He defended the parties indicted in 1854, for an attempt to rescue the fugitive slave Burns
, and succeeded in quashing the indictments on which they were arraigned.
The following year, he successfully defended the British
consul at Boston
against a charge of violating the neutrality laws of the United States
during the Crimean War
. In 1856, cooperating with counsel from Ohio
, he made a noted application to Judge Curtis
, of the United-States Supreme Court, for a writ of habeas corpus
, to test the authority by which the Free-State
prisoners were held confined in Kansas
by Federal officers.
More lately, in 1859, he initiated and directed the measures to procure suitable counsel for the defence of John Brown
; and, in 1860, was counsel for Hyatt
, witnesses summoned before Senator Mason
's committee of investigation into the John-Brown
Upon his argument, the latter was discharged by the Supreme Court of Massachusetts
from the custody of the United-States marshal, by whose deputy he had been arrested under a warrant issued at the instigation of that committee.
Being himself, about the same time, summoned before the committee, he appeared at Washington
, and rendered his testimony.
Nor had he hesitated, under his theory of his duties as a lawyer, to defend causes appealing less directly to his sympathies, or even positively repugnant to them.
Among others, besides the instance of the British
consul before mentioned, may be named his advocacy, in 1860, of the right of Mr. Burnham
, against the inquisition of a committee of the Massachusetts Legislature; and also his defence, the same year, in the United
-States District and Circuit Courts, of the notorious slaver-yacht Wanderer
This brilliant legal career was a result of uninterrupted devotion to a profession which always demands constancy as a condition of success.
Although warmly interested from an early age in the course of public affairs, and often taking part in political assemblies,—until 1848 as a Whig, in that year passing into the Free-Soil
party, and in 1854 uniting naturally with the Republicans,—it was not until 1858 that he consented to accept political office.
In the autumn campaign of the previous