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Southern Historical Society Papers, Volume 25. (ed. Reverend J. William Jones), Sergeant Smith Prentiss and his career. (search)
ate, of Mississippi, was very different from that of the bar in the new districts. Especially was this the case with the counties on, and near the Mississippi river. In its front ranks stood Prentiss, Holt, Boyd, Quitman, Wilkinson, Winchester, Foote, Henderson and others. It was at the period first mentioned by me, in 1837, that Sergeant S. Prentiss was in the flower of his forensic fame. He had not, at that time, mingled largely in federal politics. He had made but few enemies, and hair the eagle's. Among the most powerful of his jury efforts were his speeches against Bird for the murder of Cameron, and against Phelps, the notorious highway robber and murderer. Both were convicted. The former owed his conviction, as General Foote, who defended him with great zeal and ability thought, to the transcendent eloquence of Prentiss. He was justly convicted, however, as his confession, afterwards made, proved. Phelps was one of the most daring and desperate of ruffians. He