1805 LETTER FROM A RECENTLY RELOCATED LAWYER DETAILING HIS MOVE TO OHIO AND HIS THOUGHTS ON THE SORRY STATE OF LAW IN THE NEW STATE, ALL TO GARRET WALL, WHO WOULD EVENTUALLY BECOME A NEW JERSEY STATE ATTORNEY AND UNITED STATES SENATOR9106
On offer is a unique and gorgeously written letter from an lawyer, by the name of Isaac G. Barnet,who has recently relocated to Cincinnati, Ohio from England. He is writing to a friend, Garret D. Wall, in Trenton, New Jersey. Garret Wall was at the time just a practicing attorney in New Jersey, however, he would go on to serve a long illustrious life, first as a clerk for the New Jersey Supreme Court, then as the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, then being elected a New Jersey Senator from 1835 to 1841, and finishing his life as a high court judge. In language that is often elegant and very obviously from an educated man, the Mr. Barnet’s writes of many topics, such as his recent departure from Trenton, New Jersey to Cincinnati, his new professional life in Cincinnati, his old practice in Westminster (in London, England) and the ease at which he finds that people can pass the Bar exam in his new home and the consequences this seems to have had. He begins the letter as such: “The most difficult part of a letter is said to be the beginning, but I have found it the easiest in this instance, having already begun, without knowing how to continue, the fact is, I feel in but an indifferent mood this evening, and you shall pay for it, by being obliged to read what will neither be amusing enough to ____ a smile nor entertaining enough to please. This letter will give you no other pleasure than that which a sensible mind will always feel on hearing from an absent friend.” He continues, apologizing for events that seem to have just transpired recently (his relocating to Cincinnati from Trenton, New Jersey): “I hope you are convinced before this that my abrupt departure from Trenton was not intentional, that neither you nor Mr. Pemberton were selected as objects of neglect, but that the _____ of my mind on the occasion will be a sufficient apology for any apparent neglect on my fact.” He also speaks of the timeless trope that continues to this day, the observation that: “The sentiments of the people in general, as in all other Democratic societies, appear very much opposed to the lawyers.” He writes that this is even more so in his new home, where seemingly anyone can pass the Bar exam and become a lawyer: “The facility of admission to the bar has introduced a norm of worthless and ignorant creatures into the profession, who would sell an opinion for a grile of whiskey and require themselves for a pint.” Things in Cincinnati are different than in Westminster, Mr. Barnet opines. Yet, he writes, “I have obtained more knowledge of the law since my short residence here, than during all the rest of my studies - I have no other way to employ my time than in reading.” He finishes the letter with the usual pleasantries, asking Mr. Wall to “remember me to the girls and to all my juvenile friends - I will conclude by giving you my sincere regards - Isaac G. Barnet.” The letter is four pages long, consisting of two unbound sheets of paper. The pages are in fair to good condition, showing a good deal of discoloration and repaired rips and tears. The letters must be handled with care. The handwriting is done in black ink which is still in good shape, showing little fading or smudging. The entirety of the letter can be read easily and legibly. (Background: Garret Dorset Wall (March 10, 1783 – November 22, 1850) was a military officer and politician from New Jersey. Born in Middletown Township, he completed preparatory studies, studied law, was licensed as an attorney in 1804 and as a counselor in 1807, and commenced practice in Burlington, New Jersey. He served in the War of 1812 and commanded a volunteer regiment from Trenton. He was clerk of the New Jersey Supreme Court from 1812 to 1817, and was Quartermaster General of New Jersey from 1815 to 1837. He was a member of the New Jersey General Assembly in 1827 and was U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey in 1829; Wall was elected Governor of New Jersey in 1829, but declined to serve; he was then elected as a Jacksonian (later, a Democrat) to the U.S. Senate and served from March 4, 1835, to March 4, 1841; he was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection. While in the Senate, he was chairman of the Committee on the Militia (Twenty-fourth and Twenty-fifth Congresses) and a member of the Committees on the Judiciary (Twenty-fifth and Twenty-sixth Congresses) and Military Affairs (Twenty-fifth Congress). From 1848 until his death, Wall was a judge of the New Jersey Court of Errors and Appeals of New Jersey from 1848 until his death in Burlington in 1850. He was buried in Saint Mary's Episcopal Churchyard in Burlington. Garret D. Wall was the father of James Walter Wall, also a U.S. Senator from New Jersey.
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