In the early days of the country there lived in one of the frontier, out-of-the-way counties of Georgia a certain justice of the peace who was remarkably tenacious of his judicial opinions and disposed to consider it a personal affront if any one had the hardihood, or rather temerity, to express dissatisfaction at his decisions ; and as the ‘Squire was an able-bodied, double-fisted fellow, pluck to the back bone and rarely gifted with what is now fashionably termed the knowledge of “knocking a man down on scientific principles,” and as he was every ready to thrash any one who differed in judicial opinion with him, but few of his decisions were questioned, appealed from, or carried to a higher court.
But at length one of his unsuccessful litigants, who had had a plain case in his favor decided directly against him, applied to the Judge of the Superior Court with a complaint that an appeal had been denied him by the refractory justice. The case was so clear that the Judge at once issued a writ of certiorari commanding the justice, in most peremptory terms, at once to send up all the papers for a rehearing. When this writ was placed in the hands of the sheriff the Judge charged him to execute it without fail. The sheriff, however, knew his man, and at once intimated to his honor that no little risk of severe personal injury would attend such a mission. The Judge, who also had an inkling of the pugnacious propensities of the justice, at once suggested that a couple of stout constables should accompany the sheriff on his perilous embassy, and with this force the latter set out.
Arriving at the office of the justice, which was nothing but a rough log cabin, the sheriff at once made known his business. The justice told him he would not comply--the sheriff said he must. The justice informed the officer that he would see him in--a place out of the confines of Georgia before he would give up the documents, and then he wouldn’t. The sheriff grew angry and belligerent--the justice a little more so. The sheriff turned his head towards his associates, as much to say that he depended upon them, and then made a hostile advance upon the justice--the next moment he was knocked sprawling upon the floor. The constables came up to the rescue--the justice pitched into them, and soon both were piled upon the prostrate sheriff. All three rallied and made a second attack--all three were a second time keeled over by the blows of the lusty justice. At him again they went, rough-and-tumble ; but he was more than a match for the entire posse, and in less time than it takes us to record it they were all soundly thrashed and the justice was left in quiet and undisturbed possession of his premises, papers and all.
After retreating into the yard, the sheriff and his assistants paused a moment to wipe the blood from their faces, get their hats into shape, brush their clothes and repair damages generally, and before mounting their horses the following short colloquy took place : “The Judge is a little snappish this morning,” said the sheriff. “Raither inclined that way,” retorted one of the constables. “And disposed not to be so particularly d--d accommodating as he might be, eh?” queried the other. We have never been able to learn whether the fighting justice had another call for the papers in question or not.
Source: New Orleans Daily Picayune, 5 January 1845 (no. 297). 2nd unnumbered page. University of Virginia Alderman Library.
Erin Bartels prepared this typescript.
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