The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 55, July 1951 - April, 1952 Page: 306
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RUDOLPH L. BIESELE, Editor
The Case of John C. Watrous, United States Judge for Texas:
A Political Story of High Crimes and Misdemeanors. By
Walace Hawkins. Dallas (University Press in Dallas), 1950.
Pp. ix+xo9. $5.00.
It is notoriously true that the fame of lawyers and judges,
particularly trial judges, is ephemeral. This is partly due to the
fact that lawyers and judges deal with constantly changing prob-
lems of practical and immediate urgency but only temporary
significance; it is also due in part to the fact that really good
books about lawyers and judges are comparatively rare. Mr.
Hawkins has written one of those rare books, and in doing so
he has preserved an interesting record of an able and consci-
entious but greatly harassed judge.
Like many other lawyers of his time, John C. Watrous had a
varied background before he moved to Texas. Born in Connecti-
cut and educated in New York, he had served as an apprentice
lawyer in Tennessee and had practiced in Alabama and Missis-
sippi. He was admitted to the Texas bar in 1838, and during
the same year he became a member of President Mirabeau B.
Lamar's cabinet as attorney general, but resigned after holding
this office for only a few months. He was active in the private
practice of the law, being interested in establishing and defending
the titles to large land grants. Upon the annexation of Texas to
the Union, Watrous actively campaigned for appointment as
United States district judge and was finally nominated and con-
firmed in 1846, because of his old Tennessee connections with
President James K. Polk and also because Senators Sam Houston
and Thomas J. Rusk could not induce the President to nominate
their respective favorite candidates.
Soon Judge Watrous ran into trouble. His appointment was
resented by the Texas Legislature, which had strongly endorsed
a rival candidate for the appointment, James Webb. Moreover,
Judge Watrous had not decided cases to suit some of the members
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 55, July 1951 - April, 1952, periodical, 1952; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101139/m1/356/?rotate=270: accessed April 27, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.