Connecticut State Library with state seal

Memorials of Connecticut Judges and Attorneys
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports
volume 34, page(s) 585-586


Since the publication of the last volume another of the leading members of the Fairfield County Bar has been removed by death, of whom the following obituary notice has been furnished, at the request of the reporter, by Hon. Henry Dutton of New Haven.

JOSIAH MASON CARTER was born in the town of New Canaan in this state on the 19th day of June 1813, and graduated at Yale College among the first scholars of his class in the year of 1836. He studied law with Hon. Thomas B. Osborne at Fairfield, and was admitted to the Fairfield County bar in August 1839. He commenced to practice of law in the city of New York in 1841, in which he was married. In 1847 he removed to Norwalk, in this state, and formed a law partnership with Hon. Thomas B. Butler, now the Supreme Court of the state, with whom he continued until the elevation of the latter to the bench in 1855. He continued to reside in Norwalk, devoting himself laboriously to the practice of his profession, till his death, which occurred on the 21st day of March 1868. He was a member of the General Assembly of the state in the years 1850, 1861 and 1862, and the last year was Speaker of the House. He was the candidate of the Whig Party for the office of Lieutenant Governor in 1856. He was appointed State Attorney for Fairfield County in 1862 and held the office until his death. On two occasions he declined to be a candidate for a judgeship in the Superior Court, when it was urged upon him by his political friends then in power. With the exception of a hearty and intelligent interest in politics of the time, especially in their relation to the great question of human freedom, and an active interest in the educational and other public concerns of the community in which he lived, he allowed nothing to withdraw his time or attention from the practice of his profession, and his interest in politics never led him to seek or willingly accept political office. To his legal practice and to the interests intrusted to him in it he devoted himself constantly and laboriously and with the greatest fidelity. He was not a brilliant man, and had no great power as a public speaker, nor had he any special tact in the management of causes. He accomplished what he did by the careful preparation of his cases, both upon the law and the facts, and the application of good sense to the matter at hand, with a good degree of pertinacity in pursuing and insisting upon his points, and by the impression which he made on courts and juries of an honest and honorable man. He was a sound and well read lawyer, with little general culture, but with a good legal mind, well disciplined by his collegiate education and professional pursuits, and at the time of his death he stood among the most respected and trusted of the profession.

As a man he was without reproach. He was perfectly honest, truthful and moral. He was very sensitive in everything that touched his pride of character, of which he had a great deal, and to some extent his pride of opinion, in which he was not wanting; and he had a ready indignation at every act of meanness or wrong. One of his associates at the bar who knew him well, says, "He was perfectly reliable, of unquestioned integrity, of strong attachments and perhaps of equally strong antipathies, incapable of duplicity, simple, frank, and eminently social." He never made a public religious profession, almost wholly, it is believed, from self-distrust. He was a constant and interested attendant on public worship, and in his last illness expressed his desire to unite with the church if his life was spared. Some of his last utterances were of his trust in Christ. The Rev. S. B. S. Bissell, a congregational clergyman who preached his funeral sermon, says of him, after quoting the words we have quoted above, "This is a deserved eulogy, but better far for a dying man is the panegyric which we have ventured to apply to him, "A good man and just, who waited for the Kingdom of God, and was a disciple of Christ."