The Mind of a Statesman Rather Than a Politician or a Practitioner


William Alexander Graham

Bishop Cheshire believed that Governor William A. Graham was “one of the greatest men our State has ever produced.” He was, the bishop wrote, “wise rather than brilliant.”

“Governor Graham’s mind did not concern itself with small things, either of the law, or of politics. He was a statesman and a philosopher, rather than a politician or a practitioner. He was earnest and elevated in thought and in character. Perhaps he was somewhat lacking in an adequate sense of humor.”

Judge Pearson said of Governor Graham “what Sugden said of Brougham as Lord Chancellor; that if the Lord Chancellor knew a little law, he would know a little of everything.”

How can this be? One of our greatest lawyer-leaders and yet he knew no law? What can it mean?

This comment about a 19th Century lawyer puts me in mind of  Richard Susskind’s comment that the value of legal knowledge is diminishing in the 21st Century, while the value of wise counseling is growing.

That bit about his sense of humor though. Now that’s a horse of a different color.

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