Preserving the Past, Informing the Future
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CHARLES ROBERTS INGERSOLL, a former Governor of this State, one of its most eminent citizens, and long an honored leader of the Connecticut bar, died at his residence in New Haven, on January 25th, 1903.
Born in that city- on the 16th of September, 1821, he received his preliminary training at the Hopkins Grammar School, and was graduated from Yale in the class of 1840. After a two years' cruise, in the Mediterranean on the United States' sloop of war "Preble," he returned to New Haven, pursued his legal studies in the Yale Law School and in the office of his father, the late Hon. Ralph I. Ingersoll, was admitted to the bar of New Haven county in 1845, and continued in the active and successful practice of his profession up to within a few months of his death.
Governor Ingersoll was preŽminently a lawyer in the broadest and best sense of the word; descended from a family of lawyers, with a father, grandfather and uncle all members of the Connecticut bar, and each of them eminent in the law, emulous of the ancestral example he made it his one ambition to succeed in the profession of his choice. What measure of success he attained, the reports of cases decided in the Connecticut and Federal courts, and the universal voice of the profession, bear witness.
Gifted by nature with a vigorous and logical intellect, so trained that all its resources were completely at his command, with a keen perspicacity in the apprehension and comprehension of legal questions and distinctions, - a profound knowledge of legal principles, and a subtle skill in their application, his industry was untiring and his devotion to the interests of his clients unbounded. With a rare gift of expression, a curious felicity of illustration, and an acute and far-reaching knowledge of human nature, all tempered with the saving gift of common sense, he brought to the discussion of his cases a cogency peculiarly his own, which, superadded to the charm of his voice and the magnetism of his manner, made his arguments masterpieces of forensic eloquence
Nor was it only as an advocate that he excelled. Slow to reach a conclusion, when once his opinion was formed, it was founded upon a rock, as the result of patient and painstaking thought in which no phase of the matter had escaped his notice. Born and educated in Connecticut. associated by tradition, study and observation with the legal institutions of his native State, no man better understood and interpreted the peculiarities of the law of this Commonwealth.
Thus equipped, it is small wonder that he towered so far above his fellows that it may well be questioned whether the State of Connecticut in the whole course of its history ever produced a greater lawyer.
Governor Ingersoll's abilities were only equaled by his modesty. No man ever bore his honors more blushingly. A self-centered, self-contained man, pretension and display were so alien to his nature that he looked upon them with a contempt that was almost intolerance.
No estimate of Governor Ingersoll's professional character would be complete which failed to do justice to his absolute integrity. Bred in the traditions of his race, he loathed hypocrisy, deceit and chicanery of every sort, was honest with his clients, honest with his opponents, honest with the courts, and above all, honest with himself.
This is not the place to dwell upon Governor Ingersoll's public services. Suffice it to say that as chief magistrate of the Commonwealth he so administered that office as to command the admiration of even his political opponents.
Any sketch of Governor Ingersoll would be sadly imperfect which omitted to note the attractiveness of his personality and the unfailing courtesy that was but the reflection of the innate kindliness of the man. A born aristocrat, fine to his finger's ends, courtly in his manners, he was, nevertheless, affable, approachable, tactful, considerate of the feelings of others, uniformly kind to his inferiors and dependents, and gave to every man his just meed of appreciation and recognition.
"His life was gentle, and the elements
So mixed in him, that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world, - `This was a man.'