Indian wars and pioneers of Texas / by John Henry Brown. Page: 485 of 894
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INDIAN WARS AND PIONEERS OF TEXAS.
and sat down. The court room was crowded with
armed and angry men determined to carry their
point. The judge blandly asked the lawyer if he
could cite any law for such a proceeding, as it
appeared novel to him. The lawyer arose, and
pulling out a bowie-knife laid it on the table and
said: ' This is the statute which governs in such
cases.' Quick as thought and with an eye flashing
fire the Judge drew a long pistol, drew it down on
the lawyer, and in tones that meant more than was
said, replied: 'And this is the constitution which
overrides the statute. Open court, Mr. Sheriff,
and call the list of grand jurors for the term.' The
court was held and without any conflict between the
'statute' and the ' constitution.'
" An old friend of Judge Williamson who himself
has borne a most distinguished part in the affairs of
the State, writes of him now as follows: 'Upon
the organization of the government of the Republic
Judge Williamson was selected to fill the important
position of Judge of the Third Judicial District.
He then removed his residence to Washington
County, where he continued to make his home till
about two years previous to his death. To evolve
law and order out of the wild and discordant elements
of a revolutionary and frontier people is no
slight undertaking. The restraints of family and
the check which society imposes in older and better
regulated communities were powerless here. The
wild and daring spirits attracted hither by the love
of excitement and adventure, too frequently after
the war was over, degenerated into lawless recklessness.
To restrain and subdue this spirit no more
judicious appointment could have been made. To
great force of character and undaunted personal
courage Judge Williamson united great suavity of
manner and calmness of judgment. These qualities
inspired the admiration and commanded the love
and respect of the bold borderers. Did time and
space permit I might enrich this sketch with many
an amusing anecdote of that period. After successfully
establishing regular judicial proceedings
and inaugurating the new order of things consequent
upon the achievement of an independence
Judge Williamson withdrew from the bench. From
this time until about the year 1840, he assumed the
practice of law.
' ' He was induced then to become a candidate to
represent Washington County in the Congress of
the Republic; was easily elected, and from that
time until 1850, with but a single exception, he
represented that district in one or the other branch
of the Legislature. In the stormy times which followed
the dissolution of one form of government
and preceded the institution of another, Judge
Williamson wielded a controlling influence. While
it is not claimed for him that he originated many
great measures, yet as a conservative power his
influence was widely felt and acknowledged. He
stood erect as a faithful and incorruptible sentinel
over the rights and interests of the State.
' Having no selfish ambition to gratify, careless
of money to a fault, he was inaccessible to the
threats or flatteries of the cormorants whose object
it was to prey upon the public treasury or the public
domain. Individuals who had bills of doubtful
merit before Congress or the Legislature feared the
sleepless eye and withering invective of Williamson
more than the opposition of all others. The good
that he thus achieved for the country is incalculable.
" 'When mad extravagance ruled the hour and
the country seemed on the verge of destruction,
his voice was heard loudest in stern rebuke of such
evil practices. In the darkest hours of the Republic,
in 1842, when peace and credit and even hope
itself had almost fled from our midst, again his
clarion notes were heard cheery and blythe and
hopeful to the end. He deserved the guerdon of
merit which the Roman Senate awarded Varro when
the Carthagenians were assaulting the very gates of
Rome. ' For,' says the historian, ' while the weak
fled in dismay and the bold trembled, he alone did
not despair of the Republic.'
"When the great question of annexation came
to be considered in 1845, Judge Williamson was its
unflinching advocate. He was a member then of the
Congress of the Republic of Texas, which accepted
the overture of the United States and ratified President
Jones' call for a Convention and the apportionment
of representation (a most difficult and
delicate point). The stirring events of the past
ten or fifteen years had not been favorable to study.
The exciting political question of the day opened a
wider field to the ardent temperament of Williamson,
and after once engaging therein he never again
regularly resumed the practice of his profession.
His last appearance before the public was as a candidate
for Congress, when he was defeated by a
few votes by the Hon. Volney E. Howard. The
result was attributed by Judge Williamson's friends
to the late period at which he was announced and
to his want of acquaintance on the Rio Grande,
where a large vote was polled. From that time he
led a quiet and retired life upon a small farm near
Independence, in Washington County, devoting
himself exclusively to the education of his children.
Although his opportunities for acquiring wealth and
independence were unequaled by those of any other
man, yet he was of such generous and improvident
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Brown, John Henry. Indian wars and pioneers of Texas / by John Henry Brown., book, ; Austin, Tex.. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth6725/m1/485/: accessed March 30, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .