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Property from a Private Collection, Laguna Niguel, California


signed and dated D. Huntington / 1880 (lower right)
oil on canvas
36 x 29 in.
Executed in 1880
The Historic Portrait and Sculpture Collection of the Philadelphia Bar Association, presented by William Henry Rawle, on behalf of Mrs. Cuyler, 6 December 1880
Theodore F. Jenkins Memorial Law Library, Philadelphia
Freeman's, Philadelphia, 14 November 2018, lot 439

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Sallie Glover
Sallie Glover Associate Specialist, Americana

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Lot Essay

Theodore Cuyler (1819-1876) was ‘”long one of the foremost of Philadelphia’s lawyers” (W.U. Hensel, The Christiana Riot and The Treason Trials of 1851: An Historical Sketch (Lancaster, 1911), p. 64). Cuyler became widely known as an attorney representing the defendants of one of the largest treason trials in United States’ history – The Christiana Trial for Treason (1851). This landmark and nationally publicized case was the first of such brought to court under the Fugitive Slave Act. The events that resulted in these charges occurred in Christiana, Pennsylvania, when Edward Gorsuch, a plantation owner from Maryland, traveled with a group of men, including U.S. Deputy Marshall Henry H. Kline, to retrieve his escaped slaves who had crossed the North-South border into freedom. This ultimately led to an encounter with William Parker, a black man, and ended in the death of Gorsuch. Those accused, almost 40 people including three white men, were charged with treason and levying war. In the opening speech of the trial, Cuyler spoke directly to the judge, asking him “Leveling war against the United States. . . . Sir, did you hear it? That three harmless, nonresisting Quakers, and eight and thirty wretched, miserable, penniless Negroes, armed with corn cutters, clubs, and a few muskets, and headed by a miller, in a felt hat, without a coat, without arms, and mounted on a sorrel nag, levied war against the United States. Blessed be God that our union has survived the shock”. The trial ended in the acquittal of all charged.

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