
I was repeatedly employed in other causes, and, by Saturday night, when the
court closed, and I had paid my bill at the inn, I found myself with a hun-
dred and fifty dollars in silver, three hundred dollars in notes, and a horse
that I afterward sold for two hundred dollars more.
"Never did miser gloat on his money with more delight. I locked the
door of my room ; piled the money in a heap upon the table ; walked around
it ; sat with my elbows on the table, and my chin upon my hands, and gazed
upon it. Was 1 thinking of the money ? No ! I was thinking of my little
wife at home. Another sleepless night ensued ; but what a night of golden
fancies and splendid air-castles ! As soon as the morning dawned I was
up, mounted the borrowed horse with which I had come to court, and led
the other, which I had 'received as a fee. All the way I was delighting
myself with the thoughts of the surprise I had in store for my little wife, for
both of us had expected nothing but that I should spend all the money I
had borrowed, and should return in debt.
'â€¢ Our meeting was joyous, as you may suppose ; but I played the part
of the Indian hunter, who, when he returns from the chase, never for a time
speaks of his success. She had prepared a snug litde rustic meal for me,
and while it was getting ready, I seated myself at an old-fashioned desk, in
one corner, and began to count over my money and put it away. She came
to me before I had finished, and asked me who I had collected the money
" â– For myself, to be sure,' replied I, with affected coolness; ' I made it
" She looked at me for a moment in the face, incredulously. I tried to
keep my countenance, and to play the Indian, but it would not do. My
muscles began to twitch ; my feelings all at once gave way. I caught her
GOVERNOR WILLIAM P. DUVAL.
in my arms, laughed, cried, and danced about the room like a crazy man.
From that time forward, we never wanted for money."
He was elected to Congress in 181 3, serving one session. In
1823 he was appointed by President Monroe Governor of the Terri-
tory of Florida. He was reappointed by both Presidents Adams,
and again by Jackson, serving until 1834.
He began the practice of law in 1804 at Bardstovvn, where Grundy
and Rowan were already in the full tide of professional renown and
success. After he entered political life he seems to have given over
professional pursuits. His posthumous fame indeed rests rather on
his colloquial powers than on his forensic achievements.
During the Texan war with Mexico he was subjected to a great
sorrow, by an event that thrilled the country as never before. The
Texans under the lead of Houston were struggling for independence.
Their valor and heroism excited sympathy and admiration throughout
the United States, and nowhere greater than in Kentucky. Governor
Duval had two sons (Burr and John), the first of whom recruited one
hundred men of the flower of Nelson county youth â€” his brother John
being of the number â€” and with them joined the Texan army. They
were all captured with Fannin's men at the affair of the Alamo, and
were treacherously slain with their ill-fated leader, save John Duval
and a deaf man by the name of Mason, who alone of the one hundred
Governor Duval was, as already intimated, a fascinating and fluent
talker. One informant relates that whenever or wherever he stopped,
on the street or elsewhere, a crowd gathered to listen. During his
residence in Florida he was accustomed to send to his old Nelson
friends graphic accounts of his residence in the land of flowers, and of
the Indian hostilities then pending. Another venerable gentleman
thus speaks of him: "I knew Governor Duval and saw him fre-
quently at Hartford. I never knew a more charming conversational-
ist. It is impossible to exaggerate his powers in this respect. If he
emerged from his lodgings the public seemed to have its eye upon
him. The moment he paused an admiring company would gather
around. He did all the talking, and his hearers never wearied."
Said Mrs. Helm: "I remember Governor Duval. He was fond
of singing and sang well himself. I recall the old song, ' John Brown's
two little Indian boys,' as rendered by him for my amusement in my
childhood. He was a most charming man socially ; but my father
(Mr. Hardin) thought him deceitful."
Another who knew him contrasted him with Dr. Christopher Rudd.
" Rudd had an exhaustless fund of witty anecdotes and his humor
was exuberant. Duval's charm was in graphic narrative and vivid
description, I once made the journey of several hours in a stage-
coach from Bardstown to Springfield. It was at that day by no means
a smooth one. Duval was my companion, and so completely was I
fascinated by his uninterrupted conversation that I was startled when
the journey ended, so entirely had I been oblivious of time, dis-
tance, and surroundings."
Duval and Washington Irving contracted a warm friendship â€” the
former occupying a place in the social circle not unlike that occupied
by the latter in the world of letters.
Politically, Governor Duval supported the Jeffersonian school of
pohtics. He advocated the establishment of a national bank in 1814
â€” in opposition to the policy of Mr. Madison â€” but which the latter
approved two years afterward. He favored the vigorous prosecution
of the war of 18 12, and raised a company of six months' men for the
service.* When, at the close of Mr. Adams' administration, Jeffer-
sonian republicanism had branched into Whigs and Democrats, Gov-
ernor Duval adhered to the latter, and became a partisan of Jackson.
He was a manly, vigorous speaker. His reported speeches are
characterized by exalted sentiments and a fervid patriotism. He
added to superior talents the virtue of unswerving integrity and all
the genial graces that mark the perfect gentleman. Late in life he
was described as a short, fleshy, heavy-set man, not over five feet six
inches high, flabby cheeks, and an inveterate tobacco chewer. In
1848 he moved to Texas. He died in Washington City, March 19,
IV. â€” Ben Chapeze.
Among the leaders of the Bardstown bar in Mr. Hardin's time, for
over twenty years, ranked Benjamin Chapeze. He was born at Tren-
ton. N. J., March 27, 1787. His father. Dr. Henry Chapeze, was a
native of I<>ance. He came to America during the revolutionary war,
and held the post of surgeon in the American army during that period.
After peace he married Sarah Kenny, a native of Ireland. At an
early day he remov^ed to Bardstown, where he resided until his death,
which occurred about 18 10. His son was educated at the school of
the noted Priestly. In his early manhood Ben betook himself to the
occupation of a wagoner.
*The well-known Duff Green enlisted in this company. See " Facts and Suggestions.
In these days of steamboats and railroads there is Httle conception
of the large number of persons who pursued the business of wagoning
in Kentucky in early times. From the general depots for goods on
the Ohio river merchandise was transported by wagons to all the inte-
rior towns, many of which were busy centers of trade. On one occa-
sion a company of five wagons started from Louisville to Lexington,
one of which was driven by young Chapeze. The roads were bad
and his load was top-heavy. In eight or ten miles of his destination
his wagon overturned, injuring its contents to some extent. The
merchant at Lexington, to whom the goods belonged, sued him for
damages and levied an attachment on his team. Chapeze was about
twenty-three years of age, and, though he had never looked into a law
book, he had some character as a talker and reasoner. His fellow-
teamsters had confidence in his defense and his ability to make it, but
knowing his great diffidence they did not scruple to spur liis courage
with liquor. He argued his own case with such ability that he easily
defeated his adversary. May 7, 18 12, he married Elizabeth Shep-
herd, daughter of Adam Shepherd,- one of the early settlers of Ken-
Shepherd was the first man who lived outside a fort in Bullitt
county. He settled Shepherdsville, and for him the town was named.
Elizabeth Shepherd proved a worthy helpmeet of a worthy man. She
recognized that talent in her husband which his own modesty pre-
vented him realizing. It is said, too, that he had no natural liking
for books nor any inclination to become a lawyer. His wife was more
enterprising and ambitious. She had great influence over him, and
exerted it to turn him to the law. After his marriage he had settled
on a small farm in Bullitt county, which he cultivated. He was doubt-
less not an altogether thrifty farmer, and from that or some other cause
he became involved in a lawsuit. He was defendant in an action before
Wilford Lee, Esq.. a justice of the peace. Lee was a sensible man
and a good citizen, and, as will be seen, was of exceedingly gener-
ous impulses.* As in the Lexington case, he again conducted his
defense. He was without law books, and would have been ignorant
of their use if he had had them. He seems to have intuitively appre-
ciated the importance of precedent and authority. For this purpose
he produced a Bible at the trial, from which he read, and quotations
from which he incorporated into his argument. His argument won
his case and deeply impressed Mr. Lee. After the trial the latter
-Wilford Lee was the father of the late Colonel Phil Lee, a distinguished member of the Louisville
urged Chapeze to turn his attention to the law. He responded his
poverty, that a family depended on him for support, that he had not
even money enough to buy books. Lee asked how much the neces-
sary books would cost, and being informed about three hundred dol-
lars, he offered to loan the money. Chapeze was reluctant to incur
so serious a liability, apprehensive of his ability to repay. Lee was,
however, generously persistent, professing his willingness to take the
hazard. Between the arguments of Lee and the persuasions of Mrs.
Chapeze, all hesitation was finally overcome, the money was borrowed,
the books were bought, and study begun.
So far as he had direction in his legal training. Judge John Rowan,
of Bardstown, was his preceptor and friend. But his studies were
chiefly conducted on a small farm on Long Lick creek in Bullitt county.
Here he lived in a log cabin with his family and studied two years.
He utilized his time â€” working at his books of evenings and mornings,
at the noon cessation of labor, and even in the field when stopping
for his horse to rest. Of the profit from the cultivation of the Long
Lick farm no record remains â€” but the result of a two years' cultiva-
tion of a vigorous intellect w^as his admission to the bar. This was in
He located first in Shepherdsville, where he continued two years at
practice. He then removed to Elizabethtown, where he remained
about the same period. In 1820 he located at Bardstown. After
removal to Bardstown his career was eminently successful. He rode
the circuit â€” practicing outside of Nelson, in Meade, Hardin, Bullitt,
Breckinridge, Spencer, Washington, and Marion counties. He had
a practice more or less extensive in all these counties, as well as a
large and lucrative business in the Court of Appeals. The reported
decisions of that court show not only his numerous retainers, but the
curious reader will find evidences of his superior lawyership in his
petitions for rehearing formerly published with the decisions. He was
employed in many celebrated cases, in all of which he acquitted him-
self with distinguished credit. One who heard his argument in
the noted case of DeParcq vs. Rice says his effort was surpassed by
none of the counsel engaged â€” among whom were Ben Hardin, J. J.
Crittenden, C. A. Wickliffe, and John Rowan.
He was a man of great originality and strong natural powers. He
was not extensively read outside of his profession. Of the law he
was a painstaking, hardworking, and thorough student. The author
has seen a folio manuscript volume of five hundred pages in Mr.
Chapeze's hand-.vriting embracing a general digest of the law. It was
formerly the mode for genius to conceal its debt to books â€” undoubt-
edly a weakness. The impression was created, and tradition has
carefully preserved it, that Mr. Chapeze owed little to books. In
truth, however, he owed just as much as any equally great lawyer.
He possessed a rich, sonorous voice. A country boy, captivated by
it, found no other way to describe it than that it sounded "deep as if
coming up and out of a hogshead." His style of oratory was ornate
and his tendency was to use words of Latin origin. In his )ast days
his mind grew metaphysical and his public speeches lost some of their
earlier fire and popularity.
He was remarkable for great integrity of character. He was very
generally called the "honest lawyer," from his candor and honesty.
He abounded in charity and magnanimity. One who knew him, and
was qualified to judge, summed up by calling him a "splendid man."
Another speaks of him "as a lawyer of great ability and a man of
singular worth and purity of character." "He was an industrious
lawyer," said Governor Wickhffe. " His oratory was diffuse, but he
had considerable power before a jury, especially in cases where he
could array the under-growth against the upper-growth of society. In
this way he was a man of great effectiveness."
His dark complexion, long raven hair, and lustrous black eyes
bespoke his French origin. He would have readily passed for a
native of France, notwithstanding his moiety of Irish blood. He
was a large man, of fine physique and presence. He was neat in
dress and person, and courteous in manner. He was not much of a
politician, having little inclination or ambition that way. He was
twice an old court representative from Nelson in the Legislature â€” the
last session a colleague of Mr. Hardin. On the close of that struggle
he joined the Jackson Republicans â€” about that time called Demo-
cratsâ€”who, for the most part, in Kentucky, had been new court men.
In 1828 he was chosen elector on the Jackson ticket, and cast his vote
for "Old Hickory." This was the limit of his political career.
In September, 1839, he attended his last court at Elizabethtown.
He was engaged in defense of a man charged with murder. The evi-
dence being concluded. Mr. Chapeze was engaged in argument. After
speaking two hours he fell, overcome by exhaustion. He was carried
to his hotel, and medical aid procured. A consultation of the physi-
cians being held, blood-letting was agreed on. Mr. Hardin hearing
of it very earnestly oppo.sed it. "Don't let them bleed you, Ben,"
jgg BEN HARDIN.
gaid he, "don't let them bleed you ; you'll die if they bleed you. If
you submit to it, I advise you first to have your will written." Mr.
Chapeze replied that his will was already written, but promised to
resist the bleeding. This promise, however, he did not keep. He
was bled, as the practice then was, and at the end of nine days he was
dead. His death occurred September 26, 1839.
Mr. Chapeze's wife was a devout Catholic all her life, and reared
her children in that faith. It was, however, only a short time before
his death that he was received into that church. He died a recipient
of its consolations.
V. â€” John Hayes.
John Hayes was the son of Thomas Hayes, a small farmer of lim-
ited means, in Nelson county. His mother's name was Agnes. He
was born in Lunenburg county, Virginia, in 1793, and removed in
infancy, with his father's family, to Kentucky. After acquiring a fair
education, a youthful talent for oratory turned his attention to the
bar. He became a law student in the office of Judge John Rowan, at
Bardstown, and in due time received license to practice. This latter
event occurred June, 18F4.
An old Scotchman, one Dr. McConochie, wrote a sketch in which
he says that Hayes had little assistance in his early studies, "that he
was an unlicked cub of the wilderness."*
During his student days, so gossips said, he became enamored of
a daughter of his preceptor. His affection was returned, and, after
his admission to the bar, he ventured to ask Judge Rowan's consent
to their marriage. The latter was an imperious, proud man, to whom
such an alliance was distasteful, and he insultingly refused. That
circumstance marked the beginning of a sad era in young Hayes' life.
Before that time he had always been sober and exemplary in habits.
The story goes that, crushed by disappointment, he immediately took
the stage-coach for Louisville, where for weeks he sought solace in
deep and protracted dissipation. Friends at length brought him
home and sobered him, and started him afresh in life. He immedi-
ately took, in popular esteem, high rank professionally. Clients
came whenever he was in condition to attend to business ; but these
periods were of short and uncertain duration. As life went on, his
power of self-control grew weaker, and finally the time came when he
was only able to break off debauch when assisted by his friends.
* Leisure Hours, by J.-imes R. McCunochie, published at Louisville in 1S46, contains a sketch of
JOHN HAYES. 1 99
Colonel Wright, an old and respectable citizen of Bardstown, was
his fast friend in many troubles, who often took him, helpless and
filthy, from the gutter, washed him, sobered him, and dressed him.
Thus renovated, he would start into practice at a term of court, show-
ing wonderful resources and ability in the management of cases, and
capacity to compete with the great lawyers he encountered. But
these redeeming intervals rapidly waned. He was a member of the
Legislature, from Nelson county, in 1819. He was once an unsuc-
cessful candidate for Congress against Mr. Hardin.
It was, however, his wonderful oratory that brought him fame and
secured him posthumous renown. An address delivered by him at
Bardstown on the anniversary of Washington's birth in 1829 has been
described as of surpassing eloquence. Not only were the young swayed
Hke the reed before the storm, but old men and women wept hke chil-
dren. "It has been my fortune," said one who was present, "to
have heard some of the finest orators of this country and of England,
but never have I witnessed anything like the enthusiasm with which
this address was received by the audience. It broke out at the close
of every sentence in long and reiterated plaudits."
On another occasion he so transported a Shelby county jury as to
obtain the extravagant verdict of fifteen hundred dollars for injury to
a horse. The court, as a matter of course, set it aside. The follow-
ing incident illustrates the versatility of his powers: One McCown
had undertaken to build a two-story jail in Nelson county. He was
not only a good workman, but an exceedingly upright man. But he
miscalculated the expense of his undertaking. On completing the
first story he discovered that he had already expended for labor and
material the entire sum he was to receive for the whole building. Not-
withstanding this, he continued his labor, completing the jail in the
best style of workmanship. At the succeeding fiscal court of the
county the justices proposed to reimburse him for his actual outlay
above the sum he had received. Hayes happened to be present while
the matter was under consideration, and spoke against it so eloquently
that the claim was unanimously rejected. It so happened that Hayes
had long been an honorary guest of the principal hotel of Bardstown,
whose proprietor was a son-in-law of McCown. After the rejection
of the claim, the landlord charged Hayes with ingratitude; that he
had furnished him board and drink without pay; but told him he would
shelter him no longer. Where Hayes spent that night was unknown.
Next morning, however, he again appeared in the fiscal court, moved
200 BEN HARDIN.
a reconsideration of McCown's claim, and advocated it so eloquently
that it was allowed without dissent.
He rarely got so deeply intoxicated he could not talk intelligently.
One night with a hilarious crowd, and far gone himself, he was called
on to preach a sermon. The crucifixion was his subject, and so elo-