Otsego Herald for Aug. 3, 1818, compiled with comments.
Justice Bushrod Washington
Judge Washington. — A few days since, in a cause trying before the United States circuit court, this magistrate [Bushrod Washington] strongly charged the jury that the question was a point of law, and that they must find for the plaintiff. The jury retired for a few minutes, when they returned a verdict for the defendant.
The next morning the counsel for the plaintiff ... said ... he would at once move the court for a new trial, on the ground that the jury had found a verdict contrary to the charge of the court.
Judge Washington ... replied ... that he would grant a new trial in this case, and if juries should find a verdict one hundred times in opposition to the charge of the court, he would grant a new trial.
It is distinctly understood that this was the third time this particular cause has been before the circuit court; that each time the court strongly charged the jury to find for the plaintiff, and that each time the jury ... found for the defendants.
Such are the facts as they have been detailed to us. We deem them to be of a character highly interesting to the public. – Democratic Press
COMMENT: This ruling was made by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Bushrod Washington (1762-1829), while acting as Circuit Judge in the Third Circuit in Philadelphia. In this case — Willis v. Bucher et al. — Bushrod stated that: “We never interfere with the facts of a case, and always leave them to the jury. ... But in this case, every thing is in favour of the plaintiff, — both the law and justice are with her. ... The court...will not hesitate to set aside a verdict...when against law.” It was one of only two cases in which he overturned a jury verdict.
Justice Washington was a nephew of President George Washington, and served as justice of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1798 until his death 30 years later. Along with Francis Scott Key of “The Star Spangled Banner,” he was a founding member of the American Colonization Society, which for a century encouraged African-Americans to emigrate to Liberia in West Africa
French in Texas
The French emigrants under Gen. Lallemand, who have recently settled at Trinity river, have published a manifesto of their intentions; from which it seems they propose to establish an independent colony, and subject themselves to a military government for their protection — cultivating peace with all and determined to defend their possessions with their lives.
“The land,” they say, “on which we have placed ourselves, will behold us prosper or bravely die. There we will live honorably and free, or will find our graves.”
These emigrants constituted a part of those in whose favor congress made a grant of some townships in the Alabama territory, for the cultivation of the olive and vine. It is said they sold their interest in this grant, and have located themselves in a territory which is in dispute between the United States and Spain.
COMMENT: General Charles Lallemand (1774-1839) was a staunch supporter of Napoleon throughout his military career, and in 1817 came secretly to America to lead some 275 volunteers (many of them veterans of Napoleon’s army) in founding a “Field of Asylum” in Spanish Texas. Spain quickly ousted them, and they fled back to America. In 1830 Lallemand was pardoned in France, and returned to become governor of Corsica from 1837-38. Note that here (as in other articles) The Otsego Herald, like other American newspapers of the time, usually said “emigrant” where today we would say “immigrant.”
Who Wrote the Letters?
Letters from the south, which have excited much interest in the literary world, and have been ascribed to several individuals, it is now ascertained were written by George Watterson, librarian to the congressional library. – Albany Argus
COMMENT: The Albany Argus had got both the title and the author confused. “Letters from the South: Written during an excursion in the summer of 1816,” was first published in New York in 1817 by James Kirke Paulding (1778-1860), a very prolific writer, and naval expert who served as secretary of the Navy from 1838 to 1841.
George Watterson (1783-1854) was indeed the third Librarian of the Library of Congress, serving from 1815 to 1829. He was also a prolific writer who in 1818 published “Letters from Washington on the Constitution and laws. with sketches of some of the prominent public characters of the United States, written during the winter of 1817-1818,” and attributed on its title page only to “a foreigner.”
Otsego Cotton Manufactory
NOTICE. The Stockholders of the OTSEGO COTTON MANUFACTORY, are hereby notified that their annual meeting for electing Trustees, will be held on the third Tuesday of August (1818) at the house of Joseph Griffin, in Cooperstown, at 4 o’clock, P.M.
RUSSELL WILLIAMS, Ag’t. Cooperstown, August 1st, 1818.
COMMENT: This company seems to have had a short and troubled life, for a court case in 1824 refers to “stock of the Otsego Cotton Manufactory, which has since become insolvent.” Indeed, it was in trouble, because a mortgage it had given on a saw and grist mill it owned on the Susquehanna River was to be sold off in August 1819 for failure to pay the mortgage.
The Sea Serpent, again
A letter from Gloucester states:
“The Great Serpent has again appeared in our harbor. She is accompanied by three young ones, and they make great destruction among the bait. The fish exhibit the utmost terror at their approach; and as the serpents pass, seizing and devouring their food, the fish spring above the water to escape their enemies, but in vain....
“Capt. B. Webber, who saw (them) yesterday ... judged the large one to be 100 feet in length and the smaller ones about fifty feet.” – Boston Centinel, July 18.