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With the fall of Little Rock in 1863 the seat of state government was transferred to Washington on its southwestern border. Thither the chancellor removed with his family. There was practically no business in his court, and he spent his time mostly in study.
Perhaps no state save Virginia contributed so large a quota to the Confederate service in proportion to its population as Arkansas. In every army numbers of Arkansans were enlisted. They marched away, and frequently nothing more was heard of them. The greater part were in the armies of Virginia and Tennessee; but their distracted families knew not where. So Judge Rose was requested to go to Richmond and make up a roster of the Arkansas troops, that it might be known what had become of them. On July 24, 1864, he started out upon his perilous journey; sometimes on horseback, sometimes on trains, crossing the Mississippi in a skiff exposed to the fire of a Northern gun-boat, and passing with many hardships through a territory devastated by the horrors of war. Finally he reached Richmond, met President Davis, Judah P. Benjamin and other leaders of the Confederacy, and with infinite toil completed the roster of the Arkansas troops. Then he returned through a country still more devastated, and reached home the day after Christmas of that year. Unfortunately the bulky roster was burned when Jackson, Mississippi, was captured by the Federals, and the result of all his labors perished.
In the fall of 1865 he removed to Little Rock
and formed a partnership with Judge Watkins, formerly Chief Justice of the State, and a very accomplished lawyer of broad and enlightened views. This partnership continued until Judge Watkins' death in 1872. The firm had a very extensive business, probably the largest in the state at that time. They were engaged in nearly all of the most important cases.
During these days he made and published his Digest of the Arkansas Reports, the first work of the kind that had appeared. It was admirably done, and proved a boon to the profession.
In 1868 the question was presented to the people whether the Reconstruction Constitution should be adopted. Along with all men who had the welfare of the state at heart Judge Rose resisted this with all his might, making public speeches against it; but the iniquitous machinery then in force declared it adopted, and the saturnalia of carpetbag misrule began.
The practice was hard in those days. The juries were composed largely of ignorant negroes anxious to wreak their spite upon their former masters. Some of the judges were honest; others were notoriously corrupt; and all were hostile to the people whose rights they were called upon to adjudge. But the change brought one blessing— all the technicalities of common-law pleading were swept away, and gave place to an enlightened code of procedure. Most of the old lawyers resented the change. It deprived them of a weapon the mastery of whose use had required years of labor. Judge Watkins and Judge Rose alone welcomed
the new code, and Judge Rose at once became as distinguished as a code-pleader as he had been as a pleader at common law, stating his facts in the simplest and plainest language. Indeed, he was always an ardent legal reformer, and many of the most enlightened statutes that have been adopted in Arkansas owe their origin to him.
Throughout the days of reconstruction he continued to fight the battle of the people. He defended Lieutenant Governor Johnson when the party in power sought to impeach him, to make way for a serviceable tool, and when in 1873 the Brooks-Baxter war broke out he was one of Baxter's most trusted advisors; for Baxter, whose home was at Batesville, had long known his worth. It was realized that the issue of the conflict must be settled at Washington, and that a man of great judgment and tact must be sent to represent the people there. Judge Rose was chosen, and it was largely through his able diplomacy that President Grant's government was induced to decide in Baxter's favor. He returned crowned with victory; and thenceforth his serious troubles were over. Though but forty years of age, he was generally regarded as the leader of the bar of his state; and in the enjoyment of an extensive practice his busy days flew by, divided between labor and study. He had taken up German after the Civil war, and he acquired such mastery of it that he was able to make public speeches in that difficult tongue. He studied the Civil Law, and a series of articles published in the Southern Law Review on "Some Controversies of Modern Continental Jurists"
awakened a wide-spread interest by reason of their great learning and their enlightened comprehension of the guiding principles that should control all jurisprudence. He was often importuned to seek public office, and in 1877 a large majority of the legislature offered him a seat in the United States Senate; but he declined. The only position that he accepted was one upon the commission of three to straighten out the tangled finances of the state, which the carpet-baggers had thrown into almost hopeless confusion—a hard and thankless task with no reward save the consciousness of duty fulfilled.
His influence over the bar of the state was enormous and all for good. The exquisite courtesy of his manner was a continual lesson in urbanity. The high standard of professional ethics that he maintained was a continual beacon, pointing out the way to the younger men. The diligence with which he prepared his cases and the high plane on which he carried on the contest was a constant call to better things. For a considerable time chairman of the Democratic State Central Committee, he taught men how an earnest interest in public questions could be free from all self-seeking ambition. He taught the bar sobriety. When he came to Little Rock, it was the custom for the lawyers engaged in the trial of a case to go and take a drink together at each adjournment of the court, to prove that nothing that had occurred had marred their kindly feelings toward one another. Judge Watkins and Judge Rose were both frail, and realized that these continual pota
tions would undermine their health; so they soon declined to accept the customary invitations. At first they gave great offense; but gradually their example had its effect, and the Little Rock bar, and, indeed, the bar of the whole state gradually forsook its drinking habits, and became so abstemious that now it is a rare thing to see a reputable lawyer enter a saloon.
In 1872 Judge Rose began his travels with a trip over Europe as far as Vienna and Naples. This he repeated a number of times, including Scandinavia, Russia and Turkey in the lands he visited. He also traveled in Mexico, the West Indies and Hawaii, his mind always alive to new impressions, his intellectual curiosity always keenly awake.
He remained to the last a tireless reader in every field of human endeavor. He kept up with all the discoveries of science and with all cunning inventions. He was a great reader of history and of memoirs. He read most of the poetry and dramas that appeared in the languages that he understood. Of books of travel he was an incessant reader. He was deeply interested in all metaphysical and philosophic movements. He yet found time to read all the notable fiction of his time. He accumulated a scientific and literary library of more than eight thousand volumes, all of which, save the works of reference, he had read. He became much interested in the French bar, and read very extensively on the subject. There is in English no adequate history of the bar of France, and he resolved to supply the defect. He wrote a book, which, if published, would have made a vol