great early struggle for life through which this country successfully emerged.
His elementary education was in the public schools of his native town; but the perils of war suspending school operations, he entered the office of Isaiah Thomas
, proprietor of the famous Spy
. His passion for books and strong love of literature were manifested during his employment on the press by his devotion of leisure hours to the acquisition of the elementary branches of English and the rudiments of Latin.
In 1778 he was put under the charge of the Rev. Joseph Pope
, but a year later found him with his father in the Continental
army, being then only twelve years old, and too young to perform a soldier's duty.
On his return he was in the office of Benjamin Lincoln
, and was later placed under the tuition of Samuel Dexter
, who prepared him for admission to Harvard University, which he entered in 1782, graduating with high honors in the class of 1786.
He entered at once upon the study of the law in the office of Levi Lincoln
, and was admitted to the bar in 1789.
He commenced practice in Groton
, where he became acquainted with and married, September 30, 1791, Lucy, daughter of Hon. Oliver
and Lydia (Baldwin
It is said he sat in his office six weeks without taking a fee, and then received a pistareen.
was endowed with ready apprehension, and an active and inquisitive mind, gathering knowledge with remarkable facility, exact method and system, thus enabling him to compass a vast amount of reading.
He soon acquired a wide reputation and a large practice in Middlesex
and Worcester counties
, and in New Hampshire
Samuel Dana, Jr.
, another noted lawyer, and Mr. Bigelow
became the leaders of the Middlesex bar. They were retained in the most important cases of the neighborhood, and were generally on opposite sides.
In politics, as well as at the bar, they were pitted against each other, but in social life they were the best of friends.
was a prominent