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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.

Rufus W. Peckham

Among the landmarks which give prominence to Albany county it is impossible for the historian to overlook the name of Rufus W. Peckham. The court proceedings and public affairs of the county bear testimony to the activity and prominence of a member of the bar by that name at a period more than half a century ago; the history of his further public career of honor and prominence is preserved in the records of the Supreme Court, and of the Court of Appeals of this State, of both of which he was a vigorous and able member.

To the present Rufus W. Peckham no higher praise can be given than to say that he is a most worthy successor to his ancestor in whose footsteps he follows. He seems to have inherited the mental as well as physical characteristics of his father.

Born in Albany in 1838, the present Rufus W. Peckham was admitted to the bar and engaged in the active practice of the profession. He soon developed the qualities of an advocate, and many important trials occupied his attention, not only at the Albany Circuit, but in contiguous counties.

As district attorney of Albany county his prosecutions were marked by a fearless discharge of duty; as corporation counsel of the city of Albany he conducted the legal affairs of the city with eminent success, besides being largely instrurrental in forming a new charter containing many reforms.

The energetic and sturdy advocacy of his views, his unswerving loyalty to friends, the reliance to be placed on him by associates, his ability as a vigorous leader in debate, made him a conspicuous figure at political gatherings; he was prominent in the counsels of his party, and a champion in the contests of Democratic conventions. As a public-spirited citizen he was interested in local institutions, and participated in their administration, as a governor of the City Hospital, as a bank director and park commissioner. His independence in politics was frequently made manifest. His voice publicly and privately was always heard in the interest of clean politics and for good and pure government.

In 1884 he was elected justice of the Supreme Court, and while his admirers regretted his retiring from practice, believing that his greatest field for personal success and public service lay in his career at the bar, his great qualification for the judiciary was made manifest. He was most efficient as a trial judge. In 1887 he was elected to the Court of Appeals, and his written opinions with which the reports of that court abound, are further proof of his judicial ability. In 1895 he was appointed a justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, of which he is now a member. His attainments as a lawyer, his lofty personal character and intellectual perspicuity, so marked a characteristic, have already won for him an exalted position among his associates, and his standing is of the highest among the distinguished members of that august tribunal.

While his place of residence is nominally at Washington, D. C, the long recesses of the court are spent in Albany county, at his summer home in Altaniont, on the side of the Helderberg Mountains.

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