ALRICKS, Hamilton
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Hamilton Alricks


ALRICKS, Hamilton, was born on the 1st of June, 1806, at Oakland Mills, in Lost Creek Valley, now Juniata county, Pa., and died July 16, 1893, at Harrisburg, Pa. He was educated at the Harrisburg Academy at such a period as those who passed through it, from 1816 until 1826, know that the whole land was stricken with poverty, and collegiate education out of the question. Indeed, out of the thirty students of the classics at the academy, and among them the son of Governor Findlay, but one is remembered who went, or could afford to go, to college. With such an education as the school could afford, and the study of history on top of it, Hamilton Alricks commenced reading law with Samuel Douglas, Esq., afterwards attorney general, and was admitted to practice in 1828. During his professional career of half a century Mr. Alricks has been engaged at every term of the court in the trial of many of the most important civil and criminal cases, and in numerous cases in the Supreme Court, as the reports will show from 2d Watts to the last volume of Outer bridge. In the outset of his practice he was engaged as a counsel by Mr. Gest, in the case of Gest vs. Espy, 2d Watts, 266, after Thomas Elder, Esq., a senior member of the bar, had abandoned the case, upon a verdict being found for defendant. Mr. Alricks removed the cast to the Supreme Court, where he succeeded in reversing the judgment. On one occasion, in arguing a case in the Supreme Court, and while reading an authority, he was abruptly interrupted by Jude Huston, saying, “That is not the law.” “But,” said Mr. Alricks, “I am citing form the opinion of the court.” Judge Huston sharply responded: “I don’t care: no Judge ever declared such to the law.” To which Mr. Alricks further replied: “I have been reading the opinion of the court delivered by your Honor.” “Then,” said the Judge, “the reporter took me down wrong; let me see the book.” After examining it for some time, the Judge closed it with the remark, “After all, I don’t think this authority has any application to the case in hearing.” Proceedings were commenced before the Legislature of Pennsylvania, about the 1845, and testimony taken fort the purpose of framing articles of impeachment against the Hon. William N. Irvine, judge of the York and Adams judicial district, and the only counsel of the respondent was Mr. Alricks, who conducted the defense with such skill and ability that the committee refused to report articles. The then State treasurer and auditor general on several occasions selected Mr. Alricks to argue cases on the part of the Commonwealth involving questions of constitutional law. His argument before the Supreme Court of the United States in Butler et al., late canal commissioners of Pennsylvania vs. the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 10th Howard, United States Supreme Court Reports, 402, was not only well received by the profession as a sound exposition of the law as to what constitutes a contract within the meaning of the Tenth section of the First article of the Constitution of the United States, prohibiting a State from passing any law impairing the obligation of contracts, but also an able definition of the power of the Legislature to create and abolish offices, to impose taxes, &c.; and will remain a lasting memorial of his research, industry, and ability as a lawyer. He was one year a member of the Legislature; was member of the Chicago Convention in 1864, which nominated General McClelland for President, and the series of resolutions drawn up and offered in the convention by him abounded in patriotic sentiments, evincing marked ability. He was a member of the Constitutional Convention for the revision of the Constitution of the State, in 1872-73, that held its sessions first in Harrisburg and subsequently in Philadelphia, and acted on the committees on cities and charters, and on religious and charitable corporations and societies Mr. Alricks married, December 28, 1837, Caroline Bull, daughter of Rev. Levi Bull, D. D., of Chester county, Pa., a son of Col. Thomas Bull, of Revolutionary fame. She was born August 3, 1822, and died February 28, 1885, at Harrisburg, Pa.


Pages 426-427


Transcribed by Marjorie Tittle for the Dauphin County, Pennsylvania Genealogy Transcription Project - 30 Oct 2000 Copyright 2000 - All Rights Reserved; Use, duplication or reproduction for profit or presentation by any person or organization is strictly prohibited.