The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 100, July 1996 - April, 1997 Page: 266
Southwestern Historical Quarterly
conclusion, appendix, notes, bibliography, index. ISBN o-89o96-520-X.
In recent decades the publication of pathfinding studies of the lower federal
courts has resulted in a more varied and complex picture of the role of the na-
tional court system in American legal history. One line of inquiry in these works
has been the tension between local interests and national priorities, as seen, for
example, in some of the writings by Mary K. Bonsteel Tachau, Kermit Hall, and
Tony Freyer. However, another thought pattern about the development of the
lower national courts, one that Charles L. Zelden and others like to employ,
deals with the interplay between public and private law. After using a vast array
of oral and written records (with a total of ninety pages devoted to notes and
sources), the author shows that from its inception in 1902 until 1960, the South-
ern District Court of Texas, ranging from Houston and the gulf coast to the hill
country and the Rio Grande, stressed a docket of a "private" nature to "support,
stabilize, and regulate local and national businesses and markets" (p. 1 1). This
continuity took place for three reasons: the desire to keep private control over
the regional economy; the need for the business world to keep track of its rights
and responsibilities; and the outlook-conservative and corporate-of the
Judges on the bench.
Zelden's admirable book is not only an institutional history of a national court
but also a study of the thoughts and actions of those who presided over the trial
court in southern Texas. Waller T. Burns, the first judge on the bench, was a Re-
publican progressive who especially heard cases dealing with the railroads. After
his death, Joseph C. Hutcheson Jr. took his seat on the court. Embedded in his
judicial philosophy was the idea that "if everyone acted with moderation and a
concern for the needs of others-if private rights were balanced with public du-
ties-stability would result" (p. 8o). Judge Hutcheson heard cases that dealt with
a changing Americas espionage in World War I, Prohibition, and the regulation
of a growing economy in the 192os. The judges that followed Hutcheson faced
the Great Depression, World War II, and the beginnings of the Cold War. Note-
worthy in this era would be the careers of James V. Allred, Ben C. Connally,
Allen B. Hannay, and Thomas M. Kennerly. These Texan judges heard cases
dealing with civil rights, immigration, workers' compensation, and insurance
and personal injury suits. These judges continued to hold that "the first duty of
the federal courts was to protect and foster private property" (p. 211).
The author's look into the past shows that western history as a field of study is
not an intellectual wasteland. To make sense out of a mass of data is no small
feat. Zelden's well-organized synthesis will be a model for future studies of trial-
level courts in the state of Texas.
Jamestown Community College HAROLDJ. WEISS JR.
The Lives and Times of Bonnie and Clyde. By E. R. Milner. (Carbondale: Southern
Illinois University Press. Pp. x+188. Acknowledgments, plates, prologue,
epilogue, notes, index. ISBN 0-8093-1977-2. $24.95, cloth.)
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 100, July 1996 - April, 1997, periodical, 1997; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101218/m1/318/ocr/: accessed September 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.