Eulogy for Judge Murray Floyd Tuley, December 31, 1905

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<Judge Tuley's meeting
Dec 30' 1905>

Perhaps what we need above all things in this huge incoherent town of ours, always on the verge of lawlessness is men who will rigidly enforce the existing laws while at the same time they will frankly admit the inadequacy of these laws and work without stint for progressive regulations better fitted to the newer issues among which our lot is cast. We need to learn that we cannot enforce the laws of a community nor even elevate its ethical standard save by a quickening of its moral sensibilities and by increase its sensitiveness to wrong, and that unless the growing conscience is successively embodied in legal enactments, men lose the habit of turning to the law for guidance and redress; that it is dangerous even to retain worn out institutions and waste social products because they so easily disturb the normal processes of legal adjustment.

Perhaps no man upon the Cook County Bench was so ready to turn a serious and disciplined mind to finding out how the legal machinery might more closely fit existing conditions and the much needed reform be embodied in law and ordinances, than Judge Tuley whom we have come here today to honor. I recall an illustration of this, an incident which took place fifteen years ago; I had newly come to Chicago fresh from the country and had little idea of the social and industrial conditions in which I found myself on Halsted Street when a dozen girls came from a neighboring factory with a grievance in regard to their wages. The affair could hardly have been called a labor difficulty, the girls had never heard of a trades-union and were totally unaccustomed to acting together, it was more in the nature of a "scrap" with between themselves and their foreman. In the effort towards adjustment arbitration was suggested and the one name in the world outside with which the girls were familiar [page 2] was Judge Tuley's. When the difficulty was placed before him, he suggested that the matter be tried in his chambers under the Tuley law which was then new and which required that both litigants agreed to accept the decision of the judge without appeal to a higher court and appear before him without attorneys. I have never forgotten the care and consideration, the courtesy and deference with which Judge Tuley gave himself to this trivial matter for the wages concerned for all the girls amounted to but a few cents a week. His painstaking and just decision pleased both sides, a thing unique in my experience in labor adjudication, but there remains vividly in my memory a conversation I held with him after the litigants were gone. He spoke of his belief in the capacity of the common law to meet all legitimate difficulties which may arise, in its remarkable adaptability to changing conditions under the decision of wise and progressive judges, but that in order to adjust it to our industrial affairs it must be interpreted, not so much in relation to precedence established under an industrial order which belongs to the past, but in reference to that newer sense of justice which would embody itself in [man's] social and industrial relations. People saw something of the stress and storm of the industrial conflicts which had occurred in Chicago since then and he expressed the hope that the Bench of Cook County might rise to the opportunity of dealing with this new and difficult situation. What a difference it would have made in the history of Chicago during the last fifteen years if more men had been possessed of this temper and wisdom.

It is said that no man on the Cook County Bench had so few of his decisions reversed by the superior courts. May not this illustrate the fact that no man can interpret the laws we have unless at the same time he sees the inadequacy of those laws and the need of progressive legislation. This may be quite as true as the old statement that we cannot hold fast the [page 3] liberty we possess unless we continually exert ourselves to win new liberties. We count it high praise of most men to say that they held fast to the ideals of their youth meaning that they did not become sordid and spotted by the world. Yet this would have been meager praise for Judge Tuley for he advanced his ideals with the growing demands which of the progress of his times. He had one of those rare minds, capable of vigorous growth to the end.

Perhaps no one was more jealous of the prerogatives and dignities of the Bench than this venerable judge, this Nestor of the bar, and yet he was willing to sacrifice on occasion his possible duty as a judge in order to exercise his rights as a citizen. He was willing to publically discuss matter which might otherwise have been brought before him to adjudicate because he so clearly saw that trained public opinion is quite as necessary to social progress as are judicial decisions. It is easy for all of us to shirk the discussion of current issues under the plea of remaining impartial, it is a temptation to remain a silent coward and think oneself a tolerant spectator. And yet in spite of this openminded policy it is said by the legal profession of Chicago that all of the judges of this community, he held the reputation of being the most non-partisan and impartial. May not this perhaps illustrate another wise saying, that most mysterious of all hard sayings, that he alone saves his life who is ready to lose it, that he alone can be impartial who has the courage of his convictions.

Judge Tuley had learned much of life and above all had come not to be afraid of the desires and demands of the people. He knew that every reform however drastic, when put into operation is bound to disappoint the flaming hopes of its advocates as it will also invariably fail to overturn [page 4] the existing order of society as the opponents and conservatives eternally predict. He knew that there is a self-regulating element in society itself, a common sense in the mass of men which may be forever trusted. Therefore he was all for free discussion, for new experiments in living, for enlarging the functions of municipal government, and for extending the franchise. Many of us recall that some years ago, when it was considered most important that women should use their vote for the trustee of the State University in order to demonstrate their desire for fuller suffrage, Judge Tuley drove his invalid wife to the polling booth and fairly carried her into it from the carriage that he might give with her this demonstration of his [illegible] in favor of woman's suffrage which he had advocated all his life.

In this generation of ours, when the belief in immortality seems to have become so illusive, when it is discussed pro and con in fashionable books of essays, and in the most respectable and conservative of magazines, nothing serves to establish it in one's mind so well as the life and death of a righteous man, he who has fulfilled the measure of his years upon earth and during all those years he has become identified with the powers which stand for integrity, with the causes which make for progress, who has given of his strength to establish justice between man and man and has ever plead the cause of the people. If we are bereft of all other sanction for our belief in a moment such as this we would perforce be driven back to the old statement of Plato that though all else may be transitory in human affairs, the excellent must become the permanent.

[page 5]

<Judge Murray [F] Tuley Dec 1905

Wm Hunt presiding.

A Lincoln Centre.>

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