Henry Stanbery

Henry Stanbery

Lawyer played key role in impeachment trial
From Pieces of the Past, Volume 2. pages 39-41 by Jim Reis and reprinted here with his permission.

Henry Stanbery was born in New York City on February 20, 1803, the son of Dr. Jonas Stanbery.  He spent his early childhood in New York City and when he was 11, his family moved to Zanesville, Ohio.  In 1815, 12 year-old Henry left Zanesville to attend Washington College in Pennsylvania; he graduated four years later.  He began to study law and was ready to begin a practice, but Ohio law did not permit anyone under 21 to practice law.

Stanbery returned to Zanesville and studied under an attorney there.  He opened his own law practice in 1824. He quickly rose in the esteem of his colleagues and when Ohio created the position of state attorney general in 1846, Stanbery was elected and helped draft the Ohio constitution in 1850.  When his term ended the next year, he returned to private practice and two years later moved to Cincinnati and opened a law office there. He moved to Campbell County in 1857 to a ridge top called the "Highlands" and when a move was made in 1866 to incorporate it, Stanbery helped draft the papers.

The state legislature approved the incorporation in January 1867 and the next month, Lt. Gov. John White Stevenson of Covington signed the bill.   President Andrew Johnson selected Stanbery in 1866 as his attorney general.  His salary was $29,450  He was also nominated to the Supreme Court, but was rejected by the Senate.

When the House of Representatives voted to impeach President Johnson on February 24, 1868, Stanbery resigned as U.S. Attorney General on March 12, 1868, so he could serve as the lead of the five-man team of attorneys named to defend Johnson.  During the trial the pressure wore Stanbery down and he became ill in early April and had to temporarily pass the duties of lead counsel to another attorney.  He did recover to deliver his closing statement.  The impeachment failed by one vote.

The narrow defeat embittered Johnson's enemies and when he tried to renominate Stanberry for attorney general, the Senate refused to confirm him.  He returned to the Highlands.  He was a delegate to the Cincinnati Southern Railroad convention in 1870 and later represented the debt-ridden Kentucky Central Railroad in court.  After 1878 he spent his time dealing in real estate.  On March 27, 1880 he paid taxes on $175,000 in real estate, the most in Campbell County.  Second was Colonel James Taylor; he paid taxes on $35,000 in property.

By this time, Stanbery was almost blind and in November 1880 he went to New York for an operation to try and regain some sight back.  He was in New York when he died June 26, 1881.  He was buried in Spring Grove Cemetery.  He was survived by three children; Rev George Stanbery of Lexington, Judge Philemon P Stanbery of Pomeroy, Ohio and Mrs. Frances Avery of San Francisco and his second wife, Cecilia Bond.  He first wife, Frances Beecher died when the children were young and he married Cecila Bond in 1841.

His estate was valued at $254,143.73.  Cecila died in Campbell County in May 1889.  Today Stanbery Ridge Road in Ft. Thomas is built upon part of Henry Stanbery's old estate.


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