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CHARLES L. WOODBURY. In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.
The object of this publication is to collect into a compact form the principal productions of the author, for more easy reference and preservation by his friends.
They include some portions of his labors, — Political, Judicial, and Literary, — devoting one volume to each.
But most of his occasional speeches on party politics are omitted — giving one or two in the Appendix, as specimens. Nearly half of his speeches in the U. S. Senate, and all the great mass of his official reports in the Navy and Treasury departments during ten laborious years, except two or three, have been omitted, for the reason that they would greatly exceed the limits prescribed in the design of the present publication.
Under the Judicial head, all his opinions on mere legal questions have been excluded, as well as several of his arguments in behalf of prisoners, and some of his charges as a Judge to Grand Juries; republishing only the opinions on constitutional points, two arguments as counsel, and a few.charges of particular interest.
Among the Literary Writings, many Essays and Letters
have, from a necessity already stated, been omitted ; though enough, perhaps, is given to illustrate the full and various powers of the author's mind, and to induce others, at some future time, to embody the whole for publication, embracing his entire works.
It is indeed a subject of congratulation that the distinguished author had nearly completed the selection from his papers for publication a few months before his last illness. What remained to be done has been executed by his son, Charles Levi Woodbury, Esq.
Judge Woodbury died at his mansion, Portsmouth, N. H., September 4, 1851, aged sixty-one years.
The unexpected event of his death was noticed throughout the country, by citizens of all parties, with deep and unfeigned expressions of regret, and a respect manifested for his character as sincere as it was profound. It was noticed by the courts, and by meetings of the legal profession, in all parts of the Union, by appropriate speeches and resolutions.
As the life and character of the deceased have been so long and so honorably identified with the public administration of affairs in this country, it is quite probable that they may form the subjects of a separate volume, at some future time.
LEVI WOODBURY was born at Francestown, N. H., 22d December, 1789.* He passed through the ordinary scenes of youth with the usual variety of adventure, which we need not detail, except to remark that he was distinguished for his faithfulness in the observance of the requisitions of duty, and uniformly manifested those amiable qualities which, in his subsequent life, have formed so prominent a feature of his character. '
Blessed, as he was, with a mother of extraordinary judgment and excellence, he was early guided in the paths of virtue, and encouraged to seek his pleasures in active usefulness. With a mind balanced by nature quietly to discriminate between the practical and the speculative, it was easy to commence the growth of habits which favored the acquisition of knowledge, and which make up the permanent basis of a true character.
He was favored with all the elevating influences of a preparatory education, and entered Dartmouth College, Hanover, N. H., October, 1805. He graduated with the highest honors of his class, and joined the Law School of Judges Reeves and Gould, at Litchfield, Conn., September, 1809. In 1812, and while he was yet a student, he made a speech, on the war question, at
* His father was a descendant of John Woodbury, who came from Somersetshire, England, in 1624, and settled in Beverly, Mass. His descendants were, Humphrey, born in 1609, and who accompanied his father ; Peter, son of Humphrey, born in 1640; Josiah, the son of Peter, born June 16, 1702 ; Peter, the son of Josiah, born March 28, 1738 : and Peter, the son of Peter and father of Levi, was born in Beverly, Mass., in 1767 ; removed to Francestown, N. H., with his father, where he engaged in mercantile and agricultural pursuits. He was about fifteen years representative, and two years senator, in the State Legislature. (See History of Bedford, N. H., p. 348.)