Henry C. Caldwell
Posted By: Fran Hunt, Volunteer
Date: 10/6/2001 at 11:08:24
From the Portrait and Biographical Album of Jefferson and Van Buren Counties – 1890
HENRY C. CALDWELL
Henry C. Caldwell was born in Marshall County, West Virginia on September 4, 1832. He was the son of Van and Susan Caldwell. On his father’s side he is of Scotch origin, the family having originated at the Cold Wells in Scotland, and on his mother’s side he is descended from Irish stock. His maternal grandfather was an Irishman by birth, became a Methodist minister, volunteered in the War of 1812, and died in the service. His parents removed from West Virginia to Iowa in 1836, where he was educated in the private and common schools of that day. He began the study of law in the law office of Wright & Knapp, at Keosauqua Iowa, at the age of seventeen, was admitted to practice in his twentieth year, and shortly thereafter became a junior member of that firm. He at once engaged in active practice, and was soon recognized as one of the most successful lawyers of his age in the State. In 1856, he was elected Prosecuting Attorney for his district, and in 1858 was elected to the Legislature, and for two sessions was Chairman of the Judiciary Committee of the House. In 1861, he was commissioned Major in the Third Iowa Cavalry, and was promoted successively to be Lieutenant Colonel and Colonel of that regiment. Gen. Bussey, Assistant Secretary of the Interior, Judge Caldwell and Gen. Noble, Secretary of the Interior, were successively and in the order named Colonels of that regiment. He was an efficient officer. Gen. Davison, in his Official Report on the occasion of the capture of Little Rock, says: “Lieut. Col. Caldwell, whose untiring devotion and energy never flags, during night or day, deserves for his gallantry and varied accomplishments as a cavalry officer, promotion to the rank of a general officer.”
In June of 1864, our subject while serving with his regiment, President Lincoln appointed him District Judge of the United States for the district of Arkansas. The United States courts were opened in Arkansas in 1865, and immediately the docket was crowded with business. From that time to the present, Judge Caldwell has continued to hold the Federal Court in this district, and has occasionally held court in districts in other States.
Judge Caldwell is a self made man, and possesses a vigorous grasp of intellect and a strong sense of justice, and though not a classical scholar, is a master of terse English. The force and clearness of his opinions have attracted the attention of the bench and bar of the country, and some of them have become leading authority on the subjects to which they relate. His administration of justice has been characterized by ability, honesty and impartiality, and it is probable that there is not a judge in the United States who enjoys in a higher degree the confidence and esteem of the bar of his court, which numbers among its members lawyers as eminent as any in the country.
On March 4, 1890, Judge Caldwell was appointed United States Circuit Judge for the Eighth Circuit. As a member of the Arkansas State Bar Association, and otherwise, Judge Caldwell was participated actively in the amendment and improvement of the laws of that State. His address on the “Insecurity of titles to real property” led to important legislation on that subject, and his address on the “Anaconda Mortgage System” prevailing in that State attracted wide attention and caused an amendment of the law and contributed largely to foster the spirit that led to the establishment of cooperative stores by the “wheel” organizations of that State. He was active in procuring the enactment of the law which secures to married women the absolute ownership and enjoyment of their separate property, free from the control of their husbands or the claims of their creditors. He aided in the establishment of the present system of laws in Arkansas regulating the liquor traffic, and which is esteemed by many as the best code on that subject in the country. It was largely due to his influence that the act was passed making the debts and liabilities incurred in the operation of railroads liens on the road, paramount to the liens of mortgages on the road. Judge Caldwell is a poor man and utterly indifferent to the acquisition of property or money beyond a sum sufficient to defray the current expenses of his family, who live plainly.
I am not related, and am only copying this for the information of those who might find this person in their family.
Van Buren Biographies maintained by Rich Lowe.
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