A Tribute to the Dog
SENATOR VEST'S SPEECH TO THE JURY,
Gentlemen of the Jury: The best friend a man has in this world may turn against him and become his enemy. His son or daughter that he has reared with loving care may prove ungrateful. Those who are nearest and dearest to us, those whom we trust with our happiness and our good name, may become traitors to their faith. The money that a man has, he may lose. It flies away from him, perhaps when he needs it the most. A man's reputation may be sacrificed in a moment of ill-considered action. The people who are prone to fall on their knees to do us honor when success is with us may be the first to throw the stone of malice when failure settles its cloud upon our heads. The one absolutely unselfish friend that a man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him and the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous is his dog.
"Gentlemen of the Jury, a man's dog stands by him in prosperity and in poverty, in health and in sickness. He will sleep on the cold ground, where the wintry winds blow and the snow drives fiercely, if only he may be near his master's side. He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer, he will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounters with the roughness of the world. He guards the sleep of his pauper master as if he were a prince. When all other friends desert he remains. When riches take wing and reputation falls to pieces, he is as constant in his love as the sun in its journey through the heavens. If fortune drives the master forth an outcast in the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privilege than that of accompanying him to guard against danger, to fight against his enemies, and when the last scene of all comes, and death takes the master in its embrace and his body is laid away in the cold ground, no matter if all other friends pursue their way, there by his graveside will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws, his eyes sad but open in alert watchful-ness, faithful and true even to death."
Burden vs Hornsby 1869-70
When Senator George Graham Vest paid his famous tribute to the dog in the old Court House in Warrensburg, Mo., in 1870, he appealed to the hearts of dog lovers everywhere when he said: "The one absolutely unselfish friend that a man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous, is his dog."
That Eulogy of Senator Vest won the case for Charles Burden whose favorite hound, Drum, was shot by a neighbor, Leonidas Hornsby, who had sworn to kill the first dog that came on his place after he had lost a number of sheep. Though Hornsby had hunted with Drum, and acknowledged him to be one of the best hunting dogs he had ever seen, he stubbornly insisted on carrying out his threat when one dark night a dog was found prowling in his yard. That dog was Old Drum.
Immediately Burden sued Hornsby for damages and the trial became one of the strangest in the history of this. section of the country. Each man was determined to win his case, and several appeals were made then Hornsby finally took it to the Supreme Court of Missouri. Burden, however, was awarded $50 damages for the loss of his favorite hunting dog, Drum. Vest's Eulogy to the dog, which he made in his final appeal to the jury, won the case and became a classic speech.
Through the direction of the Warrensburg Chamber of Commerce, and coordinated efforts of many dog lovers over the country, Old Drum was immortalized in a statue on the Johnson County Courthouse lawn, in Warrensburg, Missouri, September 23, 1958. Dog lovers all over the country responded quickly to the national announcement of the placing of this statue to Old Drum, who has become a kind of symbol of all dogs that people have loved.
When Senator Vest said: "Gentlemen of the jury, a man's dog stands by him in prosperity and poverty, in health and sickness," be touched a common bond of relationship in all dog lovers.
Vest's Memorial Ass'n., St. Louis, has already placed a plaque on the old Court House, scene of Vests famous Eulogy, recognizing it as an historic spot in the state. Since then, restoration of the Old Courthouse where the famous trial took place, has been underway and at present is open for visitations on summer weekends.
-Courtesy of The Warrensburg Chamber of Commerce