Lawyer; born in Haddam, Conn.
, Feb. 13, 1805; brother of Cyrus West Field; graduated at Williams College in 1825; studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1825 in New York, where he began practice.
In 1836 he went to Europe
and studied English and French court methods, codes, and civil laws.
Returning to the United States
he became strongly impressed with the conviction that New York State
needed a codification of its common law. To promote this reform he sought an election to
the legislature in 1841, and when he was defeated sent drafts of three bills to the Assembly, where they were referred to the judiciary committee, but no further action was taken.
He was also defeated
as a candidate to the Constitutional Convention, but kept up his agitation by issuing a number of articles on The reorganization of the judiciary
In January, 1847, prior to the meeting of the legislature, he published an essay on What shall be done with the practice of the courts
and followed it by requesting the appointment of a commission to provide for the abolition of existing pleadings and forms of action at common law, and for a uniform course of procedure.
In the following April such a commission was appointed, and later Mr. Field
became a member of it. In February, 1848, the first instalment of the Code of Civil procedure
was presented to the legislature and soon adopted.
Other reports were made until Jan. 1, 1850, when the last codification of civil and criminal laws was submitted.
In 1857 the legislature passed an act making Mr. Field
chairman of the commission to codify all the laws of the State
not yet so treated.
In 1865 this work was finished, but only the penal code was adopted.
Within a few years twenty-four States and Territories adopted his Code of Civil procedure
, and eighteen his Code of criminal procedure
Besides these works he prepared The draft outlines of an international code
He died in New York City, April 13, 1894.