"THE PROSPECT," Extolling George Griffin.
nd [ca.1860?]. Single sheet. 33 x 21 cm. 1.5 pages. Old fold lines, short tears and small separations at folds. Original manuscript poem written by a "friend" of some talent and education, praising the attorney, George Griffin (1778-1860), of New York City, comparing him to "Great Hamilton" who had died in a duel with Aaron Burr some years before. The poem reads, in part: "Great Hamilton was summoned to the skies, And in his place, we saw an equal rise. Powerful in thought, as in expression bold, His mind unbounded ranged uncontroll'd...Alike was skillful to expound the law, From the dark maze of error, truth to draw...in Eastern climes he rose and moving west on Susquehannah's banks was seen to rest...whence, by the genius of his mind inspir'd with love of fame, with hope of glory fil'd His steps retracing to Manhattan's Isle...."
George Griffin, eminent lawyer and author, was born in East Haddam, Connecticut in 1778. He was the the brother of Rev. Edward Dorr Griffin, president of Williams College. George Griffin married Lydia Butler, a daughter of Colonel Zebulon Butler, who commanded the defense at Wyoming at the time of the massacre in 1778. A 1797 graduate of Yale and the Litchfield Law School of Tapping Reeve, Griffin began his legal practice in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, (1800-1806), but soon moved to New York where he became one of the most prominent lawyers in the city. His most famous case was probably the defense of Navy Captain MacKenzie for executing the ringleaders during the mutiny aboard the USS Somers. An honorary Doctor of Laws was conferred on him by Columbia College in 1837. He published several writings of a religious nature including "The Sufferings of Christ," in 1845.
Griffin's New York Times obituary (written by J.W.G. published May 7, 1860) was filled with such high praise, one wonders if this was not also the author of the laudatory poem: "It will be with regret that the public will learn that the Nestor of the New-York Bar is no more. George Griffin, Esq., ...was an active member of the bar of this City, in the full height of practice for just half a century. Few lawyers of his day achieved greater triumphs at the bar; his fame as an advocate being coextensive with the legal history of the country. Some of his eloquent jury speeches have been enrolled among those specimens of American eloquence which are daily declaimed by students in our Academies and Colleges as specimens of impassioned eloquence....He practiced with a race of legal giants. His daily competitors were men of the highest legal attainments, and of the most commanding powers of eloquence. -- men who had learning beyond the books, and ambition above their fees; -- men of high social position -- gentlemen in the strictest sense of the term. He had to cope with such men as EMMET, WELLS and HOFFMAN, COLDEN, OCDEN and SLOSSON, RIGGS and JONES, who then, by force of their commanding talents and indefatigable industry, managed ail the practice in the Courts, and he was a bold man who dared to enter the lists against them. The writer of these hasty remarks, at the age of eighteen, as a student in his office, was taught by this modern Gamaliel the principles of legal science, with which the deceased master of his profession was so familiar...J.W.G." Item #67632