The Civil War in North Carolina

Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians

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the state ever had, never opened a law book until he had been appointed. By his marriage with Sarah, daughter of William Alexander, and the sister of Governor Nathanial Alexander, Mr. Henderson had Archibald and Mrs. Boyden, the relict of Honorable Nathaniel Boyden; he died October 21, 1822, and in the Lutheran church yard, in Salisbury, an appropriate monument marks his grave, erected by the members of the bar.

        Leonard Henderson, born 1772, died August 12, 1833, was the third son of Richard and Elizabeth Keely; he was not the least talented, and in many respects the most distinguished, even more than his able brother, of whom we have just written. He was born October 6, 1772, on Nutbush Creek, in Granville County. He lost his father when a youth, and his mother survived her husband only five years. It is stated, as an evidence of the simplicity and frugality, as well as of the industry, of the natrons of that day, that his mother taught her sons, as well as her daughters, to card and spin.

        The early education of Judge Leonard Henderson was obtained in the country schools. He read the Latin and Greek classics under the Reverend Mr. Patillo, a Presbyterian clergyman, who married a sister of Robert Goodloe Harper, and with this limited stock of learning, which was as much as his finances would allow, he commenced the study of the law with his relative, Judge John Williams, whose sister his paternal grandfather had married. After his admission to the bar he held, for several years, the place of clerk of the district court at Hillsboro, a position of much dignity and emolument. At this time, the state was divided into few districts, and in each district court was held twice a year. In 1806, this system was abolished, and a superior court was held in each county twice a year; these were divided into six circuits. A court of appellate jurisdiction, distinct from the circuit courts, was established to be held by the same judges twice a year, at Raleigh, in the intervals of the ridings of the superior courts, this was called the court of conference. Two vacancies occurred, occasioned by the death of Judge McCay and the elevation of Judge Stone to the office of governor; to one of these Mr. Henderson was elected. He discharged the duties of judge in a manner highly creditable to himself and satisfactory to the public for eight years, then he resigned, doubtless because of the laborious duties and meagre compensation received, only $1,600 a year was paid.

        In 1810, the legislature, appreciating the evils of this judicial system, and the inadequate compensation to the judges, organized the present supreme court, with its present powers and more liberal salaries. On December 12, 1818, John Hall, Leonard Henderson and John Louis Taylor were elected to this bench. These were the right men in the right place. It was peculiary the sphere in which Judge Henderson was destined to achieve his great reputation. He possessed unquestionably genius of the highest order; above all he had an honest as well as a strong mind. His knowledge of the great principles of jurisprudence was deep and clear, in all his opinions a search for the truth seemed to be the predominant idea. He was impatient when he found himself opposed by precedents, which to his mind were not supported by principle. His maxim was "inveniam aut faciam viam," that is, if he could not find a straight, clear path, leading to truth, he would make one. "This," says Judge Battle, who was his pupil and friend, and from whose admirable memoir, I extract these memoranda, "was the only fault he had as a judge." He had for years a law school where many listened with pleasure and profit to his lucid and learned teachings. In early life his mind had been tinctured with infidelity, but a short time before his death
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