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 Joseph Hubley Ashton

Joseph Hubley Ashton

Birth
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, USA
Death 14 Mar 1907 (aged 71)
Washington, District of Columbia, District Of Columbia, USA
Burial Washington, District of Columbia, District Of Columbia, USA
Plot Chapel Valley, Lot 765.
Memorial ID 46079422 · View Source
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The Washington Post March 17, 1907
Funeral of J. Hubley Ashton
Justices of United States Supreme Court Honorary Pallbearers
With simple services the late J. Hubley Ashton, formerly Assistant Attorney General of the United States who died Thursday evening was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery yesterday afternoon. Rev. Dr. Roland Cotton Smith of St. John's Episcopal Church conducted the services at the residence, 1780 Massachusetts Avenue at 2:30 o'clock.

The honorary pallbearers were Chief Justice Fuller, Justice Brewer and Justice White of the United States Supreme Court;
Justice Hagner of the District Supreme Court; Nathaniel Wilson, General M.V. Woodhull, John Seldon and E.L. White.

From contributor, Sharon Davis:
Colonial Families of Philadelphia, Volume 2
Joseph Hubley Ashton, son of Daniel R. and Elizabeth J. (Marsh) Ashton, born March 11, 1836, died March 7, 1907, was graduated from the Department of Arts, University of Pennsylvania in 1854 and at once entered upon the study of law. At an early age he removed from Philadelphia, (where he had first filled the position of Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania) to Washington, D.C. and when still under the age of thirty years was appointed Assistant Attorney General of the United States. His exclusive duty in that office was to represent the government in all cases involving the award of prizes for the capture of ships, engaged in running the blockade and all sea going craft, employed in carrying contraband goods during the Civil War. In several years service of this kind Mr. Ashton devoted himself with intense professional zeal to the mastery of international law, becoming well equipped for the important positions he was later called upon to fill. In 1869 soon after Hon. Hamilton Fish became Secretary of State in the Cabinet of President Grant, there had sprung up between Secretary Fish and Mr. Ashton, a close personal, professional and official intimacy, which continued during the whole of Secretary Fish's incumbency of the State Department and personally until his death. When the Mexican Claims Commission was organized in 1869, Mr. Ashton was named by Secretary Fish as counsel for the United States to appear before this commission. In the importance of the questions raised before this tribunal and in the magnitude of the money involved, aggregating $350,000,000, this commission was then without precedent nor has any subsequent tribunal equaled it in respect to the amount of money involved. The Commission was in session for ten years and two thousand claims were submitted to it and adjudicated. One claim entered by the Mexican Government against the United States, on account of Indian depredations, amounted to $50,000,000. Mexico was represented by the eminent jurist Caleb Gushing, who advised them that the claim was a good one and would be allowed. By patient and painstaking work on the part of J. Hubley Ashton, documents were discovered disproving the validity of the claim and it was disallowed, thus saving the United States $50,000,000.

The great argument upon the subject of contract claims, involving the jurisdiction of international commissions over contracts, practically established the attitude of that commission and all subsequent ones, including that of the more recent Venezuelan Commission, before which Mr. Ashton again represented the United States. Mr. Ashton's masterly distinction between citizenship and nationality, set forth in one of his arguments before an international tribunal, has at last been practically accepted by civilized nations as a fundamental principle, always to be recognized. He demonstrated that nationality is a question of international law, and established the definition of citizenship as involving purely a question of municipal law. These two now well established principles were finally and adequately set forth in arguments made while representing the United States as counsel. Mr. Ashton was also distinguished before the Supreme Court and among the great lawyers for his marvelously accurate historic memory. He never erred in a statement of historic fact. He needed to give no reference when alluding to these facts. His statements were invariably accepted by the Court. He had no remarkable elocutionary or rhetorical powers, as these terms are commonly understood, but he possessed to a remarkable degree the talent for absolutely lucid statements of fact and law, and their application to the case in hand. He was one of those lawyers, who, when pleading before the United States Supreme Court at Washington, was sure to command the never wandering attention of every justice of that bench. The degree of LL.D. was conferred upon him by Georgetown College, Washington, D.C. in 1872.

Joseph Hubley Ashton died March 7, 1907. He married Hannah, daughter of William and Harriet Wakeman, who was born December 2, 1843 and died August 17, 1906. They had one daughter, Elizabeth.


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  • Created by: SLGMSD
  • Added: 28 Dec 2009
  • Find A Grave Memorial 46079422
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Joseph Hubley Ashton (11 Mar 1836–14 Mar 1907), Find A Grave Memorial no. 46079422, citing Oak Hill Cemetery, Washington, District of Columbia, District Of Columbia, USA ; Maintained by SLGMSD (contributor 46825959) .