Counterfeit Justice: The Judicial Odyssey of Texas by Dale Baum

By Dale Baum

For lots of of the 40 years of her existence as a slave, Azeline Hearne cohabitated together with her filthy rich, single grasp, Samuel R. Hearne. She bore him 4 young ones, just one of whom survived prior early youth. while Sam died presently after the Civil battle ended, he publicly said his courting with Azeline and bequeathed his complete property to their twenty-year-old mulatto son, with the availability that he look after his mom. while their son died early in 1868, Azeline inherited probably the most ecocnomic cotton plantations in Texas and have become one of many wealthiest ex-slaves within the former Confederacy. In Counterfeit Justice, Dale Baum strains Azeline’s extraordinary tale, detailing her ongoing felony battles to assert and continue her legacy.

As Baum indicates, Azeline’s inheritance speedy made her a goal for predatory whites decided to strip her of her land. a well-recognized determine on the Robertson County District court docket from the overdue 1860s to the early Eighteen Eighties, Azeline confronted various lawsuits—including one filed opposed to her by way of her personal legal professional. Samuel Hearne’s relations took steps to dispossess her, and different unscrupulous white males challenged the identify to her plantation, utilizing claims in keeping with previous Spanish land offers. Azeline’s lengthy and brave safeguard of her rightful identify introduced her a definite notoriety: the 1st freedwoman to be a celebration to 3 separate civil court cases appealed the entire method to the Texas very best courtroom and the 1st former slave in Robertson County indicted on legal fees of perjury. even supposing many times blocked and annoyed by way of the convolutions of the criminal approach, she advanced from a bewildered defendant to a made up our minds plaintiff who, in a single remarkable lawsuit, got here tantalizingly as regards to attaining revenge opposed to those that defrauded her for over a decade.

Due to gaps within the to be had historic checklist and the unreliability of secondary bills in response to neighborhood Reconstruction folklore, a few of the info of Azeline’s tale are misplaced to historical past. yet Baum grounds his hypothesis approximately her existence in fresh scholarship at the Reconstruction period, and he places his findings in context within the historical past of Robertson County. even though heritage has now not credited Azeline Hearne with influencing the process the legislation, the tale of her uniquely tough place after the Civil battle offers an unheard of view of the period and of 1 solitary woman’s try and negotiate its social and criminal complexities in her fight to discover justice.

Baum’s meticulously researched narrative might be of willing curiosity to criminal students and to all these drawn to the plight of freed slaves in this period.

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Additional info for Counterfeit Justice: The Judicial Odyssey of Texas Freedwoman Azeline Hearne (Conflicting Worlds: New Dimensions of the American Civil War)

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180, Book “I,” [Fall Term, 1851], pp. 43 (fi rst quotation)–44, MDC, Robertson County, Texas; Britton Dawson vs. William C. Duffi eld & Wife, Case No. 346, Book “I,” [Fall Term, 1851], p. 54 (second quotation), MDC, Robertson County, Texas; and “Statement of Facts,” in Eliza Cornelia Willett (Reynolds) vs. , Case No. 662, ODC, Robertson County, Texas. 33. Power of Attorney from Priscilla A. Duffield to George W. Shelton, February 18, 1857, Book “M,” pp. 558–59, and Warranty Deed, July 13, 1857, and fi led for record in August of 1859, Book “M,” pp.

No Place for a White Man to Live 31 aside how their relationship might have started and also ignoring how its continuance for many years might have emotionally scarred them and perhaps others, their liaison undeniably ended with affectionate devotion to one another. During the last years of his life, Sam cherished Azeline and he loved Dock, the sole surviving child that she bore him. Sam Hearne was not supposed to love his own child. Nor was he expected to fall in love with the mother of his child.

Reynolds was an early settler who had helped Stephen F. Austin with legal matters regarding immigration to the Mexican province of Texas. At his death in 1837 he left behind a very valuable estate, and much time had been spent over the years trying to determine via deaths, births, and marriages precisely who had an interest in it. The case drifted to two other counties before returning to Robertson County, where it was on the district court docket in 1851, when Sam had purchased the 903 acres. ” Others joined Dawson’s complaint, requesting that the county surveyor be ordered to determine what all parties already knew, namely, where exactly the Nixon grant fronted the Brazos River.

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