Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 25.djvu/60

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Southern Historical Society Papers.

You can hardly touch upon a phase of any subject but what he has a case at hand to illustrate the idea, or an example embodying the principle involved. At one time he is going down to the fountain sources of the law and there imbibing its first principles and cardinal doctrines. At another, he is standing before a jury of his country-men and with flowers of poesy and beauties of rhetoric in language terse and bold, he is battling for the right and vindicating injured innocence. At another you would suppose him a medical expert as he discusses some disease and elaborates upon its cause, its nature, and the remedies therefor. At still another, you find him engaged upon some principle of finance, and its application to practical business. The life of Mr. Petigru comes up to these demands, fulfills all these requirements, and has woven around it an interest far above the average. He was admitted to be the foremost lawyer of South Carolina by his profession and the public generally. If I were to say that he was the foremost lawyer of the South, I do not believe the statement would be challenged. As a practitioner in Charleston, South Carolina, as Solicitor of his circuit, and as Attorney General of his State, he fairly earned and richly deserved the designation, a great lawyer.

Mr. Petigru was born in a fortunate period in his country's history. He first saw the light in May, 1789. At that time, the foremost minds of America were studying constitutional questions, and the underlying principles of government. No wonder that this bright young Carolina lawyer should have become interested in affairs of State, formed a definite -line of politics and settled for himself the question whether he would assume the role of demagogue or plant himself upon the high plane of statesmanship. He was fortunate too in the place of his birth. Abbeville county, South Carolina, was the home of his nativity and the place of his childhood. It was and is a county prolific of great men. She can rightly claim as her children, either by birth or adoption, John C. Calhoun, George McDuffie, Judge Cheves, Dr. Geddings, Judge James Calhoun, George and Aleck Bowie, Dr. John T. Pressly, the two Wardlaws, and many others whom I might mention. Genius thrives best when it finds kindred spirits around it. If I wanted an illustration of this fact, I would cite Boston with its long list of eminent men. Mr. Petigru received his primary and academic education in his native county, at the school of the celebrated teacher, Rev. Dr. Moses Waddell. He was as fortunate in having such a teacher as Dr. Waddell to start him off as he was in being born of Scotch-Irish parentage mingled with the French.