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Summer Fine Art and Antique Auction - Day 1

Sat, Jul 9, 2022 09:00AM EDT
Lot 642

1805 TN Supreme Court Book, John Overton and Hugh White Opinions

Estimate: $800 - $900

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CASES RULED AND ADJUDGED IN THE SUPREME COURTS OF LAW AND EQUITY AND FEDERAL COURT FOR THE STATE OF TENNESSEE BY AND OF THE JUDGES OF THAT STATE, BOOK THE THIRD. This book contains entries describing legal cases and opinions in what was the forerunner of the TN State Supreme Court, from May 1805 to Nov. 1808. The book begins with the case in the Metro District, Nashville, of "Jackson and Evens," over whether a contract made in another state is subject to the statute of limitations of Tennessee or the other state. The book continues to detail cases argued in the Washington and Hamilton Districts of early Tennessee, involving slave rights, property and contract disputes, horse auctions, and even the authorization of George Roulstone to publish law journals. There is extensive writing recording the opinions of judges John Overton, Hugh Lawson White, and David Campbell, who served during this time period. (Overton, in particular, seems to have had much to say on many of the cases). 277 pp. 11 1/2"H x 7 1/4"W. Note: Tennessee's early legal system relied on a series of Districts, added as the then-territory became more populated. The 1796 Constitution of Tennessee formally instituted the frontier practice of having 2 types of courts: an "inferior" Court of Common Pleas and Quarter Sessions (which heard law cases involving modest sums of money or property and minor punishments) and the Superior Court of Law and Equity, considered the "superior" court. The Superior Courts of Law and Equity had sole jurisdiction over cases punishable by loss of life or limb and cases of greater dollar value. They also served as courts of appeal, for those dissatisfied a Court of Pleas decision. The three traveling Superior Court judges heard cases in Jonesboro (Washington District), Knoxville (Hamilton District), Carthage (Winchester District), Clarksville (Robertson District), and Nashville (Mero District). Many of Tennessee's leading pioneers served as Superior Court judges, including Andrew Jackson (who stepped down in 1804), John Overton (who took Jackson's place), John McNairy, Archibald Roane, and Willie Blount.

Descended in the family of Judge John Overton through his daughter, Elizabeth Overton Lea of Nashville to present consignor.


Covers and spine in fragile condition with most of the leather worn away, front cover fully separated, half of first page missing. The interior pages, however, remain in good readable condition with soiling/light oxidation and small losses at edges, and light toning.