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THE OLD MEMBERS OF THE CALHOUN AND KALAMAZOO COUNTY BARS

BY A. D. P. VAN BUREN

He was fairly started as we took seats among his eager listeners. And as we did so, we became at once interested in every word that he uttered. In fact, from that moment he held us the most delighted of listeners during his entire speech, while at its close, and at times during the speech, we found ourselves applauding him with all the admiration of democrats. We were democrats as far as the power of his oratory over us was concerned; he held us captive just as he did them, till his speech was delivered, and then it set us free. Such was the magic power of his oratory. This was in Van Annan's best days, before that severity of manner and language set in, which has, at times so much detracted from some of his later public efforts. An incident of his practice over forty years ago has been related as follows:
"A stranger paced back and forth on the platform at the Union depot yesterday afternoon. It was Col. John Van Arman, the well known lawyer of Chicago, and a representative of the Telegram-Herald walked up and greeted him. 'Colonel, ' asked the reporter, 'how about, that poisoned cake you are alleged to have eaten once upon a time in Michigan in order to convince a jury that your client was not a poisoner?'
"The great criminal lawyer laughed. 'That story always has been mixed up, and I'll tell you the real facts of the case for the first time. It was in 1842. I was then twenty two years old, and had been admitted to the bar two years, and was in partnership with Attorney Brown at Marshall, Mich. A woman had been indicted at Hillsdale for poisoning her husband. He lived more than a year after the poisoning, and of course she could not be indicted for murder; yet giving poison was a penitentiary offense—amounting to a life sentence then—and I was engaged to defend her. The woman's husband was a witness against her, although he died soon after the trial.

Michigan


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