CURTIS, GEORGE TICKNOR American lawyer, legal writer and constitutional historian, was born in Watertown, Mass., on Nov. 28, 1812. He graduated at Harvard in 1832, was admitted to the bar in 1836, and practised in Worcester, Boston, New York and Washington, appearing before the U.S. Su preme Court in many important cases, including the Dred Scott case, and the "legal tender" cases. In Boston he was for many years the U.S. commissioner, and in this capacity, despite his own opposition to slavery, ordered the return to his owner of the famous fugitive slave, Thomas Sims, in 1852. He was the nephew of George Ticknor, the historian of Spanish literature, and his asso ciation with his uncle was influential in developing his scholarly tastes. He is best known as the author of A History of the Origin, Formation and Adoption of the Constitution of the United States, with Notices of its Principal Framers (1854), republished, with many additions, as The Constitutional History of the United States from their Declaration of Independence to the Close of their Civil War (1889-96). This history, which had been watched in its ear lier progress by Daniel Webster, may be said to present the old Federalist or "Webster-Whig" view of the formation and powers of the Constitution ; and it was natural that Curtis should follow it with a voluminous Life of Daniel Webster (1870), a most valuable biography of that statesman. In his later years Curtis, like so many of the followers of Webster, turned towards the Democratic Party; and he wrote, among other works of minor importance, an exculpatory life of President James Buchanan (1883) and two vin dications of Gen. George B. IVIcClellan's career (1886 and 1887). He died in New York on March 28, 1894.
In addition to the works above mentioned he published: Digest of the English and American Admiralty Decisions (1839) ; Rights and Duties of Merchant Seamen (1841) ; Law of Patents (1849) ; Equity Precedents (185o) ; Commentaries on the Jurisprudence, Practice and Peculiar Jurisdiction of the Courts of the United States (5854-58) Creation or Evolution (1887) ; and a novel, John Chambers (5889).
His brother, BENJAMIN ROBBINS CURTIS (1809-1874), also an eminent jurist, was born on Nov. 4, 1809, in Watertown, Mass., graduated at Harvard in 1829, studied law at Cambridge and at Northfield, Mass., where, after his admission to the bar in 1832, he practised law for two years, and then in Boston in 1834-51. In 1851 he was appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States, where he gained his greatest fame by his dissenting opinion in the Dred Scott case, in which he argued that the Missouri Compromise was constitutional, and that negroes could become citizens. His argument was immediately published as an anti-slavery document. In 1857 he resigned from the Supreme Court and resumed his private practice. In 1868 he was one of the counsel for President Andrew Johnson in his impeachment trial. He died at Newport R.I., on Sept. 15, 1874. He prepared Decisions of the Supreme Court and a Digest of its decisions down to A Memoir of Benjamin Robbins Curtis, with Some of his Profes sional and Miscellaneous Papers, edited by his son, Benjamin R. Curtis, was published at Boston in 1879, the Memoir being by George Ticknor Curtis.