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Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century biographies contain errors and bias. We rely on volunteers to edit the historic biographies on a continual basis. If you would like to edit this biography please submit a rewritten biography in text form . If acceptable, the new biography will be published above the 19th Century Appleton's Cyclopedia Biography citing the volunteer editor





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David Dudley Field

FIELD, David Dudley, clergyman, born in East Guilford (now Madison), Connecticut, 20 May 1781; died in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, 15 April 1867. He was a son of Captain Timothy Field, who had been an officer in the Revolutionary army, and subsequently settled in Guilford. Young Field was fitted for College with Jeremiah Evarts, father of William M. Evarts, under the instruction of the Rev. John Elliott. The two boys roomed together during their College course, and were graduated at Yale in 1802. Mr. Field then studied theology with the Rev. Charles Backus, of Somers, and was licensed to preach by the association of New Haven east, in September 1803. After preaching for a short time in Somers, where he married Submit Dickinson, he', accepted a call to the Congregational Church in Haddam, Connecticut, and was ordained on 11 April 1804. Here he remained for fourteen years, resigning in 1818, and then spent five months on a missionary tour through western New York. On his journey homeward he preached in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, where, a few months later, he was to succeed the Rev. Stephen West. The journey from Haddam was made in wagons, filled with his possessions, and in August 1819, he was installed pastor of the Church, then the only one in the village. He ministered to this parish for eighteen years, and then returned to Haddam, and remained there until 1844. During the latter year the congregation was divided, and he took charge of the new Church in Higganum until 1851, when he retired, returning to Stockbridge, where he passed his remaining days. Mr. Field received the degree of D. D. in 1837 from Williams. In 1848 he spent some months in Europe with his son Stephen. He had a natural fondness for historical research, and was at one time vice president of the Connecticut historical society; also a corresponding member of the Massachusetts and Pennsylvania historical societies. Besides occasional sermons and historical addresses, he published "History of the County of Berkshire" (1829); " History of the County of Middlesex" (1839); " History of Pittsfield" (1844); and "Genealogy of the Brainerd Family" (New York, 1857).

His son David Dudley Field, lawyer, born in Haddam, Connecticut, 13 February 1805, was his eldest child, and was graduated at Williams in 1825. He studied law first in Albany with Harmanus Bleecker, but after a few months removed to New York, where he completed his studies. Soon after Mr. Field's admission to the bar, in 1828, he became a junior partner in the law firm of Henry and D. Sedgwick, with which he studied. >From then until 1885 he was continuously engaged in the active practice of his profession. Mr. Field has attained special prominence in connection with his labors in the cause of law reform. As early as 1839 he wrote a " Letter on the Reform of the Judiciary System," and afterward addressed a committee of the New York legislature on the subject.

In 1841 he prepared three bills, which were introduced, but the judiciary committee, to whom they were referred, failed to take any action on them. In 1846 he wrote a series of articles on "The Reorganization of the Judiciary," which were widely distributed in pamphlet form. His influence was felt in the Constitutional convention of 1846, and their report called for a general code and the "Reform of the Practice." Before the legislature met in January 1847 he published "What shall be done with the Practice of the Courts? Shall it be wholly Reformed? Questions addressed to Lawyers." In September 1847, he was appointed commissioner on practice and pleadings, and as such took part in the preparation of the code of procedure. The commission reported the first installment to the legislature in February and it was enacted in April 1848. The remainder was reported in four sections at different times until January 1850, when the completed "Codes of Civil and Criminal Procedure" were submitted to the legislature. Both these codes have been enacted into law. The radical design of the new system of civil procedure was to obliterate the distinction between the forms of action and between legal and equitable suits, so that all the rights of the parties in relation to the subjects of litigation can be determined in one action, instead of dividing them between different suits.

This system has been adopted in twenty-four of the states and territories, and is the basis of the legal reform established by the new judicature act in England, and of the practice in several of the English colonies, including India. Eighteen of the states and territories have adopted his code of criminal procedure. For some years following the enactment of these laws he continued to publish numerous pamphlets, including the "Law Reform Tracts," also frequent articles in the journals, and drafted bills that were introduced into the legislature for the purpose of effecting the completion of codification. In 1857 Mr. Field was appointed by the state of New York head of a commission to prepare a political code, a penal code, and a civil code. These, with the two codes of procedure previously made, were designed to supersede the unwritten or common law. They were completed in 1865, and covered the entire province of American law, and presented to the people in compact form the whole law by which they were governed.

The state of New York has, as yet, adopted only the penal code, although other states have drawn largely from the civil code in their legislation, and in California and Dakota they have adopted them in full. In 1866 he brought before the British association for the promotion of social science, at its meeting in Manchester, England, a proposal for a general revision and reform of the law of nations, similar to that which he had before undertaken in regard to the civil and criminal law. He procured the appointment of a committee, consisting of eminent jurists of different countries, charged with preparing and reporting to the association the outlines of an international code, to be first submitted to their careful revision and amendment, and, when made as complete as possible, to be presented to the attention of the different governments, in the hope of receiving at some time their approval trod adoption as the recognized law of nations. The distinguished jurists composing this committee resided in different countries, and hence it was difficult for them to act in concert.

In consequence, Mr. Field took the whole matter upon himself, and in 1873, after the lapse of seven years, presented to the Social science congress his " Outlines of an International Code," which attracted the attention of all jurists, and has been translated into French, Italian, and Chinese. It resulted in the formation of an association for the reform and codification of the laws of nations, also having for his object the substitution of arbitration for war in the settlement of disputes between countries. The membership includes jurists, economists, legislators, and politicians, and of this organization Mr. Field was elected first president. An eminent chancellor of England said that "Mr. Dudley Field of New York, had done more for the reform of laws than any other man living."

Mr. Field has taken much interest in politics. Originally a Democrat, he voted with that party, although he persistently opposed its proslavery policy, until the nomination of John C. Fremont, in 1856, whom He supported in the presidential canvass of that year. During the civil war he was a staunch adherent of the administration, and was active with voice, pen, and purse in aid of his country. For eight weeks in 1876 he filled the unexpired term in congress of Smith Ely, who had been made mayor of New York City. He now acted with the Democratic Party, and was one of the advocates on that side in the dispute over the presidential election. He has delivered numerous addresses, and has contributed very largely to current literature on political topics. His "Sketches over the Sea" appeared in the "Democratic Review" at the time of his first trip abroad in 1836, and he published "Speeches, Arguments, and Miscellaneous Papers" (2 vols., New York, 1886).

Another son, Stephen Johnson Field, jurist, born in Haddam, Connecticut, 4 November 1816, was not three years old when his father removed to Stockbridge, and ten years later accompanied his sister, Emilia, who had married a missionary, to Smyrna, for the purpose of acquiring knowledge of oriental languages. On his return he entered Williams, and was graduated in 1837, standing first in his class. Subsequently he came to New York, and began the study of law in the office of his brother, David Dudley Field. After his admission to the bar he became a partner in the firm. This connection was severed in 1848, and he spent some time in European travel.

In November 1849, he sailed from New York for San Francisco, where he practiced his profession. A few weeks later he was among those who founded Marysville, becoming its first accolade, and continuing as such until the organization of the judiciary under the constitution of the state. He was elected a member of the first legislature held after the admission of California into the Union, served on its judiciary committee, and secured the passage of laws concerning the judiciary, and regulating civil and criminal procedure in all the courts of the state.

He was also the author of the law that gives authority to the regulations and customs of miners in the settlement of controversies among them, thus solving a perplexing problem. At the close of the session he returned to Marysville, and during the ensuing six years devoted himself to his profession, gaining an extensive practice. In 1857 he was elected judge of the Supreme Court of California for six years, beginning with January 1858, but, on the occurrence of a vacancy, he was appointed to fill it in October 1857. On the resignation of Chief Justice David S. Terry, in September 1859, Judge Field succeeded him, and continued in office till his appointment to the supreme bench of the United States by President Lincoln in 1863. Among the prominent decisions in which he has been concerned was the famous test oath case, in which he gave the casting vote, and wrote the opinion of the court annulling the validity of the "ironclad" oath. His dissenting opinions in the legal tender cases, in the confiscation cases, and in the New Orleans slaughterhouse case, have also attracted attention. Judge Field was a member of tire electoral commission in 1877, and voted with the Democratic minority of the commission.

In 1880 his name was placed in nomination for the presidency at the Cincinnati convention, and he received sixty-five votes on the first ballot. He was appointed by the governor of California, in 1873, one of a commission to examine the code of laws of that state, and to prepare amendments to the same for legislative action. He received the degree of LL.D. from Williams in 1864, and in 1869 was appointed professor of law in the University of California.

Another son, Cyrus West Field, merchant, born in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, 30 November 1819, received his education in his native village, and at the age of fifteen came to =New York and obtained a situation as clerk with Alexander T. Stewart and Co. Before attaining his majority He began the manufacture and sale of paper, and in the course of a dozen years was at the head of a prosperous business. In 1853 he partially retired and spent six months traveling in South America. The project of carrying a telegraph line across the Atlantic Ocean suggested itself to him during a conversation with his brother Matthew, in which aid was solicited for the construction of a telegraph line across Newfoundland. The matter was presented by him to Peter Cooper, Moses Taylor, Marshall O. Roberts, and Chandler White, who, with Mr. Field, agreed to contribute large amounts of money to the enterprise, which was at once organized under the title of the New York, Newfoundland, and London telegraph company. The exclusive right for fifty years to establish a telegraph from the continent of America, across Newfoundland, and thence to Europe, was secured without delay from the local legislature of the island.

Mr. Field thenceforth devoted his time entirely for the next thirteen years to the accomplishment of this purpose. He visited Eng land more than two score times, soliciting financial aid, and at the formation of the Atlantic telegraph company subscribed in his own name for one fourth of its capital stock. After several unsuccessful efforts were made to lay the cable, communication was finally established in 1858. For a few weeks messages were sent from one continent to the other, and then the cable ceased to act. During the civil war it was found impossible to proceed further with the enterprise. Meanwhile Mr. Field attended in 1864 the opening of the Suez canal as the representative of the New York chamber of commerce, and public interest in the telegraph scheme was kept alive in Europe and America by his efforts, he made repeated visits to England, and delivered addresses on the subject on both sides of the Atlantic. Finally, in 1865, active measures were renewed, and the steamship " Great Eastern" began the paying out of the cable. After 1,200 miles had been laid the cable parted and the vessel returned to England. In 1866 another expedition started with a new cable, and on 27 July telegraphic communication was established between the two continents, and has not since been interrupted. Congress voted unanimously to present Mr. Field with a gold medal and the thanks of the nation, while the prime minister of England declared that only the fact that he was a citizen of another country prevented his receiving high honors from the British government. John Bright pronounced him "the Columbus of modern times, who, by his cable, had moored the New World alongside of the Old."

The Paris exposition universelle of 1867 gave him the grand medal, the highest prize it had to be stow. He also received the thanks of the City of New York, with the freedom of the City and a gold snuffbox, the thanks of the Chamber of commerce of New York, with a gold medal, the thanks of the state of Wisconsin, with a gold medal, the thanks of the American chamber of commerce of Liverpool, with a gold medal, a decoration from Victor Emmanuel, king of Italy, an entire service of silver from the late George Peabody, and many other marks of appreciation of his great services from different parts of the world.

He became interested in 1876 in the development of the system of elevated railways in New York City, and has devoted much time and capital to their successful establishment. In 1880'1 he made tour around the world, accompanied by his wife, and since his return has obtained concessions from the Sandwich islands for the laying of a cable between San Francisco and those islands, with a view toward its ultimate extension across the Pacific ocean.

Another son, Henry Martyn Field, clergyman, born in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, 3 April 1822, was graduated at Williams in 1838, studied theology in East Windsor and New Haven, Connecticut, until 1842, and then became pastor of a Presbyterian Church in St. Louis, Maine, where he remained for five years. In 1847'8 he traveled in Europe, and was in Paris during the revolution in February of the latter year, and also in Italy during the similar scenes a few weeks later. His observations and experiences in Rome were published in a pamphlet entitled "The Good and the Bad in the Roman Catholic Church." On his return to the United States he became acquainted with the families of Irish partiers living in New York, and was led to study the history of Ireland during the latter part of the lath century. In consequence he published "The Irish Confederates, a History of the Rebellion of 1798" (New York, 1851). He was pastor of the Church in West Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1851'4, and then removed to New York to become one of the editors of "The Evangelist," of which he was subsequently proprietor, he has published "Summer Pictures from Copenhagen to Venice" (New York, 1859); "History of the Atlantic Telegraph" (1866); "From the Lakes of Killarney to the Golden Horn" (1876); " From Egypt to Japan" (1878)" "On the Desert" (1883); "Among the Holy Hills" (1883); "The Greek Islands and Turkey after the War" (1885); and "Blood thicker than Water: a Few Days among our Southern Brethren" (1886).

Edited Appletons Encyclopedia, Copyright © 2001 VirtualologyTM

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