Phelps, Edward J. (1822–1900)

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PHELPS, EDWARD J. (1822–1900)

Edward John Phelps was a Vermont Democrat who, in frequent appearances before the Supreme Court, championed the rights of private property. An outstanding orator—he was frequently likened to daniel webster or william evarts—Phelps served as president of the American Bar Association (1880–1881) and as Kent Professor of Law at Yale (1881–1900). He declared that America's problems stemmed from "a vicious and altogether unnecessary enlargement of the electorate"; this attitude explained his belief that the Constitution was too hallowed to be "hawked about the country, debated in the newspapers … [and] elucidated by pot-house politicians, and dung-hill editors."

David Gordon