[Sam Houston]

John C. Watrous, Impeached TX judge, Addresses Recommendation ALS to Sam Houston!

John C. Watrous, Impeached TX Judge, Addresses Recommendation ALS to Sam Houston!

 

1p ALS inscribed overall and signed by U.S. District Judge John C. Watrous (1801-1874) as "John C Watrous" on first page. Including a stamped integral address leaf addressed to "Hon. Sam: Houston, Washington, D.C.," docketed, and pencil inscribed. In very good condition. Portions of the letter are water-stained but perfectly legible. Some closed tears along well-worn folds and minor seal loss. The inner pages are blank, each page measuring 8.25" x 10.75."

 

Embattled U.S. District Judge of Texas John C. Watrous wrote "Genl Houston" from Galveston, Texas on April 22, 1848 regarding the newly vacated office of Texas district attorney. Houston was then serving as a Texas Senator. Watrous recommended that Houston support the bid of lawyer William G. Hale (1822-1876) for the empty district attorney position. Hale's professional connection with Watrous later entangled him in the latter's acrimonious impeachment proceedings.

 

"Mr Hale is a young man of extraordinary talents and attainments of good industry and unceasing attention to the business of his profession of perfectly good habits and one of the very brightest ornaments of the bar…From his experience talent industry and learning he is as well qualified to discharge the duties of the office as any person who could be selected…Should you think proper to give Mr Hale the benefits of your influence you will confer a favor not only on him but also on Your Friend Most Truly, John C. Watrous."

 

In all likelihood, Houston did not view Watrous in similar amicable terms, nor take seriously his opinion about Hale's moral character. Watrous had been accused of abusing his judicial powers, validating forged land certificates, and violating court procedure, just two years after his presidential nomination and congressional appointment. Over the next thirteen years, Watrous was the subject of multiple impeachment proceedings. His protegee Hale was dragged into the corruption scandal, as he had inherited and represented some of Watrous's questionable clients. Hale's testimony appears in the impeachment proceedings recorded by the Committee Reports of the House of Representatives in 1857.

 

Senator Houston publicly condemned Watrous in his 100-page "Speech of Hon. Sam Houston, of Texas: exposing the malfeasance and corruption of John Charles Watrous, Judge of the Federal Court in Texas, and of his confederates; delivered in the Senate of the United States, Feb. 3, 1859". Houston called for the immediate dismissal of "this judicial monster…sunk deep, deep in the slough of infamy."

 

John C. Watrous practiced law in Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas before serving as Texas Attorney General between 1838-1839. He was confirmed as U.S. District Judge in May 1846, and despite impeachment proceedings, proved impossible to dislodge. He never resigned, and following the Civil War, resumed his duties as U.S. District Judge in eastern Texas.

 

William G. Hale, a New Hampshire transplant and Harvard University graduate, served as deputy district attorney of Texas. His ties to Watrous damaged his career prospects, and he moved to New Orleans in 1873. His papers can be viewed in the collection of the Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin.

 

Ebenezer Allen (1804-1864), mentioned in Watrous's letter as also supporting Hale's recommendation, served as Texas Attorney General in the 1840s and 1850s. The railroad promoter later joined the Confederacy and died in Virginia.

 

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Item: 64178

Price: $700.00
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