Houston: Webb & Jarum, Attorneys for the Defendant, 1862 (January). Two separate manuscript drafts on leaves of lined legal paper held together by a strip of paste near the top edge; verso of last leaf of both copies docketed with short title and the case number (?) 1826. First draft, 3 pages of text; second, 4 pages of text, plus a blank page. 12-1/16” x 7-15/16”. Three fold lines; light creasing to first draft; occasional inks mudges, not affecting readability. Very good. Item #2801
Civil War-era Fratricide, Texas Style.
¶ Two holograph briefs, both dated Feb. 7th, 1862, appealing Henry Wade's conviction for the murder of his brother, William. The shorter brief appears to be an earlier draft; the longer one, more cohesively argued, a later version. The briefs detail the circumstances of William's death, as well as perceived faults of the original trial, and argue that Wade's sentence should be reduced to manslaughter. According to both briefs, the basic facts of the case are as follows: late one night, Henry left the brothers' house in a drunken state, and William attempted to bring him back inside. Words were exchanged, the brothers fought, and Henry retrieved a pistol from his room; when William tried to attack Henry with a chair, Henry shot and killed him.
¶ The drafts employ the same basic arguments to shift the responsibility for the fight to William and to the judge during the trial, but differ in structure, detail, emphasis of points of contention (the judge being the primary complaint in the presumed earlier draft), formality of address, and reliance on the testimony of the key witness, Henry Wade's mistress, who is never named.
¶ An interesting example of criminal law in Civil War-era Texas, showing the development of the attorneys' arguments over the course of two drafts.