Diary in America: With Remarks on Its Institutions

By Frederick Marryat | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXXVIII
Law

The lawyers are the real aristocracy of America; they comprehend nearly the whole of the gentility, talent, and liberal information of the Union. Anyone who has had the pleasure of being at one of their meetings, such as the Kent Club at New York,1 would be satisfied that there is no want of gentlemen with enlightened, liberal ideas in the United States; but it is to the law, the navy, and the army that you must chiefly look for this class of people. Such

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1
The Kent Club was a small intimate club presided over by Chancellor Kent. Philip Hone, a member of the club, describes it in this fashion: "The club consists of judges and lawyers, who meet and sup at each other's houses on Saturday evenings in succession; distinguished strangers are invited, and a few laymen . . . The evening is usually divided equally between wisdom and joviality. Until ten o'clock they talk law and science and philosophy, and then the scene changes to the supper-table, where Blackstone gives place to Heidsick, reports of champagne bottles are preferred to law reports, and the merits of oyster pâtés and charlotte-russe are alone summed up." --from Bayard Tuckerman, ed., The Diary of Philip Hone, Vol. I, p. 360. Among the members were Samuel Jones, John Duer, John Anthon, Ogden Hoffman, Peter A. Jay, Charles O'Conor, Francis B. Cutting, Edward Curtis, and J. Prescott Hall. These men were the legal luminaries of their day. See James Wilson , The Memorial History of the City of New York ( New York: New York History Company; 1893), Vol. III, p. 373, and Francis Gerry Fairfield, The Clubs of New York . . . ( New York: Hinton; 1873), pp. 7-8.

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