Page images
PDF
EPUB

practice in Hartford. He possessed superior abilities as a lawyer. He was strong, not brilliant, in speech, never manifesting imagination, wit, humor or pathos, or showing l>y allusions a familiarity with general reading, but his arguments were well built and well presented. He applied himself with the greatest industry and fidelity to the interest of his clients, and whether alone in a case or associated with others, he never shunned either a shine or the whole of the labor. In 1822, at the age of 26, he was appointed state attorney for this county, and he held the office until 1835. In the latter year he was elected to represent the First District of Congress, and being reelected, he held the place until 1839. He probably came to Hartford as a federalist, but as an Episcopalian he naturally joined the "toleration" party. As a politician he always refrained from participation in internal party strifes or indeed party labors of any kind, and preserved the general good will of all. From first to last he was a staunch follower of the democracy, and generally of the extreme conservative school. When he went to Congress he engaged in behalf of Mr. Polk in the contest which led to the election of the latter to the speakership, and there probably laid the foundation of a friendship which led Mr. Polk to call him to his cabinet in 1848. He was chairman of the special committee that investigated the famous Graves and Cilley duel, and recommended the censure and expulsion of Graves.

Returning to the practice of law in 1839, he was in 1842 reappointed state attorney, holding the office two years. In 1845, he was the democratic candidate for governor, but was defeated by Governor Baldwin, who obtained 1,108 majority over all, including 2,142 scattering votes. In 1846 he ran against Governor Bissell, who led him 619 votes, which, with the 2,248 scattering votes, made a majority of 2,867 against Mr. Toucey. There was no choice as the law then stood, but the democrats carried the legislature and chose Mr. Toucey governor. In 1847 Governor Bissell defeated Mr. Toucey by a clear majority of 600. Governor Toucey, in a message showing much legal ability, vetoed a bill chartering the air-line railroad bridge at Middletown.

In 1848 he was appointed by Mr. Polk attorney general, and served in that capacity until General Taylor became president, March 4, 1819. In 1850 he

was chosen state senator. The legislature met in New-Haven, and the lree soilers holding the balance of power, there was a long and embittered strile over the United States senatorship. Governor Baldwin then held the seat which was to become vacant the next spring, and was the whig candidate for re-election. Governor Toucey was his competitor. There were free soilers of democratic antecedents who would not vote for Governor Baldwin, and there were "silver grays" or conservative whigs who would not vote for him because he was too radical. There was no choice, and the strife was renewed in 1851 and 1852, and in the latter year Mr. Toucey succeeded. He was a representative in the legislature from Hartford in 1852. In the United States Senate Mr. Toucey went with the southern wing of his party, sustaining the Nebraska bill and all Southern extreme measures. On the expiration of his term, March 4, 1857, Mr. Buchanan, then taking the presidential chair, appointed him Secretary of the Navy, and he held the position during the four years. Returning to Hartford in 1861, he did not resume the practice of law, but retired to private life. We remember him at only one political convention since that time—the mixed State gathering at New-Haven in the winter of 1866-7 to sustain Andrew Johnson. During these eight years he has led a quiet life, partly for political reasons and partly because of failing health. During the last four or five weeks he has been confined to his house. Occasionally for several months there were indications of cerebral disease, but perhaps it was mainly a general decadence, as he never had a robust constitution and only the most regular ha hits secured him so long a life. He preserved his consciousness and reason to the last, calmly bidding his wife and friends farewell half an hour before his decease.

His wife is a daughter of the late Cyprian Nichols. They have had no children. He possessed a very considerable estate, and made some generous donations, including one of twenty thousand dollars to Trinity college. Though a man of cold, dignified and formal manner, he is said by the few who knew him intimately to have been very strongly attached to his friends. From his youth he was a communicant of the Episcopal church and a regular attendant. {CouraiU, Hartford, Ct., July 31, 1869.)

[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][graphic][ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

University at Chapel Hill, as a student out of the regular course, and tnougn he remained only about six weeks, he formed friendships among the stuVol. XXIV. 32

[graphic][ocr errors][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »