Lot 11: ALS as president, one page both sides, 8 x 10, June 25, 1821. Letter to Secretary of War John C. Calhoun concerning several important legal matters. In part: "I return you the proceedings of the court martial for the trial of Col: Chambers, with an approval of the sentence…The decision of the court is founded on a principle, which it is equally my duty to respect. In my comment, I have adopted, the sentiment, which they have expressed in his favor. I concur with you, that an example should be made, of one of the Indians condemned in Illinois, for the murder of two of our soldiers. Should further consideration induce a doubt on the subject, submit the case to the administration & follow its advice…I return the papers relating to the militia fines in N York, & entirely approve the course which you have pursued in that interesting affair. I think that it will be most advisable to bring the question before the Supreme Court of the U States." In very good condition, with small edge separations at horizontal folds, light toning, and show-through from writing to opposing sides.This fascinating letter touches upon three intriguing legal cases. The first concerns the punishment for Col. Talbot Chambers, who had illegally punished two deserters by ordering their ears cropped; he was suspended and later dismissed. The second respects two Chippewas convicted of murdering two soldiers in Illinois and sentenced to execution. In their trial they did not dispute the charges, and a member of their own tribe testified against them. One died shortly after receiving the sentence, while the other was hanged on August 14, 1821. The final topic involves the jurisdiction of imposing fines on members of state militias; in the case of Cyprian Elton, a New York militiaman, a fine had been imposed by a federal court martial. Attorney General William Wirt believed that the soldier had not broken US law and therefore the federal government had no jurisdiction in the case, but he thought the Supreme Court might decide otherwise. Superb overall content in this letter representing the separation of powers in the early United States.
RR Auction's Fine Autographs and Artifacts Auction 460
Wednesday, 16th September 2015
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