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Bradley Martin Thompson
The Michigan Alumnus 144-146



On the 29th of September 1917, there passed from among us to the
re ward of an upright and useful life, Bradley Martin Thompson, in the year 
of his life the eighty-third and of his service on the faculty of the Law 
School, active and honorary, the twenty-ninth. 

This melancholy event calls the Senate of the University of Michigan
 to mourn the loss of its oldest member and one of its most distinguished, 
 and furnishes the sad occasion for this body to pay to his memory its
 duteous tribute of respect and esteem. 

This Senate for itself and for the University of' which it is the immediate representative, not conventionally and formally, but feelingly and 
sorrowfully, out of a sense of duty born of genuine appreciation and fra
ternal regard for him whom it laments hereby declares: 

The death of Bradley Martin Thompson has removed from the State a
 worthy and honored son, from the University a loyal alumnus and stead-
fast friend, from the Senate a congenial member and wise counselor, from 
the family circle a kind and considerate father. 

He was born in Michigan two years before Michigan was admitted to
 the Union of States. He passed the days of his boyhood and youth amidst 
a sturdy pioneer citizenship, which taught him frugality, economy, self-
denial and self-reliance, qualities that were the characteristics of his long 
life. His forebears were of a class who appreciated the value of sound
 learning and who were willing to make and did make superlative sacrifices
 to enable their children to acquire the best education available. Bradley 
Martin Thompson was of New England ancestry. He entered the University of Michigan in 1854 and was graduated with the class of 1858. He
 was a member of the first class graduated from the Law School. 

There are those of this body who know something of the great rever
ence he had for the University while he was an undergraduate there in, 
 who have heard him declare again and again that of all the great men
 who were in the Senate of the United States, in the Cabinet and on the
 Supreme Bench, when he first went to Washington as a soldier in the early 
days of the war—not one among them was the equal in stately personal
 presence of Henry P. Tappan, whom he loved and honored as Joseph
 loved and honored his father.

He attained a commanding position in more avocations of life than 
usually falls to the lot of men to engage in. He was a valiant soldier. He 
came out of the Union Army with the silver leaf of the Lieutenant-Colonel
 emblazoned upon his shoulders, mark of his country's recognition of
 meritorious service in the field. Nature gave him that indispensable requisite
 of the highly successful lawyer, a legal mind.

He was an able lawyer as all
 who knew him professionally will affirm and as the reports of this State
 and other states and the journals and reports of this and other Federal 
Circuits will attest. His career as a lawyer was influenced and shaped 
by the great judges, lawyers and public men among whom he was reared 
and with whom he came into close personal touch. When he fell, there
 fell one of the few remaining trees of a once great forest. He commanded 
the confidence of his party and of the people by the promise he gave of
 capacity for public service.

He was called by two of the cities of the State 
to serve the people as mayor. He was the nominee of his party for repre
sentative in Congress and for an important and responsible state office, but 
failed of election in both instances because the party of which he was the 
representative was in hopeless minority.

He was a public speaker of state-
wide reputation. He was known to be possessed of remarkable ability for
 the clear statement of legal propositions and public questions and of ex
ceptional aptitude for illustrations, usually drawn from the simple, ordinary, commonplace affairs of life, to the end that he might awaken the interest
 and command the comprehension of all his hearers. Simplicity of statement and fertility of illustration were characteristics of all his addresses 
and lectures. His ability as a public speaker was so well and so generally 
recognized that his presence on the stump, on the rostrum, and before the 
bench was called into frequent requisition.

In the maturity of his man hood, in the ripeness of his varied experience, he was called to this University to give instruction in the law. He became a member of the Faculty 
of the Law School in 1888 and served therein continuously for twenty-three years. During that time thousands of students from nearly all parts of the 
civilized world sat under his instruction.

No better appraisal of his worth 
as a teacher of the law can be made than that which is found in the esteem 
in which he is held by these thousands of students who came here to grow 
in knowledge, who departed hence to serve their country and their kind, 
 who are practicing the profession he helped them to attain—a profession, 
which he never failed to exalt, in all quarters of our country and in the
 islands of the sea, all of whom will grieve with a sense of personal loss 
as they learn of the passing away of their genial teacher and staunch friend
 and will, in fancy, hear again the voice of him who exhorted them to high 
ideals, to irreproachable personal character and unalloyed professional in

Not one among those thousands who gave attentive ear to the instruction of his teacher and counselor is there but will avow that he learned
 from Bradley Martin Thompson much that was not to be read in law 
books but was needful to be known; not one of such but will acknowledge 
that he owes something of whatever success he has attained to the counsel 
of his revered teacher.

This occasion would not be fittingly or adequately met unless the Senate 
paid its particular tribute to the manly character of Bradley Martin
 Thompson. He was all in all a man, a whole souled, generous man. Nature 
endowed him with a genial, gentle and trusting disposition. He was free 
from suspicion, envy and deceit. He had charity for all he bore malice 
to none. He measured men by their good deeds, not by their infirmities. 
 He was generous in his judgments, conservative in all the walks of life, 
 distrustful of temporary sentiment, of doubtful and dubious innovations 
and of hasty and ill-considered interference with the established order of 

This Senate mourns the loss of Bradley Martin Thompson, but rejoices
 in the knowledge that the Merciful Father of us all delayed the final sum
mons so long, but when He did summon him, He touched him with a gentle 
hand and said, "Come, come, without physical pain and suffering, without
 dimunition of mental vigor, but Come." Had any one been vouchsafed to
 hear the answer of him who was so summoned, he would have heard, "I
 am ready."