Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

that these qualities have been illustrated from the organization of the court to the present time.

It would be out of place to refer to the associate justices who have constantly adorned the bench, and contributed so much to challenge for it the respect and reverence of the country, and to secure for it a reputation which is as firmly established abroad as it is at home.

As our late loss was that of the presiding judge, it is sufficient to pay a passing tribute to the memory of those who preceded him as well as to that of the late chief. It may with truth be said that no nation in the world has produced abler and purer judges than Jay and Ellsworth, Marshall, Taney, and Chase. The labors of Marshall and Taney, covering so many years of service, do, more and more, as time rolls on, command the admiration of the profession and of the country. Chief Justice Chase's term was so brief that the lawyer readily remembers the few judgments which he pronounced.

The ability of these judgments, the full knowledge which they display, and the admirable judicial style in which they were rendered, filled the professional mind not only with admiration, but with wonder. For many years he had ceased to practice the profession, devoting himself almost exclusively to the political contests of the day. His immediate labors before bis elevation to the bench were, it is true, excessively arduous and evinced the greatest ability, but they bore little or no analogy to the subjects which he bad to treat when he became the head of the tribunal. It was surprising, therefore, that at the very threshold of his duties, he exhibited a knowledge entirely adequate to their able and satisfactory discharge. The occasion will not permit me to refer particularly to any of his opinions, but I know you will not think me going too far when I say that, judging him by those opinions, he proved himself in all respects the equal of the great men who preceded him; and that his uniform kindness and courtesy to all the members of the profession commanded their esteem and regard.

I know that I may be pardoned for saying a word or two more. If leav. ing him as a judge, we refer to his private life, we find him every way worthy of commendation. As a friend, be was constant and sincere; as a parent, watchful and affectionate; and no persons will feel his loss more deeply than his immediate friends and his domestic circle. Their consolation is to be found in the exalted opinion entertained of him by all classes of his countrymen; and, above all, in the assurance that he died as he had Jived, a Christian.

A committee was now named by the chairman, on motion, to draft suitable resolutions: Mr. CARLISLE being named as chairman of the committee. The committee having withdrawn, reported, after a short absence, the following resolutions, which were adopted :

Salmon PORTLAND CHASE, sixth Chief Justice of the United States, hav. ing departed this life since the last term of this court, the members of the bar and other officers of the court have assembled to testify their profound regret at the event and their high respect for his memory:

His opinions and judgments, as they are preserved in the official reports of the decisions of the court, attest his great ability and his devotion to the

duties of his high office. His long and distinguished career as a Senator and statesman, and the manner in which he conducted the important department of finance at a period of vital national importance are more appropriate to be commemorated elsewhere. It is as a judge only that we now recall him. The dignity which descended upon him from his illustrious predecessors lost nothing in his bands. His refined and cultivated mind, his unvarying courtesy, and bis regard for the rights and feelings of others won the warm regard and attachment of all who came in contact with him, and the esteem, admiration, and respect of the bar continually and steadily increased during the eight years in which he presided over the deliberations of this high tribunal; therefore,

Resolved, That the members of the bar and officers of the court sincerely deplore the death of the late Chief Justice Salmon Portland Chase, and will affectionately preserve the memory of his many virtues and high qualities, and will wear the usual badge of mourning during the term.

Resolved, That the Attorney-General of the United States be requested to move the court tu direct these proceedings to be entered upon the minutes, and that a copy thereof be transmitted to the family of the deceased Chief Justice, with the respectful assurance of the sincere sympathy of the members of this meeting.

At the opening of the court on Thursday, October 23d, Mr. ATTORNEY-GENERAL WILLIAMS presented the resolutions, and made the following remarks :

May it please the court, I have been charged with the sad duty of formally announcing to your honors the death of Chief Justice Chase, and of presenting, to be spread upon the records of the court, the resolutions of the bar touching that mournful event.

On the first day of last May, by the adjournment of this court for the term, he laid aside his official robes to seek that temporary repose which his arduous labors and bodily infirmities seemed to require, but in a few days thereafter, to the great disappointment and grief of his family and friends, he laid aside all that was mortal of his nature and passed to where the weary are forever at rest. While spring was revealing its new and beautiful forms of life upon earth, he was carried in the gentle arms of hope and faith to the new life of another world. To recount the public incidents of his eventful career upon this occasion would be to repeat what is as familiar as household words to the people of this country.

Suffice it to say, that as the governor of a great State, as a Senator in Congress, as a Secretary of the Treasury, and as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, he was distinguished for great abilities and grent devotion to duty. Conspicuous among his many claims to popular and lasting regard were his early, continued, and effectual labors for the universal freedom of man. His fame in this respect will be as enduring as the love of liberty in the hearts of the American people. To say that he administered the finances of the country through the late war of the rebellion, is enough to establish his pre-eminence and show his title to a nation's gratitude. Juy, Rutledge, Ellsworth, Marshall, and Taney, are the few imperishable names of the

great departed who have filled the chief seat in this court, and to those is now added, with new lustre to the galaxy, the name of Chase.

Posterity will know of him through his public services, but we his associates and friends, know and can appreciate as well his private virtues.

All the influences of his example were for good. He was above reproach in his relations to society. His physical proportions were in harmony with his high intellectual qualities. He was dignified and graceful in his deportment, and especially kind and courteous to members of the bar. His writings are remarkable for their clearness and force, and all who knew him know how instructive and charming he was in conversation. Physically, intellectually, and morally, be was all that a Chief Justice ought to be. Impelled by what has been called the infirmity of noble minds, he pursued with untiring zeal his lofty aims, and whatever else may be said of his aspirations, happily no one can say that they marred the excellence or purity of his personal character. Early in life he emigrated from New Hampshire, where he was born in 1808, and soon after became a citizen of Ohio, where, unaided by fortune or friends, he commenced his successful public career. Inspired by an ardor that spurned all obstacles he pressed onward and upward until he was exalted to the head of this high tribunal, a place that but few men can ever attain. Thence he has come down to his grave crowned with years and many honors. He leaves to his children and his country the record of a life

Rich in the world's opinion and men's praise,
And full of all we could desire, but days.

To which Mr. Justice CLIFFORD, the Senior Associate Justice in commission, responded in bebalf of the court as follows: GENTLEMEN OF THE BAR:

Providence has ordained that man must die, and it is matter of solemn import to every reflecting mind that the sentence applies to the whole human family, without regard to station, attainment, or usefulness.

None of those who occupied these seats sixteen years ago are now here to participate in these commemorative proceedings, and only two of the number then in office survive to join in the general sorrow, so well expressed in the resolutions of the bar, for the great loss which the country has sustained by the death of the late Chief Justice of this court. Vacancy followed vacancy subsequent to that period, until the place of the Chief. Justice and those of his associates were all filled by new appointments, and the junior of the immediately succeeding period, wbo was appointed to fill a prior vacancy, has become the senior Associate Justice of the court.

Great events in the meantime bave occurred. State after State seceded, and the rebellion came and was crushed. Slavery

was abolished, and amendments were made to the Constitution to make it conform to that great change in the social relations of the States affected by the event. New laws were passed extending the jurisdiction of the court and vastly augmenting its labors and responsibilities.

Gratitude is due to Providence that the lives and health of the present members of the court bave been preserved throughout that period and for tbe success which has attended their efforts, aided by the wise counsels of the late Chief Justice, in uphold. ing all the safeguards of liberty ordained in the Constitution. Civil war raged for a time with all its demoralizing influences, but the court continued calm and unswerved, and the Constitution remains unimpaired to shed its benign influences upon the whole people of the country and to secure the blessings of liberty to the present generation and to their posterity.

Death has now again entered these walls, and, for à second time within the period mentioned, has removed the Chief Justice of the court. Such a loss is deeply felt by the whole country, and by none more heavily than by those connected with this tribunal. Whenever a good man dies, in any walk of life, there group around him in his last repose a mourning throng of sad regrets from the hearts of all who may bave either experienced or witnessed his beneficence. But when, from some dignified and elevated station of public trust, obedient to the inevitable summons, a great and good man drops suddenly and noiselessly away, in the comprehensive sphere of whose high duties nothing remains but the solemn and suggestive silence of vacancy, a people's grief surrounds the grave to do justice to bis motives and to award their saddened and affectionate approbation of his official services and public acts

Difference of opinion, envy, or jealousy may have created barriers to a just appreciation of such a man during the active and angry struggles of life, but when the curtain of death interposes its impenetrable mystery between him and the living, that involuntary homage which human nature instinctively pays to its true noblemen, is almost always sufficient to hush such influences and override every such barrier.

Passions of the kind cloud the understanding and too often prevent any impartial judgment upon the life and character of a contemporary until the brief contentions of the world are left bebind him and he has passed that solemn portal towards which

all human life is only the pathway. Influences of the kind sometimes affect çven the public judgment and compel men at last to exclaim, “Our blessings brighten as they take their flight." Whether good or bad, the public man to whom, under a government of the structure of ours, bas been committed the sacred duty of high public office, can ask.no more, nor can his friends, than that those who desire to review bis acts shall be governed by the inflexible standard of justice, looking to his motives and purposes as embodied in his acts, when properly construed in the light of the circumstances of his life and the nature, difficulty, and peril of his public duty.

Without a thougbt of anything so invidious as a comparison of merit, it may be safely said that of all the characters wbo were chief and prominent amid the swift and terrible commotions from which our country has little more than just emerged, none boro a more perplexing and onerous share of the public duty than the man to whose memory, more especially as its Chief Justice, the supreme judicial tribunal of the nation now pays its sed tribute of mourning and respect.

Called to preside over the administration of the national finance at a most alarming and painful period, when the past systems were manifestly inadequate to the enormous and unprecedented strain upon their resources, the energies of a comprehensive and creative mind were demanded to wield and shape the available wealth of the nation into such a channel that it should, to the largest extent possible, promote the development of the military and naval power of the country and give it the most efficient and direct support. Manifold difficulties attended the undertaking as the vital forces of the nation were suddenly wrenched from their accustomed pursuits of peace and were assembled at the call of the government, in the tumultuo. s arena of civil war, the immediate effect of which was to diminish very largely the ordinary national income and to increase fearfully the national expenditure. Immediate decision was indispensable, as the emergency would admiu of no delay, and the requirement was not only that the re erved wealth of the nation should be evoked to meet the public emergency, but that it should be fused and melted into a current form.

With such demands upon the position our lamented brother was called to the office of Secretary of the National Treasury, not to administer a settled and tried system, but in the rapid

« FöregåendeFortsätt »