In Memoriam Thomas Addis Emmet Weadock

OCTOBER 8, 1940

Upon the coming in of Court in the afternoon of Tuesday, October 8, 1940, Chief Justice GEORGE E. BUSHNELL spoke as follows:

We have convened this afternoon for the purpose of conveying our respects to our late associates, Justices WEADOCK and POTTER. The former members of the Court sit with us. One of them is ill and the other three unfortunately were unable to attend but sent messages to us.

We first pay our respects to Mr. Justice WEADOCK.

Judge Lynch will speak for the State Bar.

 HON. JAMES H. LYNCH: May it please the Court:
I have been requested by the officials of the State Bar of Michigan to speak at these memorial exercises on the death of the late Justice THOMAS ADDIS EMMET WEADOCK.

Located at Pontiac as I have been during all of my professional life, about midway between Saginaw, the scene of the early life of Justice WEADOCK, and Detroit, the stage on which he appeared in the latter portion of his days, I had but little opportunity to judge of his lawyer-life, although one could not fail to note from time to time the part that he played in the latter city for so many years—years in number far beyond those usually given to man; an old age not associated with decline or lessening powers but with a spirit which seemed disdainful of the annual calendar and he continued to the last to live the life he had always lived.

I shall speak of Mr. WEADOCK more as an individual than as a lawyer, because I knew him better individually than professionally.

The Weadocks had for generation after generation lived and passed to their eternal reward cradled by the hills and valleys of historic and militant County Wicklow, Ireland. Not only did Mr. WEADOCK have this magnificent home background but his parents at the baptismal font gave him further impetus by bestowing upon him the name of Thomas Addis Emmett.

Thomas Addis Emmet, a lawyer and brother of the immortal Robert Emmet, was compelled to leave his native land and, leaving, came to New York and entered upon his work as a lawyer. He left a name high in the civic and legal life of his adopted country and a marble shaft in old Trinity churchyard, New York, sets forth at length the character and services of Mr. Emmet.

With such a background, we would expect, naturally, intelligence, a love of liberty, and a sturdy, earnest devotion to whatever he thought was right, and in all these “Tom” WEADOCK, as I was wont to call him, certainly was true to his forebears and loyal to his environment. His interest in public affairs was not limited to the subjects germane to the legal profession.

He was not content to pursue the work which naturally pertains to the practice of his profession. He was fond of history and digging deep into the past to obtain knowledge and draw inspiration. He was more at home with “Brehon Laws,” the ancient code of the ancient Irish Gael than are many of the graduates of our modern colleges with the principles of Coke and Blackstone.

We may have greater lawyers than TOM WEADOCK; we may have those who will receive more of the clamor of the crowd than he, but, sirs, we will never have his superior as a lawyer who for nearly 60 years of active practice took and received the blows and rebukes of a contentious world, fought a good fight and laid down his shield without a stain on his honor or a scar of ignoble conduct.

He was public-spirited, steadfast, straight-forward, and scorned equivocation. He might be called a partisan, because whatever he believed he believed with a deep intensity of feeling. Whether or not it was the popular side meant nothing to him and being in the minority he often felt was a badge of honor. He believed with Lowell, “there are slaves who dare not be in the right with two or three.” He was fearless in his advocacy of whatever he believed. He carried into action the motto of Patrick Sarsfield who said, “Where e’er my sword shall reach, that ground I dare maintain.”

His apparent brusqueness of manner was only a cloak and beneath it was as courtly, pleasant and entertaining an individual as one would find.

His early professional life was laid in the valley of the Saginaw and those who today see in the rotting piles along the river front the mute remembrances of a day that is gone can scarcely appreciate the wonderful activity and belligerent spirit that was evidenced in that place in the ‘70’s and early ‘80’s when the banks of the Saginaw river for miles was but a continuation of piles of lumber piled beyond our present-time imagination. And such times as those were apt to develop in any individual the spirit of independence and steadfastness, characteristics while to some extent natural to Mr. WEADOCK, certainly intensified and rendered more pronounced.

The last time I saw TOM WEADOCK was when his coffined form was laid at rest. His face even in death had lost none of its characteristics and as he lay there apparently at sleep, a sleep which sooner or later must come to us all, I could fancy him saying with Saint Paul: “I have fought a good fight; I have finished my course; I have kept the faith.”

That, Your Honors, is the legacy which THOMAS ADDIS EMMET WEADOCK left to the nation to which he was devoted; to the profession which he adorned, and to the family he loved.

CHIEF JUSTICE GEORGE E. BUSHNELL: Mr. James E. Duffy, of Bay City, will speak for the Bay County Bar.

 MR. JAMES E. DUFFY: May it please the Court:
There isn’t much, after what Mr. Lynch has said, that I could say except probably from a personal point of view that I have always had with reference to Mr. WEADOCK. When I left college I went into the office of T.A.E. and J.C. WEADOCK, and until all of the Weadocks of that firm left for other places, I was intimately, socially, and in a professional way connected with them all of the time.

I was very fond of MR. WEADOCK. My personal relations with him were of the most intimate kind, and it is quite unnecessary for me to say to these men upon the bench, or to the profession in general, the type of man that THOMAS A. E. WEADOCK was. It is unnecessary for me to say that he left our city nearly 45 years ago and that he left his imprint upon the social and cultural and business life of our community. It is a memory that has never been erased.
It is for these reasons that we of the Bay County Bar felt that, even though he left us 45 years ago, he was always a member of our bar and for that reason we felt that the Bay County Bar should express its sentiment upon his passing, and I was appointed as one of a committee of three to prepare a memorial for MR. WEADOCK. This memorial has been prepared and I desire at this time with your permission to present it to the Court and ask that it, in a proper way, be made a part of the permanent records of the Court. The memorial, which expresses my sentiments probably better than I could do in an extemporaneous way, is as follows:

THOMAS A. E. WEADOCK was born in Ballygarrett, Ireland, January 1, 1850, and with his parents came to this country when a child. He died in Detroit, Michigan, November 18, 1938, at an age approaching 89 years. He was a member of a family of distinguished lawyers.

He received his early legal training at the Law School of the University of Michigan in 1871 and was admitted to the bar in Detroit in 1873, when he was then but 23 years of age. Shortly after his admission to the bar, he came to Bay City where he resided and practiced his profession as an eminent member of the Bay County Bar until 1895 when he removed to Detroit where he thereafter resided though he continued to maintain his former contacts with the business and professional life of Bay City.

During his long and useful life he served his city as mayor, his county as prosecuting attorney, his state as one of the Justices of the Supreme Court, being one of the three lawyers of Bay county to sit in that distinguished tribunal. In addition to this, he served his nation as a member of the national House of Representatives. In each of these positions of public honor and trust he discharged his duties with characteristic fidelity and distinction.

His accomplishments in his chosen profession were of an outstanding character. In addition to his membership in the Bay County Bar, he was also an active member of the Michigan State and the American Bar Associations and gave generously of his time and efforts to furthering the interests of these professional associations.

He was internationally as well as nationally known and respected. His interest in and his study of Napoleon and of his time, his collection of Napoleonic literature and his work in that field brought to him the well deserved membership in the Legion of Honor, conferred upon him by the government of France.

He was one of the national leaders of Americans of Irish birth and descent in the movement which resulted in the creation of the endowment fund to establish and the establishment of the chair of Gaelic literature in the Catholic University at Washington.

He took an active part in the business and economic life of this community and made very substantial contributions to the formation and advancement of its many and diversified business interests. He participated in a very real sense in the spiritual and charitable life of this community in which he lived.

While a member of the Congress of the United States, he prepared and caused to be passed by that body the bill creating the Northern Division of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan and when the new court room in the Federal Building here was completed and opened for use in 1933 he delivered the dedicatory address.
His brochures, “Pere Marquette, the Missionary Explorer” and “A Catholic Priest in Congress, Father Richard,” were valuable contributions to the literature pertaining to the Northwest Territory, out of which the State of Michigan was carved, and for this and other beneficial historical work he was honored with the presidency of the Michigan Historical Society.

Upon his passing it can well be said of him, after his long and distinguished life, that he embellished every position he held and that he left behind him an indelible impression upon the professional, business, social and cultural life of his time.

The Bay County Bar, desirous of expressing and recording this testimonial of its appreciation of our deceased brother as a man, a friend, a devoted father of his family, a highly respected citizen and a noted member of our profession, offers the following resolution:

And that resolution, among other things, is that it be presented to three courts, two of which have already been done, and I now come to the third court and the resolution pertaining to it which is, “that this testimonial be also presented to the Supreme Court of the State of Michigan with the request that the same be placed with the records of that Court.” And I request, if Your Honors please, that that part of the resolution may be carried out.

CHIEF JUSTICE GEORGE E. BUSHNELL: All right. Mr. Orla B. Taylor, Detroit, will speak for the Detroit Bar.

 MR. ORLA B. TAYLOR: May it please the Court:
Being in a reminiscent mood, I will say, that 52 years ago day after tomorrow was the time I made my first argument in this Court, in this room. At that time you will remember— that is, some of you will— when the writs of mandamus and certiorari and so forth originated in this Court with the result that on Tuesday morning you could always count on a large number of prominent attorneys coming from all parts of the State in connection with their matters. As a young man I was very much interested in meeting those men, those lawyers, as they came here, and that is where I first met JUSTICE WEADOCK. It is something like 52 years ago.

Our friendship was perhaps increased by the fact that he was a very close friend of my old partner Mr. Edward H. Connelly. They were personal and political friends. In that way I made his acquaintance and it lasted since that time. So I am here today on behalf of the Detroit Bar Association to pay well-deserved tribute to one of the most learned citizens that the State of Michigan has ever produced. He was eminent in several fields of endeavor and, perhaps, even at this time we may be too close to his work and his life to appraise his worth in correct measure.

THOMAS ADDIS EMMET WEADOCK was born in Ballygarrett, County Wexford, Ireland, on January 1, 1850, and passed away in Detroit on November 18, 1938. He was named after the great lawyer brother of Robert Emmet, the Irish patriot, and himself a powerful worker in the cause of his native land. Escaping to America, he practiced law in the city of New York and took his place, as Mr. Justice Story declared, “by universal consent in the very first rank of American advocates.” Mr. WEADOCK strove throughout his life, it seems to me, to emulate his example in his devotion to his clients and to the causes which he espoused. He was a man who thought, and thought powerfully. He always had the courage of his convictions. Aggressive in argument, he maintained the issues which he presented with unyielding tenacity.

Most of his long life was passed in the State of Michigan. He entered the Law School of the University of Michigan in 1871, and received his instruction in the principles of law under those inspiring teachers, the profound THOMAS M. COOLEY and the genial JAMES V. CAMPBELL, themselves thorough students and admiring followers of John Marshall, James Kent and Joseph Story.

Admitted to the bar at Detroit, April 8, 1873, Mr. Justice WEADOCK was eminent in the legal profession for 65 years. Establishing offices in Bay City at a time when the busy Saginaw valley echoed with the roar of a hundred saw mills, he conducted important litigation for many years. His valuable counsel was eagerly sought by many of the great lumber barons. He removed to Detroit in 1895 and continued in general practice until his death, with the exception of a few months in 1933, when, upon the appointment of Governor William A. Comstock, he sat as a Justice of this Court. On the occasion of his sixtieth anniversary as a member of the legal profession, Judge WEADOCK was asked as to his plans for the future. He smiled and replied, “Work! So long as there is work, I shall love life. When there is no more work to do, I shall not care to sit around any longer. Health and good spirits and enjoyment of life depend on having work to do. I have no patience with retired old men—if they are able to go on working. And I feel fit. I never enjoyed my work at the law more than I do right now.”

In passing upon Justice WEADOCK’s professional career, I cannot refrain from referring to the fact that his younger brothers, George W. Weadock and John C. Weadock, studied in his office and under his guidance and both attained eminence in the profession, the former in Saginaw, and the latter in Bay City and New York. Today, no doubt inspired by his example, 11 of his sons and nephews are engaged in the practice of law in Michigan and New York. This is, indeed, a most unusual circumstance and demands a high compliment to a brilliant family.

Mr. WEADOCK found time in his busy life to serve the public. He always took deep interest in political matters and, in his early life, he acted as prosecuting attorney of Bay county. In 1883, he was elected mayor of Bay City, and in the early ‘90’s he represented the Tenth District of Michigan in the Congress of the United States.

Disposed by nature and intellectual inclination to the study of literature and history, he spent much of his leisure time in reading and research. He loved to study the life of the Emperor Napoleon I, and his library upon that subject was one of the most complete and unique in the entire world. His interest was widely known and a few years ago the Government of France conferred upon him the decoration of the Legion of Honor, “in token of that country’s gratitude for a great and voluntary service.”

He was an ardent admirer of Andrew Jackson and his library contained many volumes relating to that great popular and political hero.

He also found time to write three biographical books of permanent value with reference to the history of this region, the subjects being “Pere Marquette, the Missionary Explorer,” “A Catholic Priest in Congress, Father Richard,” and, “The Public Service of Sanford M. Green.” The last named book is of especial interest to our profession for Justice GREEN’s book on Practice was for a long period the authoritative work on that subject in this State.

For many years he was closely associated in study with Mr. Clarence M. Burton, the diligent and scholarly collector of the Burton Historical Collection of Detroit, and succeeded him as President of the Detroit Historical Society, a position which he occupied for several years. And about the same time he served as a member of the Michigan Historical Commission.

He enjoyed travel in Europe and on several occasions he spent his vacations in visiting points of interest in connection with the history of Napoleon. He loved Ireland and in his later years he found vast enjoyment in wandering over “those far-off hills of his ancient home.” Days spent in those old haunts “made sweeter the long, calm evening of his life.”

Such, in brief, was the busy and useful life of Mr. Justice THOMAS A. E. WEADOCK, long years devoted to civic, cultural, and professional pursuits. Time will not permit me to recount many interesting incidents in his career. I think, however, that I have demonstrated that he fought a good fight and that he kept the faith.

Acting on behalf of the Detroit Bar Association, it is my privilege to move that this memorial be inscribed upon the record books of this Honorable Court and that it be printed in the reports of its decisions.

CHIEF JUSTICE GEORGE E. BUSHNELL: Mr. Ferris D. Stone and Mr. Charles H. L’Hommedieu are also here representing the Detroit Bar Association, but they have indicated that they do not desire to speak. If anyone desires to add to the tribute before the Court they are at liberty to do so. Mr. Justice SHARPE, of Bay City, will reply for the Court.

 MR. JUSTICE EDWARD M. SHARPE: I deeply appreciate the privilege bestowed upon me in being permitted to respond in behalf of our court. It was my privilege to have known Mr. Justice WEADOCK for a period of approximately 40 years. He was the oldest of a family of lawyers known throughout the Saginaw valley and the State of Michigan. There were in all 18 Weadocks who have followed the practice of law; three of them being Justice WEADOCK’S sons.

In 1877, he was elected prosecuting attorney of Bay county and in turn held the office of mayor of Bay City and congressman from the Tenth Congressional District. It was in the last year of his second term in Congress that he fostered and aided the passage of a law which created the Northern Division of the United States Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. Mr. Justice WEADOCK’s period of service on this Bench was from September 1, 1933, to December 31, 1933, and his opinions may be found in volumes 264 and 265, Michigan Reports.

In all of his public service Justice WEADOCK was eminently successful. He possessed, in an unusual degree, the elements of mind and character necessary to assure preeminence. The most pronounced characteristics of Justice WEADOCK in his career at the bar and on the Bench were scope and grasp of his mental powers combined with indefatigable industry. He possessed very strong and positive convictions and stood for what he believed to be right.
Justice WEADOCK knew how to grow old gracefully. He didn’t live in the memories of the past. He was always planning for the future. In his passing, those who were personally acquainted with him have the consoling thought that it was a rare privilege and splendid experience to have known him. Our lives have been enriched. In his passing, the State of Michigan has lost a splendid citizen but he has left us a rich heritage in the work he laid down when he fell into that sleep which men call death.

CHIEF JUSTICE GEORGE E. BUSHNELL: Mr. Paul Weadock, do you desire to address the Court now?

MR. PAUL WEADOCK: No, Your Honor.

CHIEF JUSTICE GEORGE E. BUSHNELL: The family of Mr. Justice WEADOCK have brought here and have presented to the Court a portrait of him. It is my happy privilege as his immediate successor on this Bench to accept it for the Court, and it will remain here always as a reminder to those who will follow after us.