Southern Illinois History Page

Henry Eddy

Henry Eddy and the Legislature of 1846-7

Reminiscences of the Early Bench and Bar of Illinois

    CHICAGO (1879) — One of the most distinguished men of that day, as a lawyer, was Henry Eddy, of Shawneetown. I first met him at Carmi, in 1836. I also met him at the Supreme Court repeatedly. He was employed in the largest cases that came up from Southern Illinois. When he addressed the court, he elicited the most profound attention. He was a sort of walking law library. He never forgot anything that he ever knew, no matter whether it was law, poetry or belles lettres. He often would quote whole pages of Milton and Shakespeare, when he felt in a genial mood. He was the son-in-law of John Marshall, of Shawneetown, president of the Shawneetown bank, and brother-in-law of Major Samuel Marshall, one of the most talented men in the State of Illinois. I served a term in the legislature of Illinois with Eddy, in 1846 and '7, and we roomed together during the whole of that winter.
    On one occasion Eddy got very "high," and while in that condition, he rose in the House and made a few remarks, and it became obvious to us all that Eddy was not in a fit condition at that time to address the House. Some of his friends who sat near him whispered to him and advised him to postpone his remarks till the next day, which he did. That night four or five of his friends got together and determined to have some fun out of him, and we concocted this story, which each one of us was to tell him when the others were not present. I was the first one to open the dance, next morning, when Eddy was perfectly cool and at himself. I went to him with great gravity, with sorrow expressed in my face and said, "Eddy, you mortified your friends very much on yesterday, in attempting to speak when you were so much intoxicated." He confessed that he had been overtaken, and was very much intoxicated. He said that he had been to a saloon, and it being a cold morning, had taken a stiff horn of "Tom and Jerry," which, when he got into the warm Hall of Representatives, close to the stove, flew to his head, and he had really no recollection of what he had said.
    "Ah, but Eddy, there lies the rub. You cursed and swore like a trooper."
    "What did I say, Linder? Do you remember the words?"
    "Yes, Eddy, I do, and I shall never forget them. You said, "Mr. Speaker, this subject by G-d, sir, is very far from being exhausted, and I'll be G-d d-----d, if I don't intend to ventilate it myself,' and at that point we got you by the coat tail and pulled you into your seat."
    "O! my God!" said he, "is that so? As soon as the House meets, I will make my apology. I never did such a thing before, but for the d----d "Tom and Jerry' would not have done it then."
    The rest of our conspirators all met him, and, seriatim, told him the same story; and he actually started to the House to make his apology, but meeting with Rheman, a member from Vandalia, on his way to the House, told him what he was going to do. Rheman, not being in our plot, told him that he was present and heard what he said, and that he was perfectly respectful, and that there was not a word of profanity in what he had said. Eddy said, "I smell it now; the boys have laid a trap for me, but they haven't caught me this time."

Gen. Usher F. Linder. 1879. Reminiscences of the Early Bench and Bar of Illinois. Chicago: The Chicago Legal News Company. 52-54.
    Henry Eddy is remembered for his legal work both for John Crenshaw of the Old Slave House fame, as well as his legal work for those kidnapped by Crenshaw.
Created April 15, 2000 by Jon Musgrave © 2000