Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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LORING, Ellis Gray, lawyer, born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1803 ; died there, 24 May, 1858. He entered Harvard college in 1819, but was not graduated with his class, afterward studied law, was admitted to the Suffolk bar, and became eminent. He was one of the twelve that. formed the first anti-slavery society in Boston in 1833. He distinguished himself chiefly in the defence of the slave-child "Med" in the Massachusetts supreme court, where he succeeded in obtaining the decision that every slave brought on Massachusetts soil by the owner was legally free; a ease precisely analogous to the celebrated "Somerset" ease in England. By this argument he achieved the unusual success of convincing the opposing counsel, Benjamin R. Curtis, afterward justice of the United States supreme court, who shook hands with him after the trial, saying: "Your argument has entirely converted me to your side, Mr. Loring." He also attracted some attention as the author of a "Petition in behalf of Abner Kneeland," which was headed by the name of Reverend Dr. William E. Channing. Abner Kneeland (q. v.) was a professed atheist who was indicted for blasphemy, and Mr. Loring's petition was a strong plea in behalf of freedom of speech. Several of Mr. Loring's argument, s and addresses were published at different times, including "An Address before the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society" (Boston, 1838). At the New England antislavery convention, 27 May, 1858, two days after his death, Wendell Phillips said : "The great merit of Mr. Loring's anti-slavery life was, he laid on the altar of the slave's needs all his peculiar tastes. Refined, domestic, retiring, contemplative, loving literature, art, and culture, he saw there was no one else to speak, therefore he was found in the van. It was the uttermost instance of self-sacrifice more than money, more than reputation, though he gave both."
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