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which will not be confirmed by the new government.  Quere -- To whom does he allude?[21]

Walked in the evening to the upper cotton press.  The buildings owned by a company; very spacious.  Called at Rob. Marye's and took tea with them.  His son is a fine looking youth, just seventeen.  No letters from home.

Tuesday, January 5, 1836

Weather fine and warm.  Went with Mr. Yates to the court to hear the trial of the Brutus case.  The proceedings are dismissed, and she sailed.

The legislature of Louisiana assembled yesterday.  Went to see them in session.  Some of the members speak French and some English.  When one speaks in French an interpreter renders it into English for the benefit of the American members, and vice versa.  The questions, too, are always put in English and French.  This procedure causes much delay.  It is altogether a very awkward and must be an unsatisfactory mode of legislating.  The building is antique and nowise elegant.

Visited also the basin of the ----- Canal, the depot of the Pontchartrain railroad, where I saw a train of cars come in laden heavily with cotton, sugar, salt, etc., and the lower cotton press.  In these presses steam power is used.  The bales are pressed to one-half the dimensions that they bring from the plantations, and roped anew.  The amount of cotton seen at these presses is wonderful and astonishing.

Yates says the practice of the courts in Texas is very simple.  All suits, civil or criminal, are first brought before a single magistrate, called Alcalde.  The complainant states his cause of action in plain terms, in writing.  A summons issues to both parties and to their witnesses to appear before the Alcalde on a certain day to have their cause tried.  Two other persons, as arbitrators, or triers are then associated with the Alcalde.  They hear the witnesses and the parties pro and con, and make their decision in writing, giving their reasons.  In this way a great majority of the causes of the country are disposed of.  But if their decision is not satisfactory, an appeal may be taken to the court above, which is held by what is called the Primary Judge, where the cause is tried by a jury.  From the decision here an appeal lies to the Supreme Court, or Court of Appeals, where points of law only are decided, the facts having been ascertained before the jury.  In this way there is a great deal of business for lawyers, and if I mistake not, there will be much more.[22]

The Constitution of Coahuila and Texas declares that "nobody can be born a slave, and the introduction of slaves under any pretext is prohibited."  But the law (some law or other) permits persons to bind themselves by contract to serve others for a term of years.  In this way Negroes have been held in Texas.  And I


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The Diary of William Fairfax Gray, from Virginia to Texas, 1835-1837
Copyright 1997 William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies
Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas