Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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DURELL, Edward Henry, jurist, born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, 14 July 1810; died in Schoharie, New York, 29 March 1887. His father was chief justice of the state, and U. S. district attorney during the first Jackson administration. After studying at Phillips Exeter academy, the son was graduated at Harvard in 1831, and studied law there and with his father. He also became familiar with the French, Spanish, Italian, and German languages. In the autumn of 1834 he settled in Pittsburgh, Miss., which he renamed Grenada, and removed to New Orleans in 1836 where he resumed the practice of his profession. Mr. Durell drafted a statute in 1843 that made a change in the law of the descent of property in Louisiana.
In 1854'6 he was a member of the common council of New Orleans, and as chairman of its finance committee was the author of several important measures. By sinking an artesian well in Canal Street, Mr. Durell proved correct the opinion of Sir Charles Lyell that New Orleans rests on the bed of the sea. He strenuously opposed the adoption of the secession ordinance in Louisiana; left the Democratic Party on that issue, and for some time afterward he lived in retirement.
After the capture of New Orleans by Farragut, Mr. Durell was called upon to construct a new municipal government, and drafted the so-called bureau system, which remained in force from July 1862, till some years after the war. He was president of the city's bureau of finances in 1862'4, and mayor of New Orleans during part of 1863, administering the office with great credit. In 1863 he was appointed by President Lincoln U. S. judge for the eastern district of Louisiana and presided over the entire state after the abolition of the western district in 1866.
Judge Durell was president of the State constitutional convention of 1864, and in 1865 declined the office of justice of the U. S. Supreme Court, tendered him by Mr. Lincoln. In 1867, by a personal visit to Washington, he brought about a discontinuance of legal procedure in Louisiana under the confiscation laws, and in the same year declined the Austrian mission. In 1868 he was mentioned as a candidate for vice president. He resigned from the bench in 1874, and from 1875 till his death resided chiefly in Schoharie, New York, engaged in literary pursuits. He contributed much to periodical literature, and published " Sketches" under the pen name of "H. Didimus" (New York, 1840). He left in manuscript a translation, made in 1840, of P. C. Roux's "Essay on the History of France, and the Immediate Causes of the Revolution of 1789," and a volume of notes to the same; and had in preparation a " History of Seventeen Years: from 1860 to the Retiring of the Federal Arms from Louisiana and South Carolina."
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