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This Changing World

The Columns of Will Ball

Logansport Press, August 14, 1949

 August P. Biddle

Horace P. Biddle was a native of Ohio, who, becoming restless as a youngster while reading law in his home town, spent the summer of 1836 in rambling through the West, going as far as Chicago.  He also visited Logansport.

 He was admitted to the bar in Cincinnati in 1839 and came to Logansport in October of that year.  Forty five years later, he wrote:  “I was pleased with the gentle hills surrounding the village.”  On his first visit in 1836, he, with two companions, traveled on horseback, entering Indiana in Randolph County, going then to Muncie Town.  He later wrote:  “from Muncie we waded through the mud, forded the swamps, and swam the rivers as the occasion required, till we came to dry ground near the banks of the Mississinewa near where Jonesboro now rests its spires… we found a comfortable settler who entertained us with true hospitality.  From Marion we made our way by Indian trails, thirty miles through the Reserve, then inhabited by the Miami Indians, until we arrived at Peru, thence down the Wabash Valley to Logansport.”

 The writer remembers Judge Biddle very well, as he used to go about town.  He was a dignified little man, usually wearing a black cape-like garment unless the weather was warm and he always carried a cane.  He had a rather thin, high pitched voice, which he knew how to use effectively before a jury or on the platform.

 He was a close personal friend of Henry Clay and stumped the north part of the state for him when Clay ran for president in 1844.  After this campaign, in which Clay was defeated, Judge Biddle quit politics, devoting his attention to the law and literary pursuits.  He became a very successful lawyer and was elected president judge of the 8th Circuit for a seven year term.  He was a member of the Constitutional Convention in 1850-51, participating in all the debates on the leading questions.  In the 1860’s he was elected judge of the Circuit Court and re-elected in 1866.

 In 1874 he was elected to the Supreme Bench of thee state, serving a full six year term.  He then retired from the practice of law, devoting all his time to literary affairs and scientific studies.  He did important research on the nature of light, heat and sound and published a number of books on these subjects, all of which went through several additions.

  Judge Biddle had very little formal schooling but acquired a thorough knowledge of Latin, German and French.  He was undoubtedly the most prolific writer who ever lived in Logansport, beginning his literary career in 1840.  He was a contributor to many modern magazines and also wrote a dozen or more books.

Transcribed by Christine Spencer, April, 2009

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