( Photo above: Library of Congress Call Number: LC-BH82- 5225 C
James Topham Brady was the son of Irish immigrants who first settled in Newark, NJ and then in New York City. Brady received a privileged education and, in 1831 while still a student, he aided his father, a lawyer, in various trials. Brady gained admittance to the New York bar in 1836. His first case dealt with the controversial topic of slavery, and "though he was unsuccessful his handling of the matter was masterly . . . He was endowed by nature with a facility of speech, which, assiduously cultivated and molded by long study, and embellished with felicitous classical quotations, became well-nigh irresistible with a jury, whilst his arguments, clear, logical, never verbose, were put with a force and sincerity which always impressed the court" (Knott).
Over the next two decades Brady came to be known as a leader of the New York bar. He was connected to almost every important case of the time, either as the defense attorney or the prosecutor (Knott). He became New York District Attorney in 1843, and he was later asked to be the United States Attorney-General, an honor that he chose not to accept. Brady was fascinated by issues of insanity, but he was beyond proficient in all areas of the law. In one memorable civil case, he won an unbelievable $300,000 in damages for his client. He also represented Mrs. Edwin Forrest in her divorce from her husband (Wilson & Fiske 355).
As a criminal defense attorney he won fifty-one out of fifty-two murder trials; four of those acquittals were won during the same week. Brady's prowess in the courtroom was unmatched: "It has been said that he never lost a case in which he was before a jury for more than a week; in that time they saw everything through his eyes" (355)…