Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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BRADY, James Topham, lawyer, born in New York City, 9 April, 1815; died there, 9 February, 1869. His education was obtained under the direction of his father, Thomas S. Brady, subsequently an eminent lawyer and jurist, who at that time were engaged in preparing students for College. At the age of sixteen Brady had acquired a good knowledge of law, and frequently acted the part of junior counsel to his father. In November, 1836, he was admitted to the bar in New York, where he immediately opened an office for himself. Early in his practice he was called upon to secure the release of Sarah Coppin, a young English girl, whose parents had died on the voyage to this country. After her arrival in New York she was robbed of her money, turned into the street, and afterward bound out by the authorities. Her brother obtained the legal services of Mr. Brady, who was successful in liberating the girl. The great skill with which he conducted this case, his eloquence, his success, and the ability of the opposing counsel, brought him reputation at once. He was conspicuous for his knowledge in all departments of the law, winning verdicts from judges and jurors alike in great patent cases, like that of Goodyear v. Day; cases involving questions of medical jurisprudence, like the Allaire and Parish will cases, and the moral insanity plea in the case of the forger Huntington or the homicide Cole; divorce eases, like that of Mrs. Edwin Forrest, and also in civil cases of all sorts. But his special power was seen to the best advantage in criminal cases, where he usually undertook the defense. At one time he successfully defended four clients charged with murder in a single week, and all without fee or reward. In 1843 he was appointed district attorney of New York during the temporary absence of Matthew C. Patterson, and two years later he became corporation attorney for the city. In 1859 he was selected by Daniel E. Sickles to be one of the counsel in his trial for the assassination of Philip Barton Key, and made the opening address for the detente to the jury, which was one of his most notable efforts as a criminal lawyer. Mr. Brady was retained as counsel, on one side or the other, in many of the important criminal and civil cases of his time. His success as an advocate was due to a clear statement of the ease and a skilful and courteous cross-examination of witnesses. His arguments were put with such tact, his statements of facts so lucid and candid, and his appeals were so eloquent and impressive, that he almost invariably carried judge and jury with him. It has been said that he never lost a case in which he was before a jury for more than a week; in that time they saw everything through his eyes. He was naturally a political leader, and was frequently urged to accept office, but invariably refused unless the place was in the line of his profession. Prior to the civil war he was an ultra state-rights man, and supported Breckinridge in the canvass of 1860, in which year he was candidate for governor on the "hard-shell" or proslavery democratic ticket. During Mr. Lincoln's administrations he supported the war measures generally and made speeches on national questions, some of which produced a strong impression. In his address before the Seymour association of New York in October, 1862, he said: "The south, in leaving us at the particular time she did, did so without the slightest pretext of justification or excuse." Near the close of the war he was appointed a member of a commission to inquire into the administration of the department of the gulf under Generals Butler and Banks; but the report, notwithstanding the public interest in the subject at that time, has not been published. Mr. Brady was never married. In the days of the old "Knickerbocker Magazine" he was one of its frequent contributors. "A Christmas Dream," published originally in "The New World" in 1846, was subsequently put into a small volume, exquisitely illustrated.
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