JULIUS LEVI STRONG passed from life on the morning of September 7th, 1872. So brief was his illness, that the announcement of his death came as a shock as well as a sorrow to nearly all of his friends and professional associates. But it needed not the almost tragic abruptness of his departure to create a deep and painful sensation in Hartford and through the State; for he was widely known, and greatly respected in all the relations of life, and at the time of his decease was the representative of the first Congressional district.
Mr. Strong was born in Bolton, Tolland county, November 8th, 1828, and was the fourth of a family of seven children. His youth was spent in the usual routine of a farmer's boy, in farm labor in summer, and attending school in winter, until he was seventeen years of age. He then resolved to acquire a liberal education, preparatory to a professional life. Contending against obstacles which would have daunted one less hopeful and resolute, he succeeded, without paternal assistance, in nearly completing his junior year in college, when he was forced by want to means to abandon a part of his cherished purpose; and he accordingly left Union College in the spring of 1852, and began the study of law in the law school at Ballston Spa. Before joining Union College he was for a year a student in Wesleyan University. Remaining at Ballston Spa a short time, he continued his law reading in the office of Martin Welles in Hartford, and was admitted to the bar in 1853, and immediately commenced practice as the law partner of Mr. Welles. After termination of his connection with Mr. Welles, James Nichols was associated with him in business, who was succeeded by John R. Buck. In 1852, he represented his native town in the General Assembly, and again in 1855. He was clerk of the State Senate in 1853. In 1864-5 he was city attorney and president of the Common Council of Hartford. He was elected to Congress in 1869 from the first district, and re-elected in 1871. He married Miss Martha A. Converse of Stafford, Conn., October 13th, 1857. His wife and daughter survive him.
Mr. Strong, though hardly yet in middle life, had reached a prominent position at the bar, and when he entered Congress in 1869 had a large and increasing practice, which often called him to the trial of causes in the neighboring counties of Tolland and Middlesex. Clients sought him, however, not so much for any deep learning or wide experience in his profession which in him they could secure in their interests, but they were attracted by his qualities as a man, and by his zeal, integrity and success as a lawyer. Neither his mental habits, nor his fondness for political subjects and public life, to which his profession was in measure subsidiary, permitted him to explore widely and critically the great field of the law. His mind was active, practical and fertile, rather than disciplined; and shunned therefore the patient investigation of principles, and the careful search for analogies and precedent. With no lack of natural power of analysis or discrimination, he nevertheless avoided those intricate legal questions which can be penetrated only by profound study, and traversed only under the guidance of an accurate and sensitive logic. Though he readily appreciated and grasped a legal proposition when interposed in his case, and discussed it with lucidity and force, yet he much preferred to flank such a barrier through some path opened by the facts, than to carry it by direct assault.
But though not a profound jurist, he was an able lawyer, and in dealing with the usual issues of mingled law and fact, he showed uncommon tact and ability. His thorough knowledge of human nature, quick detection of character, ready perceptions and sound judgment, an instinctive apprehension of all that was cogent or infirm in a case, a sincere aversion to every form of injustice, and an ardent and sympathetic nature, inspiring and propelling all his faculties in the line of effort, gave him especial natural advantages as an advocate. He exhibited an enviable skill in the marshaling and presentation of his own evidence; was close, searching and thorough in cross-examination; earnest, direct and forcible in argument, and impressive as a speaker, more from vigor of style, and evident sincerity of purpose, than from any peculiar graces of diction. In all the movements and fortunes of a forensic contest, he showed abundant resources and admirable strategy, and few equaled him in the rare faculty of appreciating and utilizing those moral elements which often stamp a case, and appeal resistlessly to the consciences and sympathies of the triers. He combined and wielded these with most effective art and energy. Indeed, in the discussion of every question, he sought to exhibit it in the light of simple justice, and thus to secure the moral convictions of the court or jury in his behalf. And he thereby often succeeded in carrying his case to a successful issue, over all technical obstacles not wholly insurmountable. Such a habit may have shown his sagacity as a lawyer; it certainly proved his honesty as a man.
In his intercourse with his professional brethren, as with all others, Mr. Strong was hearty, generous, frank and genial, without a taint of exclusiveness or of assumption.
Of his public services, which were his most congenial labors, only a brief notice is proper here. He was faithful and competent to every trust, and true to his own sense of duty, and exhibited, when the occasion demanded, a moral courage which could be neither seduced nor daunted. As a member of Congress, he won high esteem for the fidelity and ability with which he discharged all duties, and especially for his zealous and successful advocacy of the interests of his constituents. The integrity of his public and private character was stainless.