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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EDMONDS, John Worth, jurist, born in Hudson, New York, 13 March 1799; died in New York City, 5 April 1874. He was graduated at Union in 1816, studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1819, and began practice in Hudson in 1820. He rose to the rank of colonel of militia, and received from Governor De Witt Clinton the appointment of state recorder. He was a member of the New York assembly in 1831, and in 1832'6 of the state senate. In 1836'8 he was sent on special missions to the Indians by the government, and became familiar with several Indian languages. In 1841 he settled in New York City, and resumed law practice. He was appointed one of the state prison inspectors in 1843, founded a prison association for improving the condition of convicted criminals, and effected important reforms in prison discipline. By his exertions corporal punishment was abolished by the legislature, a series of rewards for good conduct was instituted, and measures adopted for obtaining for discharged criminals an honest livelihood.
Mr. Edmonds became a circuit judge in 1845, one of the judges of the state Supreme Court in 1847, and in 1852 was appointed to the court of appeals, from which he afterward retired to the private practice of law. Judge Edmonds became a convert to the doctrines of spiritualism in 1851, and in 1853 openly avowed and defended them, believing himself to be in almost constant communication with departed spirits. His peculiar views were sustained with the greatest courage and persistence, and it was said that they cost him his place on the bench of the Supreme Court. He was a jurist of unquestioned ability, and the honesty of his convictions was never doubted. Besides contributions to periodicals in favor of his belief, he published "Spiritualism," in connection with George T. Dexter, M. D. (2 vols., New York, 1853'5); "Reports of Select Law Cases " (1868); and "Letters and Tracts on Spiritualism " (London, 1874).
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