• Two Letters: [Slavery, Maritime, Republic of Texas Emissary] Henry Morfit Receives Request for Legal Help -- Two Letters

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    HENRY MASON MORFIT (1793-1865), born in Norfolk, VA, was an attorney, statesman and politician. In 1836, President Andrew Jackson appointed him as United States emissary to Texas. Jackson asked Morfit to investigate the condition of the new Republic of Texas. Morfit wrote a series of ten letters that were favorable to Texas but recommended against immediate recognition, mainly because of the threat of a new Mexican invasion. 

    As a lawyer, Morfit handled a variety of legal matters for clients throughout the United States and Europe, including those dealing with slave transactions, maritime questions and the collection of claims, some of which originated during the colonial period. 

    Much of the correspondence found in university and other libraries deals with letters to Morfit seeking assistance as do the two ALSs offered here. 

    One-page, 7 x 10, ALS, Baltimore, MD, June 22, 1835, City Hotel from a man who appears to have been a midshipman, possibly named D. Wilson, appealing to Morfit, who was Judge Advocate, for legal counsel during a trial. 

    "In conversation with you this morning, you gave it as your impression that I would not be allowed counsel by the court to conduct the prosecution. In corresponding with you at present on the subject, I do not wish to be understood as asking what will be allowed by the court. But I wish to know of you, whether or not, I can legally demand counsel to assist me in the prosecution. In making this request, I beg you to understand, that it is from no want of confidence in you, as the Judge Advocate of the Court, that I make this demand. 

    "The favour in an immediate answer is requested." 

    Integral address leaf to Morfit at City Hotel or The Exchange. The letter was likely hand carried. 

    One-page, 7 x 12, ALS, Navy Yard Gosport, September 7, 1840, from Andrew D. Jackson (not the President) to Morfit regarding a financial matter. 

    "Mr. Colston's note running at $900 is renewable at $800 on the 16th inst. 

    "I wrote Mr. Colston days ago sending him a form of power of atty to execute for me to sign the note for him or his atty or to send his own note. Every time the note is to be renewed I am troubled to get his name and have had to write the note over his name on blank paper but I believe I now have not his signature. I have regularly curtailed the note to save my credit. It must now be curtailed regularly 100 at each renewal. Lest Mr. C be at Washington or my letter for some cause may not have reached him I will thank you to call his attention to it. Two instances have occurred of my not getting the note in time but fortunately I had his signature. I wish a power of attorney. I am laboring under continued and daily embarrassment while laying out of the money due from C. I am resting however under the confident hope of being eventually secured through your judicious management . " 

    Nice integral address leaf with Portsmouth, VA, postmark. 

    First letter has folds, toning and chipping along the left margin. Second letter has folds, toning and chipping along the left margin, and seal tears affecting nothing.

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