Daniel Chipman.

The life of Hon. Nathaniel Chipman... With selections from his miscelaneous papers online

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Online LibraryDaniel ChipmanThe life of Hon. Nathaniel Chipman... With selections from his miscelaneous papers → online text (page 1 of 26)
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1 S 1 6 .

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1845,

By Daniel Chip.mas,

in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.

pkintcd hy prekmah and bollks,

\v \-mim; row B rii BIT.





> Although it might be supposed that the death of

^ my brother, at his advanced age, would not surprise
c^ or deeply affect any one, yet, as we had been the
only survivors of a numerous family, and as he had
now left me the only survivor, the intelligence of
his death produced a shock, which I had not antici-
pated. I felt a depressing, lonely feeling, which I
will not undertake to describe ; and I at once re-
sorted to the numerous letters which had passed
between us, and spent the day in reading them.
From this I found relief : It seemed like a renewal
of our long, intimate fraternal intercourse. This
suggested the idea of writing his biography, before it
was suggested by others. As I anticipated, I have
derived great satisfaction from a review of his life



and character ; alloyed, however, by a fear, that, by
the infirmities of age, I should not be able to do
justice to the subject, if permitted to bring if to a
conclusion in any form. But I have great reason to
be thankful that a kind Providence has enabled me
to bring the work to a close, though not in a manner
satisfactory to myself. A considerable portion of
the time since the decease of my brother, I have
been wholly unable to write, and at all times writing
with difficulty. I have permitted a great portion of
the work to be copied from the first draught. But
if the work, with all its defects, shall prove useful ;
if I have portrayed the character of Nathaniel
Chipman with exact truth; if I have succeeded in
accounting for the acuteness, strength and compre-
hension of his mind, and for that fund of general
knowledge which he had acquired, by truly setting
forth his early training, his early voluntary attention,
his conscientious regard for truth, and his systematic
diligence, — I have accomplished all I wished. I
have sel forth an example, to be followed by parents
in training their children, 1>\ young men in the course
of their education, and 1>\ all in public life. To
write a panegyric would, in this case, savor of van-


ity, and is in no case very useful, without setting
forth the early training and the early acquired habits
which contributed to form the character of the per-
son eulogized, as an example to be followed by the
rising generation. Such is, undoubtedly, the legiti-
mate purpose of biography. To eulogize a great
and a good man may indeed be useful, by exciting
an ambition to follow his example, but it does not
instruct the young by what means they may be ena-
bled to do so. Biographers are generally compelled,
from a want of a knowledge of facts, to content
themselves with portraying the character as it ap-
peared on the theatre of life, without setting forth
the causes which operated in forming it. Fortu-
nately, in this case, I have been able to obtain the
necessary facts, or rather to detail them from my
own knowledge. All this I could do without any
embarrassment. But from my near connection with
Judge Chipman, and from the very high estimation
in which I had ever held him as a judge, I felt a
delicacy in portraying his judicial character, fearing
that I might either go beyond or fall short of exact
truth. So sensibly did I feel this embarrassment,
that I concluded to engage some jurist, more compe-


tent and more impartial, to write his judicial charac-
ter. Having formed this conclusion, for obvious
reasons, my at ten! ion was immediately turned to the
Hon. Samuel Prentiss ; and I took leave to write
him on the subject. In answer, I received the fol-
lowing letter :

Montpelier, Dec. 14th, 1843.
Dear Sir : I have reflected upon the subject of
your letter, and am quite free to say that in my
opinion, no one is so competent to write the judicial
character of your brother, as yourself. You have
advantages in the execution of such an undertaking
which no other one possesses. You were a cotempo-
rary with him, practised at the bar under his admin-
istration, and know, of course, all the various traits
of mind and constitutional temperament, which,
combined with his deep and extensive learning, en-
titled him to rank among the first judges of this, or
any other country. From your personal observation
and intimate knowledge of him both in public and
private, you are enabled to state the prominent fea-
tures of his mind and character as a judge, and to
illustrate his peculiar excellencies in that capacity.


with more truth, discrimination and accuracy, than
it is in the power of any one else at this day to do.
I knew his general reputation as a judge, and wit-
nessed, during the short period he was last on the
bench, exhibitions of the great strength, vigor, com-
prehension and clearness of his mind, of his pro-
found and accurate knowledge of legal principles,
and of his remarkably discriminating and well-bal-
anced judgment ; but my practice in the supreme
court was at that time but just commencing, and my
opportunities of personal observation were too few
and limited to enable me to give, with just precision
and distinctness, neither going beyond nor falling
short of exact truth, the distinguishing traits of his
judicial character. All this, as I have said, you have
the means of doing, and I think you should feel no
delicacy in performing it, but express your views
with perfect freedom, and without reserve. The
life of Lord Keeper Guilford, one of the most inter-
esting biographies extant, was written by his brother ;
the life of Lord Hardwick, if I recollect right, was
the production of his son ; and so was the life of
Lord Teignmouth the work of his son. To these
might be added many other instances of the like


kind, both in English and American literature ; so,
you see, you are not without the support of numer-
ous and very illustrious examples.

I am, with high respect,

Your obedient, &,c.

Samuel Prentiss.

Hon. Daniel Ciiipmax.

On the receipt of the foregoing letter, I proceeded
with the work, following the friendly advice of Judge
Prentiss in expressing my views, as the reader will
perceive, with perfect freedom, and without any re-
serve ; and, I hope, without going beyond or falling
short of exact truth.

fiipton, August 1:3, 1844.



Genealogy of the Family — The staid Habits of the Puritans con-
tinued during his Childhood and Youth — Diligent and systematic
Pursuit of his collegiate Studies — Appointed Lieutenant in the
revolutionary Army — Some of his juvenile poetic Productions —
Letters to some of his Classmates, written while in the Army,
and when pursuing his legal Studies — Admitted to the Bar in
Connecticut and commenced Practice in Vermont — His standing
at the Bar. ....... 5


Secret Negotiations with the British Authorities in Canada — Ex-
tract from the " Life of Brant," containing a Charge of Criminal-
ity against the Leading Men in Vermont — Abdication of those
Patriots against the Charge. ..... 37


Occasion and beneficial Operation of the Quieting Act — Mr. Chip-
man unsuccessful in his Farming and other Business — Resolu-
tion of the Legislature, by which certain Measures proposed for
the Relief of the People calculated only to increase and prolong
their Sufferings, were postponed and defeated — Elected Assistant
Judge of the Supreme Court. . . . .62



Correspondence between Nathaniel Chipman and Alexander Hamil-
ton — Settlement of the Controversy with New York.


Convention called, by which Vermont acceded to the Union — Speech
of Nathaniel Chipman in the Convention — Admission of Vermont
to the Union. ....... 83


Elected Chief Justice — Confirmation Charter under New York —
Why they were not taken by the Settlers on the West Side of the
Mountain — The Law in relation to those Charters settled by
Judge Chipman — Appointed District Judge — Letters to General
Schuyler and Governor Robinson —Sketches of the " Principles
of Government " — Reports and Essays — Resigned his Office of
District Judge — Appointed one of a Committee to revise the
Statutes — Elected Chief Justice — His Character as a Politi-
cian. ........ 96


Elected Senator — His Speech in the Senate on a Resolution con-
cerning a breach of its Privileges — Letter expressing his Views
of the French Revolution — His Speech on the Judiciary Act. 113


Represented the town of Tinmoulh, in the Legislature, for se-
veral years — Elected one of the Council of Censors, who pro-
posed Amendments to the Constitution, and published the "Con-
stitutionalist" in support of the Amendments. . . 153


Elected Chief Justice in October, 1813 — Displaced in 1815 — His
Judicial Character. ...... 105




Appointed Professor of Law in Middlebury College — Delivered a
course of Lectures — His Work on Government — Adventures of
his son Edwin — Sickness and Death — Conclusion. . . 20-1


NO. I.

A Dissertation on the Act adopting the Common and Statute Laws
of England. ....... 221

On Law in General. ...... 235

Of National Law, and Municipal Law in General. . . 249

On the System of Law and the Proper Method of Study. . 267

On the Right of Property. ..... 283


Observations on Mr. Calhoun's Expose of his Nullification Doc-
trines, published in the Richmond Whig. . . . 293


Letter from Governor Chittenden to General Washington, upon the
Policy and course of Vermont in the Revolutionary War. . 383



Letter from Nathaniel Chiptnan to Alexander Hamilton, occasioned
bv certain Proceedings of the Democratic Society of the County

^ L - j . 393

of Chittenden .



Genealogy of the Family — The staid Habits of the Puritans continued
during his Childhood and Youth — Diligent and systematic Pursuit of
his collegiate Studies — Appointed Lieutenant in the revolutionary
Army — Some of his juvenile poetic Productions — Letters to some of
his Classmates, written while in the Army, and when pursuing his
legal Studies — Admitted to the Bar in Connecticut and commenced
Practice in Vermont — His standing at the Bar.

The common ancestor of all those bearing the
name of Chipman, in North America, was John
Chipman, born in Barnstable, in England, in the
year 1614. He emigrated to America in the year
1630, at the age of sixteen, and married a daughter
of John Howland, one of the pilgrims, who in 1620
landed from the Mayflower upon the Plymouth rock.
He settled on a farm in Barnstable, on which his de-
scendants have ever since resided. He was admitted
a freeman by vote of the town in December, 1662.
His second son, Samuel Chipman, was born in Barn-
stable, August 15th, 1661. He married Sarah Cobb,
and had ten children, one of which was John Chip-
man, born in Barnstable in 1691, graduated at Har-


vard College in 1711, ordained minister in Beverly,
Massachusetts, in 1715, and died in 1775, aged 84.
He had fifteen children ; their descendants are very
numerous in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick,
among whom is Ward Chipman, one of the com-
missioners under the treaty of Ghent for settling the
North-eastern boundary.

The eldest of the ten children of Samuel Chip-
man was Thomas, born in Barnstable, November
17th, 1687. He settled in Groton, Connecticut, and
had five sons, Thomas, John, Amos, Samuel and
Jonathan. In the year 1740, he removed with his
five sons to Salisbury, Connecticut. In the year
1741, the town of Salisbury was organized, and he
was the first representative. When the county of
Litchfield was organized, he was appointed a judge
of the county court, but died before the first term.
His son Samuel, father of the subject of this memoir,
married Hannah Austin, of Sufiield, Connecticut.
The family records having been lost, the following is
all that is known of her family. Her father was a
physician ; himself and the father of the late Apollos
Austin, of Orwell, Vermont, were cousins. The late
Seth Austin, of Tunbridge, Vermont, the late Aaron
Austin, of New Hartford, Connecticut, the late Dan-
iel Austin, merchant in New York, and the late Eli-
phalet Austin, of the state of Ohio, were her nephews.
And I learned from the late Benjamin Austin, of
Boston, that himself and the Austins in Sufiield, were
of the same stock. Samuel and Hannah Chipman
had Biz sons, Nathaniel, the subject of this memoir,
who was born the 15th of November, 1752, Lemuel,


Darius, Cyrus, Samuel and Daniel. The five eldest
brothers died at the following ages, to wit : Nathan-
iel, 90 ; Lemuel, 76 ; Darius, 76 ; Cyrus, 77, and
Samuel, 76. Their father, Samuel Chipman, and his
two brothers, Thomas and Jonathan, all died in the
ninety-first year of their age.

To delineate the character of Nathaniel Chipman,
and clearly to account for the early discipline, acute-
ness, strength and comprehension of his mind, for
which in after life he was so distinguished, it seems
necessary to advert to the times in which he spent
his childhood and youth.

The staid habits of the puritans were continued
with little adulteration to the commencement of the
revolutionary war. Everything with them was or-
derly and systematic. In comparison with the reli-
gious character of their descendants, their religion
was more intellectual. Great stress was laid on or-
thodoxy — on a clear understanding and steadfast
faith in the great doctrines of the Gospel, and less on
the vividness of their religious affections. As their
religious affections were less vivid, they were more
uniform, more habitual, and thus became actuating
motives, and settled religious principles by which they
were governed in all the concerns of life. Public
worship was punctually attended on the Sabbath, but
with them this was scarcely more of a religious exer-
cise than the government of their families, the educa-
tion of their children, industry in their several call-
ings, honesty in their dealings, submission to the civil
and ecclesiastical authorities, and the performance of
all their moral duties. True, other sects consider all


these as enjoined by the scriptures, but the puritans
had in their exercise a more constant reference to the
scriptures for direction. Most treatises on religious
subjects were argumentative, requiring an exercise of
the intellectual faculties, and were in the hands of
the mass of the people. Hence a habit of voluntary
attention, so indispensable in the education of youth,
was early acquired, with a taste for solid and useful
reading on other subjects. It has been said, that
" the effects upon the intellect of the well-directed
pursuit of religious knowledge are not inferior to
those of literary and scientific pursuits, in cultivating
those mental habits and powers, which are of the
greatest importance in the conduct of life, and that
the laborious class of the Scotch, afford a striking
illustration of this truth. Their acuteness and pene-
tration of thought, solidity of judgment, and habits of
reflection for which they have been justly so much
noted, have been brought into exercise by their reli-
gious culture." The puritans offered as striking an
illustration of this truth.

The family government of the puritans was also
peculiarly adapted to the cultivation of the intellect-
ual faculties, as well as to laying a foundation for
moral and religious principles. The child was gov-
erned as well by fear as by affection. If a child be
allured to the acquisition of knowledge, it will have a
tendency to form an amiable character. IJut unless
he be governed in part by fear of his parent, and act
in obedience to his authority, there will seldom be
that hardy vigor of intellect, which is so useful in
every department of life ; and if, by a too severe and


austere government, a child was sometimes ruined
by creating in him an utter impatience of all re-
straint, and producing a settled opposition to all
sound principles, and all legitimate authority, yet in
most cases the strictness of family government had a
most salutary effect. It created in the child an habit-
ual submission to the will of his earthly parent — an
important if not an indispensable preparation for an
habitual obedience to the will of our heavenly Pa-
rent. Children, too, were brought up in habits of
unremitted and patient industry. And when they
were called from labor, to study, to obtain an educa-
tion, this habit of industry greatly accelerated their

The father of the subject of this memoir carried on
the business of a blacksmith, and cultivated a small
farm, by which he maintained a numerous family.
Some of the sons labored with him in the shop, the
others on the farm. He was himself a most indus-
trious man, and was very particular in having his
sons in constant employment, and all the concerns
of the family were subjected to an orderly system, no
departure from which was ever permitted.

At an early hour the whole family retired to rest,
and all, from the oldest to the youngest, were com-
pelled to rise at an early hour, by means of which
they acquired a confirmed habit of early rising, for
which they were noted through life. The father and
mother were equally industrious, and yet both had a
taste for reading, and both read more than most
laboring people. Still, it seemed never to interfere
with their business. During the Avinter evenings,


some one in the family read, and what was read was
made the subject of conversation. And it is worthy
of notice that a well-selected town library had been
procured, and that from this library the family were
supplied with books.

The subject of this memoir labored on the farm
until the year 1772, when he entered upon his pre-
paratory studies for entering college, as was custom-
ary in those days, with the minister of the parish.
And as he entered upon his studies with a sound
body and with a sound mind, both alike invigorated
by exercise, and with a settled habit of industry, he
made rapid progress in his studies, and entered Yale
College in the year 1773, at the age of 21, having
spent but nine months in his preparatory studies.
For a short time after he entered college he spent
most of his time upon his recitations ; but he was
soon able to make such progress in his classical stu-
dies, that he was obliged to spend but a short time in
reviewing his lessons before recitation. This enabled
him to go forward of his recitations still more rapidly.
He followed this course until he left college. He
pursued his studies systematically, devoting a certain
allotted portion of his time to the languages, another
portion of his time to his other classical studies, an-
other to general reading ; every day devoting some
time to light reading for relaxation. This course he
strongly recommended to those who were about to
enter college, saying, " if you calculate to become
a scholar of any distinction, solely by studying your
lessons, so as to appear well at your recitations, you
will be sadly disappointed. Or if you pursue your


studies without system, reading this or that, as you
may be prompted by the feelings of the moment, you
will only dissipate the mind. You will never either
discipline the mind, or lay up in order any store of
useful knowledge. If you calculate only from day to
day to get your recitations, you will sit down to them
as a task, and will not acquire a taste for your studies,
or take any pleasure in pursuing them ; and if you do
not, it will be better to quit your studies, no matter
how soon. Whereas if you pursue your studies sys-
tematically and with diligence, not confining your-
self to your recitations, but keeping in advance of
them, in all your classical studies, and spending but a
short time in reviewing them, you will be far more
likely to acquire a taste for your studies and pursue
them, not as a dreaded task, but as a most pleasant

He immediately took a high standing in his class,
which he maintained through his collegiate course.
Although he had a peculiar taste for the languages,
yet he had the reputation of a universal scholar.
He was advised to prepare and present himself as a
candidate for the premium provided to be awarded
to the best linguist in the class ; but he declined it, on
the ground, that his inclination led him to spend as
much time in the study of the languages as he ought
to do, without this stimulus. This was true ; for
during his collegiate course he made himself perfect
master of the Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. And after
he left college and entered upon his profession, he
continued through life to read the Old Testament in
Hebrew, and the New Testament in Greek, with


Homer, Virgil, and the minor Greek and Latin poets,
calculating to go through the course once in a year.

It appears, on examination of his papers, that during
his collegiate life, and for a short period after, he
exhibited a taste for poetry, but soon after he entered
on his profession he desisted from writing poetry
altogether. It is evident, therefore, that if he ever
entertained an idea of appearing before the world as
a poet, he very early abandoned it. I should not
therefore, feel justified in publishing any of his juvenile
productions, were I not persuaded that the man will,
by their publication be more intimately known to the
reader. It will I think appear highly probable that
if he had not derived a higher degree of pleasure
from the exercise of his reasoning faculties, he would
have been attracted by the pleasures of the imagina-
tion to the cultivation of his poetic talents.

The following was written in May, 1775, soon after
the Lexington battle, and is all that remains of the
manuscript, the forepart of which has been torn of]',
and cannot be found. The piece was published in
the New Haven Postboy, and as it related to British
oppression and the doubtful contest for liberty then
just commenced, it attracted considerable notice at
the time.

Here, when a tyrant Britain's sceptre swayed,
And persecuting zeal the land o'crsprcad,
Led by the hand of Heaven across the flood,
The sons of Liberty fixed their abode.
Here desert wilds and trackless wastes they found,
Her- by thousands girt them round,

With painted arms they poured their legions forth,
In swarthy myriads from the pop'loua north.


To extirpate those mighty sons of fame,
And from the earth to raze their envied name.
In vain they swarmed — aimed their fleet shafts in vain,
O'ercome they fell upon the ensanguined plain.
Now the untrod desert, cultivated, smiled ;
And towns were settled through the pathless wild ;
Young states were founded here and lived at ease,
Enjoyed their freedom and their rights in peace ;
Till France invaded — then the British arms
Her boasted empire shook with dread alarms.
With laurels were the British armies crowned,
And Canada the British sceptre owned.
Now tyranny again has filled the throne,
And from the British senate virtue flown.
False to their oaths, and to their solemn trust,
They tread the rights of nations in the dust.
America, where freedom held her reign,
Now first is doomed to wear the galling chain.
Oppressed, she groans beneath their lawless power,
And quakes to hear the gathering tempest roar.
Rise ! sons of freedom ! close the glorious fight,
Stand for religion, for your country's right.
Resist the tyrant, disappoint his hopes,
Fear not his navies, or his veteran troops.
Think on those heroes who resigned their breath
To tools of tyrants, ministers of death,

Online LibraryDaniel ChipmanThe life of Hon. Nathaniel Chipman... With selections from his miscelaneous papers → online text (page 1 of 26)