Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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BENEDICT, Erastus Cornelius, lawyer, born in Branford, Connecticut, 19 March 1800; died in New York City, 22 October 1880. He was a son of the Rev. Joel T. Benedict, who, a few years after the birth of Erastus, settled in New York, having charge successively of Churches in New Windsor, Franklin, and Chatham. Early in life, young Benedict became a teacher in a district school, and at the age of eighteen he entered the sophomore class at Williams, where he was graduated in 1821. He was principal of an academy in Jamestown, New York, and later in Newburg, New York ; after which he was tutor at Williams. Meanwhile he had studied law, and in 1824 was admitted to the bar. During the same year he became a deputy clerk under the United States district judge of southern New York. Here his attention was directed to admiralty law, and for half a century he was considered a leader in admiralty eases. In 1840 he was elected assistant alderman from the 15th ward in New York city. Ten years later he became a member of the board of education, and was its president continuously until his resignation in 1863. He was a member of the assembly in 1848 and in 1864, and a state senator in 1872. He was chosen a trustee of Williams in 1855, and in the same year became a regent of the University of the State of New York, succeeding to the chancellorship of that body in 1878. He was actively interested in various charitable organizations of New York, and a governor of the New York State Woman's Hospital from its incorporation, and was also for many years a prominent member of the New York Historical Society. Of his writings, besides numerous addresses before historical and scientific societies, the most important are "American Admiralty" (New York, 1850); "A Run through Europe" (1860); and "The Hymn of Hildebert and other Mediaeval Hymns" (1861).
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