The Civil War in North Carolina

Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians

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        V. Leonard, born 1778.

        VI. John Lawson, born 1770.

        Judge Richard Henderson returned home from Tennessee in 1780, and surrounded by peace and plenty, esteemed and loved by all who knew him, he departed this life on January 30, 1785.

        His daughters, intelligent and accomplished, married men of ability and high reputation. Each of his sons studied the profession of the law, in which their father was distinguished, and they did his name no dishonor.

        Richard Henderson, first son of Richard, was highly educated, graduated at university in 1804, read law, and gave every promise of distinction; but he died at an early age.

        Archibald Henderson, born 1768, died 1822, the second son of Richard and Elizabeth Keeling, lived and died in Salisbury; and was the acknowledged head of the profession in Western North Carolina. He was educated at the schools and academies of the county, for his name does not appear among the graduates of the university. He studied law with his relative, Judge Williams, and settled in Salisbury. He was a member of the House of Commons from Salisbury, in 1807 to 1809, 1814, 1815, 1819, 1820, and a member of congress from 1799 to 1803. These were exciting times in congress. Our limits do not allow us to detail the exciting questions of that day, but one may be alluded to. For the first time in our history the election of president devolved on the house of representatives, and the foundations of our republic were severely tested. Mr. Henderson, with William Barry Grove, Joseph Dickson, William H. Hill, voted for Aaron Burr, whilst Willis Alston, Nathaniel Macon, Richard Stanford, Richard Dobbs Spaight, David Stone, and Robert Williams, supported Thomas Jefferson. Mr. Henderson was a decided federalist, and was able and eloquent But, although he shone as "a bright, peculiar star" in politics, this was not his element. It was in the profession of the law that he attained his matchless reputation, and was pronounced by one qualified to judge:*

        * Judge A. D. Murphey.

"The most perfect model of a lawyer the bar of North Carolina has ever produced."

        "He contributed," says Judge Murphey, "more to give dignity to the profession than any lawyer since the days of General Davie, and Alfred Moore."

        He looked, as did Hooker, "with reverence on the science of the law," for with him, he thought, that "her voice was the harmony of the world and her seat the bosom of God." By the teachings of the law, men are taught the great lessons of obedience to rules and reverence for their administration. No one understood this better than did Archibald Henderson, and in his practice no one more studiously observed it. Mr. Henderson has often said that he knew "but few men fitted for the bench. He had known many good lawyers, but few good judges." The qualifications requisite for a good judge, are rarely combined. Many esteem legal learning, the first qualification. Mr. Henderson thought strong common sense, the firstqualification; an intimate knowledge of men, particularly of the middle or lower classes, their passions and prejudices, modes of thoughts, was the second; good moral character, subdued feelings, without prejudice or partiality, was the third; independence and energy of will the fourth, and legal learning the last."

        Lord Mansfield gave this advice to a brave old admiral, who, for his gallantry and services, had been appointed a judge by the crown, to some distant point, and at once went to him, to procure some law books to qualify himself. "You do not need any such aid," said Lord Mansfield. "Go to your post; hear both sides patiently, and then decide with energy and firmness, according to your own views; but give few or no reasons for your opinion."

        It has been said that one of the best attorney-generals
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