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Posted on Monday, April 11, 2011 - 11:40 am:   

Thaddeus De Witt Seeley, History of Oakland County Michigan A Narrative Account of its Historical Progress,Compiled from the official records of the County, the newspapers and data of personal interviews, Illustrated (Chicago and New York, The Lewis Publishing Company, 1912), Google Books, Page 127

The Bar of Oakland County

Thomas J. Drake

At the same February term of the county court, 1825, Thomas J. Drake was allowed to act as attorney for such parties as had given him powers of attorney for that purpose.

Mr. Drake first came to Pontiac in 1822, when there were scarcely half a dozen houses in the township. He was a leading and prominent advocate for nearly two generations. Hon. A. C. Baldwin, judge of the sixth circuit, says of him: "He was connected as counsel with most of the leading cases in northern Michigan during a long term of years, and was always in his element when advocating the cause of the people." He was a member of the third legislative council in 1828, and, with S. V. R. Trowbridge, represented the whole northern portion of the territory. Mr. Drake was the accredited author of the liberal exemption laws of Michigan, introducing them into the legislative council at a time when they were so unpopular not a single member, save himself, dared to vote for them.

From 1828 1845 ne was prominent in political matters, being a Whig in party affiliation and policy. He was elected in 1834 to the state senate to represent a district which extended from the base-line of the state to the head of Lake Superior, embracing two-thirds of the area of the state. He was president of that body.

In 1840 he was one of the Whig presidential electors for Michigan at her first participation in the choice of a president and vice president of the republic.

In 1828 he was register of probate for the county, and in 1827 prosecuting attorney, being also the first prosecuting attorney elected in the county, and held the position from 1850 to 1852.

In 1864 President Lincoln appointed Mr. Drake chief justice of the United States courts in Utah, which position he held for several years, discharging the duties thereof with signal ability and fidelity, and thereby provoking the bitter hostility of Brigham Young and his cohorts. "The Mormons hated him as cordially as he hated their customs and practice." Judge Drake's associate justice in Utah said: "When once the judge made up his mind that he was right, no power under heaven could swerve him from the path of duty."

He died in Pontiac, April 20, 1875.

Judge Drake, in 1842 or thereabouts, conducted the publication of a Whig newspaper in Flint, which in the winter of 1843-44

Page 128

was removed to Pontiac and there established as the Gazette. He also built the Genesee House in Flint, and resided there for some years, doing much for the prosperity of the village.

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