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September 12, 2016 / Joanne Yeck

The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: Part XXXVI


“Rare Flights of Oratory”

Mr. Lancaster opened with conclusions for the defense. He openly attacked Edloe Spencer for his part in Wooldridge’s arrest and for his subsequent conduct. Lancaster dramatically compared Spencer’s disgraceful behavior with the stubborn spot on Lady MacBeth’s hand. That blood would not wash off!

Lancaster’s opening was followed by a three-hour speech by H. D. Flood, notable for its tremendous force and eloquence. The Times-Dispatch reported:

This was one of the greatest speech is that has ever been made before the Buckingham court. He covered himself with glory. During the three hours that Mr. Flood was speaking he had the absolute attention of that enormous crowd of people. The air was close and sultry, but this did not take from the people the minutest attention to every word he said.

Mr. Flood’s explanation of his position in the case was rather remarkable. He said: “My connection with this case may alienate from me some who have been among my best friends. I regret this exceedingly. This old man here (pointing to Wooldridge) gave me in my boyhood and youth his friendship and loyalty and his devotion. He is in trouble now and needs my support. I shall not deny him now, whatever the cost may be.”

Beginning with this sentence, Mr. Flood made one of the most remarkable speeches ever heard in this section. Towards the beginning of his speech he described the Anglo-Saxon home in full detail, and told in particular and eloquent language of the influence which love for home had upon the Anglo-Saxon race.

He spoke for twenty minutes, probably, upon the sanctity of home, and at the proper moment he turned this to splendid account in his argument by applying it to the conduct of Edloe Spencer, in his invasion upon the home and premises of E. C. Wooldridge.

Terrific Attack.

His attack upon Spencer for entering Wooldridge’s home without a warrant and terrifying his sick wife and helpless children was something terrific.

Mr. Flood then went over the instructions to the jury, contradicting every point which had been brought out by Mr. Strode for the Commonwealth, and establishing many independent points in behalf of the defense. It is generally admitted that this was the greatest speech Mr. Flood has ever made in this county, if not in his entire legal and political career.

His argument was well nigh perfect, his poise strong, and his powerful gestures were splendid. At the end of three hours he appeared to be as fresh as he was when he entered upon his argument. Mr. Flood is athletic in build, and his powerful physique stands him in good stead when he enters upon such an effort as that of to-day.

Ahhh . . . for the days of silver-tongued orators and long-winded speeches. The attorneys were crowd pleasers and the men and women in attendance certainly had long attention spans!

Coming Next: A Hung Jury

Need to catch up? Click here for The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: Part I

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