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Charles Shannon West (1829-1885)

Associate Justice, Texas Supreme Court, 1882-1885

Charles Shannon West was born in Camden, South Carolina on September 24, 1829. His father had been a sheriff and bank teller; his mother a frequent newspaper contributor. West was schooled in Camden before entering Jefferson College in Cannonsburg, Pennsylvania in 1845. A year later he returned to South Carolina and attended the College of South Carolina, graduating in 1848. Following his graduation he taught private school for two years and studied law privately. In early 1851 West was admitted to the bar and set up a practice in Camden.

Finding little work in Camden, West moved to Texas in the fall of 1852 and settled in Austin. In 1854 he was taken under the wing of Col. H. P. Brewster, a fellow South Carolinian, and the two went into practice together. In 1855 West was elected to the Sixth Legislature, representing the Capital District. The following year he went into law practice with John Hancock, and the firm became a leading practice in Central Texas. West was married in 1859; the couple would have three sons. In 1861 West was elected secretary of state under Gov. Lubbock. In 1862 he enlisted in the Confederate army at the rank of captain, was later promoted to major, and eventually served judge-advocate in the Trans-Mississippi department until war's end. He fought in the Battles of Galveston and Jenkins Ferry.

Following the war, West returned to his law practice. In 1874 he was admitted to practice in the U.S. Supreme Court, and argued several cases before the Court. He represented Travis County in the Constitutional Convention of 1875, where he served on the judiciary committee. The following year he was appointed to serve on the committee to codify state statutes; he was elected chairman of the committee. The result was the multi-volume Revised Statutes of Texas. He also served on the committee that launched Texas A&M University.

West was elected an associate justice of the Texas Supreme Court in 1882, succeeding Micajah Bonner, who retired at the end of his term. West served on the court from December 23, 1882 until resigning September 29, 1885. He died on October 23, 1885 within a month of his resignation.

Sources

66 Texas reports v.

Davenport, Jewette Harbert. The History of the Supreme Court of the State of Texas 153 (Austin, Texas: Southern Law Book Publishers, 1917).

Lynch, James Daniel. The Bench and Bar of Texas 323 (St. Louis, Missouri: Nixon-Jones Printing Co., 1885).

Swift, Roy L. West, Charles Shannon, Handbook of Texas Online (last updated June 6, 2001). http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/WW/fwe29.html

Extended bibliography

Bentley, H. L. The Texas Legal Directory 58 (Austin, Texas: Democratic Statesman Office, 1877).

Brown, John Henry. Indian Wars and Pioneers of Texas 189 (Austin, Texas: L. E. Daniell, 189-?).

Davenport, Jewette Harbert. The History of the Supreme Court of the State of Texas 153 (Austin, Texas: Southern Law Book Publishers, 1917).

Lynch, James Daniel. The Bench and Bar of Texas 323 (St. Louis, Missouri: Nixon-Jones Printing Co., 1885).

Speer, Ocie. Texas Jurists 86 (Austin, Texas: the author, 1936).

Additional information available in Southwestern Historical Quarterly as follow:
Volume 47, page 5
Volume 48, page 458
Volume 60, page 18
Volume 62, page 153
Volume 63, page 620
Volume 65, page 104, 489n
Volume 67, page 26
Volume 70, page 416n
Volume 73, page 245 passim

In Memoriam, 66 Texas Report v (1886).

Brown, Frank. Annals of Travis County and of the City of Austin. Archives Division, Texas State Library (Austin, Texas).