Hugh Maxwell

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Hugh Maxwell (1787 Paisley, Scotland – March 31, 1873 New York City) was an American lawyer and politician from New York.


Maxwell graduated from Columbia College in 1808. Then he studied law and was admitted to the bar.

During the War of 1812, he was an Assistant Judge Advocate General of the U.S. Army.

He was New York County District Attorney from 1817 to 1818 and from 1821 to 1829. On September 15, 1826, Jacob Barker, Henry Eckford, and other leaders of Tammany Hall were indicted for allegedly committing millions of dollars in acts of fraud against banks, insurance companies, and private citizens, and Maxwell subsequently prosecuted them for "conspiracy to defraud." The first trial ended in a hung jury in October 1826, although some defendants were convicted in a second trial. Eckford, a famous shipbuilder and entrepreneur of the time, was not prosecuted again after the first trial and sought an apology and public statement of his innocence from Maxwell, but succeeded only in getting Maxwell to make a statement that Eckford had been duped by others into illegal acts. Eckford challenged Maxwell to a duel in December 1827, but Maxwell ignored him.

In 1849, Maxwell was appointed by President Zachary Taylor as Collector of the Port of New York and remained in office until 1853, when his term expired. Afterwards he resumed the practice of law, but retired after a few years.



  • The New York Civil List compiled by Franklin Benjamin Hough (pages 369 and 377; Weed, Parsons and Co., 1858)
  • THE LAW INSTITUTE.; PRESENTATION OF BEQUESTS FROM THE LATE HUGH MAXWELL in NYT on July 15, 1873 [gives wrong tenure as D.A. "1819-1829", which later was copied widely]
  • Jampoler, Andrew C. A. "Who Was Henry Eckford?" Naval History, December 2007, Pages 38–45.
Legal offices
Preceded by
John Rodman
New York County District Attorney
Succeeded by
Pierre C. Van Wyck
Preceded by
Pierre C. Van Wyck
New York County District Attorney
Succeeded by
Ogden Hoffman
Government offices
Preceded by
Cornelius W. Lawrence
Collector of the Port of New York
Succeeded by
Greene C. Bronson
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