Thomas Cooley was the greatest lawyer and judge ever to come out of Lenawee County and is generally considered the finest legal mind Michigan produced during the nineteenth century. During the 1840s and 1850s, Cooley partnered with several local lawyers, including Fernando Beaman, Robert Beecher and Charles Croswell. In 1857, the state legislature asked Cooley to compile the laws of Michigan. He did this so well that he was asked to organize the law department at the University of Michigan, also serving as one of the original law professors at the state's flagship university.
In 1864, Cooley was elected to the Michigan Supreme Court and served as chief justice for 20 years. While on the Supreme Court, Cooley issued a stream of works on various aspects of the law. Those works, along with the legal opinions he wrote on cases appearing before the Supreme Court, carried great weight across the nation because of the depth of his scholarship and the strength of his legal philosophy.
Fernando Beaman was an Adrian lawyer who began his illustrious political career as an anti-slavery activist and also helped form the Republican Party at the state and national levels.
After serving as mayor of Adrian in 1856, Beaman was elected to five terms in the U.S. House of Representatives (1861-1871). As one of the more
radical Republicans of his day, Beaman was one of the congressmen who pushed President Lincoln and the country toward abolishing slavery through passage of the Thirteenth Amendment. After the conclusion of the Civil War in 1865, Beaman continued to work toward establishing better political and civil liberties for African-Americans through passage of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
Donated to the wonderful people of Adrian, Michigan from Adrian College.