Immediately after graduating, I opened a private school in Beverly; and, while residing in that town, the great trial of Knapp, as an accomplice of Crowninshield in the murder of Mr. White, took place in Salem. Mr. Franklin Dexter and Mr. W. H. Gardiner were Knapp's counsel, and Webster was on the side of the State. The trial attracted many from the neighboring towns,—law-students and young lawyers. Among them Sumner was present. I recollect how delighted he was with the keenness of Dexter in worming the truth out of witnesses on their cross-examination, and especially in summing up the evidence in the prisoner's behalf. I met him at the trial several times, and he seemed to take as much interest in it as if he were one of the lawyers. He was not a member of the Law School at the time; and I could not help thinking that, if he had not decided what profession to study, the dignity and even solemnity of that trial, conducted by the ablest counsel to be found, must have decided him to study law.
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
1 The points contested at this trial between Franklin Dexter, the defendant's counsel, and Mr. Webster are given in Commonwealth v. Knapp, 10 Pickering's Reports, p. 477. The celebrated argument of Mr. Webster on the earlier trial of John F. Knapp as principal is printed in his Works, Vol. II. pp. 41-105. See Curtis's ‘Life of Webster,’ Vol. I. pp. 378-385.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.