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This biography is from Landmarks of Albany County, New York, edited by Amasa J. Parker of Albany, N. Y., Syracuse, N. Y.; D. Mason & Co. Publishers, 1897.

Eugene Burlingame

Nothing in the catalogue of "civic virtues" has, perhaps, so largely contributed to the high municipal reputation of the city of Albany and enabled her to conserve her status, in a moral as well as in a geographical sense, as Capital of the Empire State, as the recognized ability and exemplary character of its legal fraternity. No higher standard of forensic excellence is anywhere exhibited, and nowhere else are the hands of counsel cleaner or freer from taint. No suspicion of shadiness or questionable methods in the practice of the profession is here permitted and nothing in the nature of the shyster's business is allowed to hamper the proceedings of court. Here the annual reunion of the State Bar Association occurs and here the Albany lawyer is justly presented as the exemplar and ideal of all that is admirable and imitable in the profession. The leaders of the bar in Albany have erected this standard in themselves and the names of many of national reputation may be found upon the guidons that mark off the avenues of fame and fortune in this free republic.

Among them, occupying an honored position in the working and active ranks of the body as well as in the counsels of the leaders is found the name of Eugene Burlingame.

With as much the force of fact as that of incidence it was observed by a reputable journal of Albany in reference to his nomination for the position of district attorney at the last State election: "The election of Mr. Burlingame means for Albany city and county honest elections and the capable and efficient administration of the duties of the office." The moral of this significant utterance is found in the fact that Eugene Burlingame is now (in 1897) serving the third year of his term of district attorney. This expression of public opinion might serve as the epigraph of his memoir, though it would not cover or include all his higher characteristics. It is not as the prosecuting attorney of a district or the representative in that capacity of a political party that he is best known, but as the conscientious advocate, the able counsel and the scholarly gentleman. In many other ways is he known in social and domestic life and all redounding to his credit, but they do not come within the scope or necessary limitations of this article.

Eugene Burlingame was born in Willett, Cortland county, N.Y., January 24, 1847, and is the son of Westcott and Melinda (Eaton) Burlingame, and is descended of good New England stock both on the paternal and maternal side. The genealogical tree is of no fanciful growth, for its roots "spread deep and wide through pilgrim soil." His earliest American ancestor of the male line was Roger Burlingame, who came from England some time prior to 1650 and was known to be a resident of Stonington, Conn., as early as 1654. He resided at Warwick, R. I., in 1660, and later at Providence, in the same State. The line is followed from Roger Burlingame through Thomas, Joshua, Eleazer and Altitius to his father, Westcott, and himself, while the history of his grandmother's ancestry in the same line runs back into many of the old and prominent Rhode Island families. She was the daughter of Augustus Ellis and Desire Slocum, and was the sixth in descent from the family of the latter name. The subject of this sketch also traces his descent through his grandmother on the paternal side, through the Hull and Dyer families to Mary Dyer, who suffered martyrdom at Boston "for conscience sake" in 1660. Thomas Burlingame, the son of Roger, married Martha Lippitt, daughter of Moses and Mary (Knowles) Lippitt, and Eleazar, Mr. Burlingame's great-great-grandfather, married Rhoda Briggs, of an old Rhode Island family. His mother was Melinda Eaton, a descendant of William and Jane Eaton, of Dover, England. Nicholas, the son of William, who was born in 1573, was warden of St. Mary'schurch, Dover, and mayor of his native city. His son John, Mr. Burlingame's first ancestor on the maternal line who came to this country, was born at Dover in 1611 and with his wife and children came to America in 1635, settled in Dedham, Mass., and became the founder of the "Dedham Batons." The descent in this line is continued through John to his son Thomas, who married Lydia Gay in 1697, settling in Woodstock, Conn., to Nathaniel, who married Esther, daughter of Capt. John Parry, in 1704, to Elijah, to John, who married Lydia Preston, to Melinda, the mother of our district attorney.

In a single maternal line the ancestry of this distinguished Albanian is traceable to George Bunker, after whom Bunker Hill was named, for he was the owner of the top of that historic mound one hundred years before it had been made memorable by the famous battle of the Revolution. This is history to be proud of. The lineage in this direction is followed from George to Martha Bunker, who married John Starr, to Lydia Starr, who married Nathaniel Gay, to Lydia Gay, who was married to Thomas Eaton. The late Prof. Amos Eaton of Troy, N. Y., identified with the earlier history of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, his son, the late Gen. Amos B. Eaton, U. S. A., his grandson, the late Prof. Daniel C. Eaton, of Yale College, Hon. Dorman B. Eaton, of New York, and Gen. William Eaton, distinguished for services at Tunis, were all descended from this stainless stock.

Coming to his immediate, ancestors it will be of interest to state that his grandfather, Altitius Burlingame, was born at West Greenwich, Rhode Island, September 27, 1790, and with his great-uncle, Arnold Thomas and their families, removed from their native place to Willett in the State of New York in 1809. They were among the earliest settlers of that town. Mr. Burlingame's father, born in 1806, was, consequently, only three years old at the time. Grandfather John Eaton the other side and great-uncles Peter Eaton and Robert Tennant with their families removed to Willett from Cherry Valley, N. Y., about 1814. His mother, Melinda Eaton, was born at Cherry Valley, November 6, 1812. The locality where they settled has since been known as "Eaton Hill." The marriage of Melinda Eaton and Westcott Burlingame took place at Willett, N. Y., March 27, 1836, and the issue included five children: Miles Eaton, Ogden, Lydia, Lucy Agnes and Eugene (all now living, June, 1897.) The late Anson Burlingame was descended from the same stock.

Although the early training and subsequent career up to the time of his entrance into public life, of Eugene Burlingame, had not been unusually eventful, they were not unmarked by circumstances that were, in a measure, in the nature of events that "cast their shadows before." In all were evinced the "mens proposititenax" the quiet determination to prove worthy of the best traditions of family and race. His early education was received in the public schools of his native town, followed by a two years course at the Cincinnatus Academy in Cortland county. In 1866 he en- tered the State Normal College at Albany and was graduated with honor in July, 1868. It is worthy of record that at the close of his studies in this institution he accepted the position of principal of the Athens Union School, and though hardly yet having attained the years of manhood conducted it so successfully for a period of two years that his resignation at the end of that time was a source of general public regret in that section.

But the ambition of the young teacher soared beyond the contracted limits of the class hall, and within the vast domain of the legal profession he discerned a broader view for his aspirations and a wider field for his talents. In the general scope of his earlies studies the literature of the law had for him a peculiar fascination, and it was not as a callow or uninformed neophyte that he entered the Albany Law School in 1870, being then in the twenty-third year of his age. As it always happens with the adventurous soldier of fortune in any field, he found competent helps at hand. Among them was the eminent Isaac Edwards, then dean of the college, and Judge Ira Harris, a famous lecturer on constitutional law. Among the existing faculty also were numbered Judge Amasa J. Parker and Judge William F. Allen of the Court of Appeals. Under such distinguished instructors the earnestness and aptitude of young Burlingame were brought into play and so rapidly responded to their broad and liberal treatment that in a little over a year he obtained the degree of LL.B., and was ready for practice. But with the wisdom so rare at his years he realized the importance of the most thorough preparation before entering upon his professional work, and entered the law ofhce of Newkirk & Chase at Hudson, N. Y., an admirable school for a young lawyer, where he thoroughly familiarized hmiself with the business features of his calling. By his ready intelligence and willingness to work he won the confidence of his associates and was intrusted with much important business of the concern. Thus, fully equipped for the forensic arena, he entered, in 1872, on the full and formal practice of the profession, in partnership with Charles W. Mead of this city. After five years of legal collaboration, during which he performed very important professional work, he opened an office for himself at No. 452 Broadway. It may be noticed in this connection that while he is frequently consulted and as counsel tries many cases for other attorneys, he has made it a custom to try and argue his own cases and generally with pronounced success. He enjoys at present one of the largest and most lucrative practices in this part of the State, being engaged on one side or the other in most of the important causes tried in our courts.

March 29, 1875, he married Emma Patten Watson, the accomplished daughter of the late Hon. Rufus W. Watson, a prominent lawyer of Catskill, N. Y. They have four children living; Eugene Watson, Elizabeth Jenkins, Francis and Westcott. A fifth, Harriette Sylvia, died in infancy.

There is little room to touch upon the manners or methods by which Mr. Burlingame has attained his remarkable eminence at the bar, but through each and all of them is discerned the dominant note of carefulness and the abiding sense of responsibility. "For conscience sake" appears to be his motto as well as that of his martyred ancestor and he is prompt to apply it to the light as to the weightiest case with which he may be entrusted. In direct and cross examination his questions are formulated with scholarly precision. Impressed with the conviction that truth and accuracy are one and indivisible and that the gravest issues often hang upon apparently the most trivial questions, he is wont to weigh his words with the greatest deliberation and insist upon the most direct and definite answers. Although a master of technique he treats the witnesses with the utmost fairness. His end and aim is to get at the truth and elicit it in the interests of justice. Even in his capacity of District Attorney he has been known to turn the search light of truth upon the case of the people and by interposing on behalf of the accused, but with no diminution of the dignity of the office, has often stopped an expensive and unjust prosecution. In the less restricted sense of speaker and advocate his language is refined and elegant but always within the comprehension of his hearers. His reasoning is logical and incisive, but he has never recourse to glittering sophisms to compass the end of the public prosecutor. His eloquence is the eloquence of truth; his force the force of conviction. In bearing he is calm, dignified and impressive and entirely free from any of the ad captandum methods sometimes known to the profession. He is the type of the classical orator cast in the practical mold of the modern lawyer. His oratory is aided by a charming personality, graceful action and quietly fervid manner. He is, altogether, an attractive and commanding figure in the front rank of his profession.

Mr. Burlingame's position in politics is somewhat unique. While distinct in character from the hustling partisan, he is looked upon by his party as the ideal representative of Republican polititics and is highly trusted and esteemed in that capacity. This is exemplified by the fact that in 1884 he was chosen chairman of the Albany County Republican Committee and in 1887 was elected a member of the Republican State Committee. In 1891 he was one of the Republican counsel in the celebrated election cases of that year, involving as they did the election of four State senators and the consequent control of the State Senate, and rendered valuable and efficient service in the interest of honest elections and good government. "Certainly," said Mr. Burlingame, in the course of an able argument during these remarkable trials, "as citizens, not as partisans, we are all interested in keeping those avenues that lead up to the exercise of the greatest right and duty of an American citizen pure and undefiled."

As an evidence of his influence in literary, social and religious circles it goes in the record that he was President of the Young Men's Association of Albany in 1884 which is justly regarded as a great honor, inasmuch as the society with its library and hall, has, for many years, been intimately associated with the literary life of Albany. He is also a member of the Albany Historical and Art Society, President of the Burns Club and member of the Fort Orange and Press Clubs and member of the State Bar Association. He is Past Master of Masters Lodge No. 5, F. & A. M., and also trustee of that Lodge. He is a director and counsel for Fairview Home for Friendless Children, a director of the Charity Organization Society of Albany, and Vestryman of St. Paul's Episcopal Church of Albany. He is a Curator of the Albany Institute, the leading literary and scientific society of Albany, and member of the faculty of the Albany Law School, lecturing on Real Properly and Criminal Law.

Physically Mr. Burlingame is slightly above the middle size, of a compact and well-knit frame and with clean cut regular features. His bright blue eyes have a direct and searching light in them that seek first to know you and being satisfied beam kindly upon you. His manner is courteous and cordial with a very nice sense of situation and a blending of dignity and benevolence that impresses the stranger and endears him to his friends. Albany is justly proud of Mr. Burlingame, as a citizen, lawyer and public official.

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