Preserving the Past, Informing the Future
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WILLIAM CLEAVELAND CRUMP, son of Reuben and Eliza Richards Crump, was born in New York on the 19th day of September, 1816. He removed to New London at an early age: was educated at Professor Dwight's school in New Haven, and at Mrs. Hall's school at Ellington. He graduated Yale in 1836. After graduation he went to western New York with a party of civil engineers engaged in the preliminary survey for the Erie Railroad. He afterward studied law in the office of William P. Cleaveland, Jr., a leading lawyer in New London County, was admitted to the bar in 1839, and continued the practice of his profession in New London until his death. His health began to fail in 1883, and suffering from a complication of diseases, he went for medical treatment to the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, where he died of disease of the heart, March 9th, 1883.
This brief record of his career can give but a slight idea of the weight and influence of a man whose entire life was a lesson and an example to all who came into contact with him. Of deeply religious thought and feeling, of great simplicity of life and sincerity of conviction, with something of Puritan severity in his judgments of his own conduct, his unfailing cheerfulness and serenity made him at all times the most agreeable of companions. His appreciation of humor was marked and keen, and his dislike of sham and pretense was outspoken. His range of reading was singularly wide, and his memory very retentive. Scott, Thackeray, Dickens, Marryat, Cooper, and Irving were as familiar to him as were the heavier writers in the weighty matters of the law. His quotations were always apt and always accurate. Apart from the clergy, there were few who could equal his knowledge of the Bible. Reverent and earnest study had brought him a faith in its doctrines and comprehension of its teachings which many who came to him in doubt and anxiety will gratefully remember. He had been for years before his death a deacon of the First Congregational Church in New London, and the trusted adviser of the church and its pastor.
He shrank from publicity, and took only such part in public affairs as he believed it to be his duty to take. The people of his town would gladly have placed him in positions of public prominence and public trust, but it was always his wish to avoid, so far as possible, public honors or political place. He was constantly sought for positions of trust, and was most frequently appointed an arbitrator in cases of disputed claims. His legal practice was largely an advisory one. He had little or nothing to do with criminal practice, and seldom appeared before a jury. Such arguments as he did address to a jury were distinguished by their clear, concise and convincing logic. He was the trusted counsellor of very many who learned to lean upon him, not only as their counsellor but their friend. The strict integrity of his life impressed itself on all who knew him. To know one man who, in all the hurry and bustle of a busy world, amid the trials and temptations of life, went quietly on his way in unswerving rectitude and unfaltering honesty of purpose, is worth more than whole volumes of sermons or books of moral precepts.
And so this quiet life, lived so simply and unostentatiously, has had an influence reaching more widely than the world can easily note, touching far deeper than words can easily tell. His too was the charity that "suffereth long and is kind." That "thinketh no evil." His sharp criticism was ever of himself, his charity was for his fellow-men. He was slow to impugn the honesty of his fellows, ready to put upon their actions the most charitable construction, ready to forgive what even his charity could not excuse. Quiet as his life was, modest as was his own estimate of himself, no man had a deeper influence among his own townspeople. His opinion was of such weight with those who knew him best that he was in many cases a daysman whose judgment was never disputed. He realized to a fuller extent than most of his brethren at the bar the position - more fully appreciated in England where landed and entailed estates make it more necessary - of a family lawyer; and in such a position his advice and his counsel were frequently asked in matters that passed outside the limits of the law. With strong confidence in his judgment, and a well-founded faith in his integrity, they who had no other advisor to seek came to him for counsel in intricate and puzzling affairs. They always found him ready to listen and willing to aid, and it is perhaps for these unwritten opinions, that were given to them who felt sorely in need of such advice, that he will be the best and longest remembered. By his gifts to the poor, by the never failing earnestness with which he sought to raise the fallen or aid the distressed, by unremitting kindness to all who sought help from him, by his pure faith in the righteousness and goodness of God, by his love for his fellow men, by his strong clear mind and his great ability, and by the unflinching honesty of his life, he found for himself a place in the hearts of those who knew him and loved him which he himself would have been the last to believe. When it was known that he had forever left the places that he had filled so well, not only among his brethren of the bar who had prized him for his learning and his sound judgment, but among the many, in all ranks of life, who had learned by his life or profited by his help, there was mourning for the good man gone, and sorrow that a noble life ended. And the sorrow and remembrance live after him. "He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor; his righteousness endureth forever."[footer.htm]