Thomas Jefferson Papers

Caesar A. Rodney to Thomas Jefferson, 6 October 1810

From Caesar A. Rodney

Wilmington October, 6. 1810

Honored & Dear Sir,

A few days since your acceptable favor of the 25th ulto was received, and the day before yesterday your exposition of the case of the Batture came to hand. I have since attentively perused it, and it has afforded me equal pleasure & instruction. It is true, it does not possess the strict method required in a legal argument, but the full & satisfactory explanation which it contains of the whole transaction is peculiarly gratifying. It traces by regular steps all the occurrences in the order in which they took1 place, & happily combining law & argument with the facts in their rational course, leads us in an easy & familiar manner to a correct result. Your idea of giving the same construction to the same words in both Suits2 is new & conclusive. They are thus caught in their own net. I will loose no time in furnishing you with a sketch of my impressions on the subject. In the interim I send you the 8th volume of Brown’s Parliamentary cases, edited by Tomlins, in which you will find a case, in many features bearing a striking resemblance to Livingston’s claim. The decision of the House Lords in 1797. was in favor of the corporation of Dundee & against the attempt of a grantee to the flood waters. You will find it commencing in page 119. & continuing to page 145. Upon the whole, from a variety of circumstances combined in it, no case to be found in the books, is perhaps more analagous to the present. Notwithstanding the rules of the civil, common & scottish law on the subject of alluvion, the Court of Sessions3 & the house of Lords decided on the great & essential principles of universal law against an attempt to convert to private purposes that which may properly be considered as res publie & for the benefit of the community. I send you the book because the case is not contained in the old edition.

Before I received your favor I had written to the President decidedly in favor of Mr Lincoln. Mr Gallatin unites with me in opinion. It would be a great blessing to this country to have a majority of Republicans on the bench of the Supreme Court

Yours Truly & Affectionately

C. A. Rodney

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 10 Oct. 1810 and so recorded in SJL.

The enclosed volume described the 1797 decision in Thomas Smart v. The Magistrates and Town Council of the Burgh of Dundee (Josiah Brown, Reports of Cases upon Appeals and Writs of Error determined in the High Court of Parliament, 2d ed., expanded by Thomas E. Tomlins [London, 1803], 8:119–45). res publie (correctly “res publicae”): “public things,” property that cannot be privately owned under Roman and civil law (Black’s Law Dictionary description begins Bryan A. Garner and others, eds., Black’s Law Dictionary, 7th ed., 1999 description ends ).

1Word interlined in place of “happen.”

2Manuscript: “Suts.”

3Manuscript: “Sessins.”

Index Entries

  • Batture Sainte Marie, controversy over; C. A. Rodney on search
  • Brown, Josiah; Reports of Cases upon Appeals and Writs of Error (ed. Tomlins) search
  • Gallatin, Albert; and Supreme Court appointment search
  • Great Britain; House of Lords search
  • law; Roman search
  • Lincoln, Levi; as potential Supreme Court justice search
  • Madison, James; and Supreme Court appointments search
  • Reports of Cases upon Appeals and Writs of Error (Brown; ed. Tomlins) search
  • Rodney, Caesar Augustus; and TJ’s statement on the batture case search
  • Rodney, Caesar Augustus; letters from search
  • Roman law; and batture controversy search
  • Smart, Thomas search
  • Supreme Court, U.S.; replacement for W. Cushing search
  • Thomas Smart v. The Magistrates and Town Council of the Burgh of Dundee (Brown’s Reports) search
  • Tomlins, Thomas E.; editor of Brown’s Reports search