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Anderson Hutchinson (1798-1853)

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Associate Justice, Supreme Court of the Republic of Texas, 1841-1843

Anderson Hutchinson was born in Greenbrier County, Virginia in 1798. After receiving his common school education, he studied law in the office of his father, clerk of the Greenbrier County court. He then relocated to Knoxville, Tennessee, where he was admitted to the bar. He practiced law for a number of years in Knoxville, in Huntsville, Alabama, and in Raymond, Mississippi before moving to Texas with his wife in 1840.

Hutchinson set up a successful law practice in Austin and was appointed judge of the Fourth (Western) District in 1841. This appointment automatically made him a member of the supreme court.

The spring of Hutchinson's appointment to the court, trouble broke out in Austin when Alphonse Dubois de Saligny, French chargé d'affaires, got into a dispute with local hotel keeper Richard Bullock over Bullock's pigs, which roamed freely. Saligny resided in a building at the compound on Sixth and Congress owned by Bullock while he awaited completion of his home, now known as the French Legation. Saligny complained that the pigs broke into the stable where his horses were quartered, eating corn intended for the horses. He also accused the pigs of breaking into his residence, destroying linens and papers. When several of the pigs were killed, Bullock accused Saligny's servant of performing the act, beat the servant, and threatened to beat Saligny as well. The episode, known as the Pig War, became an international incident when Saligny invoked diplomatic immunity for himself and his servant and demanded that the Texas government punish Bullock. But Texas officials refused to impose punishment without due process. A trial was held with Hutchinson as presiding judge, but politics intervened and Bullock went unpunished. Saligny, acting on his own without his country's approval, broke relations with Texas and relocated to Louisiana. Throughout the following year he made various threats on behalf of France but eventually returned to Texas in 1842.

In September 1842 Hutchinson was holding court in San Antonio when Mexican forces stormed the town. He was among fifty Texans captured by the Mexican army and forced to march to Perote Castle in the state of Veracruz, Mexico. They arrived in December and were held prisoner in dungeons at Perote until March of the following year, when the U.S. minister to Mexico negotiated their release.

When he was freed, Hutchinson returned to Raymond, Mississippi and tendered his resignation from the Texas bench. He resumed private law practice in Mississippi. Hutchinson, known for his scholarly writing both as a lawyer and on the bench, died in Mississippi in 1853.

Notable opinions

Bailey v Haddy, Dallam 376 (1841) (affirming judgment for plaintiff in trespass action, while simultaneously delineating the powers of the Texas Supreme Court as one of appellate jurisdiction and thus upholding facts certified by lower courts as well as sustaining general verdicts with no points of error assigned by losing party).

Texas Constitution references - Art IV, §8, 13

Sources

Barker, Nancy N. The Pig War, Handbook of Texas Online (last updated June 6, 2001). http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/PP/mgp1.html

Huson, Hobart. Hutchinson, Anderson, Handbook of Texas Online (last updated June 6, 2001). http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/HH/fhu52.html

Lynch, James Daniel. The Bench and Bar of Texas 74-75 (St. Louis, Missouri: Nixon-Jones Printing Co., 1885).

Extended bibliography

Foote, Henry Stuart. The Bench and Bar of the South and Southwest 84 (St. Louis, Missouri: Soule, Thomas & Wentworth, 1876).

Fulmore, Zachary Taylor. The History and Geography of Texas as Told in County Names 200 (Austin, Texas: Steck, 1915).

Huson, Hobart. District Judges of Refugio County 55 (Refugio, Texas: Timely Remarks, 1941).

Lynch, James Daniel. The Bench and Bar of Texas 74 (St. Louis, Missouri: Nixon-Jones Printing Co., 1885).

Weyland, Leonie and Houston Wade. An Early History of Fayette County (La Grange, Texas: La Grange Journal, 1936).

Additional information available in Southwestern Historical Quarterly as follow:
Volume 13, page 292, 294, 323
Volume 14, page 302
Volume 38, page 247
Volume 67, page 123
Volume 68, page 366

Anderson Hutchinson Diary. Archives Division, Texas State Library (Austin, Texas).