Born in Cayuga County, New York, July 16, 1807. In 1815, moved to western New York, where he spent his youth on his father's farm, attended country school, and read a great many law books. At about age 20, went to Tennessee, completed his studies, and commenced the practice of law. Served from 1847 to 1848 as a member of the Tennessee State Legislature. Was appointed to the Minnesota Territorial Supreme Court on June 1, 1849, by President Taylor. Held the first session of the Territorial Supreme Court at the American House in St. Paul approximately 7 months after his appointment. Served on the court from January 14, 1850, to November 13, 1851. Appointed in 1861 by President Lincoln as Secretary of Legation at Brussels. Returned to St. Paul in 1869, where he resided until his death on June 24, 1887.