prominent in their County, many of them filling important positions in the Legislature of the State and the local posts of trust at home.
Judge Brooks was mostly educated at Belvidere in Perquimans County, North Carolina. The Society of Friends in that section, as early as the year 1834, had founded an Academy at that place, which from the foundation to the present, has taken high rank amongst the best schools of the country. At the school many of the men now prominent in Eastern North Carolina were educated and some, distinguished for practical worth, in other States.
In 1844 he was licensed to practice law in the County Courts of the State and in 1846 was admitted as an attorney in the Superior Courts.
From his first entrance at
the bar he was successful. The numerous friends of his father, made so by his
kindness, rectitude and fidelity, flocked to the support of the son, and gave
him at once a start in life. His first appearance was not flattering. He was
slow and almost painfully awkward from embarrassment and diffidence; but still,
amidst the tribulation which a young lawyer endures at first in the presence of
At the beginning of the war he owned a large number of slaves, all of them purchased by him and nearly all purchased at their own request to save them from the hands of the negro-buyer. For some years before 1861, he predicted their emancipation and often when asked to purchase a negro he refused upon the ground, that the tenure of ownership was in the near future to end.
His arguments upon this subject were distasteful to public sentiment and grew to be the subject of harsh criticism amongst the leading democrats of his region; many of his personal and warmest friends frequently remonstrated with him, against his utterance of opinions so widely at variance with the wishes and convictions of the public.
He made no political speeches and no harangues to the public; but he claimed the right to express his private opinion upon public matters, and he never yielded that right to public clamor or private remonstrance. In 1852 he consented to represent his native County in the Legislature of the State. He only consented to prevent a division in the Whig Party in his county. He served with perfect acceptability to his constituents one term, but positively refused to accept a renomination. He has always refused to mingle in the strife of politics.
He was a firm adherent of the Whig Party up to the civil war. During that war he was an avowed Union man; though his conduct was calm and quiet, and showed his actions to be the result of conviction, produced by reflection rather than mere sentiment, the result of the passions of the hour.
During the whole civil war he was the same,--true to his conviction of the ultimate triumph of the Federal Government, yet kind to opponents and always ready to succor the distress of Federal or Southern sufferers.
In August 1855, he was appointed Judge of District Court for the District of North Carolina, and his nomination was confirmed by the United States Senate in January 1866. In 1866 he was elected a delagate to the Convention which met to frame a Constitution for North Carolina. He stood high in that body, but with the close of that Convention his relation with the public ceased except as a judge.
The business in the federal Courts of North Carolina before the war was nominal. The
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