Edward John Phelps

Edward John Phelps

Edward John Phelps (July 1822 - March 1900) was a lawyer and diplomat from Vermont. Born in Middlebury, his father, Samuel S. Phelps had been a U.S. Senator from Vermont (he was a Yale graduate). Edward Phelps graduated from Middlebury College in 1840, and was a schoolmaster for a year in Virginia. He was admitted to the bar in 1843 and began practice at Middlebury, but in 1845 removed to Burlington, Vermont.

From 1851 to 1853 he was second controller of the United States Treasury, and then practised law in New York City until 1857, when he returned to Burlington. Becoming a Democrat after the Whig party had ceased to exist, he was debarred from a political career in his own state, where his party was in the minority, but he served in the state constitutional convention in 1870, and in 1880 was the Democratic candidate for Governor of Vermont. He was one of the founders of the American Bar Association, and was its president in 1880-1881. From 1881 until his death he was Kent Professor of Law in Yale University. He supported the founding of Wolf's Head Society and is the namesake of its alumni association.

He was Envoy to Great Britain from 1885 to 1889, and in 1893 served as senior counsel for the United States before the international tribunal at Paris to adjust the Bering Sea controversy. His closing argument, requiring eleven days for its delivery, was an exhaustive review of the case. Phelps lectured on medical jurisprudence at the University of Vermont in 1881-1883, and on constitutional law at Boston University in 1882-1883, and delivered numerous addresses, among them that on "The United States Supreme Court and the Sovereignty of the People" at the centennial celebration of the Federal Judiciary in 1890 and an oration at the dedication of the Bennington Battle Monument, unveiled in 1891 at the centennial of Vermont's admission to the Union. In politics Phelps was always conservative, opposing the anti-slavery movement before 1860, the free-silver movement in 1896, when he supported the Republican presidential ticket, and after 1898 becoming an ardent "anti-expansionist."

Phelps died in New Haven, Connecticut.



External links

*gutenberg|no=18422|name=Modern Eloquence: Vol III, After-Dinner Speeches P-Z, contains the text of Phelps' 1889 farewell speech in London.

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