Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Richardson, William Adams

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RICHARDSON, William Adams, jurist, b. in Tyngsborough, Mass., 2 Nov., 1821; d. in Washington, 19 Oct., 1896. He was graduated at Harvard, and in the law department there, was licensed to practise, and was judge-advocate and governor's aid in Massachusetts. He was president of the common council of Lowell in 1853-'4, of the Wameset bank, and of the Mechanics' association. He was appointed to revise the statutes of Massachusetts in 1855, and subsequently chosen by the legislature to edit the annual supplements of the general statutes, which he continued to do for twenty-two years. He became judge of probate in 1856, and was judge of probate and insolvency from 1858 till 1872. He declined a superior court judgeship in 1869, and the same year became assistant secretary of the U. S. treasury. He went to Europe as a financial agent of the government in 1871 to negotiate for the sale of the funded loan of the United States, and made the first contract abroad for the sale of the bonds. He became secretary of the treasury in 1873, resigning in 1874 to accept a seat on the bench of the U. S. court of claims, of which he became chief justice in 1885. In 1863-'75 he was an overseer of Harvard, and he was lecturer and professor in Georgetown law-school, D. C. Columbian university gave him the degree of LL. D. in 1873. His publications include “The Banking Laws of Massachusetts” (Lowell, 1855); “Supplement to the General Statutes of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” with George P. Sanger (Boston, 1860-'82); “Practical Information concerning the Debt of the United States” (Washington, D. C., 1872); and “National Banking Laws” (1872); and he prepared and edited a “Supplement to the Revised Statutes of the United States” (1881); and “History of the Court of Claims” (1882-'5).