Friday, February 16, 2007

"The council in argument begin so low, as scarcely to be heard, and gradually swell until they fairly rave" -- watching Gibbons v. Ogden

Have you ever wondered what it was like in the Supreme Court chambers, when important early cases like Gibbons v. Ogden were decided? Here's an account:

"The council in argument begin so low, as scarcely to be heard, and gradually swell until they fairly rave; then they gently subside into a soft whisper. Their gesticulation is menacing, both to the Court and the bystanders, and an equal portion of all they say, is distributed to every part of the hall." So wrote Henry Seawell, former North Carolina Attorney General, to N.C. Supreme Court Justice Thomas Ruffin, on February 12, 1824, after watching the arguments in Gibbons. This comes from Eric Muller at Is That Legal?, who is writing about Ruffin, and posts part of the letter in an interesting post on his find, today. For more, click here.

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