Bernard Roelker: Esteemed Lawyer and Friend of Longfellow

bernardrackler

Bernard Roelker (1816-1888)) led an active life in Literature and Law. He attended the University of Bonn on the Rhine where he studied law. He came to the United States in the late 1830’s. He settled in Bridgeport, Connecticut and privately taught German and Music. He then went to Harvard and became friends with Henry Longfellow who was a professor there. Roelker  became friends with a number of  literary luminaries.  He taught at Harvard and renewed his study of the law. He then practiced law in Boston and later moved to New York City where he started the law firm of Laur and Roelker. He built a large practice, especially among the Germans of the city. He was expert at wills and contracts. He argued an important case, Meyer vs Roosevelt, in front of the United States Supreme Court in 1863. It was the first legal tender case heard before the court and Roelker won the decision. Roelker and his friend Samuel Tilden organized the Prairie du Chien Railroad in Wisconsin. Tilden ran for President in 1876. Roelker never married. The photographer of this Cabinet card portrait is the famous photographer Sarony of New York City. The photograph is dated November, 1879.