Chapman, Reuben Atwater (Chief Justice Supreme Court)
Reuben Atwater Chapman (Sept. 20, 1801 Russel, Mass.–June 28, 1873 Fluelen, Switzerland) was an American attorney who served as chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court from 1868 until his death in 1873. Document Signed, 07/08/1870 - 8 x 12 (pp 8) signed in blk ink from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Supreme Court with a relief emboss seal of the state Scale of Justice of MA on page 8, & a light pupil seal fixed (Weights & Measures of Justics)on recto. Case involving an Oil Company called “Terry & Stoddard.” A four-fold crease with lovely age-toning seen throughout document. Attractive with clear wording of text. Overall, fine condition.
As a youth he was employed as a store clerk in Blandford, Massachusetts when he was given the opportunity at the age of 19 to read law as a clerk in a law office.
Admitted to the bar, he successively practiced in Westfield, Monson, and Ware, before settling in Springfield, Mass., where he practiced in partnership with Whig politician George Ashmun as Chapman & Ashmun.
The firm became one of the most successful in the state and in 1860 Chapman was appointed an associate justice of the state supreme court, subsequently being elevated to chief justice in 1868.
He was a presidential elector for Lincoln in 1860, and served on the Harvard Board of Overseers.
He handled some legal matters for John Brown when Brown was in business in Springfield, and later, when Brown was imprisoned in Virginia facing hanging after the abortive Harper's Ferry raid, he wrote to Chapman asking him to either come himself or send legal assistance: "I have money in hand here to the amount of $250 [...] do not send an ultra abolitionist," which Chapman was unable to do at the time.Chapman died in Switzerland in 1873.
Judge Chapman was a religious man, a diligent student of and a profound believer in God's Word. He believed that “He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God;” and when he was elevated to that great office, the Chief Justiceship of the Commonwealth, and assumed its duties, the people felt that the office had been bestowed upon a man whose integrity was above suspicion, and that they possessed in him, “that element of security without which liberty itself is an empty and dreary thing, and its worship a vain oblation.
A security of right under an equal law, and a learned and incorrupt judge." This confidence in his integrity was never withheld or diminished, and at the close of a long life, compacted with usefulness, he has gone to his reward, leaving the character and honorable traditions of the judiciary, which had been intrusted to his care, unimpaired.