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accurate and connected view of the public and official life of each of them before coming to the bench.
Without further remark I might here submit this volume to the judgment of the reader, and leave it to speak for itself. But a single additional observation seems proper and necessary. I am aware that the review of judicial decisions, which I have given somewhat at length, is a wide departure from the ordinary course of biographical writing. I have not entered upon it, however, without due reflection and design. A main object in undertaking this work has been to trace something like a history of the United States Supreme Court, and to present a brief and succinct, but connected, view of the Constitutional jurisprudence of the United States; and I know of no more agreeable and interesting mode of doing this than by combining it with sketches of the public and professional lives of those eminent men who have from time to time presided in the Supreme Federal tribunal. I have attempted thus to unite judicial and constitutional history with biography. This has enabled me to take a wider and more general view of the entire subject; to embrace within these sketches not only those matters which are properly the subject of the memoirs of a life, but also to trace the history of the Federal judiciary from its earliest beginnings; to consider the facts and results connected with the adoption of the Federal Constitution, and to review, or notice, more or less fully, most of the important Constitutional questions which have been discussed in the Supreme Court from the foundation of the government to the present time.
There are those, perhaps, who may consider such a work as too professional, to claim a place within the sphere of general literature, and to regard such an analysis of legal cases as has been incorporated into it, as incompatible with the legitimate objects of popular biography. Perhaps such a criticism may be just. It is not, however, for the author to anticipate it. If he has misjudged in this respect, he has at least the satisfaction of knowing that the general plan of his work has been considered with favor by friends in whose judgment he has confidence; and should its success not meet their expectations he can but attribute it to its imperfect manner of execution, and not to any want of public interest in that branch of the subject alluded to—a subject which can never be indifferent to the American citizen--the constitutional history and jurisprudence of his country.
In 1854, the first edition of the Lives of the Chief Justices of the United States appeared, and that edition has become exhausted, and is now entirely out of print. The growing demand for the work by the studious, both in and out of the profession, has induced the publishers to offer to the public a second edition. The editor acknowledges his inability adequately to supply the place of the lamented author who so admirably presented the lives, times and judicial labors of the eminent men, who, up to his time, had filled the exalted station of chief in that tribunal, which controls and holds in its hand the rights and liberties of fifty millions of people, and whose judgments are respected and honored from Massachusetts to California, and from Maine to Texas. Since Mr. Van Santvoord wrote, the eminent and venerable jurist who graced the Bench has died, and two others have occupied the high office. The editor has inadequately attempted to complete the life of Taney, and has written a sketch of the lives of Chase and Waite. Judge Robert B. Warden's admirable memoir was the basis for the facts in connection with Chase; and most of the facts stated in the sketch of the life of the present Chief-Justice, were furnished the author by himself. The lives of such men cannot be uninteresting, and even the poorest attempt to depict them, cannot fail to be instructive,
W. M. S. ALBANY, N Y., November 1st, 1882.
ONE OF THE ASSOCIATE-JUSTICES OF THE SUPREME COURT OF THE
Sir-I do not know to whom I can more appropriately dedicate this work than to yourself. For more than twenty years, as Circuit-Judge, as Associate Justice, and as Chief-Justice of the New York Supreme Court, your learning illustrated, and your virtues adorned, the judicial records of our State. Appointed to the elevated position you now occupy, as the successor of a THOMPSON and a LIVINGSTON, you carried with you the unanimous verdict of the profession that the ermine of those illustrious judges could not have fallen on one more worthy to receive it; and a service there of nearly ten years has rendered it abundantly evident that posterity will not seek to set that verdict aside.
As the only present member of the Court from our own State, whose bench and bar you may, therefore, be said to represent in the Federal Judiciary, there seems to be such a peculiar fitness in inscribing your name on these pages, that I esteem it not only an honor, but a privilege, in being allowed to make this dedication. Permit me, then, to express the lively gratification I feel in having your permission to inscribe this work to you.
With sincere respect, I have the honor to be your obliged and humble servant,
G. VAN SANTVOORD. Troy, N. Y., August 1st, 1854.