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James Kent, Joshua A. Spencer, H. R. Storrs, B. F. Butler,
Philo Ruggles, James R. Lawrence, Daniel Cady, Daniel Kel
logg, Joshua A. Spencer, Samuel Stevens, The Old Onon
John Young, Mark H. Sibley, Francis Granger, Millard Fill-
BENCH AND BAR
OF NEW YORK.
Styled the American Erskine.- A Son of Josiah Ogden Hoffman.--Enters the Navy
as a Midshipman.-Enters the Service of the United States on board the President.-Captured with that Vessel in Attempting to Run the Blockade.-Thrilling Scene.-A Prisoner of War at Bermuda.-Dines with the British Officers.—Lieu-tenant Price Promptly Resents an Insult.-The Challenge.-Transferred to the Guerriere, Decatur's Flag Ship. – Accompanies Expedition to the Barbary States.-Conflict between the Guerriere and an Algerine Ship of War.-Commodore Decatur.-Hoffman Boards the Pirate Ship.-A Boarding Conflict.-The Victory.-Returns to New York.-Resigns his Commission.-The Law Student. -John Duer.-Hoffman Completes his Studies with him at Goshen, Orange County.-Commences Practice at Goshen.-Partner of Mr. Duer.-His Success as a Lawyer.-Incidents in his Practice.--Appointed District-Attorney.- Elected to the Assembly.-Removes to New York.-Hugh Maxwell.-Enters into Partnership with him.-Trial of Henry Eckford and Others.-Hoffman's Distinguished Position at the Bar of New York.-Appointed District-Attorney of New York.-His Political Career.-Moses H. Grinnell.-Dudley Selden.-Trial of Richard P. Robinson.-Description of the Murder.-Hoffman's Surpassing Eloquence.-Thrilling Scene.-The Verdict.- Its Effect.-Hoffman as a Criminal Lawyer.-His Advice to Mr. Evarts.-Elected to Congress.-His Congressional Career.-Grand Reception in New York.-His Speech.-Appointed United States District-Attorney.-Elected Attorney-General.-Description of his Oratory.Personal Appearance.-His Death.-Proceedings of the New York City Bar.Democratic General Committee.
OGDEN HOFFMAN has repeatedly been styled the American Erskine, and the appellation is not without propriety-in some circumstances the parallel is complete. Both of these great lawyers in their youth entered the navy ; both attained the rank of passed midshipman, resigned that position, and entered the
legal profession, in which, by an intuitive acuteness, great erudition and matchless eloquence, they won the highest honors.
While Erskine overthrew constructive treason in England, and established there the doctrine that the jury are judges of the law and fact in cases of libel, Ogden Hoffman, by his fearless and disinterested de. fense of those whom clamor and prejudice had condemned, established at the American bar that hightoned independence which places courts of justice beyond the reach of any influence. Mistakes as to facts and the operation of those passions which are inseparable from human frailty, may have led him to erroneous conclusions as to the real merits of cases which he espoused. Many of his speeches at the bar were distinguished for their bold and happy novelties of expression and felicities of phrase, accompanied by the most perfect simplicity of manner. The exuberance of his imagination constituted at once the charm and the defect of his oratory.
Ogden Hoffman was born in the city of New York, on the third day of May, 1793. His father was Josiah Ogden Hoffman, a distinguished civilian of that city, the associate, and often the opponent of Hamilton, Kent, Ambrose Spencer, Emmet, Wells, and other eminent jurists, whose profound learning and high order of eloquence; raised them to the sphere of the Pitts, the Burkes, the Sheridans and the Currans.
Ogden was the half-brother of Charles Fenno Hoffman, the eminent poet and novelist. On attaining his eighth year, he was placed in one of the best schools in the city. Here his progress was at first slow and tardy; but he soon began to gain rapidly in his studies.
It was said of Sir William Jones in his youth that he was a boy of so active a mind, that if he were left naked and friendless on Salisbury Plain, he would find his way to fame. This remark might well have applied to young Hoffman. He soon became one of the best classical scholars in the institution, and also a superior mathematician-especially in the department of logarithms. His mind, naturally adventurous, early began to exhibit a preference for the life of a sailor; he read with pleasure the bold and brilliant exploits of naval heroes, and he determined to enter the naval service of his country.
His father intended to prepare him for the bar; but yielding to the strong desire of the boy for the nary, he procured him a midshipman's berth. With great diligence and unwearied application, he perfected himself in nautical science and naval discipline. When war with England was declared, he was in his seventeenth year. At this period, he entered the service of the United States, as a midshipman, on board the frigate President. He was with that vessel when she was captured by the British while attempting to run the blockade of New London. Through all the dangerous and exciting scenes which resulted in her capture, young Hoffman conducted himself with the coolness and intrepidity of a veteran. The President was taken to the Bermudas in charge of the British ship-of-war Endymion, where the American officers were detained as prisoners.
While at Bermuda, several British officers were one day invited to dine with the officers of the President. At the table there was an English lieutenant whose national pride had been inflated by the capture of the President, and whose insolence to the American officers had exhibited itself on several occasions. When toasts became the order at the table, after several courteous sentiments had been given by both British and American officers to each other, this lieutenant arose and proposed the following:
“The captain of the Endymion: by conquest, the captain of the President.”
Hardly had these words escaped his lips, when Lieutenant Edward Price, of the President, threw a glass of wine full in the face of the British officer,