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JQA Diary, volume 41 24 February 1841


Neal Millikan Amistad Supreme Court
259 Washington Wednesday 24. February 1841.

24. V. Wednesday—

Dearborn— H. A. S. Wilson Patrick

Morning snow, which powdered the face of the earth; and cleared away before the setting Sun— I rode to the Capitol with Mr W. S. Smith, and Elizabeth C. Adams came afterwards— I was busied in preparation in the Clerk of the Supreme Court’s room, nearly an hour to the moment of the meeting of the Court— When that was opened Josiah Randall, and Mr Polk now a Clerk in the Department of War were admitted as Attornies and Counsellors of the Court, and Chief Justice Taney announced to me, that the Court were ready to hear me— The judges present were Taney, Story, Thompson M’Lean, Baldwin, Wayne, Barbour and Catron. Judge M’Kinley has been present during any part of this trial— The Court room was full, but not crowded, and there were not many Ladies. I had been deeply distressed and agitated till the moment when I rose, and then my Spirit did not sink within me— With grateful heart for aid from above, though in humiliation for the weakness incident to the limits of my powers, I spoke four hours and a half, with sufficient method and order to witness little flagging of attention, by the judges or the auditory; till at half past 3. O’Clock, when the Chief Justice said the Court would hear me further to-morrow— Mr Baldwin mentioned that he would stay and hear me to-morrow, but that he should be obliged to leave the City on Friday to return home. The structure of my argument so far as I have yet proceeded is perfectly simple and comprehensive—needing no artificial division into distinct points, but admitting the steady and undeviating pursuit of one fundimental principle, the ministration of Justice— I then assigned my reason for invoking Justice, specially, aware that this was always the duty of the court; but because an immense array of power, the executive administration, instigated by the Minister of a foreign Nation has been brought to bear in this case on the side of injustice— I then commenced a review of the Correspondence between the Secretary of State, and the Spanish Ministers Calderon and Argaiz, which I analyzed with critical research as far as I was able, but with not half the acuteness nor with a tenth part of the vigour which I would have applied had they been at my command— I did not I could not answer public expectation—but I have not yet utterly failed— God speed me to the end. After the adjournment of the Court, I went for a few minutes into the house, but they were yet in recess— I rode home with Mr Smith and Elizabeth C. Adams at 4. General Dearborn called here, while I was absent— After dinner, a written inventory was taken by Mr Smith, signed by him and Patrick Wilson, of all the effects left by my poor deceased Jeremy LearyThomas Dumphy and myself were present all the time—the effects as far as possible were packed in his trunk which was locked up, and I have the key.