In Memoriam Claudius B. Grant

OCTOBER 4, 1921

 Upon the convening of Court for the October term, 1921, on Tuesday, October 4th, ALBERT E. MILLER, of Marquette, and WILLIAM L. CARPENTER, of Detroit, presented the following resolutions, prepared by committees of the 25th judicial circuit and the Wayne county bar association, respectively, and moved the Court to place them on the records of the Court:

May it Please the Court:

On February 28, 1921, at St. Petersburg, Florida, death called the late Honorable CLAUDIUS B. GRANT formerly, presiding judge of the twenty-fifth judicial circuit of Michigan, and distinguished member of the Supreme Bench. Thus was drawn serenely to its close the inspiring and fruitful career of one who was loved by his friends, feared by those whose lawless purposes made them the enemies of society, and reverenced by those whose knowledge of him is the impress which his high gifts and dominant personality have left upon the entire State. To perpetuate his memory gives deep personal satisfaction to those members of the bench and bar of the twenty-fifth judicial circuit who learned to love and admire him through long association with him as well as to those who were called to the bar too late to come into direct contact with his striking personality.

Coming of rugged Eastern stock, born at Lebanon, Maine, October 25, 1835, Justice GRANT received his education in the State in which his life work was consummated. At the age of 20, he entered the University of Michigan, from which he was graduated in 1859.

Like so many men of his generation, he turned first to teaching as a profession; but in 1862 he answer the call of military duty, and resigned his position as principal of the Ann Arbor high school. He served with distinction through the Civil War, taking part in many of its greatest battles, and by steady promotion reached the grade of colonel. When the army was demobilized, he again entered the University, this time in the law department, and in 1866 successfully completed his studies and was admitted to the practice of law.

During the seven years following his admission to the bar he resided and practiced his profession at Ann Arbor. In the 1873 and 1874 sessions of the Michigan legislature, he represented the Washtenaw district, and from 1872 to 1880 he served the University of Michigan as regent.

In 1873 he moved to Houghton county, and shortly thereafter became prosecuting attorney. He continued in active practice at Houghton until 1881. The twenty-fifth judicial circuit was then organized, and he became its first judge and continued to preside as such until 1890.

These were the pioneer days of the Upper Peninsula. Those who then lived and builded were men and women of sturdy stock, who grappled with the hardships of pioneer life, developed the institutions of self-government, and who believed in law and order. Some of them yet live and are foremost among those who now bear testimony to his fearless and discerning administration of justice, and to his forceful personality and high character.

In 1889 he was elected to the Supreme Court of Michigan, which he graced and honored continuously for 20 years. During this time, his rare legal acumen and the wisdom gained from ripe experience reached their full fruition. He impressed his strong personality upon the entire State, winning the admiration of the bench, the bar and the public by his fearless honesty, and by his extraordinary capacity for clear thinking and concise expression.

With all who personally knew him, and with those whose only knowledge of him comes through their older associates, there remains abiding love, respect and esteem for Honorable CLAUDIUS B. GRANT, the man, the soldier, the fearless judge, and the scholarly jurist.

Resolved, therefore, by the bench and bar of the twenty-fifth judicial circuit that this memorial be presented to the Supreme Court of Michigan, with the request that it be entered in the Journal and Reports of that Court, and that a copy be forwarded to the family of Justice GRANT.
Wm. S. HILL,

 Mr. MILLER also read the following from a letter of Judge RICHARD C. FLANNIGAN, of the 25th judicial circuit:

“It is with keen regret I find myself unable to go down and add a word or two to what will be said of good old GRANT. That the Delta term commences on the third is but one of the serious difficulties in the way of my accompanying you.
“I was present when he first took the bench and practically, rode the circuit with him until the day he left it. We were young in those days and inexperienced. He was the young lawyers’ big brother. He was more than patient and kind and gracious and gentle, but quick to reproach and stern in reprimand when censure was justly due. And we respected and loved him. We respected and loved him to the last man of us and to the last day he was with us. That he was always right I do not maintain. Of whom can that be said? But that he always did what, to the core of his heart, he believed to be right, I do maintain as must all who knew him intimately. As a portrayal of the man, his life, his work, the benevolence, humanity, sympathy and compassion of his kindly heart, and his uncommon talent, power, force and energy, his accomplishments in every field that witnessed his activity, his utter fearlessness and disregard of consequence to himself, from transgressor, voter or public opinion, where even-handed justice was at stake, our resolutions are gravely imperfect and inadequate. My association with GRANT, circuit judge, was close and fairly constant. More so, I think I may say, that any other lawyer now alive. I knew the man through and through. He was frank, candid, undissembling and above-board. He thought out loud. The motive behind his action was never concealed, was always open and was always grounded on the golden rule. Praise him as the halting tongue of mortal is able and support, in great abundance, will be found for what is said in a life unselfishly and blamelessly lived to the very end!”

 The Honorable WILLIAM L. CARPENTER, of Detroit, spoke as follows:

It is not too much to say that Justice GRANT devoted the whole of his long life to the service of the people. He spent many years of that life in performing official duties. The last and most important office he held was that of Justice of this Court. He was an excellent Judge. This Court never had a Justice who wrote clearer opinions. No Justice of this Court ever exhibited greater courage.

But any portrayal of the life of Justice GRANT, based merely on his judicial service or on his official service, would do him less than justice, because it would not adequately present his public-spiritedness, which, in my judgment, was his chief distinguishing characteristic. Michigan has not had, in my time, a more public-spirited citizen. While he justly appreciated all his duties, he considered his duty to the people supreme and paramount. Always he was determined, at all costs to himself, to do whatever in his judgment would promote the public good. Observe that I say “whatever in his judgment” would promote that good. This means that he would not espouse a cause—as too many alleged reformers do—merely because it was popular. Such men Justice GRANT held in contempt. It means, too, that he was never deterred from espousing a cause because it was unpopular. Most of the causes he advocated were unpopular. He advocated such causes because such causes most need assistance. He: was endowed by nature with the rare qualities needed to make him a successful champion of such causes. Generally, he wisely selected these causes. In one or two instances, however, his best friends thought he made a mistake. If in any instance he did make a mistake, it was never through the influence of any personal or unworthy consideration.

The characteristic I have described was constantly exhibited by Justice GRANT, both in his private and in his judicial life. In his private life he was constantly engaged in making public addresses, preparing articles and pamphlets in support of the cause—generally an unpopular cause—which he felt impelled to champion. This characteristic affords an explanation of many, if not all, of the judicial peculiarities of Justice GRANT. It explains why he was not content to merely perform his judicial duties, but, in addition thereto, felt impelled to, and did, use his voice, pen and influence in promoting the public interests. It explains, too, his constantly exhibited reluctance to concur in judgments reversing criminal cases. It explains why he not infrequently inserted in his judicial opinions not only reasoning decisive of the case, but scathing denunciation of wrongdoing and of official misconduct. It explains, too, his frequent decisions of cases in favor of corporations; for one of the causes he felt impelled to champion was that of equality of rights, and he thought that this principle applied to those who had invested their money in corporate stock.

It may be that Justice GRANT would have held higher rank as a judge if he had more closely observed the conventionalities of judicial office; but, nevertheless it was his judgment—and in this judgment I concur—that he rendered a greater service in endeavoring to perform what he considered the paramount duty of promoting the good of the people. The Nation has greater need of real reformers—men who, like Justice GRANT, fearlessly and courageously devote themselves to promoting righteous and unpopular causes—than it has of judges of high rank; and when a man is endowed as Justice GRANT was, with the qualities that make such a reformer, it is his duty—his supreme duty—to exercise and exhibit them. The influence and example of such men has always been and is now needed; needed to counteract the influence of counterfeit reformers who, under the pretense of serving the public, are seeking to further their own selfish ends. The influence and example of such men as Justice GRANT will do much—perhaps more than anything else—to advance the cause of righteousness and to preserve what is most worthy of preservation in our institutions.

While I have known Justice GRANT for 40 years, my real acquaintance with him began in November, 1902—19 years ago—when I became associated with him as a member of this Court. I very soon learned that I had had an erroneous conception of his personality. For that matter, I learned that I had had an erroneous conception of the personality of each of the other members of the Court. I learned that each of them was a more likable man than I had supposed. But my early conception of the personality of Justice GRANT was particularly erroneous. I had supposed him to be intolerant, self-willed, unlikable. I found him to be a red-blooded, kindly, thoroughly likable man. He was a tolerant man. He failed more frequently than did any of his associates in getting the majority of the Court to approve his opinions, but he always accepted the disposition of the case with entire cheerfulness. He was a modest man. He was a genial man. Always he was actuated by unselfish motives. He was a loyal friend. Though he had endured many serious afflictions, he was sweet, contented and happy.

His was a lovable and charming personality. This personality exercised a marked influence not only on each of his associates in this Court, but on each of his innumerable friends. Though very few of them became his ardent followers in the public causes he championed, I think it can be said that this personality helped many of them—perhaps each of them—to be more faithful to his own convictions of duty.

 The Honorable BRYANT WALKER, of Detroit, spoke as follows:
May it Please the Court:
It is unfortunately too frequently true that “the evil men do lives after them, while the good is often interred with their bones,” but it is most emphatically not true in regard to Mr. Justice GRANT. There are no memories of wrong doing, either in public or private life, to cast a shadow upon his reputation; and I think that it can be fairly said that no man of his generation in this State has left a deeper or more lasting impression upon the community in which he lived than he. The reason for this is to be found in what seems to me to have been the most characteristic element in his personality. He was intense in all that he said and did. Whatever he had to do, he did with all of his heart and soul and mind. For this reason he was naturally and inevitably a partisan, but his partisanship was always exerted in behalf of what he believed to be right and for the best interests of the people of the State. Positive and aggressive, when once convinced as to where his duty lay, he spared neither mind or body in his endeavor to bring about its accomplishment. Utterly fearless, he “hewed to the line” without fear or favor and in total disregard of any possible consequences to himself. Such a man could not fail to make a lasting impression upon all with whom he was brought in contact.

His patriotism burned with an intense flame. Loyalty may well have been his motto, but, above all else, loyalty to his Country held the first place. He was very proud of the part he played in the great war between the State and was devoted to the members of his old regiment, whom he cherished, not only as comrades-in-arms, but as brothers. I have heard him say that only once in the many years that have elapsed since that war closed had he failed to attend the annual reunion of his regiment.

He believed in the law. He believed in the rigid enforcement of the law as it was written. And he not only enforced the law himself to the letter as he understood it, but, as far as lay within his power, compelled minor officials, who had been derelict in their duties, to follow and enforce the requirements of the law which they were called upon by virtue of their office to administer. He never ceased, in public or in private, to insist upon the absolute necessity for the enforcement of the law and the duty of every good citizen willingly to submit to its requirements.

An early graduate of the University, he resided in Ann Arbor for several years and served one term as a regent. He was an ardent believer in higher education and was devoted to the University as its exponent in this State and the culmination of its common school system.

During the troublous years of his regency when the University seemed to be shaken to its foundations, he was a tower of strength to those who were striving to maintain its independence and its integrity.

To him, more than to any one man, is owing the erection of that beautiful Memorial building, dedicated to the memory of those students and graduates of the University who in the Civil War gave their lives that all men throughout this land should be equal before the law. The project appealed not only to his patriotism and his pride in what that war accomplished, but he believed that that building would be, for all the years to come, an inspiration to loyalty and patriotism to all those who should come within its precincts.

While the infirmities of advancing years prevented him from taking the active part that he would have liked to have had in promoting the erection of the Michigan Union, that great center of University life and spirit, he was, from the beginning, an enthusiastic advocate in its favor; and its final consummation, representing the labor of many years, and the knowledge of its success in knitting together the many and scattered strands of University activity for the promotion of the common good, was in his last years a source of the greatest gratification.

But these activities in the more public and conspicuous phases of the development of the University were not all. There was the personal influence that through all these years he exercised upon the students themselves. From college days he was a member of one of the college fraternities. He believed that they could and should be made a factor of great good not only for the members themselves, but for the University as a whole. During his residence in Ann Arbor he kept in constant and active relations with his fraternity. He knew every man by name and he was their guide, counselor and friend under all circumstances. “Colonel” GRANT we called him in those days, and I think that all through his life he was prouder of that title than he was of the more honorable one that came to him when he became a member of this Court.

After leaving Ann Arbor he still retained his interest in the fraternity. He never visited in Ann Arbor without calling at the chapter house and becoming acquainted with the active members, and, for more than 40 years, with but one exception, he never failed to attend the annual dinner in Detroit. He loved young men, and was most companionable with them. He never failed by example and precept to urge that loyalty to their Country, to their University, and, above all, to themselves, was a prerequisite to success in after life. Who can estimate the lasting impression that such a man must have made upon the hundreds of young men with whom, in this way, he was brought into close and intimate association?
Such was the man. A brave soldier, a learned and upright judge, a conscientious public servant, a public-spirited citizen, a firm friend, a terror to evil-doers, an idealist ever striving for all that was highest and best in life. For more than 50 years “he fought the fight and kept the faith” with this community and his own conscience, and now he has gone to his reward.

Surely it may well be said of him, as it was of the Prophet Samuel, “having served his generation, he fell asleep.”

 Mr. A. L. SAWYER, of Menominee, spoke as follows:
Your Honors:
The resolutions presented and the remarks made have been comprehensive, and fitting, yet were we to elaborate them the whole day there would still remain much that could be appropriately said in commendation of Justice GRANT; and I deem it a privilege to be permitted to add my trifle to this tribute in his honor.

I hope I may be indulged to the extent of saying that I practiced before Justice GRANT throughout his entire judicial career; in the circuit and on the bench of this Court. And in this connection I want to add that I feel a large measure of pride in being a member of the bar of the 25th judicial circuit, from which each presiding judge, prior to our present worthy Judge FLANNIGAN, has graced the bench of this Court, as did also Judge DANIEL GOODWIN who presided there before the organization of the present circuit. I remember Judge GOODWIN as a type of the old school who was not only an honor to the bench but a prominent figure in the building of our State. He was followed by Justice GRANT, and he, in turn, by the now honored and worthy member of this bench, Mr. Justice STONE; so mine is an excusable pride in the 25th circuit.

I want to mention Justice GRANT’S love of nature, and his enduring attachment to old friends, and to briefly illustrate them by incidents in his life.

On a number of occasions, following a term of court, or of a Saturday, the Judge and I went into the country; usually on horse-back, for, as he expressed it, that mode of riding furnished exhilarating exercise, and, too, we could more readily penetrate the by-paths of the forests and thereby obtain a closer touch of nature. I have often thought that the influence of nature, which he so loved, had aided him much in attaining and maintaining his high moral and judicial standard.
As to his remembrance of and attachment to his old friends I would like to relate a single incident:

In August, 1918, the Judge and his wife stopped at Menominee, while returning from their old home at Marquette; their first visit after his leaving our circuit bench. I was informed, at my office, that Judge GRANT was at the hotel and had left a call for me. I immediately went to the hotel where I soon learned that their stay could only be for the day. I asked him if they would like to take a ride and where he most desired to go. The result was that Mrs. Sawyer and I went with the Judge and Mrs. Grant, first to the court house, where, as he said, he would like to view the old court room, and his own portrait, which, in oil, had been hung upon the walls since his departure. He recalled numerous instances of court happenings, mentioned lawyers that had practiced there and spoke approvingly of his portrait. Next we went to Marinette, Wisconsin, and called upon Mr. Van Cleve, who had been a pupil of the Judge in his school-teaching days.

Then we returned to Menominee and called upon Dr. Phillips, an old army friend. In each instance their greetings were so hearty and their visits so dwelt upon their earlier lives and comradeship as to be very impressive. When we left Mr. Van Cleve he so clung to the Judge I thought we might have to take him along. Each of them promised the other to try and see him again, but their further meeting was not here; each has gone to his reward.

In the passing of Justice GRANT, our sorrow, though deep and sincere, finds solace in the remembrance of his noble life, and in his faith in the future, and we can say in full confidence and without reserve, “Oh death, where is thy sting!”

 Justice STONE spoke as follows:
CLAUDIUS BUCHANAN GRANT was born at Lebanon, York county, Maine, on October 25, 1835. His parents were of English stock. His earliest paternal American ancestor was James Grant, who came from England in 1645 and settled at Berwick, Maine. Claudius was born on a farm. In his early boyhood he worked on the farm from spring until fall, attending the district school during the winter months.

When 15 years of age he went to Lebanon academy to prepare for college.

At the age of 17 he became a teacher in a district school at a salary of $15 a month, and “boarded around.”

In October, 1855, he entered the University of Michigan, starting upon his college career with only $60. It is said that, with three other students, he rented an attic over a shoe store, which served as quarters for the four young men. He worked his way through the University by sawing wood and doing odd jobs, and was graduated from the literary department in 1859 with high honors, receiving his A. M. degree in 1862, and in 1891 that of LL. D. For the next three years following his graduation, he was principal of the Ann Arbor high school. In 1861 he organized a military company and was elected its captain, the company being later assigned to the 20th Regiment of Michigan Infantry. He served in the Civil War, being promoted to Major in 1863, and to Colonel of the 20th Regiment of Michigan Infantry in 1864.
After Lee’s surrender, Colonel GRANT resigned from the army, and, returning to the University of Michigan, began the study of the law. On June 13, 1863, he was married to Caroline L. Felch, daughter of the late Governor ALPHEUS FELCH.

He was admitted to the bar in June, 1866, and began his practice in partnership with his father-in-law. In 1870 he was elected a member of the State legislature and was re-elected in 1872. In the legislature of 1873 he was a speaker pro tem. He was also elected a regent of the University of Michigan in 1871, serving 8 years in that capacity. In 1873 he removed to Houghton, L. S., where, in 1876, he was elected prosecuting attorney of Houghton county. When the 25th judicial circuit was created, he was elected its first circuit judge, and was re-elected in 1887. He removed to Marquette in 1886. In the spring of 1889 he was elected a Justice of the Supreme Court for 10 years from the following January, and was re-elected and served a second term, making a term of service of 20 years in this Court. His decisions appear in 81 volumes of our Reports, beginning with the 79th and ending with the 159th Michigan.

His was a pronounced and positive character. He stood “four square to every wind that blew.” He was one of the striking figures in the history of the State, by reason of the length, variety, and character of his service.

School teacher, military officer, administrator, legislator, prosecuting officer and judge. One point will suffice to characterize him:

Throughout his long life and public career, he never sought to earn popularity by “going easy,” on anybody or on any question. The one idea that dominated him and his action was, that the people made laws with the intention of having them obeyed and enforced. His historic assault upon the violators of law and the forces of evil in the Upper Peninsula is the most conspicuous illustration of his passion for law enforcement. The people of the counties in the 25th judicial circuit will long remember him as the circuit judge who, when the persistence of the organized lawbreaking of the district began to affront the law-abiding people, grappled fearlessly with the situation and condition, and undertook the task of putting the fear of the law into the hearts of the violators. He came to be “a terror to evil-doers, and a praise to those that do well.” It is casting no disparagement upon the law-abiding people there to say that the time was when the Upper Peninsula, with its large foreign population, was, in great degree, a lawless community. The excise laws were not enforced, and were paid little respect. The liquor traffic was, to a large extent, an open one, limited as to hours of sale only by the demands of customers. Local vice flourished. Excesses of lawbreaking continued long after there was a substantial public sentiment against them. The violators were well entrenched. Politically they possessed great local influence and power. The one man most largely responsible for the turn in affairs, that put law and order in the ascendant, was Judge GRANT. His known sentiments for law enforcement when he was elected to the circuit bench served as an inspiration to the forces of law and order in the circuit. Many of the people had long been disgusted with the laxity of conditions, but had been unable through lack of concert of action to make headway against it. He grappled with the situation and conditions, and at every opportunity he laid hold of the evils, and smote the violators “hip and thigh.” His views and sentiments on law enforcement were well known when he was elected circuit judge, a fact which shows that he had a strong public sentiment behind him, notwithstanding the boldness of the violators of the law.

He was elected for a second term, which showed that he was supported by the law-abiding element of the circuit, which when aroused was largely in the majority. While he did not make the circuit one in which the law was everywhere and universally respected and obeyed, he did much to reform it. He drove out of the counties many of the most notorious violators of the law. He rectified most of the abuses, and effectively put the violators on the defensive. It was a heavy task, and will everlastingly stand to his credit that he did it so well and with so much courage. The dominant note of his character was a native fearlessness that projected him into the center of any fight where he believed his duty lay, and caused him to write and speak vigorously, when less courageous men would have turned aside, and shirked the task.
His opinions in this Court are marked by their brevity, their clearness of statement, and their directness. He was an able, fair and clear-headed nisi prius judge, and an excellent Supreme Court Justice.

But above and beyond all else, he was an earnest American, an active, dutiful, influential citizen, and a just man. His memory will long be cherished by those who knew him best. While a very human character, it may well be said of him: “And e’en his failing leaned to Virtue’s side.”