Encyclopedia of the History of Missouri/United States Courts
[ P. 258 ]
United States Courts.—An interesting fact, and one, it is believed, not generally understood, appears in the first legislation of Congress, on the subject of Federal courts, in what now constitutes the States of Missouri and Arkansas. By an act of Congress of March 26, 1804 (26 United States Statutes at Large, p. 283), the land acquired of France was divided into two Territories. That portion lying south of the Mississippi territory and an east and west line commencing on the Mississippi River at the thirty-third degree of north latitude and extending west to the western boundary of the cession, was called the Territory of Orleans. By Section 12 of said act the residue of the Territory, being that north of said line, was called the District of Louisiana. This District included the present States of Arkansas and Missouri and all that region lying north and west of said two States. By said act, the Governor and judges of the Indiana Territory were directed and authorized to establish in said District of Louisiana inferior courts and prescribe their jurisdiction and duties, and also to make all laws which they might deem conducive to the good government of the inhabitants thereof. Under th« authority thus given, the Governor and judges of the Indiana Territory, under date of October I, 1804, framed a system of laws for the government of said District of Louisiana and established courts therein, which laws comprise the first sixteen chapters of Volume I of Territorial Laws, published by the authority of the State of Missouri in 1842.
By chapter two of the laws enacted by the Governor and judges of the Indiana Territory, justice's courts were established for the trial of small causes, and said chapter defines the jurisdiction and duties of justices of the peace in their respective districts and the practice to be observed by them, the details of which it is unnecessary to set forth.
A probate court, consisting of one judge, was established in each of the Districts of St. Charles, St. Louis, Ste. Genevieve, Cape Girardeau and New Madrid, to take proof of last wills, to grant letters testamentary and of administration, and to perform all things pertaining to such court and to hold four terms a year.
By Chapter 13 of laws enacted by the Governor and judges of Indiana Territory, a court styled the general quarter sessions of the peace was established in each of the Districts of St. Charles, St. Louis, Ste. Genevieve, Cape Girardeau and New Madrid, consisting of a competent number of judges, who were required to hold four terms each year in their respective districts.
A court of common pleas, consisting of a competent number of judges, commissioned by the Governor, was required to be held in each of said districts, to hold pleas of assize, scire facias replevins, and hear and determine all manner of pleas, suits, actions and causes, civil, personal, real and mixed according to law.
These courts were required to commence their terms on the same days on which the general quarter sessions of the peace began their terms.
A supreme court of record, styled the general court, was required to be held twice in each year in St. Louis, on the first Tuesday in May and the last Tuesday in October. It had both original and appellate jurisdiction. Parties aggrieved by the judgments of the general quarter sessions of the peace, or other courts of record, could take their cases by appeal or writ of error to the general court and have them reviewed. All writs in this court were to run in the name of the United States and bear test in the name of the chief justice, or presiding judge. Beside its appellate jurisdiction, the general court had jurisdiction in all criminal cases and exclusive jurisdiction in those which were capital, and original jurisdiction in all civil cases of the value of $100 and upward.
Congress, by an act approved March 3, 1805 (2 United States Statutes, p. 331), changed the name of the District of Louisiana to the Territory of Louisiana and provided for the appointment of a Governor, who should reside in said Territory, and a secretary and
[ P. 259 ]
three judges. The legislative power was vested in the Governor and three judges, or majority of them, and they were also empowered to establish inferior courts in said Territory and prescribe their jurisdiction and duties, but in all criminal prosecutions, the trials were to be by a jury of twelve good men of the vicinage and also in civil cases where the amount involved was of the value of $100, if either party required it. The judges thus required to be appointed were to hold their offices for four years, were to possess the same jurisdiction which was possessed by the judges of the Indiana Territory, and were to hold two courts annually at places most convenient to inhabitants in general, and the Governor, secretary and judges were to receive the same compensation established for similar officers in the Indiana Territory and to be paid out of the treasury of the United States. All laws and regulations in force in said district at the passage of said act not inconsistent therewith were continued in force until aHered, modified or repealed by the Legislature thereby established.
Chapters 17, 18 and 19 of Territorial Laws were introduced by the clause: "Be it enacted by the Governor and Judges of the Territory of Louisiana," but all subsequent acts, from Chapter 20 to 84, both inclusive, had as their enacting clause: "Be it enacted by the Legislature of the Territory of Louisiana." This latter enacting clause seems to be fully justified by the ninth section of the above act of Congress, which speaks of said Governor and judges as "the Legislature."
The courts established by the Governor and judges of the Indiana Territory remained unchanged until the passage of Chapter 38 of Territorial Laws, on July 3, 1807, entitled "Practice at Law." This act recognized and continued in force the courts of common pleas and of quarter sessions of the peace and justices of the peace, and established a new court entitled a court of "Oyer and Ter- miner and General Jail Delivery" for the trial of all capital offenses in each district, to be held by one of the judges of the general court and the common pleas judge of the district. It took away from the general court its original jurisdiction, except in cases of proceedings by information against public officers for oppression or misdemeanor in office, etc., and with these exceptions the general court exercised appellate jurisdiction only.
The above mentioned Legislature of the Territory of Louisiana on July 4, 1807 (Chapter 40 of Territorial Laws) organized an "Orphans' Court," for the management of the estates and persons of minors and their guardians, trustees and tutors, and to bind out such minors as had no estates for their support, and to cause th«m to be taught some useful trade or business. The period of the Legislature, of the Governor and judges of the Territory of Louisiana, in regard to courts and other matters, extended from April, 1805, to October, 1810.
By act of Congress March 3, 1807, (2 United States Statutes, p. 431) the judges appointed by the authority of the United States in the Territory of Louisiana and other Territories were allowed an annual salary of $1,200. By the act of Congress June 4, 1812, (2 United States Statutes, p. 743) the name of the Territory was changed to Missouri. This act vested the legislative power in a General Assembly, consisting of a Governor, a Legislative Council and a House of Representatives, with power to make all laws, civil and criminal, for the good government of the people, not repugnant to, or inconsistent with, the constitution and laws of the United States, and had power to establish inferior courts and prescribe their jurisdiction and duties. The Legislative Council was to consist of nine members, to continue in office five years, unless sooner removed by the President of the United States. The members of the Council were appointed in this manner, to-wit: When the Representatives were elected and convened by the Governor and had met, they were to nominate eighteen persons, residents of the Territory for a year preceding their nomination, each possessing in his own right 200 acres of land, and return the names to the President of the United States, from which the President, by and with the advice of the Senate, was to appoint and commission nine for a period of five years, and so on from time to time. The House of Representatives provided by said act were to be chosen by the people of the Territory every second year to serve for two years. No person was eligible for Representative unless he was twenty-one years of age and had resided in the Territory for one year next
[ P. 260 ]
preceding the day of election, and was a freeholder in the county in which he was a candidate. Under this act of Congress of June 4, 1812, the General Assembly organized under it enacted the Territorial laws embraced in Chapter 85, July 12, 1813, and subsequent chapters to and including Chapter 250, dated December 24, 1818, as published in said Volume I, heretofore referred to, and this last chapter closes the legislative acts of the Territorial Legislature.
The judicial power, by said act, was vested in a superior court, inferior courts and justices of the peace, who were to hold their offices for four years, and the superior courts were to have jurisdiction in all criminal cases, which was exclusive in those that were capital, and original and appellate jurisdiction in all civil cases involving $100 or more, and were to receive such compensation as was established by law, and were to be paid quarterly out of the treasury of the United States.
By the act of Congress of December 18, 1812, (2 United States Statutes, p. 788) the Territorial judges of the United States were required to reside within the Territories for which they were appointed, and were prohibited from acting as counsel or attorney, and from practicing law.
On January 27, 1814, (3 United States Statutes, p. 95) Congress provided for the appointment of an additional judge for the Missouri Territory for a term of four years and who was to reside at or near the village of Arkansas, as fixed and established while the same was a part of the Territory of Louisiana, or as the limits should be established by the General Assembly of the Missouri Territory. Said judge was authorized to possess and exercise within the limits of the late district of Arkansas the jurisdiction possessed and exercised in said district by the court of common pleas, as well as that possessed and exercised by the superior court within the said district. The superior court, however, could issue writs of error to the court established by this law and have cognizance thereof and of all appeals for errors in law. The judge of this new court was to receive the same salary and be paid in the same manner as the judges of the superior court in the Territory of Missouri.
By the third section of an act of Congress of April 29, 1816, (3 United States Statutes, p. 328) the General Assembly of the Missouri Territory was authorized to require the judges of the superior court to hold superior and circuit courts, and the circuit courts were to be composed of one of the judges of the superior court, and were to have jurisdiction in all criminal cases and exclusive, original jurisdiction in those that were capital, and original jurisdiction in all civil cases involving $100 or more ; and the superior and circuit courts were given chancery powers, as well as common law jurisdiction in all civil cases, and appeals were allowed in all cases from the circuit courts to the superior court. Up to March 2, 1819, what now constitutes the State of Arkansas was a part of the Missouri Territory and under its control. By an act of Congress of that date (3 United States Statutes, p. 493) all that part of the Territory of Missouri lying south of a line beginning on the Mississippi River at 36 degrees north latitude, running thence west to the St. Francis River; then up the same to 36 degrees, 30 minutes, north latitude, and thence west to the western boundary line, was erected into a new Territory to be called the Arkansas Territory, thereby leaving in the Territory of Missouri the domain that now constitutes the State of Missouri, less the Platte Purchase, afterward added.
The act of Congress of April 29, 1816, seems to be its last legislation in reference to the courts of the Territory of Missouri. It may be against the popular and general understanding at the present time to class the courts of the Territory under the head of Federal courts, yet they were such, in fact, as they were established by acts of Congress, and their powers and jurisdiction were defined by Congress, and the judges were appointed by the President of the United States with the advice of the Senate, and their salaries were fixed by Congress and paid out of the treasury of the United States. It is true that the Territorial Legislature, under authority given it by Congress, passed laws applicable to and enforced by the courts, but this did not destroy their Federal character. Both the Legislature and the courts were, during Territorial times, the creatures of the general government and may be truly considered as Federal courts during the Territorial existence.
It may be of interest to know who were the judges of the superior court during Territorial
[ P. 261 ]
times. The following is the list, showing the years they were severally appointed: 1805, Henry Vanderburgh and John Griffin; 1805, John B. C. Lucas and Rufus Easton; 1806, Jonathan Meigs, Jr., and John B. C. Lucas; 1807, John B. C. Lucas and Otto Schrader; 1808, John B. C. Lucas, Otto Schrader and John Coburn; 1812, John B. C. Lucas and William Spriggs; 1813, John B. C. Lucas, William Spriggs and Silas Bent; 1814, Alexander Stuart and Silas Bent; 1816, Silas Bent, Alexander Stuart and John B. C. Lucas; 1817, Alexander Stuart and John B. C. Lucas, and 1818, John B. C. Lucas, Silas Bent and Alexander Stuart.
By an act of Congress of March 6, 1820, (3 United States Statutes, p. 545) the Territory of Missouri was authorized to adopt a constitution and form a State government and be admitted into the Union upon an equal footing with the original States. In accordance with the provisions of said act, the convention called to act in the matter framed a constitution, and by ordinance of July igth of the same year, accepted the terms proposed by Congress. (Volume i, of the Statutes of Missouri of 1825, p. 40.) Congress, by resolution of March 2, 1821, declared that Missouri should be admitted into the Union provided that the Legislature of the State should, by solemn public act, declare the assent of the State to the fundamental conditions that the fourth clause of the twenty- sixth section of the third article of the State constitution submitted to Congress should never be construed to authorize the passage of any law by which any citizen of either of the States of the Union should be excluded from the enjoyment of any of the privileges and immunities to which such citizen is entitled under the constitution of the United States, and should transmit to the President of the United States on or before the fourth Monday of November thereafter an authentic copy of said act. The Legislature of Missouri, by act of June 26, 1821, declared the assent of the State to the fundamental conditions and transmitted it to the President, and thereupon he, by proclamation of the loth of August, 1821, declared the admission to be complete. (Volume i, of Laws of Missouri of 1825, pp. 67, 68 and 69.)
Missouri having thus become a State, the system of Federal courts, as organized in all the States of the Union, was first established by the act of Congress of March 16, 1822, (3 United States Statutes, p. 653) and all laws of the United States not locally inapplicable were to have the same force in such State as elsewhere in the United States. By said act also, the entire State constituted one district and was to have one district judge, who was required to reside within the State and was to receive a salary of $1,200 per annum, to be paid quarterly at the treasury of the United States, and was to hold at the seat of government three sessions annually, beginning with the first Monday of June, 1822, and the other two sessions of each year on the like Monday of every calendar month thereafter, and was to exercise the same jurisdiction and powers given by law to the judge of the Kentucky district, under the act to establish judicial courts of the United States, being the act of September 24, 1789, (i United States Statutes, p. 79) and an amendment thereto by act of March 2, 1793 (i United States Statutes, p. 333). Said court was to be held at the permanent seat of the State government of Missouri, but until that was permanently fixed it was to be held in St. Louis. In addition to the powers and jurisdiction given to the district court by the act of September 24, 1789, Section 9, the court was to have jurisdiction of all other causes, except appeals and writs of error, that were cognizable in circuit courts, as was the case in the District Court of Kentucky. The original jurisdiction of the United States courts, as established by Section 9 of the act of September 24, 1789 (i United States Statutes, p. 73) embraced all crimes and offenses, cognizable under the authority of the United States, committed in their respective districts, or upon the high seas, where no other punishment than whipping not exceeding thirty stripes, a fine not exceeding $100, or imprisonment not exceeding six months, was to be inflicted; all causes of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction, including all seizures under laws of impost, navigation, or trade of the United States, where seizures are made on waters navigable from the sea by vessels of ten or more tons burthen, saving to suitors the right of a common law remedy where the common law is competent to give it; also exclusive cognizance of all seizures on land, and of all suits for penalties and forfeitures, under the laws of the United States; -and jurisdiction exclusive of the State courts of
[ P. 262 ]
all suits against consuls, vice consuls; and trials of issues of fact, in all cases, except in civil causes of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction were to be by jury.
By an act establishing a United States District Court in Missouri, provision was made for the appointment of a United States District Attorney, learned in the law, who was to receive, in addition to fees, a salary of $200 in full for his services; and also for the appointment of a United States marshal, who, in addition to fees, was to receive the like sum of $200 in full for extra services. James H. Peck was commissioned, April 5, 1822, as the first district judge, and Joshua Barton was commissioned April 16, 1822, as the first United States District Attorney, and Isaac Barton was appointed the first clerk of said court on May 15, 1822. The said act, in declaring that the Missouri district court should exercise the same jurisdiction and powers given to the judge of the Kentucky district, gave to the judge of the Missouri district the jurisdiction and powers of a United States Circuit Court—for such was the. jurisdiction of the Kentucky District Court. The terms of said court, by act of Congress of April, 1824, (4 United States Statutes, p. 22) were changed and were to be held on the first Mondays of March and September of each year, and by act of May 19,1828(4United States Statutes,p.278),Congress declared that the courts of the United States in States admitted into the Union subsequent to September 29, 1789, the form of mesne process, except style, etc., in common law cases, should be the same in each State as are used in the highest court of original and general jurisdiction,; and in equity and admiralty, according to the principles of such courts, except so far as Congress or the United States courts may by rules alter or modify 'the same. A special jurisdiction was conferred upon the United States District Court of Missouri by an act of Congress of May 26, 1824, (4 United States Statutes, p. 52) to hear and determine all claims for land in the State that arose under the treaty with France of April 30, 1803. Congress soon after said treaty had appointed boards of commissioners to pass on such claims, and by different acts had authorized the United States Recorder of Land Titles to hear and decide upon such claims, yet there were many still undecided, and by the above act the United States District Court was authorized to hear and pass upon such claims as should be brought before it. The proceedings were to be according to the rules of a court of equity, and appeals were provided for to the Supreme Court of the United States, whose judgment would be final, and if no appeal was taken from the judgment of the district court, its judgment was to be final.
Of James H. Peck, first United States District Judge, little is known by the writer hereof, except that he was a practicing attorney and came here from Tennessee. In December, 1826, Luke E. Lawless, an attorney of St. Louis, presented to the House of Representatives of the United States a petition praying for the impeachment of Judge James H. Peck for oppression in office, alleging as ground of impeachment that on the fourth Monday of December, 1825, said judge rendered a final decision for defendant in the case of Julia Soulard et al. vs. the United States, from which said plaintiff took an appeal to the United States Supreme Court, of which said judge had notice, and thereafter adjourned said court to the third Monday of April, 1826; that on March 30, 1826, after such appeal was taken, said judge caused to be published in the "Missouri Republican" what purported to be the opinion of the court in said case, which opinion said Lawless criticized in an article signed "A Citizen," published on the 8th of April, 1826, in the "Missouri Advocate" and "St. Louis Enquirer ;" and that on the third Monday of April, 1826, said judge caused the arrest of said Lawless for contempt of court on account of said article and caused him to be imprisoned for twenty-four hours and disbarred from practicing in said court for eighteen months. After a delay of some four years the House of Representatives presented articles of impeachment to the United States Senate, under which a trial was begun on December 30, 1830, and continued until January 31, 1831, when by a vote of 21 for conviction and 22 for acquittal, the impeachment was defeated, and Judge Peck escaped, as it were, "by the skin of his teeth." In this trial the managers for the House of Representatives were Ambrose Spencer, James Buchanan, George McDuffie, Mr. Storrs, and Charles A. Wickliffe; Judge Peck was represented by Mr. Meredith and William Wirt.
By the act of Congress of March 3, 1837,
[ P. 263 ]
(5 United States Statutes, p. 176) the Supreme Court of the United States was to consist of a chief justice and eight associate justices, and nine circuits were established. The District of Kentucky, East and West Tennessee and Missouri were made the Eighth Circuit, and the Circuit Court for the District of Missouri was to be held at St. Louis on the first Monday of April in each year, and so much of the acts of Congress as conferred on the district courts the power and jurisdiction of a circuit court was repealed, and the circuit court was to be held by such associate justice of the United States Supreme Court as might be allotted to the circuit together with the district judge, either of whom might hold the circuit court, which, and the judges thereof, were to have like powers and exercise like jurisdiction, as other circuit courts and judges, and the district court and judge thereof were to have and exercise like powers and jurisdiction as the district courts and judges in other circuits. Provisions were made by the act for transferring to the circuit court, thus created, from the district court all cases and suits originally cognizable in a circuit court, and the circuit court for the District of Missouri was to be governed by the same law and regulations that were applicable to other circuit courts of the United States. The jurisdiction of the United States Circuit Courts was originally defined by the eleventh section of the judiciary act of September 24, 1789, (i United States Statutes, p. 78) and was concurrent with the courts of the several States, in all suits of a civil nature at common law or in equity, where the amount in issue exceeded, exclusive of costs, the sum of $500 and where the United States were plaintiffs, or where an alien was a party, or the suit was between a citizen of the State where the suit was brought and a citizen of another State. Its jurisdiction was exclusive as to all crimes and offenses cognizable under the authority of the United States, except where the acts or laws of the United States otherwise directed, and was concurrent with the district courts as to crimes and offenses cognizable therein, etc.
Under this act Associate Justice John Catron, of Tennessee, was assigned to the circuit, and he continued to hold the circuit court in and for the District of Missouri, in connection with the district judge, until 1862, when he was assigned to the Sixth District, and Samuel F. Miller was assigned to the Missouri circuit. On June 27, 1836, Robert W. Wells was commissioned as judge of the District Court of Missouri as successor of James H. Peck, and continued as such until his death in 1862.
On the 28th of February, 1839 (5 United States Statutes, p. 321), Congress passed an act amendatory of the judicial system of the United States, regulating points of practice and authorizing the judges to appoint circuit court clerks, and in case of disagreement between the judges, the presiding judge should appoint. By another act of the same date, imprisonment for debt, on judgment of the United States Courts, was abolished in States where by State law it was abolished. By act of March 3, 1839 (5 United States Statutes, p. 337), the District Judge for Missouri was required to attend at St. Louis on the first Monday of October, annually, and was granted power to make all necessary orders touching any suit, appeal, writ of error, process, pleading, or proceedings returned to the circuit court, and all writs and process were made returnable to said court on the first Monday of October, in the same manner as to the sessions of the circuit court, directed to be held by act of March 3, 1837, and by said acts the lien of judgments rendered prior to its passage, as against subsequent purchasers and incumbrances on the real estate and chattels real of defendants, were to cease at the expiration of five years after the passage of the act, and liens of judgments afterward rendered were to expire in ten years from the day of docketing the same. Jurors in the United States courts (act of July 20, 1840, 5 United States Statutes, p. 394), were to have the same qualifications and exemptions as jurors of the highest court of law in each State, and the Federal Courts were authorized to make all necessary rules in regard to them, not in conflict with the Federal Statutes.
The act of August 23, 1842 (5 United States Statutes, p. 516), defines the powers of commissioners appointed by the circuit courts, authorizing them to take acknowledgment of bail and affidavits, and exercise the powers of a justice of the peace in respect to offenders against the United States by arresting, imprisoning or bailing the same, and might require recognizances from witnesses to appear
[ P. 264 ]
and testify. And by said act district courts were clothed with the same jurisdiction as the circuit courts in regard to crimes and offenses against the United States, the punishments for which were not capital. Said act further required the district courts as courts of admiralty, and the circuit courts as courts of equity, to be always open for the purpose of filing libels, bills, petitions, answers, pleas, etc., and for making interlocutory motions, orders, rules, etc.
By act of Congress of June 17, 1844 (5 United States Statutes, p. 67), the Justice of the Supreme Court assigned to any circuit was not required to attend the circuit courts in any district but once in any year, and the term of such attendance might be designated by him.
On February 26, 1845 (5 United States Statutes, p. 726), the district courts were given the same jurisdiction in matters of contract and tort concerning steamboats and other vessels of twenty tons burden and upward engaged in navigation between ports of different States and Territories, upon the lakes and navigable waters connecting said lakes, as is possessed and exercised by said courts in cases of like steamboats and other vessels upon the high seas or tide waters within the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction of the United States, and the remedies and forms of process and proceedings were to be the same used by such courts in cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction, etc.
Neither in Missouri nor in other States bordering on the Mississippi River and other navigable rivers did the United States claim or exercise jurisdiction in admiralty cases until about 1853, when Judge Wells, Judge of the Missouri District, claimed such jurisdiction and declared it to be exclusive of State courts and State statutes. Prior to that time the several States bordering on such rivers had passed statutes giving to State courts the power to sue and attach and render judgment in rent against vessels navigating such rivers. This decision, with others that soon followed in the same line, was sustained by the United States Supreme Court and put an end, in the State courts, to a large class of cases that prior thereto had been brought in the State courts.
The salary of the District Judges for Missouri, as well as of the District Judges in certain other States, was fixed by the act of March 3, 1845 (5 United States Statutes, p. 788), at the sum of $1,500 per annum. By act of Congress of March 14, 1848 (9 United States Statutes, p. 213), when attachments are issued in any district in courts of the United States they shall be treated in the same manner and placed upon the same footing as in the State courts in said districts. On February ii, 1855 (10 United States Statutes, p. 611), Congress required the Judge of the District Court of Missouri to hold at St. Louis a circuit court on the first Monday of October in every year, at which time might be transacted any business that could be transacted at the April term of said court, and authority was given to the circuit court and the judge of the district court to order special terms for the transaction of any business that could be done at regular terms.
In 1857 (11 United States Statutes, p. 197), the State of Missouri was divided into two judicial districts, the counties of Schuyler, Adair, Knox, Shelby, Monroe, Audrain, Montgomery, Gasconade, Franklin, Washington, Reynolds, Shannon and Oregon, with all that part of the State lying east of the above named counties, were to compose the Eastern District, and the court was to be held at St. Louis; and the remaining part of the State was to compose the Western District, the court in which was to be held at Jefferson City. Two terms were to be held at Jefferson City on the first Mondays of March and September of each year, and three terms were to be held in the Eastern District, at St. Louis, on the third Mondays of February, May and November of each year, and both courts were authorized to hold adjourned terms whenever in the opinion of the court the business required it. Provision was made for distributing between said courts cases then pending, and Judge Wells was allotted to the Western District and Samuel Treat was appointed for the Eastern District, at a salary of $3,000 per annum. The circuit court for the districts of Missouri was to be held at St. Louis at the same times as before the passage of said act, and was to be composed of the Justice of the Supreme Court assigned to said circuit—Judge Catron, at that time—and the two district judges, and might be held by any one or more of said three judges. The then district attorney and marshal were continued in office for the Eastern District, and the then clerk of the
[ P. 265 ]
district court was assigned to the Western District, and a district attorney and marshal were to be appointed forthe Western District, and the Judge of the Eastern District was empowered to appoint a clerk of his court, and the then clerk of the circuit court remained as clerk of the circuit court as modified by said act.
By act of February 18, 1861 (12 United States Statutes, p 130), from all judgments and decrees of any circuit court, a right of appeal or writ of error was granted to the Supreme Court of the United States in all cases of controversy in law or equity regarding copyright or patent claims under the laws of the United States, without regard to the amount in controversy.
By act of August 2, 1861 (12 United States Statutes, p. 285), the Attorney General of the United States was given superintending control over district attorneys and marshals in all the districts of the United States, and they were required to give to him an account of the official proceedings. By act of July i, 1862 (12 United States Statutes, p. 432), to provide for the collection of internal revenue for the support of the government and the payment of interest on the public debt, and acts amendatory thereof, additional jurisdiction was conferred upon both the district and circuit courts of the United States for the recovery of penalties and inflicting punishments for violations of said acts. On July 15, 1862 (12 United States Statutes, p. 576), a new arrangement of circuits was enacted by Congress, by which the districts of Missouri, Iowa, Kansas and Minnesota constituted the Ninth Circuit, and Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Samuel F. Miller was assigned to this circuit thus organized. On July 16, 1862 (12 United States Statutes, p. 588), the laws of the State in which the United States courts are held were to govern as to the competency of witnesses. By act of Congress of July 23, 1866 (14 United States Statutes, p. 209), the districts of Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas and Arkansas were to constitute the Eighth Judicial Circuit, and Associate Justice Samuel F. Miller was assigned to the Eighth Circuit. The act of Congress of July 27, 1866 (14 United States Statutes, p. 306), provides for the removal of causes from State courts to United States courts where the suit is against an alien, or a citizen of another State, where the sum involved exceeds $500 exclusive of costs, and points out the mode of making such removal and conducting said suits in the United States courts; and in the same volume, page 385, act of February 5, 1867, the courts of the United States and the judges of such courts were authorized to grant writs of habeas corpus where persons are restrained of their liberty in violation of the constitution or any treaty or law of the United States, and to hear and determine the same. By act of March 2, 1867 (14 United States Statutes, p. 517), by a bankrupt law then passed, the United States district courts were constituted courts of bankruptcy, to hear and adjudicate all cases of bankruptcy, with right of appeal to the circuit courts. Similar jurisdiction in bankruptcy cases has been conferred on the United States district courts by acts of April 4, 1800, and of August 9, 1841.
On April 10, 1869 (16 United States Statutes, p. 44), the Supreme Court of the United States was to consist of eight associate justices, and provision was made for the appointment in each of the nine existing judicial circuits of circuit judges residing in their several circuits, who were clothed within their respective circuits with the same power and jurisdiction as the Justices of the Supreme Court allotted to the circuit, and Justices of the Supreme Court were required to attend at least one term of the circuit court in each district during every period of two years. It was further provided by said act that any judge of any court of the United States who had held his commission as such at least ten years, after having attained the age of seventy years, might resign his office and thereafter during his natural life receive the same salary that was payable to him at the time of his resignation. Under this act the Honorable John F. Dillon was appointed December 22, 1869, the Circuit Judge of the District in which Missouri was included. Said circuit judges so appointed were to receive a salary of $5,000 per annum. On May 21, 1872 (17 United States Statutes, p. 135), terms of the Circuit Court for the Districts of Missouri were to commence on the third Mondays of March and September in each year.
On June 1, 1872 (17 United States Statutes, p. 10), it was enacted that where the judges differed in opinion, that of the presiding judge should prevail, and that upon a
[ P. 266 ]
certificate of difference of opinion, either party may remove the case to the United States Supreme Court, and that writs of error or appeals to the Supreme Court must be taken within two years from the entry of judgment, and that practice, pleadings, etc.,—except in admiralty and equity cases—should conform as near as may be to those existing in the State courts, etc. In the same volume, page 282, on June 8, 1872, a circuit court in the Western District of Missouri was required to be held at Jefferson City on the third Monday of April and November of each year, and also in the Eastern District, in St. Louis, as already provided by law, and said courts in both districts were to be held by the Justice of the Supreme Court allotted to the Eighth Judicial Circuit, and the Circuit Judge of said Eighth Circuit, and the District Judge of such districts respectively, or any one of them, in the absence of the remainder. The clerk, district attorney and marshal of the existing circuit court were to remain and aot in the circuit court of the Eastern District, and a clerk for said Western District was to be appointed by the court, and the existing district attorney and marshal of said Western District were to act as such for the circuit court in the Western District of Missouri.
By act of February 25, 1873 (17 United States Statutes, p. 476), the circuit court in and for the Eastern District of Missouri is made the successor of the late circuit court, and was to try and dispose of all suits pending in the late circuit court for the Districts of Missouri, and two terms of the district court in said Eastern District were established, to be held on the first Mondays of May and November of each year. By act of March 3, 1875 (18 United States Statutes, p. 470), the circuit courts are given original jurisdiction, concurrent with the courts of the several States, in all suits of a civil nature at common law and in equity where the amount involved, exclusive of costs, exceeds $500, arising under the constitution, laws or treaty of the United States, or in which the United States are plaintiff, or in which there is a controversy between citizens of different States, or between citizens of the same State claiming lands under grants of different States, or a controversy between citizens of a State and foreign States, citizens or subjects.
By act of January 21, 1879 (2O United States Statutes, p. 263), the Western District of Missouri is divided into two divisions, to be known as the Eastern and Western Divisions of the Western District of Missouri. The Western Division to include the counties of Andrew, Atchison, Barton, Bates, Buchanan, Caldwell, Carroll, Cass, Christian, Clay, Clinton, Daviess, DeKalb, Gentry, Gruady, Harrison, Holt, Jackson, Jasper, Lafayette, Linn, Livingston, Mercer, Nodaway, Platte, Putnam, Ray, Saline, Sullivan, Vernon and Worth. The remaining counties in said district constituted the Eastern Division thereof. The terms of the district and circuit courts of the Western Division were fixed on the third Mondays of May and October in each year, at Kansas City, and the terms of the district and circuit courts for the Eastern Division were to be held at the terms already prescribed by law, at Jefferson City.
Congress, by act of February 28, 1887 (24 United States Statutes, p. 424), declared that the city of St. Louis and the counties of Franklin, Gasconade, Jefferson, Crawford, Washington, St, Francois, Ste. Genevieve, Dent, Iron, Madison, Perry, Bellinger, Cape Girardeau, Shannon, Reynolds, Wayne, Scott, Carter, Oregon, Ripley, Butler, Stoddard, New Madrid, Mississippi, Dunklin, Pemiscot, Montgomery, Lincoln, Warren, St. Charles, Macon, Adair, Audrain, Clark, Knox, Lewis, Madison, Monroe, Pike, Rails, Schuyler, Scotland, Shelby and Randolph shall constitute an Eastern Judicial District of Missouri, and all of the remaining counties of the State shall constitute the Western Judicial District of the State. The Eastern Judicial District of Missouri was divided into two divisions, to be known respectively as the Northern and Eastern Divisions of said district—the Eastern Division to embrace the city of St. Louis and the counties of St. Louis, Franklin, Gasconade, Jefferson, Crawford, Washington, St. Francois, Ste. Genevieve, Dent, Iron, Madison, Perry, Bollinger, Cape Girardeau, Shannon, Reynolds, Wayne, Scott, Carter, Oregon, Ripley, Butler, Stoddard, New Madrid, Mississippi, Dunklin, Pemiscot, Montgomery, Lincoln, Warren and St. Charles, the courts for which, as thereby established, were to be held and continued at St. Louis. The remaining counties within said Eastern District were to constitute the Northern Division of said district, and the courts therefor were
[ P. 267 ]
to be held at the city of Hannibal. The Western Judicial District was divided into four divisions, to be known as the St. Joseph, the Western, the Eastern and Southern Divisions. The counties of Clay, Ray, Carroll, Chariton, Sullivan, Jackson, Lafayette, Saline, Cass, Jackson, Bates, Henry, Vernon, Putnam, Caidwell, Livingston, Grundy, Mercer, Linn, Barton, Jasper and St. Clair were to constitute the Western Division, the circuit and district courts for which were to be continued at Kansas City. The counties of Atchison, Nodaway, Holt, Andrew, Buchanan, Platte, Clinton, Harrison, Daviess, DeKalb, Gentry and Worth were to constitute the St. Joseph Division, and the courts therefor were to be held at St. Joseph. The counties of Cedar, Polk, Dallas, Laclede, Pu- laski, Dade, Greene, Webster, Wright, Texas, Lawrence, Christian, Douglas, Howell, Newton, Barry, McDonald, Stone, Taney and Ozark were to constitute the Southern Division of said Western District, the courts for which were to be held at the city of Springfield. The remaining counties in said Western District were to constitute the Central Division of said district, and the courts, circuit and district, were to be continued and held at Jefferson City. Thereby was established a District and Circuit Court of the United States in each of the several divisions of the said Eastern and Western Districts thus created, except the Southern Division of the Western District, in which a district court only was created. In each of said divisions there were to be held two terms of the district and circuit courts in each year, except in said Southern Division, in which were to be held two terms of the district court in each year. The times of holding said terms of court in St. Louis, Kansas City and Jefferson City were to be the same as already established by law, and in the other divisions therein named the times of holding terms of court were to be, at Hannibal on the first Mondays of May and November, and at the city of St. Joseph on the first Mondays of April and October, and at Springfield on the first Mondays of February and August. The counties of Cedar, Polk, Greene, Dade, Lawrence, Newton, McDonald, Barry and Stone were attached to the Western Division of the Western District for circuit court purposes in all cases and proceedings.
The District Judges for the Eastern and Western Districts, each in the division of his proper district, and the Circuit Judge of the Eighth Judicial Circuit were required to hold said courts. All suits brought in the courts of the United States in Missouri, not of a local nature, were to be brought in the division 'having jurisdiction over the county where the defendants, or one of them, resided. If there were more than one defendant and a part of them resided in different divisions or districts, plaintiff might sue in either division or district. Appointment of clerks in the new divisions created by said act was provided for, and the district attorney and marshal of the Eastern and Western Judicial Districts were to act as marshal and district attorney of their respective districts and to receive the fees as allowed by law. Before the judge was to hold terms of court at St. Joseph, Hannibal and Springfield, he was to have satisfactory evidence that the county court judges in the counties where said towns were located had set apart in said towns a court room, clerk's office, marshal's office, and district attorney's office free of rent to the United States, to be used and occupied until the completion of public buildings by the United States.
Thus it will be seen that Missouri is well provided with United States courts, conveniently located in different parts of the State, there being four courts in the Western District and two in the Eastern. It is believed that no other State has so many United States courts within its borders.
On the 19th of April, 1888 (25 United States Statutes, p. 88), the times of holding the district and circuit courts at Hannibal were fixed for the fourth Monday of May and the first Monday of December of each year, and in the same volume, page 497, by act of September 26, 1888, the circuit court of the Western Division of the Western District was to be held at Kansas City on the first Mondays of March and September of each year, and the district court for said division was to begin at Kansas City on the first Mondays of May and October annually; and the circuit and district courts for the St. Joseph division were to begin and be held at said city on the first Mondays of April and November annually; and both circuit and district courts in the Central Division of the Western District were changed to the third Mondays of April and November annually;
[ P. 268 ]
and the terms of the district court of Springfield were to begin on the third Mondays of May and October annually.
By act of October 1, 1888 (25 United States Statutes, p. 498), the county of Audrain was detached from the Northern Division of the Eastern Judicial District of Missouri and attached to the Central Division of the Western Judicial District of Missouri.
By act of May 14, 1890 (26 United States Statutes, p. 106), Congress amended the act of February 28, 1887, so as to establish both a district and circuit court in each of the several divisions of the Eastern and Western Districts, and in each of the several divisions two terms of a circuit court were required to be held in each year. Those at St. Louis, Kansas City and Jefferson City were to be held at the times designated by the original act, and in other divisions they were to be held at Hannibal on the first Mondays of May and November, at St. Joseph on the first Mondays of April and October, and at Springfield on the first Mondays of February and August. The district judges for the Eastern and Western Districts of the State, each in the divisions of the proper districts, and the circuit judge of the Eighth Judicial Circuit, were required to hold the said courts. Juries were to be summoned as then directed by law, and whenever the circuit and district courts in either of said districts or divisions should be held at the same time and place, jurors should not be summoned for each of said courts, but for both courts, and they were to act accordingly as grand and petit jurors for both of said courts. Again, on the 29th of August, 1890 (26 United States Statutes, p. 369), changes were made in the times of holding circuit and district courts, as follows, to wit: At Kansas City on the first Mondays of March and September annually, at St. Joseph on the first Mondays of April and November annually, at Jefferson City on the third Mondays of April and November annually, and at Springfield on the third Mondays of May and October annually. All process was to be deemed returnable to the terms thereby created, and all recognizances were to be taken to have reference to the respective terms thereby established.
By act of March 3, 1891, (26 United States Statutes, p. 826), Congress made provision for the appointment in each circuit, of an additional circuit judge, with the same qualifications, power and jurisdiction that the circuit judges of the United States then had under existing laws, and to have the same compensation as the circuit judges then had in their respective circuits. Said act also created in each circuit a circuit court of appeals, to consist of three judges, of whom two should constitute a quorum, which should be a court of record, with appellate jurisdiction. Said court was to prescribe the form and style of its seal, and the form of writs and other process, conformable to the exercise of its jurisdiction, and could appoint a marshal and a clerk, who should exercise the same duties and powers within its jurisdiction as were then performed by the clerk of the Supreme Court of the United States. The salary of the marshal was fixed at $2,500 per annum, and of the clerk at $3,000, to be paid in equal proportions quarterly. The Chief Justice and associate justices of the Supreme Court assigned to each circuit, and the circuit judge within each circuit, and the several district judges within each circuit were competent to sit as judges of the circuit court of appeals within their corporate circuits. The Chief Justice, if attending said court of appeals, was to preside, and an associate justice, if attending, was to preside in the order of seniority of their commissions. A term was to be held annually, and the court in the Eighth Circuit was to be held at St. Louis on the second Monday of January, 1891, and thereafter at such times as the court should fix, No appeal or writ of error could thereafter be taken from district courts to existing circuit courts, and no appellate jurisdiction was thereafter to be exercised by existing circuit courts, but all appeals by writ of error or otherwise from district courts were subject to review in the Supreme Court, or the circuit court of appeals thereby established. Appeals or writs of error could be taken from district courts or existing circuit courts direct to the Supreme Court in cases in which the jurisdiction of the court alone was involved, in cases of final sentence and decrees in prize cases, and in cases of capital or infamous crimes, and where the construction or application of the United States laws were involved, or where the constitutionality of any law or treaty of the United States was
[ P. 269 ]
in question, or where the Constitution or law of a State is claimed in contravention of the Constitution of the United States. The circuit courts of appeals were to exercise appellate jurisdiction on appeals or writs of error on final decisions in the district courts or existing circuit courts in all cases other than those above mentioned, and their judgments or decrees were to be final in all cases in which the jurisdiction is dependent entirely upon the opposite parties to the suit being aliens and citizens of the United States, or citizens of different States; also in cases arising under patent laws, under revenue laws and under criminal laws, and in admiralty cases, excepting that in every subject within its appellate jurisdiction the circuit court of appeals may certify to the Supreme Court questions or propositions of law for its instruction. Said act of Congress sets forth provisions and regulations for the guidance of said circuit courts of appeals, which it is not necessary to specify in detail.
On April 19, 1892 (27 United States Statutes, p. 20), Congress again changed the times of holding the circuit and district courts of the United States in the Western District of Missouri after the ist of July, 1892, by declaring that the terms of said courts should begin at Kansas City on the fourth Monday in April and the first Monday in November annually, at St. Joseph on the first Monday of March and the third Monday of November annually, at Springfield on the first Monday in April and the first Monday in October annually, and at Jefferson City on the third Mondays in March and October annually.
On July 23, 1894 (28 United States Statutes, p. 115), the President of the United States, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, is required to appoint an additional circuit judge in the Eighth Judicial Circuit, who shall possess the same qualifications and exercise the same powers and jurisdiction as then prescribed by law for circuit judges.
By act of February 8, 1896, of the first session of the Fifty-fourth Congress, the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Eighth Judicial Circuit is extended to all suits at law or equity then pending therein upon writ of error or appeal from the United States Court in the Indian Territory.
By act of January 28, 1897 (p. 502, of Acts of Second Session of the Fifty-fourth Congress), the county of Audrain in Missouri is- detached from the Western Judicial District of Missouri and is attached to the Eastern. Judicial District. It is a curious fact that the county of Audrain, which was first placed in the Eastern District, from the time of the division of the State into two districts, at almost every session of Congress was transferred from the division in which it was first placed to the other, and then back again. It might be called a traveling or locomotive county. Congress played foot ball with it and kept it moving backward and forward between the different districts or divisions.
The above compilation of the acts of Congress shows, in brief, the action of the government in reference to the powers and jurisdiction of Federal courts in the State of Missouri, whether granted by special or general acts. The gentlemen who, at different times,, have held the positions of judges of the district and circuit courts in Missouri, and the associate justices of the United States Supreme Court assigned to the Missouri Circuit, have all been men of eminent ability and learning and will compare favorably with any judges of other Federal courts throughout the country, both as to legal learning and integrity of character. The following are the judges of the United States courts in Missouri :
Judges of the District Court: James H. Peck, commissioned judge of the District Court of Missouri, April 5, 1822, and retired March 8, 1836; Robert W. Wells, commissioned June 27, 1836, and died September 22,. 1864, while still in office; Samuel Treat, commissioned March 3, 1857, for the Eastern. District of Missouri, and resigned March 5,. 1887; Arnold Krekel, commissioned for the Western District, March 9, 1865, and died in office June 8, 1887; Amos M. Thayer, commissioned for the Eastern District in February, 1887, and appointed United States circuit judge August 9, 1884; John F. Philips, commissioned for the Western District, June 25, 1888. and still in office; Henry S. Priest,, commissioned for the Eastern District, August 9, 1894, and resigned May 13, 1895; Elmer B. Adams, commissioned for the Eastern District, December 9, 1895, and still in office.
Circuit Court Judges: John Forest Dillon,
[ P. 270 ]
commissioned December 22, 1869, and resigned September i, 1879; George Washington McCrary, commissioned December 9, 1879, and resigned March —, 1884; Henry- Clay Caldwell, commissioned March 7, 1890, and still in office; David Josiah Brewer, commissioned March 31, 1884, and appointed associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, December 20, 1889; Walter B. Sanborn, commissioned March 17, 1892, and still in office.
Associate Justices of the United States Supreme Court assigned to the Eighth Judicial Circuit in Missouri are included: John Ca- tron, March —, 1837, and continued until 1862, when he was transferred to the Sixth Circuit; Samuel Furman Miller, commissioned July 16, 1862, and assigned first to the Ninth Circuit, in which Missouri was then included, and afterward, when Missouri was placed in the Eighth Circuit, he was assigned to that circuit, and so continued until his death, October —, 1890; David J. Brewer, associate justice of the Supreme Court, after the death of Justice Miller, was assigned to the Eighth Circuit.
Many important questions have arisen in the Federal courts of Missouri under the treaty by which the United States acquired of France the Louisiana Territory, which by appeals or writs of error have been carried to the Supreme Court of the United States. Their decision by this latter court has established principles in reference to land titles that have controlled similar questions that have arisen in Florida, acquired of Spain, and in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California, acquired of Mexico. Constitutional questions have also arisen in the Missouri United States courts that have had a national bearing, notably the Dred Scott case, whose decision by the United States court aroused public attention and discussion throughout the whole country and was one of the causes that contributed to the late Civil War. The test oath cases, under the Missouri Constitution of 1865, involved principles of civil liberty which were passed upon and settled by the United States Supreme Court
- MELVIN L. GRAY.