Friday, December 26, 2014

Eben Francis Stone of Newburyport MA

A memorial held April 1895 and Memorial from Bar Association
Eben F Stone mayor of Newburyport in 1867, then a state representative, and subsequently a congressman, 1881-1887.Civil War



 


Memorials of the Essex Bar Association: And Brief Biographical Notices of Some of the Distinguished Members of the Essex Bar Prior to the Formation of the Association 

There are few more impressive thoughts than those which come to us of departed friends. They have been taken from us in the bloom of youth, in the strength and glory of manhood, and in the maturity of age, nevermore to be known on earth. In a moment the book of their earthly life has been closed. With Christian faith, trusting in an Infinite Wisdom far transcending the conception of mankind, we meet this— to us—impenetrable mystery. With us who survive, all thoughts of the departed are in the solemn past. We cherish in memory the virtues of the deceased and the lessons of their lives.
We have been called upon to part with a brother who not only earned distinction at the Bar, but exerted a wide and beneficent influence in the performance of many important public duties.

Eben Francis Stone was born in Newburyport, Aug. 3, 1822, and died Jan. 22,1895. His parents were Ebenezer and Fanny (Coolidge) Stone. His first ancestor in this country was Elias Stone, who settled at Charlestown, and was married to Abigail Long in 1686. On the maternal side Mr. Stone was descended from the Coolidges and Storers, of Boston, and from the Moodys and Titcombs, of Newbury. His ancestors were largely engaged in commercial pursuits.
Mr. Stone's father was a man of sterling character. Caleb Cushing, in speaking of him to a friend, said he considered "Major Stone (he was a major in the militia) a model citizen, and altogether the best man in the town." His mother was a woman of estimable qualities, of great enthusiasm in good works, and possessed of a cultured literary taste. She died in Newburyport at the age of eighty-three. Mr. Stone's home
in his boyhood was a very delightful one. His first teacher was Mr. Alfred W. Pike. Afterwards he attended the school of Mr. Charles Pigeon, and for a short time was a pupil in the High School. At the age of fourteen he entered Franklin Academy in North Andover, where he remained until fitted for college. While at North Andover he lived in the family of the Rev. Bailey Loring, the father of the late Hon. George B. Loring. He entered Harvard University in 1839, and was graduated in 1843. He then entered the Harvard Law School, from which he was graduated in 1846. He was for about one year librarian of the Law School Library. He was admitted to the Bar in Essex County in 1846, and immediately entered upon the practice of his profession in Newburyport, which from that time to the time of his death was his home.
Mr. Stone was married to Miss Harriet Perrin, of Boston, Oct. 20, 1848. By this marriage there were born to them three daughters,—Harriet Child, now Mrs. Alfred Hewins, Fannie Coolidge, and Cornelia Perrin.
Mr. Stone had little inclination for the general practice in the courts. This may be accounted for in part by his early interest and employment in public affairs. The routine of the ordinary business in the courts was irksome to him. Although for many years he tried cases, and tried them well, yet he failed in that love for and enthusiasm in the trial of causes which are necessary to the proper discipline of the faculties for the work. For success in the trial of causes involving facts, quick conceptions, a mind always on the alert, and the faculty of thinking on one's feet are essential; and these come largely from practice. 


(Photo of Eben Stone from Clipper Heritage Trail)  But upon questions of great interest, in which principles were involved, he showed very great ability. It required an important and exciting occasion to bring out his full powers. He was learned in the law, and possessed of a sound, discriminating, and impartial judgment, which gave him great influence in the various public and private affairs in which he engaged.
It is a somewhat general but mistaken view that the reputation and usefulness of a lawyer are confined to his practice in the courts. However valuable and popular his skill in the examination of witnesses, and great the delight in his powers of advocacy, yet a large field for reputation and usefulness is open to him in the performance of the more unostentatious duties of his profession.
The services of the profession are of very great value in all of the more important positions and vocations of life. A large proportion of the members of Congress and of the Legislatures of the several States are men educated in the law. This results, not from any claim of precedence on the part of the profession, but from the fact that the education and discipline of its members best qualify them for the most important of the duties of legislation. The public needs their services, for which it makes requisition.
So in the conduct of the great business affairs of the world their knowledge and advice are a necessity.
They perform a very useful service in checking litigation. Few outside the profession know the difficulty of preventing parties from engaging in lawsuits. Honest-meaning men, warmed in a controversy, not only insist on bringing suits, which once commenced, are sure to entail protracted and unhappy disputes, but in their zeal fail to disclose to their counsel important facts favoring their opponents. It requires wisdom and experience to deal with such parties, skill to draw out all the facts, and patient and dispassionate reasoning to dissuade the beginning. Instead of encouraging lawsuits, it is one of the most difficult of a lawyer's duties to prevent them. There is no profession more open to the wit of the satirist than that of the law. The characterizations of the practitioners are proverbial. Yet, as one of the best lawyers in this county remarked, "although all men abuse lawyers, no one abuses his own lawyer." The client, in his distress, will disclose to his counsel what he will not to a man of any other profession, and will trustfully confide to him his dearest and most important interests. When I speak of lawyers I mean lawyers, not the reptiles which infest not only the legal, but every other profession.
Mr. Stone, in his admirable address at the dedication of the Court House in Salem, expressed his feelings in regard to the ordinary trials, which, in the early days of his profession, and much more since, in accordance with the spirit of the time, have been largely contests for pecuniary ends, in his description of "a clever practitioner who has sufficient knowledge of cases and of the rules of practice in the courts to conduct a case skilfully from its entry on the docket, through its ordinary stages, to judgment and execution, and sufficient shrewdness to deal successfully with the arts and devices by which a doubtful case is brought to a favorable conclusion. Such men may do good and useful work, and acquire and deserve a respectable standing with the distinction that comes from pecuniary success ; but he has no high aim, no adequate conception of the true office of jurisprudence."
Mr. Stone was a member of the Senate of Massachusetts in 1857, 1858 and 1861. The legislature of 1861 convened at a most critical period. We were then on the eve of our sectional war, when the whole country was in a state of the greatest excitement. War was imminent, and measures were adopted in anticipation of it. The " Personal Liberty Bill," as it was called, containing unconstitutional provisions, and being justly considered as offensive by the people of the South, was referred to a committee of the legislature for examination, and, if necessary, for revision. Mr. Stone was chairman of that committee. From his known anti-slavery views those who did not know the fibre of the man were apprehensive that the radical pressure against any modification of the act might influence him.
After a full hearing and consideration of the subject, Mr. Stone, for the committee, reported to the Senate a bill for the repeal of the obnoxious features of the act. This was met by a strong opposition from the radical members. The Senate was nearly equally divided on the measure. At a time when Mr. Stone was engaged in a committee room theopponents of the measure succeeded in bringing it before the Senate. Mr. Stone received information of the fact. In a few minutes, while the subject was under discussion, he entered the Senate chamber. He thought that he had been unfairly treated by this attempt to pass upon the report of the committee in his absence; and the moment an. opportunity offered he addressed the Senate in an impassioned and very eloquent speech, denouncing the attempt that had been made and defending the report of the committee. Upon a vote the subject was postponed. After various and strenuous efforts to defeat the measure, it was finally adopted by a small majority.
A few weeks after the close of the session Fort Sumter was fired upon. Governor Andrew conferred with prominent members of both Houses; and, after the preparation of bills it was deemed necessary to pass, he called an "extra session," which was held. Mr. Stone took an active part in the preliminary work, and himself drew up the bill for the support of the families of volunteers, and was very influential in the important work of the session.
In November, 1862, Mr. Stone was commissioned by Governor Andrew, colonel of the 48th Regiment, which was enlisted for nine months, but was in service about one year at Baton Rouge and at Port Hudson.
Judge Edgar J. Sherman, a captain in the Regiment, writes:—
"Colonel Stone was a conscientious and painstaking officer, looking carefully to the health and efficiency of his command, faithful to every call and duty, and calm and courageous in the hour of danger. The officers and soldiers in his command entertained great respect for him as an officer and ever-increasing admiration for him as a man."
In 1865 Mr. Stone entered into a law partnership with Caleb Cushing in Washington, with a view to removing there, but after a practice of about one year, he became dissatisfied with the place, and returned to Newburyport.
Mr. Stone was a member of the House of Representativesof Massachusetts in 1867, 1877,1878 and 1880, and in the fall of 1880 he was elected a representative to the Forty-seventh Congress, and was re-elected to the Forty-eighth and Fortyninth Congresses. During the time of this service Mr. Stone was on important committees, and performed a large amount of labor. No one can read his very able speech on the proposed breakwater at Rockport without a feeling of deep regret that he did not oftener address the House. That, I am informed, was the feeling of those in the House who knew him best.
Besides the qualities and accomplishments which have been mentioned, Mr. Stone was a man of letters. His address at the dedication of the new Court House in Salem is a model of literary excellence, and his speech in Congress upon the River and Harbor Bill, and his papers on Governor Andrew and Tristram Dalton, read before the Essex Institute, and printed in its Collections, are very finely written. He was among the last of the type of lawyers of the county who associated letters with the law. In his address at Salem he made a quotation from a recent article in the London Spectator upon the retirement from office of two eminent Scotch judges, of which I give a part:—" In Scotland, as elsewhere, the competition for the loaves and fishes is becoming keener in all professions, and the lawyer finds himself hustled out of literature by the trained public writer and man of letters." In his comment on this Mr. Stone said, " This change is inevitable. As society progresses the conditions of success in the various pursuits become more and more scientific and exacting. And yet there was a charm in the social condition which caused the old alliance between law and letters, which we cannot lose without regret. Life was then more interesting and picturesque. Each man's work was less sharply defined, and the distinctions that now separate classes did not exist. Men were selected for special service, not because of special training, but because of supposed natural fitness. The judge on the bench was not the learned lawyer, but the man who was thought by his fellow-citizens to have the judicial
faculty. Every man of natural superiority took two or three different parts. The minister was doctor and farmer as well. The lawyer was the squire of the village, who supplied the demand for literary or oratorical services in default of the scholar and the trained man of letters,—the fruit of a more luxurious and advanced civilization."
There can be no better evidence of the respect with which the people of his native city regarded him than his election or appointment to so many local offices of trust and responsibility affords. Besides the public offices which have been stated, he was, at different times, mayor of the city, a member of its Common Council and its president, city solicitor, a member of the School Committee, and director in or trustee of the most important financial, educational and charitable institutions of the city.
Mr. Stone was especially distinguished for his integrity and native nobility of character. He was modest and unassuming in his manners, and never made any attempt at display, or did anything for sensational effect. He had an ambition for preferment, but never did, or could, resort to any of the arts of the politicians. He stood simply for what he was. He held decided opinions, which he never disguised or compromised for political ends. He stood solely on his merits as understood by those from whom he sought support. He was independent, yet never defiant or censorious. He was very tolerant of the opinions of those from whom he differed. He was never narrow in his views, and his mind was ever open to the arguments of his opponents. He was never a strictly party man. He believed fully in the necessity of united action by those of the same general political beliefs, but reserved the right of individual judgment upon all measures proposed. He never fully consented to all the policies of his own party. All measures were subjected to the crucible of his "unclouded reason." He had great moral as well as physical courage. He felt a personal responsibility in the performance of his public duties, and did right as his reason pointed out the right, without inquiring whether his course would be popular or how it would affect his political future.
In private life Mr. Stone was beloved and respected by all who knew him. With a mind eminently practical, and stored with knowledge derived from books and from his large and varied experiences, he was most interesting and instructive in conversation and in discussions in literary societies. He was true and unswerving in his friendships, and most happy in the delights of his family circle. He left to his friends and this community a priceless legacy in the example of an honorable and useful life.
Such a life as Mr. Stone's is a contribution to the great tide of human advancement through influences which cannot be weighed, or measured by time.

Letter from Eben F. Stone to Samuel Downer accepting his invitation to the reunion

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