“With a voice by no means pleasant, and, indeed, when excited, in its shrill tones, sometimes almost disagreeable; without any of the personal graces of the orator; without much in the outward man indicating superiority of intellect; without great quickness of perception--still, his mind was so vigorous, his comprehension so exact and clear, and his judgment so sure, that he easily mastered the intricacies of his profession, and became one of the ablest reasoners and most impressive speakers at our bar. With a probity of character known to all, with an intuitive insight into the human heart, with a clearness of statement which was itself an argument, with uncommon power and felicity of illustration, —often, it is true, of a plain and homely kind, — and with that sincerity and earnestness of manner which carried conviction, he was, perhaps, one of the most successful jury lawyers we have ever had in the State.
He always tried a case fairly and honestly. He never intentionally misrepresented the evidence of a witness, nor the argument of an opponent. He met both squarely, and, if he could not explain the one or answer the other, substantially admitted it. He never misstated the law, according to his own intelligent view of it. Such was the transparent candor and integrity of his nature, that he could not well, or strongly, argue a side or a cause that he thought wrong. Of course, he felt it his duty to say what could be said, and to leave the decision to others; but there could be seen in such cases the inward struggles of his own mind. In trying a case, he might occasionally dwell too long upon, or give too much importance to, an inconsiderable point; but this was the exception, and generally he went straight to the citadel of the cause or the question, and struck home there, knowing, if that were won, the outworks would necessarily fall.
He could hardly be called very learned in his profession, and yet he rarely tried a cause without fully understanding the law applicable to it; and I have no hesitation in saying be was one of the ablest lawyers I have ever known. If he was forcible before a jury, he was equally so with the court. He detected, with unerring sagacity, the weak points of an opponent's argument, and pressed his own views with overwhelming strength. His efforts ware quite unequal, and it might happen that he would not, on some occasions, strike one as at all remarkable. But, let him be thoroughly roused,—let him feel that he was right, and that some principle was involved in his cause,—and he would come out with an earnestness of conviction, a power of argument, and a wealth of illustration that I have never seen surpassed.”
-- Thomas Drummond
US District Court Judge
Speech in Eulogy from Bench in Chicago