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Charles F. Southmayd


Centurion, 1854–1911

Full Name Charles Ferdinand Southmayd

Born 27 November 1824 in New York (Manhattan), New York

Died 11 July 1911 in New York (Manhattan), New York

Buried Trinity Church Cemetery and Mausoleum, Manhattan, New York

Proposed by William M. Evarts

Elected 4 March 1854 at age twenty-nine

Century Memorial

With the name of this great medical consultant [Edward G. Jameway], it is fitting to join that of the great legal counsellor Charles F. Southmayd. At the time of his death he was the senior member of this Association, having been received into it in 1854, when thirty years of age. It was the fortune of Mr. Southmayd during the major part of his professional life to be linked with two brilliant partners, between whom he stood as a middleman of extraordinary fitness and efficiency. Fame has long since hung its immortelles around the marble brow of William M. Evarts; it has also fashioned a fair wreath for Joseph H. Choate,—may he long be with us! A third wreath is due,—or, if nothing quite so florid, at least a serious avowal and solemn recognition that Charles F. Southmayd contributed as much as either of his partners to make Evarts, Southmayd & Choate the great law firm that it is.

Yet fame follows its own ways, which are not altogether unjust. Southmayd, through all his years of prodigious intellectual labor, did not come into the open where fame could flash its light upon him. He was a consulting office-lawyer: how should it be widely known that through decade upon decade his learning and acumen guided financial creations, devised unanswerable settlements, and directed one side or the other of litigations involving constitutional questions or affairs of magnitude?

For another reason, if fame has not been lavish with this man, she still has followed her universal way:

“Time hath, my lord, a wallet on his back,

Wherein he puts alms for oblivion.”

Thus the poet teaches that oblivion dissolves in quicklime the repute of those who cease from labor while they live. Here no excuse is taken, that old age has withdrawn the laborer from service, and the plea is not accepted that it is the dusk of evening which has quieted the busy mind.

Henry Osborn Taylor
1912 Century Association Yearbook