American Law Journal, Vol. V

Thomas JEFFERSON   |   John E. HALL

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FIRST EDITION OF THE FIFTH VOLUME OF THE FIRST AMERICAN LEGAL PERIODICAL, LARGELY CONCERNING THE CONFLICT BETWEEN EDWARD LIVINGSTON AND THOMAS JEFFERSON ABOUT THE STATUS OF THE BATTURE IN LOUISIANA

(JEFFERSON, Thomas) HALL, John E. The American Law Journal, Vol. V. Baltimore: Edward J. Coale, et al., 1814. Octavo, modern half brown calf, red morocco spine label. $2600.

First edition of the fifth volume of the first American law periodical, with this volume largely dedicated to the conflict between Jefferson and Edward Livingston over the openness of a coastal Louisiana area known as the Batture.

"In the field of American periodical literature there was one section which long law fallow… It was in the year 1808 that the first magazine sprouted in the legal corner of the periodical field. Its common name was The Law Journal or American Law Journal… This work bloomed quarterly and contained reports of cases in the United States courts and state courts, opinions of eminent counsel, notices of law publications, essays on legal questions, congressional and parliamentary debates, and information respecting the most important laws of the different states" (Marion Brainerd, Law Library Journal). Publications proved slightly slower than anticipated and the fifth volume was not published until 1814. That year's Journal was notable for covering a fascinating and important legal conflict between Thomas Jefferson and attorney Edward Livingston over the public use of the "Batture," an area along the New Orleans coastline. "Historically, since the founding of New Orleans, the Batture had been treated as public lands. It served many useful functions. The Batture provided space for a public port. This was especially critical considering that at the time, the city was surrounded by wetlands and the only ingress/egress to the city was via the river. In addition, city residents greatly valued the Batture silt and used it to shore up levees and create streets. When the river was low, it was used as a public storage grounds. The Batture was also a pleasant place for the public to stroll, as there was a nice river breeze. The primarily French New Orleanians were hostile to the new concepts of private property, which they viewed as imported from the common law as New Orleans transitioned from a French to a U.S. colony… The New Orleans Batture controversy awakened a general and widespread anxiety over the kind of treatment the people of Louisiana could expect in American courts with American judges, who were ignorant of local custom. The dispute over the Batture symbolized and dramatized the underlying ethnic, cultural, and legal conflicts as Louisiana shifted its identity from French and Spanish to American. The Batture controversy ignited a public fury that would take years to recede" (Law Library of Louisiana). One of Jefferson's signature achievements was the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 and he maintained a longstanding interest in the disposition of the area. Edward Livingston, on the other hand, was a New Yorker who had been appointed U.S. Attorney for the State of New York in 1801 by Jefferson and went on to become the Mayor of New York. After becoming embroiled in a friend's embezzlement controversy, Livingston fled to Louisiana and set up shop as a lawyer. He soon began helping buyers secure private land along the Batture. Jefferson was staunchly opposed to privatization of the Batture. In fact, one of his very few publications after leaving office defended the federal government's right to keep the Batture for public use. Today, the Batture is regarded as a historic squatter community, with working class men and families taking up residence there in the early 1900s. The do-it-yourself ethos resulting from that heritage has made the Batture a uniquely climate-resilient community, even as the water continues to encroach on the Louisiana coastline. Owner library stamp on first page of text.

Mild embrowning to interior, binding attractive. A near-fine copy.

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