Preserving the Past, Informing the Future
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Mr. Brandegee was a lawyer of the highest type. He was studious and well versed in legal principles He was skillful in applying those principles to the particular case in which he was engaged. He was untiring in his devotion to his clients' interests. He was fair to his opponents. He was honest with the court. And also in the practice of his profession he attained success with honor.
As an advocate it is probable that Mr. Brandegee was never surpassed at the Connecticut bar. His arguments were effective when made to the jury; they carried no less weight when addressed to the court. Stating the legal principles involved with clearness and precision, he embellished this framework with a wealth of illustration and quotation from the Scriptures and the classics. He seemed to know the Bible by heart.
In 1854, 1855, 1859 and 1861, Mr. Brandegee represented his native town in the State legislature, and in the last term was speaker of the House. He took a prominent part in the Fremont campaign, becoming one of most popular orators of the Republican party. In 1863 he was elected as a Representative in Congress from the third Congressional District, and in 1865 re-elected. Here his gift of oratory soon brought him to the front. He was conspicuous in the debates in those historic times, and became a trusted friend of President Lincoln. He declined a re-election to Congress, and from that time held no public office except that of mayor of New London. But this was wholly from choice. He put aside the highest political honors. He always retained, however, his interest in politics, and was one of the valued advisers of his party, as well as a delegate to several national conventions.
Mr. Brandegee stood for high ideals through all his public life. He zealously supported the anti-slavery movement when its supporters met contumely and contempt. He rendered signal service to cause of the Union and to the building up of the Nation after the Civil War. His private life was upon the same high plane. He abhorred hypocrisy, shams and pretensions. He led a simple life, and as a lawyer and citizen set an example for emulation. His friends cherish his memory. His State counts him among her illustrious sons. His country is the better for his life.