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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DAVIESS, Joseph Hamilton, lawyer, born in Bedford County, Virginia, 4 March 1774; killed in the battle of Tippecanoe, 7 November 1811. He accompartied his parents in 1779 to Kentucky, where they settled first in Lincoln County and then near Danville. Young Daviess received his education in an academy at Harrodsburg, becoming an excellent classical and mathematical scholar, and afterward pursued a wide course of reading. He served for six months as a volunteer in the Indian campaign of 1793, and then studied law. In 1795 he was admitted to the bar and, settling in Danville, entered on a career that made his name a household word in the west. Being a federalist, he was ex-eluded from any hope of political advancement, and consequently devoted himself to his profession and attained a high position at the bar. His eccentricities made him famous. Instead of "riding the circuit," he used to shoulder his rifle and range the woods from town to town; and he usually appeared in court in a hunting costume. In 1799 he acted as second to John Rowan in a duel in which Rowan's antagonist was killed, when both principal and seconds fled to avoid prosecution.
Daviess was for some time a fugitive; but, after hearing that Rowan had been arrested, returned, appeared in court as his counsel, and secured his acquittal. It is said that he was the first western lawyer that ever argued a ease in the U. S. Supreme Court. He came to Washington in a dilapidated hunting uniform, gained an important suit, and returned home in the same peculiar costume. About this time he married a sister of Chief-Jus-rice Marshall, and afterward became U. S. attorney for Kentucky, in which capacity, on 3 November 1806, he moved for an order requiring Aaron Burr to appear and answer to a charge of levying war against a nation with which the United States was at peace. The judge overruled the motion; but Burr appeared in court next day and requested that the motion be granted. After this was accomplished, Burr, with his counsel, Henry Clay, boldly courted investigation; but the witnesses upon whom the prosecution relied could not be brought into court, and it was impossible to sustain the charges. This event almost entirely destroyed the popularity of Daviess, which even the subsequent revelation of Burr's plot could not fully restore. In 1811 he joined the army of General William H. Harrison as major of Kentucky volunteer dragoons, and served in the campaign against the northwestern Indians. In the battle of Tippecanoe, seeing that an exposed angle of the line was likely to give way before a determined assault, he led a cavalry charge against the savages at that point. The manoeuvre was completely successful, but Major Daviess fell, shot through the breast. Counties in Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, and Missouri have been named for him. He published " A View of the President's Conduct con-eerning the Conspiracy of 1806" (1807).
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