An AHGP Transcription Project

Robert H. Adams

Mr. Adams was a native of Virginia, and born of poor and obscure parents. It is said that in his early youth he was apprenticed to the cooper's trade, and pursued that occupation into manhood. He consequently obtained but little education in his youth; but he possessed a native endowment of genius and perseverance, which inspired his bosom with an ambition to achieve a place and a name among men. Like many young men of this character, Mr. Adams, notwithstanding the apparently insuperable difficulties attending his path, directed his attention to the study of the law. His conscious vigor and natural sedulity of mind dispelled the gloom that hung over his prospects, and his resolution prompted him to undertake that which his ambition coveted. After acquiring a sufficient knowledge of the rudiments of law to gain him admission to the bar, he bade farewell to his native valley, and made his residence in East Tennessee, where he entered upon the practice of his profession; here he soon commanded notice and patronage, and rose rapidly in his profession; yet his aspirations were not satisfied, and the prospects of the rich harvest of litigation which the Western Territories then presented seemed to offer the field he desired; hither he removed, and established his office in the city of Natchez, where he at once entered upon a career brilliant and arduous.

Natchez at this time was noted for the legal ability that adorned its bar; but Mr. Adams was equal to the severe test which a claim to superiority demanded, and was soon recognized as one of the most skilful and logical as well as most learned advocates at that bar of eminence. While he was deficient in general learning, his vigorous mind grasped and embraced the subtleties of the law with an alacrity and comprehension that impressed his opponents with surprise, the court and bar with admiration, and his hearers with a conviction of his superiority.

Mr. Adams possessed in a high degree that versatility of excitation which can awaken at pleasure the feelings of sympathy and abhorrence. He could recount the tales of sorrow and misfortune with a pathos that would moisten the eyes of all hearers, thrill at one moment the tenderest cords of the heart, and at the next, twang the arrows of indignation and scorn; while he could pour forth the melting strains of commiseration, he could, when necessary, hurl the awakening thunders of wrath and vengeance until the culprit would writhe in the agonies of conscious guilt.

His mind was always clear and ready, and so plain were his statements of facts, so lucid his presentations of the law, that no ingenuity of argument, no skill of abstraction, could pervert their meaning or obscure his position.

Mr. Adams possessed a warm and sympathetic heart, and was a general favorite among the people. He was elected, in 1830, to the United States Senate in the place of Mr. Reed, who died the year preceding. Here the prospects of Mr. Adams were brilliant in the highest degree, and his learning, eloquence, and winning address, would, no doubt, have gained for him a national fame had not the untimely hand of death checked his marvellous career. He died in a short time after his election to the Senate, beloved by all who knew him, leaving a multitude of friends, and not an enemy.

Source: The Bench and Bar of Mississippi by James D. Lynch, New York: E. J. Hale and Son, Publishers,
17 Murray Street, 1881


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