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Henry Stanbery (February 20, 1803 – June 26, 1881) was an American lawyer and United States Attorney General.

Henry Stanbery
Hon. Henry Stanberry, Ohio - NARA - 526547.jpg
28th United States Attorney General
In office
July 23, 1866 – July 16, 1868
PresidentAndrew Johnson
Preceded byJames Speed
Succeeded byWilliam Evarts
1st Attorney General of Ohio
In office
February 1846 – May 1851
GovernorMordecai Bartley
William Bebb
Seabury Ford
Reuben Wood
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byJoseph McCormick
Personal details
Born(1803-02-20)February 20, 1803
New York City, New York, U.S.
DiedJune 26, 1881(1881-06-26) (aged 78)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political partyWhig (Before 1854)
Republican (1854–1881)
Spouse(s)Frances Beecher
Cecelia Bond
EducationWashington and Jefferson College (BA)

Born in New York, he was the son of Jonas Stanbery, a physician. The family moved to Zanesville, Ohio, in 1814. Henry Stanbery graduated from Washington College in Washington, Pennsylvania (now Washington and Jefferson College near Pittsburgh) and studied law. He was a member of the Union Literary Society at Washington College.[1] He was admitted to the bar in Ohio in 1824 and to the bar of the Supreme Court of the United States in 1832. In 1824, at the invitation of Thomas Ewing, he began practice in Fairfield County, Ohio, and rode the circuit with him. He remained for many years at Lancaster.

In 1846 he was elected the first attorney general of Ohio by the Ohio General Assembly. He accordingly moved to Columbus, where he resided for about five years. In 1850 he was elected a delegate to the convention that framed the state constitution. In 1853 he moved to Cincinnati, and in 1857 he moved across the river to Fort Thomas, Kentucky.

President Andrew Johnson appointed Stanbery Attorney General of the United States in 1866. He resigned on March 12, 1868, to defend Johnson during his impeachment trial. His health at the time was so delicate that most of his arguments were submitted in writing. At the conclusion of the trial, Johnson renominated him as Attorney General and also to the Supreme Court, but the Senate would not confirm him, choosing to abolish the Supreme Court seat instead to deny Johnson any nomination to the Court.

He returned to the Cincinnati area, where he was president of the law association of that city, but held no other public office. He wrote occasionally on political questions, and sometimes made public addresses. As a lawyer, although he was learned in technicalities and skilled in applying the nice rules of evidence and practice, he especially delighted in the discussion of general principles. As a practitioner he was quick to perceive the slightest weakness in his opponent's case. He never attempted to browbeat or mislead a witness, but knew how to secure full and true answers even from those who had come upon the stand with hostile intentions.[citation needed]

He was a member of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Newport, Kentucky. He lost his sight in 1880 and died in New York City in 1881 waiting to undergo an operation to restore it. He died of acute bronchitis.[2] He is buried in Cincinnati, at the Spring Grove Cemetery.

Stanbery was married in 1829, at Lancaster, to Frances E. Beecher, daughter of Philemon Beecher. They had five children, three of whom survived him. Frances died in 1840, and Henry married Cecelia Bond, daughter of William Key Bond, who outlived Henry, and had no children.[2]

Henry Stanbery's brother William Stanbery was also an attorney, and served in the United States House of Representatives from 1827 to 1833.[3][4]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ McClelland, W. C. (1903). "A History of Literary Societies at Washington & Jefferson College". The Centennial Celebration of the Chartering of Jefferson College in 1802. Philadelphia: George H. Buchanan and Company. pp. 111–132.
  2. ^ a b Reed, George Irving; Randall, Emilius Oviatt; Greve, Charles Theodore, eds. (1897). Bench and Bar of Ohio: a Compendium of History and Biography. 1. Chicago: Century Publishing and Engraving Company. pp. 84–87.
  3. ^ Rowland H. Rerick, History of Ohio, 1902, p. 249.
  4. ^ William B. Neff, Bench and Bar of Northern Ohio, 1921, p. 100.