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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.

Samuel Hand

Samuel Hand was born in Elizabethtown, Essex county, N. Y., May 1, 1833. He acquired his early education from his father, Augustus C. Hand, for a time a justice of the Supreme Court, and from Robert S. Hale, who were both men of scholarly tastes. At fourteen he entered the college at Middlebury, Vt., which he left after two years to go to Union College, from which he was graduated in 1851. He then returned to Elizabethtown, studied law with his father and was admitted to the bar, where he practiced until 1859, when he went to Albany and formed a partnership with J. V. L. Pruyn, who retired from practice, however, a year later. After a short time Mr. Hand was taken into the firm of Cagger & Porter, and upon the election of Mr. Porter as judge of the Court of Appeals, succeeded to the appellate work of the firm which was at the time large, as it was in great measure the inheritance from that of Nicholas Hill, when the firm had been that of Hill, Cagger & Porter. Mr. Cagger was accidentally killed in 1868 and Mr. Hand again found himself alone, though this time with a large practice.

In 1869 he formed a partnership with his brother-in-law, Matthew Hale, to which were added later Nathan Swartz and Charles S. Fairchild. In 1881 Mr. Hand dissolved his partnership with Mr. Hale, who was at the time the only other member of the firm, and he continued practice alone until he stopped altogether, shortly before his death, May 21, 1886.

Mr. Hand's practice as a lawyer was almost from the first largely confined to appellate work, in which he attained great skill and a high repute. During the ten years preceding his death it is probable that no lawyer was retained in as many cases before the Court of Appeals as he, and he was probably the last of a long line of able lawyers in Albany who could devote themselves wholly to this cream of legal practice in the court of last resort; since by the increased facilities of travel lawyers can now take charge of their own work in this court, and so can save the expense of counsel to their clients and gain reputation for themselves. It would be needless to enumerate the most important cases in which Mr. Hand was engaged, because nothing is more ephemeral than the interest which any individual case occasions, though it be of high importance to the parties and involve an important point of law. Perhaps the Parish will case and the suit of the State against the canal ring may yet be generally remembered.

In 1863 Mr. Hand was appointed corporation counsel of Albany to succeed Clinton Cassidy, and in 1869, reporter to the Court of Appeals, a position which he held until 1872, when he resigned after reporting six volumes, in order the better to conduct his increasing practice at the bar. In 1876 Mr. Hand declined an appointment by Governor Tilden as justice of the Supreme Court, but in June, 1878, he accepted an appointment by Governor Robinson as associate judge of the Court of Appeals, in the place of Judge Allen, who had died, and he held this office until the end of that year, being the youngest man but one who had held the position. He failed of the Democratic nomination for the election in the ensuing November owing to the opposition of Tammany Hall, of which John Kelly was at the time the leader, and from that time he held no further public office.

Mr. Hand came of a strongly Democratic family and was always a staunch sup- porter of that party. He was an intimate friend of Governor Tilden, who wished him to run for governor in 1876, after Horatio Seymour had declined the nomination, when Tilden was running for president. The leaders decided to nominate Mr. Hand, but he declined and Lucius Robison was nominated and elected. In 1875 he served as a member of a Commissiop on Reform of Municipal Government, of which Senator Evarts was chairman. It was as a member of this commission in advocating the restriction of the suffrage in cities that Mr. Hand incurred the enmity of Tammany Hall which proved fatal to his nomination for the position of judge of the Court of Appeals. He was also intimate with President Cleveland while he was governor and was one of his trusted advisers at the same time.

In 1885 Mr. Hand was appointed upon a special water commission for Albany and was president of the same. He was one of the first vice-presidents of the New York State Bar Association and its second president for two terms. At the time of his death he was president of the Chi Psi Alumni Society of this section and a governor of the Fort Orange Club. In 1884 he received the degree of LL. D. from Union College. In April, 1863, he married Lydia Learned, daughter of Billings P. Learned, by whom he had two children, a daughter and a son. His widow and children all survived him.

Mr. Hand was a man of good scholarly and literary attainments, in this respect a distinct exception to many lawyers who attain high eminence at the bar. He accumulated a large private library, containing some books of rarity and beauty, which was particularly strong in history and biography. He delighted especially in fine engravings and good editions, of which he acquired a number, and at one time he edited De Bury's Philobiblion, a little work in which his own tastes gave him a ready sympathy. His conversation was varied and showed humane learning, certainly without any pedantry. Particularly obnoxious to him was the loose and careless use of language, as for example in the form of "slang," and perhaps in his endeavor to use lauguage with a nice taste and conscientious intelligence did he show most that real culture which is seldom a characteristic of men of affairs. He took great pleasure also in music and had fine discrimination for that which was excellent. It may well be doubted whether at the time of his death there was in his city a man who excelled Mr. Hand at once in his professional success and his culture.

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