Ebenezer Rockwood Hoar and William Maxwell Evarts were among the most distinguished attorneys of the mid-19th century, both rising to the position of Attorney-General. Hoar (1816-1895), was born in Concord, Mass., the son of Samuel Hoar and Sarah Sherman. An 1835 graduate of Harvard (Law, 1839), he entered into public life during the waning years of the Whig Party. A strong antislavery man, Hoar left the Whigs to joined the Free Soil Party in 1848, and ultimately became a Republican. He was appointed a judge of common pleas in 1849, resumed private law practice in 1855, and from 1859 to 1869 was an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Massachusetts. He became Attorney-General under Ulysses S. Grant in 1869, but when nominated for a seat on the Supreme Court in 1870, his insistence that circuit court positions be filled on merit rather than patronage led to his rejection in the Senate. He served a single term in Congress, 1873-75, then retired to Concord. He married Caroline Downes Brooks in 1840 and they had seven children.
Hoar's first cousin, William Maxwell Evarts (1818-1901), was the son of Jeremiah and Mehitabel (Sherman) Barnes Evarts. Born in Boston, he graduated from Yale in 1837, was admitted to the New York bar in 1841, and in 1843, married Helen Minerva Wardner of Windsor, Vt. They had twelve children. A Whig in politics, Evarts supported the legality of the Fugitive Slave Act (1850), but in 1855, gave one-quarter of his assets to the Emigrant Aid Company, an abolitionist cause. In 1860 he chaired the New York delegation to the Republican national convention, but was defeated by Ira Harris for a senate seat from New York in 1861. He was twice sent to England on diplomatic missions, 1863-64, seeking to stop the building and equipping of Confederate naval vessels. His superb defense of Andrew Johnson during the 1868 impeachment trial led to his appointment as Attorney-General which position he held through the end of Johnson's administration. Among his other famous courtroom trials were his defense of Henry Ward Becher in Tilton vs. Beecher (1875) and his counsel for the Republican Party in the Hayes vs. Tilden election dispute (1877). He died in New York City.