November 14, 1899
At the opening of court on Tuesday, November 14, 1899, the Honorable JOHN W. CHAMPLIN, of Grand Rapids, on behalf of the bar of the State, presented to the court an oil portrait of the Honorable EDWARD CAHILL, formerly a member of the court. Chief Justice GRANT accepted the portrait on behalf of the court and directed that it be assigned a place upon the walls of the courtroom. In presenting the portrait, Judge CHAMPLIN spoke as follows:
May it Please your Honors: I have the honor of presenting to this court, in behalf of the bar of this State, a portrait of a former member,–Judge EDWARD CAHILL. The decease of the lamented Judge J. V. CAMPBELL made a vacancy upon the bench of this court, and the duty of appointing his successor fell upon Governor LUCE. He fulfilled that duty by, appointing an eminent attorney practicing at the bar of this county and of this court. In this appointment he recognized the legal ability of a lawyer who had been the architect of his own fortune. He was born and reared and educated in Michigan. His father died in 1854, when the subject of these remarks was 11 years of age, leaving a large family with a small patrimony. His early education was such as the public schools afforded; and it is the pride of the State that they afford opportunities for the earnest seeker after knowledge to lay a foundation which will qualify him to discharge all the duties of citizenship with honor to himself and to the glory of his country. When 13 years of age he entered the preparatory department of Kalamazoo college. By his close attention to his studies and his aptitude in acquiring knowledge, he made rapid progress at school. He became familiar with the methods of enacting laws by serving as page at the sessions of the legislature for 1857, 1858, and 1859. At 16 he had some idea of devoting himself to journalism, and as a preparatory step entered the office of the Kalamazoo Gazette to learn the printer’s trade. In August, 1862, at the age of 19, he enlisted as a private in Company A, 89th Illinois Volunteer Infantry. He was in the campaign in Kentucky under General Buel. Unfortunately he was taken sick, and was discharged in December, on account of disability, and returned to Michigan. He determined to follow the profession of the law, and commenced study in the office of Miller & Burns, in Kalamazoo, in the spring of 1863. In the fall of that year, his health being restored, he again entered the military service, and recruited a company and went to the front, and for meritorious services was promoted to captain. He continued in the service until October, 1865, when he was mustered out, and again resumed the study of the law at St. Johns, and was admitted to practice in 1866. He soon after removed to, Ionia county, and in 1870 was elected to the office of circuit court commissioner, which he shortly after resigned, and went to Chicago, where he practiced his profession until June, 1873, when he came to Lansing, where he has since resided. He was twice elected to the office of prosecuting attorney. In 1887 he was appointed a member of the board of pardons. In April, 1890, he was appointed to the office of associate justice upon the bench of this court, and entered at once upon his especially arduous labors. He was in the prime of life, and in full possession of physical and mental powers. He took his seat on April 5th, and served until December 31st of that year.
I have reviewed in a brief way his career to the time when he became a member of this court. It was full of vicissitudes and experiences which tended to broaden his mind and strengthen his character. A farmer boy, a printer, a soldier in active service, an attorney in successful practice, a safe counselor, a trusted official,–he was well equipped and fully qualified to discharge the duties of his high office. During the three terms he sat upon the bench, he listened to arguments in over 420 cases, and delivered opinions in 84 of them, which cases are reported in volumes 80, 81, 82, 83, and 84 of Michigan Reports. The merits of these opinions are best attested by the reports in which they are published. They show that he was a close student of legal principles, and that he was extremely careful in the preparation of his decisions; that he had a judicial mind, capable of deciding without prejudice and without favor; and these traits of mind and character are strongly reflected in his judicial opinions. His knowledge was practical, and always adapted to the case under consideration. In consultation he was helpful and practical. He had a happy faculty of grasping the essential elements of the controversy, and stating them succinctly and cleared. As a judge he was a man of positive ideas, scrupulously conscientious, and bold through the conviction of his own sincerity.
Judge CAHILL is still in the active practice of his profession. It is to be hoped that he may long live to add new lustre to his fame. Much more might be said in commendation of him as a citizen, a lawyer, and a judge, but the properties of the occasion forbid. I take great pleasure in presenting his portrait to this court, and ask that it may be given a place among those of the distinguished jurists that adorn these walls.