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Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Schmidt, Gustavus

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SCHMIDT, Gustavus, lawyer, b. in Mariestadt, Sweden, 16 June, 1795; d. in Sweet Springs, W. Va., 20 Sept., 1877. He was educated at the classical school in Jönköpings, where his father, a judge of the aulic court for the south of Sweden, resided, and in 1810 he entered the Swedish military navy. In 1815 he settled on the eastern shore of Maryland, where he was engaged as a private tutor. Five years later he went to Richmond, Va., studied law, and after being admitted to the bar practised that profession for a number of years. Among the important cases with which he was connected was that of three Spaniards charged with piracy and murder on board the brig “Crawford.” He was assigned as counsel for them by

Chief Justice John Marshall, and the case created an unusual sensation, owing to the horrible nature of the crime. Subsequently he published “A Brief Sketch of the Occurrences on board the Brig Crawford” (Richmond, 1827). In 1829 he removed to New Orleans, La., where he was associated with Henry Clay as counsel for the heirs of Dubreuil Villars in their suit for the recovery of the land on which the U. S. mint stands. His knowledge of the Spanish language led to his selection by the merchants of New Orleans to look after their interests in Mexico, and subsequently he was sent to Havana to supervise the details of certain contracts between James Robb and the Spanish authorities. In 1842 he began a series of lectures on “civil law” in New Orleans, which he continued for three winters. He edited the “Louisiana Law Journal” in 1842-'3, and besides his weekly reviews of the decisions of the supreme court of Louisiana, published for years in the “True Delta,” and contributions to current periodicals, he wrote “The Civil Law of Spain and Mexico, with Notes and References” (New Orleans, 1851).