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Encyclopedia > George Graham Vest

George Graham Vest (18301904) was a man born in Kentucky, but who moved to Missouri to begin a career in law. He was also a politician who served in the Confederate Congress during the American Civil War. He also was a US Senator from 1879 until 1903, and was known for his skills in oration and debate. In his "Eulogy to a dog," he contributed one of the most enduring passages of purple prose in American courtroom history. Liberty Leading the People by Eugène Delacroix commemorates the July Revolution 1830 was a common year starting on Friday (see link for calendar). ... 1904 (MCMIV) was a leap year starting on a Friday (link will take you to calendar). ... Official language(s) English Capital Frankfort Largest city Louisville Area  Ranked 37th  - Total 40,444 sq mi (104,749 km²)  - Width 140 miles (225 km)  - Length 379 miles (610 km)  - % water 1. ... Official language(s) None Capital Jefferson City Largest city Kansas City Largest metro area St. ... The Confederate Congress was the legislative body of the Confederate States of America, existing during the American Civil War between 1861 and 1865. ... Combatants United States of America (Union) Confederate States of America (Confederacy) Commanders Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee Strength 2,200,000 1,064,000 Casualties Killed in action: 110,000 Total dead: 360,000 Wounded: 275,200 Killed in action: 93,000 Total dead: 258... The United States Senate is the upper house of the U.S. Congress, smaller than the United States House of Representatives. ... 1879 (MDCCCLXXIX) was a common year starting on Wednesday (see link for calendar). ... 1903 (MCMIII) was a common year starting on Thursday (see link for calendar). ... A term of literary criticism, purple prose is used to describe passages, or sometimes entire literary works, written in prose so overly extravagant, ornate or flowery as to break the flow and draw attention to itself. ...


Early in his legal career (in 1870), Vest took a case in which he represented a client whose hunting dog, a foxhound named Drum (or Old Drum), had been killed by a sheep farmer. The farmer had previously announced his intentions to kill any dog found on his property; the dog's owner was suing for damages in the amount of $150, the maximum allowed by law.


During the trial, Vest stated that he would "win the case or apologize to every dog in Missouri." Vest's closing argument to the jury made no reference to any of the testimony offered during the trial, and instead offered a eulogy of sorts (only a partial transcript has survived): A closing argument, summation, or summing up is the concluding statements of both parties counsel reiterating the important arguments for the trier of fact, often the jury, in a court case. ...

   
George Graham Vest
Gentlemen of the jury: The best friend a man has in this world may turn against him and become his enemy. His son or daughter that he has reared with loving care may prove ungrateful. Those who are nearest and dearest to us, those whom we trust with our happiness and our good name, may become traitors to their faith. The money that a man has, he may lose. It flies away from him, perhaps when he needs it the most. A man’s reputation may be sacrificed in a moment of ill-considered action. The people who are prone to fall on their knees to do us honor when success is with us may be the first to throw the stone of malice when failure settles its cloud upon our heads. The one absolutely unselfish friend that a man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him and the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous is his dog.

Gentleman of the jury: A man’s dog stands by him in prosperity and in poverty, in health and in sickness. He will sleep on the cold ground, where the wintry winds blow and the snow drives fiercely, if only he may be near his master’s side. He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer, he will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounters with the roughness of the world. He guards the sleep of his pauper master as if he were a prince. When all other friends desert, he remains. When riches take wings and reputation falls to pieces, he is as constant in his love as the sun in its journey through the heavens. Image File history File links Cquote1. ...


If fortune drives the master forth an outcast in the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privilege than that of accompanying him to guard against danger, to fight against his enemies, and when the last scene of all comes, and death takes the master in its embrace and his body is laid away in the cold ground, no matter if all other friends pursue their way, there by his graveside will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws, his eyes sad but open in alert watchfulness, faithful and true even to death.

   
George Graham Vest

Vest won the case (a possibly apocryphal story of the case says that the jury awarded $500 to the dog's owner, far more than had been asked for) and also won its appeal to the Missouri Supreme Court. A statue of the dog stands in front of the City Hall of Warrensburg, Missouri, site of the trial. Image File history File links Cquote2. ... Warrensburg is a city located in Johnson County, Missouri. ...


External links

  • The story of Old Drum
  • A different account of the case by the nephew of both parties
  • imdb entry on the film Old Drum, a TV movie loosely based on the Old Drum case
Preceded by:
none
Representative to the Provisional Confederate Congress from Missouri
1861
Succeeded by:
none

  Results from FactBites:
 
U.S. Senate: Art & History Home > Classic Senate Speeches (543 words)
George Graham Vest served in the United States Senate for twenty-four years, from 1879 to 1903, but the act for which he is best remembered is a speech delivered in an insignificant court case while he was still a lawyer in rural Missouri.
In the Senate, the witty and sarcastic George Vest was an effective debater, although as a Democrat he was generally in the minority.
Vest retired from the Senate in March of that year and died in the summer of 1904.
446. George Graham Vest (1830-1904). Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989 (618 words)
According to the recollection of Thomas T. Crittenden, counsel for the defendant and later governor of Missouri, Vest made no reference to the evidence but confined himself to a tribute to canine affection and fidelity.
According to John F. Phillips, former law partner of Vest and a member of the House of Representatives, whose comments appear in the Congressional Record with the eulogy on the dog, the jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff for $500, far more than the sum sued for.
Vest was elected to the Senate eight years later and served 1879–1904.
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