Attorney General of New York, 1849-1853
Levi Starr Chatfield was born in Butternuts, Otsego County, New York, on March 7, 1808, and studied law in the office of Samuel L. Bowne. During the years 1838 to 1843, Chatfield represented Otsego County in the New York State Assembly and held the office of Speaker of the Assembly in 1842. He was a delegate to the New York State Constitutional Convention in 1846, where he proposed adding the words “without regard to color,” to the provision on suffrage.
Levi S. Chatfield was elected to the office of New York Attorney General in 1849, and to a second term in 1851. In April 1848, Governor John Young and the Legislature authorized the Attorney General to bring court actions on behalf of the State challenging the manorial land titles. The action in People v. Van Rensselaer was commenced in 1848, and Chatfield argued the case in the New York Court of Appeals in 1853. Chatfield himself commenced an action in People v. Clarke. The relief sought was the repeal of certain letters patent, dated November 19, 1737 in the reign of George II, under the great seal of the province of New York, tested in the name of and signed by Lieutenant Governor George Clarke, for 25,400 acres of land in Albany County, southward of the Mohawk River and westward of Schoharie River. The Attorney General argued that a land patent in Albany County was fraudulently granted to the defendant’s predecessor in title in 1737. This case also came before the Court of Appeals in 1853. However, the Court found in favor of the patent holders in both cases.
Chatfield resigned from office in 1853, three weeks before the expiration of his second term. This was possibly linked to the passage of a resolution in the Assembly authorizing the commencement of impeachment proceedings against him (see Journal of the Assembly of the State of New York, Volume 76, pp 1388-1389).
In 1858 and 1859, Levi Chatfield was a professor of Criminal Law and Medical Jurisprudence at New York University Law School. He had a successful law practice and argued many cases before the New York Court of Appeals.
Levi Starr Chatfield died on August 4, 1884 in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and was buried in Laurens, Otsego County, N.Y.
Duane Hamilton Hurd. The History of Otsego County (1878).
New York University. General Alumni Catalogue (1906).