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Martin, Luther

MARTIN, LUTHER (1748-1826), American lawyer, was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey, on the 9th of February 1748. He graduated at the college of New Jersey (now Princeton University) at the head of a class of thirty-five in 1766, and immediately afterwards removed to Maryland, teaching at Queenstown in that colony until 1770, and being admitted to the bar in 1771. He practised law for a short time in Virginia, then returned to Maryland, and became recognized as the leader of the Maryland bar and as one of the ablest lawyers in the United States. From 1778 to 1805 he was attorney-general of Maryland; in 1814-1816 he was chief judge of the court of Oyer and Terminer for the city of Baltimore; and in 1818-1822 he was attorney-general of Maryland. He was one of Maryland's representatives in the Continental Congress in 1784-1785 and in the Constitutional Convention of 1787 at Philadelphia, but opposed the constitution and refused to affix his signature. He subsequently allied himself with the Federalists, and was an opponent of Thomas Jefferson, who in 1807 spoke of him as the "Federal Bull-Dog." His ability wasshown in his famous defence of Judge Samuel Chase (q.v.) in the impeachment trial before the United States Senate in 1804-1805, and in his defence of Aaron Burr (q.v.) against the charge of treason in 1807. He has been described by the historian Henry Adams, writing of the Chase trial, as at that time the " most formidable of American advocates." Though he received a large income, he was so improvident that he was frequently in want, and on the 22nd of February 1822 the legislature of Maryland passed a remarkable resolution the only one of the kind in American history requiring every lawyer in the state to pay an annual licence fee of five dollars, to be handed over to trustees appointed " for the appropriation of the proceeds raised by virtue of this resolution to the use of Luther Martin." This resolution was rescinded on the 6th of February 1823. Martin died at the home of Aaron Burr in New York on the loth of July 1826. In 1783 he had married a daughter of the Captain Michael Cresap (1742-1775), who was unjustly charged by Jefferson, in his Notes on Virginia, with the murder of the family of the Indian chief, John Logan, and whom Martin defended in a pamphlet long out of print.

See the biographical sketch by Henry P. Goddard, Luther Martin, the Federal Bull-Dog (Baltimore, 1887), No. 24 of the " Peabody Fund Publications," of the Maryland Historical Society.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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