Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Stanbery, Henry

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STANBERY, Henry, attorney-general, b. in New York city, 20 Feb., 1803; d. there, 26 June, 1881. He was the son of Jonas Stanbery, a physician, who removed to Zanesville, Ohio, in 1814. Henry was graduated at Washington college, Pa., in 1819, and began the study of law in that year, but could not be admitted to the bar until he was of age, in 1824. Then, at the invitation of Thomas Ewing, he began practice in Lancaster county, Ohio, and rode the circuit with him. Mr. Stanbery remained for many years at Lancaster. In 1846 the office of attorney-general of Ohio was created by the general assembly, and he was elected to be its first occupant. He accordingly removed to Columbus, where he resided for about five years. At that time the U. S. courts were held there, and Judge Stanbery established a large and valuable practice in them as well as in the supreme court of Ohio. In 1850 he was elected a delegate to the convention that framed the present state constitution. In 1853 he removed to Cincinnati, and in 1866 he was appointed attorney-general of the United States by President Johnson. This office he accepted, after consultation with his friends, solely from a desire to assist in carrying the government safely through the perilous period that followed the war, and resigned it at the request of the executive to become one of his counsel on the impeachment trial. His health at the time was so delicate that most of his arguments were submitted in writing. On the termination of the trial he was nominated by the president to the office of justice of the U. S. supreme court; but the senate refused to confirm him. He then returned to Cincinnati, where he was president of the Law association of that city, but held no other public office. He wrote occasionally on political questions, and sometimes made public addresses. As a lawyer, although he was learned in technicalities and skilled in applying the nice rules of evidence and practice, he especially delighted in the discussion of general principles. As a practitioner he was quick to perceive the slightest weakness in his opponent's case. He never attempted to browbeat or mislead a witness, but knew how to secure full and true answers even from those who had come upon the stand with hostile intentions.