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Charles Artemas Kent
The Michigan Alumnus 146-149



Charles Artemas Kent died at his residence, 30 Alfred Street, Detroit, Monday, May 7th, 1917, in the eighty-second year of his life. Mr.
 Kent was born at Hopkinton, New York, October n, 1835, and was the
 son of Artemas and Sarah Weed Kent. On his father's side he traced
 his ancestry to Thomas Kent, who settled in Gloucester, Massachusetts, 
about 1640. His mother was of French descent. 

His preliminary education was at St. Lawrence Academy, Potsdam, 
 New York, after which he entered the University of Vermont in 1852, 
and received the Bachelor of Arts degree in 1858. For one-year there 
after he was Principal of the Washington County Grammar School at 
Montpelier, Vermont. He was a student in Andover Theological Seminary 
in 1857 and 1858. 

He came to Detroit in 1859 and entered on the study of the law with
 C. I. Walker in the office of Walkers and Russell, composed of Charles
1. Walker, Edw. C. Walker and Alfred Russell. He there met the late 
Henry B. Brown, who later became an Associate Justice of the United
 States Supreme Court. This acquaintance ripened into a life-long friend

He was admitted to the bar in May 1860, and immediately took a
 leading position, which increased both in achievement and reputation as the
 years passed. He formed a partnership with Mr. Walker, who was at that 
time one of the original Faculty of the Law School of the University of
 Michigan. This partnership continued until 1880, since which time and 
until his death Mr. Kent practiced law alone in Detroit.

In 1868 he became Fletcher Professor of Law in the Law School of the 
University of Michigan following the late Ashley Pond, and continued 
until he resigned in 1886. He was also Dean of the Law School in 1883
and 1884.

On April 30, 1874, he married Frances C. King, the daughter of Robert W. King, a Detroit merchant.

He was very much interested in school matters, and for four years, from
1877 to 1881, he was School Inspector in the City of Detroit and a mem
ber of the School Board in 1881 and 1882. 

For many years the question of taxation was of vital issue in the State
 of Michigan, and the matter was submitted to a Taxation Commission 
appointed in 1882, of which Mr. Kent was a member. This Commission
 drew a tax bill for the State, which was the subject of extended litigation, 
 but which, with some modification made in 1885, became the basis of the 
present system of taxation in Michigan. 

He became a member of the Board of Directors of the Michigan Mutual 
Life Insurance Company January 26, 1875, a member of its Finance Com
mittee January 28, 1879, and one of its Vice-Presidents on June 6, 1894, 
and served as such until his death. He was also General Counsel of the
 Company at his death, and had been so for a long period of years.

In 1899 the University of Michigan conferred upon him the honorary
 degree of Doctor of Laws. His Alma Mater also conferred upon him the 
same degree.

He was a prominent member of the Bar of Detroit and of the State, 
 and was professionally engaged in a large number of the important litigations of his time in the State. Always a profound student, and familiar
 with the decisions of the Courts, his mind was yet too philosophical slavishly 
to adhere to them. He was thoroughly imbued with the principles and the
 reasonings of the law, and grounded his conclusions upon them. His great 
love of justice, however, enabled him to apply legal principles to important 
affairs in a broad way rather than in the narrow way indicated by rigid
 rules of logic. 

Perhaps two of the most important cases in which he was engaged as 
counsel were the State Tax Law Cases in the Supreme Court of the State, 
 involving the validity of the act passed upon recommendation of the State
 Tax Commission, and the case of the Township of Pine Grove against Tal
cott, in the Supreme Court of the United States. This latter case involved 
the validity of the issue of bonds by the township in aid of a railroad cor
poration in this State, and resulted in the holding that the bonds issued for 
such purpose were valid, contrary to two earlier decisions of the Supreme
 Court of the State, by Judges Cooley, Campbell and Christiancy. At the 
time Mr. Kent argued this case he was a member of the Law Faculty, along 
with Judges Cooley and Campbell. In the argument of this case he was 
associated with the distinguished Judge J. S. Black of Pennsylvania, and
 opposed by James A. Garfield. 

He frequently argued before the Supreme Court of the State, and as
 said by Judge Grant of that Court: "His arguments were always clear, 
brief and went straight to the mark with vigor both in voice and manner. He commanded the respect and confidence of the Justices. We all recog
nized the honesty and sincerity of his arguments. We knew that he be
lieved in what he said, and that he despised trickery and deception. His 
reputation as a lawyer was worth more to him than any man's money; his 
talents could not be employed in support of a claim he knew to be dis
honest and without merit. For his ability and integrity in the practice 
of law he won the respect of his fellow-members of the Bar and laymen. 
He left a record which should be a model for young men to follow." And 
in the words of the resolution of the Detroit Bar Association: "Throughout 
he held the respect of the courts, the confidence of his clients, and the ad
miration and affection of opposing as well as of associate counsel."

As a teacher, Mr. Kent was not only a clear thinker, but a vivid lecturer, as well as a master of the law. He was more than a mere instructor. 
 His large mental and moral fibre, coupled with his extensive experience 
gathered from active participation in business affairs, and a wide knowledge 
of men and things made his contact with his students at the University a
 great power for good beyond the mere matter of instruction, and he will 
be gratefully and affectionately remembered by the large number of stu
dents who came under his influence. 

He was a man of literary ability, and was a frequent contributor to the 
Detroit newspapers upon matters of public interest. He was the author 
of various papers, including: "City Government in Detroit," published in
 the proceedings of the Michigan Political Science Association; "The Con
stitutional Development of the United States as Influenced by the Decisions of the Supreme Court Since 1864," published in the Michigan University 
Political Science Association Constitutional History of the United States; 
also "Law and Justice," "James V. Campbell," "Legal Ethics," and "Dis
satisfaction with Our Judges," all published in the Michigan Law Review. 
He wrote monographs on many topics, including an especially noteworthy
 one on "The Truths," in which are exhibited great learning, exceptional
 analytical powers and vigor of statement. He contributed to "Great Ameri
can Lawyers," a sketch of the life of George V. N. Lothrop, of Detroit. 

In 1898, upon the invitation of the Senate of the University of Michi
gan, Mr. Kent delivered the principal address at the memorial exercises held 
in University Hall in honor of Thomas M. Cooley, then recently deceased.

As a citizen he was interested in everything that concerned the com
mon weal. In speech and conduct he was the personification of loyalty. An
 insult to his country and his flag he took as a personal insult to himself 
and to every loyal American citizen, and after the outbreak of this World
 War frequently expressed himself most vigorously upon the important
 questions involved. His political affiliations were with the Republican Party, 
 although he was not a partisan. He firmly believed that he serves his party 
best who serves his country best, and constantly acted upon this conviction.

He was throughout his life a member and a constant attendant upon 
the services of the Congregational Church. He also served with great use
fulness and fidelity as a member of the Board of Trustees of Harper Hospital in Detroit. He was a member of the American Bar Association, and
 of the Detroit Bar Association, also of the Unity and Prismatic Clubs in 
Detroit. He liked conversation with intelligent men, and was a very constant 
attendant at the Saturday evening meetings of the Prismatic Club. At such 
meetings, or indeed with anyone, anywhere, he was wont to discuss with 
great force not only political and social questions, but scientific and religious 
questions as well. His mind was by no means taken up wholly by legal mat
ters, and his reading was constant, wide, and varied. To the last his intel
lectual interests were very keen, and he was quick with questions to elicit in
formation he desired. He was simple and direct in all his ways, and in 
his mental operations was entirely honest with himself. He was pretty 
positive in his opinions when he had formed them with deliberation, and al
though willing to discuss almost anything was not easily convinced. He
 had a keen sense of humor in certain directions. 

He was exceedingly devoted to walking and other physical exercise. 
He was most happy in the personnel of his intimate friends, among whom
 were men of distinction in this country and abroad. Many of these had
 gone before him, and he cherished their memory with rare fidelity. He 
had a kind heart, which exhibited an almost undue consideration in some
 ways of the wishes of close relatives, even at the risk of his own health 
and comfort. 

He had no children. He is survived by his wife, Frances C. Kent; a
 sister, Miss Mary H. Kent, of Detroit; a nephew, Mr. Henry B. Kent, of
 New Brunswick, N. J., and three nieces, Mrs. W. B. Chittick and Miss 
Genevieve S. Hinsdale, of Detroit, and Mrs. Virginia K. McGee, of
 New York City.