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Below is a family biography from the book, History of Kentucky, Edition 8a by J. H. Battle, W. H. Perrin and G. C. Kniffin and published by F. A. Battey Publishing Company in 1888.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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GEN. HUMPHREY MARSHALL, second son of John J. Marshall and Anna Reed Marshall (nee Birney) was born at Frankfort, Kentucky, January 13, 1812, and graduated at West Point Military Academy in June, 1832, in the twenty first year of his age. His great-grandfather was Col. Thomas Marshall, of Virginia, who served with distinction as an officer of the Virginia Line in the war of Independence, and is known to history as a friend of Gen. Washington, as appears from Washington’s letters. This was the father of Chief Justice John Marshall, of the Supreme Court of the United States, whose sister, Mary, was the grandmother of our subject, and who was celebrated in Kentucky as a lady of strong intellect and fine culture. Humphrey Marshall, the historian of Kentucky, and among the earliest United States senators from that State, the person who shot Henry Clay in a duel fought opposite Louisville in 1807 or 1808, was the grandfather of our subject, and was a Revolutionary officer in the Virginia Line. He had been adjutant of Col. Marshall’s regiment through the war; married his daughter at its close, and emigrated to the district of Kentucky while it was yet part of Virginia. He was a man of great force of character, powerful intellect and much learning. He was an accomplished scholar, and a bold, fearless writer. Even to this day daws pluck at his lines in the vain hope that they may be erased, but, like the damned spot in Lady Macbeth’s hand, they will not “out” at the bidding. John J. Marshall, the father of our subject, was born in Woodford County, Kentucky; graduated at Princeton, N. J., with the first honor; was distinguished as one of the first intellects of the country, and for fifteen years before his death (which occurred in June, 1846,) held the office of circuit judge at Louisville, Kentucky. The Judge is yet remembered as a lawyer of singular learning, and a man of most genial disposition. The maternal grandfather of our subject was James Birney, an Irishman, who emigrated to Kentucky before it was separated from Virginia. He was the father of James G. Birney, the first abolitionist candidate for the presidency, who was the only brother of Mrs. Anna Reed Marshall. The maternal grandmother of our subject was Miss Martha Reed, who died early after her marriage, leaving only two children, those above named. Mrs. Anna R. Marshall died at Louisville in 1859, after her son Humphrey hid acquired the maximum of his fame in congress. Of the boyhood of Humphrey Marshall we have but few incidents worthy relating. He was self reliant and firm in his convictions of right, as will appear from the fact that at seventeen he committed a contempt of a court martial at West Point, before which he was summoned to testify against his roommates. Col. Hitchcox (afterwards Maj. Gen. Hitchcox) presided. Young Marshall said he did not consider that he could disclose the secrets of his room without dishonor to himself, and therefore he would not give the evidence desired. In vain the court essayed to convince him of the error of sentiment. He adhered to his own views and was sentenced to dismissal from the academy; his roommates were acquitted for want of testimony. Gen. Jackson, then president, reinstated Cadet Marshall to his rank and place at the academy, complimenting his fidelity to his own sense of duty, though he had erred in his estimate of it. After graduating at the academy Marshall served as a lieutenant in the army, in a campaign against Black Hawk and the Sac and Fox Indians in 1832, before he visited his relations in Kentucky. Gen. Winfield Scott persuaded him that the occasion presented a chance for active service and quick promotion. The Asiatic cholera attacked the detachment to which Lieut. Marshall was assigned; it lost very heavily, and was halted where Chicago now stands; and afterwards marched across the country to the Mississippi. The fortitude and endurance of the young lieutenant were conspicuous among dangers sterner than those of the battle field, and Gen. Scott noticed him in his correspondence with the war department in most favorable terms —the old chief frequently, in after life, referred to the bearing of young Marshall through those trying scenes in terms of high praise. Mr. Marshall married in January, 1833, when he was but ten days past twenty-one years of age, Miss Frances E. McAlister, of Franklin, Tennessee, and in May, 1833, resigned his commission in the United States army, without visiting the post or regiment to which he was assigned. It was a period of profound peace. Military life seemed to open no prospect for enterprise or ambition, still Mr. Marshall deemed himself to be under obligations to render military service, should the country be in need of soldiers. He was licensed to practice law in the spring of 1833, and spent the rest of that year in Tennessee, but settled in Louisville, to pursue his profession, in November, 1834. In 1836 he was elected by the people of the Fifth ward of the city of Louisville to represent them in the city council, but resigned this place to accept a captaincy of a troop of volunteers, raised under Gen. Jackson’s call to march to the Sabine frontier to protect the border of Louisiana from the intrusion of the Mexican army then over running Texas. The battle of San Jacinto rendered the movement of the Kentucky volunteers unnecessary; they were disbanded, and Capt. Marshall returned to the law. In 1837 he became a candidate for the legislature, but was defeated and then, for the first time, really devoted his time to his profession. He rose rapidly at the bar, and was employed in cases of the first-class, making his name known in the forum in competition with such men as James Guthrie, Garnett, Duncan, Pirtle, Thruston, Loughborough, Nicholas and others. This close pursuit of his profession was interrupted in the spring of 1846 by a call from the governor of the State upon Mr. Marshall to take command of a Kentucky regiment of volunteer cavalry, called to march to Mexico, and to serve for twelve months in the war then existing between Mexico and the United States. Marshall did not hesitate to obey the call; but at once closed his law books and assumed command of his regiment. At this time Judge John J. Marshall died, and Col. Marshall’s wife suffered a stroke of nervous apoplexy. Affairs at home were in a terrible condition when the regiment moved, but Col. Marshall thought that he could not then resign with credit, and he went forward to the theater of war. Debarking opposite Memphis, in June, 1846, Marshall marched his regiment through Arkansas and Texas to Camargo, thence to Saltillo in Mexico. Active service indeed he performed in Mexico, for he passed over the country from Panas to Victoria in discharge of the duties devolved upon him. He participated in the battle of Buena Vista as the ranking colonel of cavalry in the American forces, where it was said of him, “that he faced danger, trod with undaunted step the field of death, and coveted the place of desolation,” referring to a brilliant charge made by him at the head of his command. His gallantry endeared him to his soldiers. His conduct was warmly commended by his superiors in command, by all of whom he was mentioned in their official reports. Ever afterwards Gen. Taylor, Gen. Wool and Gen. Lane, and indeed the field officers who were at Buena Vista, held Col. Marshall in warm regard. At the end of the twelve months service the war had shifted to the gates of Mexico, where Gen. Scott, with the regulars and volunteers, was finishing it, and Col. Marshall, with the survivors of his regiment, returned to Kentucky, mustered out of service, and with nothing before him but to commence again the practice of law. His pay had not supported him by some $1,500, and he had lost the run of his practice. The people proposed a seat in the State Senate, but this he promptly declined. County meetings nominated him for the office of governor, and he published a card at once declaring his thanks, but definitely declined the honor. He sought retirement, and applied himself to the opening of a farm upon a tract of land he owned in Henry County; but the people did not let him indulge in this fancy long. In 1849 he was nominated for congress as the Whig candidate, in the Louisville District, and was elected over Dr. Newton Lane, the Democratic candidate, after a warm and spirited contest. He was re-elected in 1851, over Gov. David Meriwether, (who was afterwards appointed to succeed Mr. Clay, in the U. S. Senate) and took an active part in the great “Compromise Measures,” which postponed the war for a decade. His course was enthusiastically sustained by his constituency. In 1852 the President nominated Col. Marshall to the senate as Commissioner to China, and the nomination was immediately confirmed. The Democrats had a majority in both Houses of Congress. After this nomination was confirmed Congress raised the mission to the first class, so as to place Col. Marshall on the same footing as to pay emoluments and authority with the Ministers of Great Britain and France; a step which was a graceful compliment to the appointee, from political opponents. Col. Marshall departed from New York on his mission in October, 1852, and having fulfilled it with great honor and credit, both to himself and the country, returned to the United States in 1854. In a brief biographical sketch like this no attempt will be made to review the manner in which this mission was filled. Congress published Col. Marshall’s dispatches and it has been years since a single copy of them could be obtained out of the Congressional Library. Col. Marshall certainly brought to the public a duty with which he was charged a power of thought, which has made his name remembered in China to the present time. Some of the yiews he then urged are now being carried out by this country as useful expediencies, if not novelties. In 1855 Col. Marshall was again elected to Congress, by a very large majority, over Col. William Preston, who had filled the seat from the Louisville district during his absence in China. Col. Marshall was elected by the “Know-Nothings,” as the party was then called. In 1857 Col. Marshall was elected to Congress over Hon. Joe Holt. In 1859 he was nominated by acclamation, but he firmly declined a re-election because he disliked the platform upon which the party convention placed him. He returned to the practice of law to repair his fortunes which had suffered during his congressional service. But in 1860 he was again called into politics and took the field as elector for Breckinridge and Lane, Presidential candidates. When Lincoln was inaugurated President, Col. Marshall left Washington, determined to do all in his power to preserve the Union, and to this end he commenced anew the canvass of the State; but the secession of the border States stopped him in his praiseworthy efforts. He retired to his farm in Henry County, but the turbulent times would not permit him to remain in peace; and being threatened with arrest, though he had committed no offense against the laws of his country, in September, 1861, he mounted his horse and rode to Nashville, Tenn. He was invited to Richmond by President Davis, and was tendered a commission of brigadier-general with the independent command of a department, which he accepted. His services in the field is a part of the history of the war. He retired from the Confederate army in June, 1863, but was immediately thereafter elected to the Second Congress of the Confederate States. He was re-elected, and was a member when the armies surrendered the country. He practiced law in New Orleans from the fall of 1865, until the summer of 1867, with good success; while there, he was invited by President Johnson to Washington, and shortly after his visit to Washington (which was made in December, 1865,) he was pardoned by the President and relieved of all disabilities imposed upon him by the laws of the United States by reason of his having been in the Confederate army. In 1867 Gen. Marshall returned to Kentucky and resumed the practice of law at Louisville. He at once commanded a large and lucrative practice. Gen. Marshall was an educated soldier of large experience, and great ability; he was a statesman of broad and enlightened views, with the power to grasp and master any subject; he was an orator; if he but spoke, no matter whether to a crowd in the street, in court, to a popular assembly or in our legislative bodies, he was listened to with attention. He was a subtle, astute, and profound lawyer, an able advocate — often eloquent — but his eloquence did not consist of conned phrases — of tropes and figures, but of thought. He could enforce his ideas equally well by his speech or his pen. Descended from ancestors of great distinction and renown, he did not content himself therewith, but labored and built a monument for himself. He held many places of distinction and conferred honor upon them all. He had few peers, and no superiors. He was of the most amiable disposition, gentle, generous, benevolent, humane; kind to all, and particularly to the young; he was easy of access to everybody, but no one could be in his presence without feeling that he was in the presence of a man; even a stranger passing by him could but feel it; all the children of the street did him reverence. In private conversation he was instructive and entertaining, and there was a charm about him that attracted both young and old. Gen. Marshall died March 28th, 1872, in the sixty-first year of his age. His remains are buried in the cemetery at Frankfort, Kentucky.

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This family biography is one of 195 biographies included in the Jefferson County, Kentucky section of the book, The History of Kentucky, Edition 8a published in 1888 by F. A. Battey Publishing Company.  For the complete description, click here: History of Kentucky, Edition 8a

View additional Jefferson County, Kentucky family biographies here: Jefferson County, Kentucky Biographies

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