Today in History:

113 Series I Volume XLI-II Serial 84 - Price's Missouri Expedition Part II


premised this much, I now state, that you "have" not "rightly understood what was the fact" to which you allude at the supreme court. The court, as such, made no such resolve as you have understood, neither when you have been within or without the city. At the session only one of the associate justices was present; that was Judge Knapp. To transact business two judges must concur, otherwise the court can make no orders, judgments, or decrees to carry effect, except an order for adjournment or of like necessity. Two judges constitute a quorum. When the court opened it made an order fixing the times and place for holding the U. S. terms for the causes arising under the laws of the United States in the third (Judge Knapp's) district. I concurred gladly in the order. I was then desirous to fix the times and places for like purposes in the second and first districts. Judge Knapp refused togo any further in fixing terms, and announced that he had "got all he wanted and what he came for," and that he would transact no more business in the court until General Calreton, commanding this department, should unconditionally and absolutely revoke his orders concerning passports.

An attempt was made by an attorney present to obtain the hearing of in motion in a cause, but Judge Knapp peremptorily and persistingly refused, and thereupon left the bench before the court adjourned. The position assumed and maintained by him was not the position of the court. The chief justice remained silent, except so far as to manifest that he did not concur in the position of the associate justice. The latter made many remarks, sitting upon the bench, to all present, and with much warmth detailing what he claimed to have been unauthorized, tyrannical, and oppressive acts perpetrated by the military in this Territory, and imputing to the military officers in his district and to yourself high and despotic offenses against the Government, the laws and the liberties and rights of the people. On the next day the court again went into session, when Judge Knapp again announced his position and determinations and proposed to adjourn the court, finally, as to that term. He again made some remarks from the bench with much warmth of manner and strength of expression. Attorney-General Clever having attempted to bring some business before the court, and in doing so expressed his opposition to Judge Knapp's unwillingness to proceed with the business, and remarked incidentally that "General Lee was trying to break up the Government and courts," Judge Knapp quickly responded, "And Carleton is helping him and would do it, so he could rule supreme over New Mexico."

Finding that it was impossible to proceed with the business, as Judge Knapp seemed determined in his position and acted upon his determinations, and that no benefit could result to the Government or litigants by continuing the term any longer, the chief justice remarked that he had no opinions to express nor remarks to make in that place, under such circumstances, upon the matters which had been stated and commenced upon by the associate justice, but should concur in adjourning the term.

In all of Judge' Knapp's remarks with reference to yourself and the military, and in the position he assumed, he acted upon his own individual responsibilities. The subject-matter of his statements and comments was in no way before the court for its decision and action. I neither felt nor saw any obstructions or interference in the way of the court's proceeding with its legitimate business, except the absence of Judge Brocchus, one of the associate justicies.