According to persuasive folk memories, Union general Gordon Granger read an order at Galveston, Texas on the 19th of June, 1865, to the effect that all previously enslaved people were free. Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had gone into effect, officially, on January 1, 1863. It freed as many as 3.5 million slaves, but existing Confederate governments, state and federal, had refused to acknowledge it. Therefore the arc of freedom had gone forward with the rising fortunes of the Union armies, and Texas—the Confederate state most geographically remote from Washington, D.C.—was one of slavery’s last refuges.
Freedom for Alabama’s more than 435,000 slaves had come in stages as the war swept through the state. Huntsville, a key location in the Tennessee Valley, was occupied twice by Union troops; the second, more conclusive of these occupations took place in the autumn of 1863. Centers of population in south Alabama were largely untouched until the Confederacy came crashing down. On April 12, 1865, the capital city of Montgomery surrendered to General James Wilson, whose forces had previously captured Tuscaloosa and reduced Selma. The surrender of Mobile took place on the same day, following the Confederates’ loss of their fortifications at Spanish Fort and Fort Blakely. In many instances these victories were hastened by the presence of African American troops in the Union armies. Each triumph was followed by memorable feelings of jubilation among the Freed People—who soon faced a new reality of building lives as farmers, craft workers, teachers and students, physicians and lawyers, citizens and public officials. So they lived without the chains of slavery, launching the history of a free people during the uncertain transition known as Reconstruction (1865-1877).
Though Emancipation came at different times in different places, the tradition of celebrating it on June 19th—Juneteenth—goes back as far as 1866. By the 1920s and 1930s, Juneteenth celebrations had taken the form of food/cultural festivals. The observations grew in significance in the 1970s, and by 1980 Texas (appropriately) had become the first to declare Juneteenth an official holiday. Florida followed suit in 1991, Oklahoma in 1994, Minnesota in 1996, and by the end of the twenty-first century’s second decade forty-seven states had declared a holiday on June 19. Alabama enacted its official Juneteenth observances in 2011, and today the date is celebrated by concerts, parades, fairs, educational events, and the gift of free food.
The Bounds Law Library holds several titles that contain historical information on Juneteenth. Among them are Paul Finkleman, editor, Encyclopedia of African American History, 1619-1895, 3 volumes (Oxford University Press, 2006); and Deborah Willis and Margaret Krauthamer, Envisioning Emancipation : Black Americans and the End of Slavery (Temple University Press, 2013).
In November 1869, Henry Tutwiler sat down to review (for the Mobile Register) a translation of the fifth book of the Iliad. A slender volume titled Diomede: From the Iliad of Homer, it was the work of his former pupil William Russell Smith, who had studied under Tutwiler at the University of Alabama more than thirty years earlier. The two men had been friends ever since. Indeed, Tutwiler figured largely in Smith’s recollections of Tuscaloosa days, as a “delicate stripling of a youth,” a recent graduate of the University of Virginia who was so learned that he was “a whole faculty within himself.” Evidently Tutwiler’s manner as a professor was so appealing that “every boy fell absolutely in love with him” and felt for him “real affection, which suffered no diminution by the lapse of time.”
While Tutwiler carried out several duties during his years (1831-1837) at the University, he was primarily a Classics professor. Smith has left us a memorable snapshot of his teacher: “As one of his peculiarities, Professor Tutwiler was seldom seen in or out of the school-room without having a small volume in his left hand. He had a diamond edition of the ancient classics, and carried about with him either Virgil, Horace, the Anabasis, Iliad, Cicero, Terence, or Euripides. These were his quiet companions, from whom he seemed to be inseparable.” Smith went on to say that Tutwiler “was never without a pencil; and would stop in his walks, under the shade of an oak, and enrich the margin of his book with some useful hint or scholarly annotation.”
In the decades since their shared time in Tuscaloosa, each man had enjoyed a distinguished career: Tutwiler as the founder of the Greene Springs School, the state’s most celebrated private academy; and Smith as a lawyer, U.S. Congressman, and author of legal treatises, works of fiction, plays, and poetry. In his review of Diomede, Tutwiler recognized Smith’s status as an important public figure by including him in a list of European statesmen and crowned heads who were devoted to the Greek and Roman classics. Tutwiler was happy, he added, “to welcome any effort to throw off the reproach under which we, of the South especially, have labored, of a neglect of classical literature.”
Tutwiler was aware that Smith had been laboring over the Iliad for some twenty years. Yet seeing a portion of that work “gotten up in the best style of Appleton’s” awoke in him memories even older.
“We well remember,” Tutwiler wrote, “how, when a lad at the University of Alabama,” Smith “was in the habit of handing in as exercises, poetical translations of the Latin poets.” Conjuring up (for modern readers) images of class files carefully stored away at Greene Springs, he declared that “we could, even now, lay our hands upon some of these juvenile productions.” Tutwiler understood that Smith’s translation was a true labor of love, and he quoted a passage from Diomede in which Smith declared that his pleasure in the work “has been long continued, making many a night glorious.”
The Iliad is Homer’s telling of episodes from the Trojan War—beginning with an ugly quarrel in which Agamemnon, leader of the Greek expedition, offends the supreme Greek warrior Achilles. Their temper tantrums bode ill for Greeks and Trojans alike. Book five presents the exploits of the Greek hero Diomedes, who, inspired by the pro-Greek goddess Pallas (Minerva), rages like a berserker among the forces of Ilium (Troy), killing several notable warriors. In the process we meet many of Homer’s cast of mortals and immortals and see much of the home life of the latter. Such is Diomedes’ divinely granted power that in the course of his rampage he wounds Venus, goddess of love, and Mars, the god of war. Book five ends with Mars safely back in Olympus, his wounds healed.
The Bounds Law Library has published its ninth Occasional Publication, titled Law and Miscellaneous Works: The Lives and Careers of Joel White and Amand Pfister, Booksellers and Publishers. The book features biographical essays by David I. Durham and Paul M. Pruitt, Jr. and an essay by Michael H. Hoeflich analyzing Pfister and White’s printed catalogs. In addition, the book contains facsimile images of White and Pfister’s catalogs and other documents, including White’s correspondence with publishers. Emigrants to antebellum Tuscaloosa, White and Pfister separately operated bookshops, built up clienteles, and began to publish books. When the state capital moved to Montgomery in 1846 they moved with it and soon established a partnership. Following Pfister’s death in 1857, White continued in the business of bookselling and publishing; his most notable author was Tuscaloosa lawyer and politician William R. Smith, author of The History and Debatesof the Convention of the People of Alabama (1861). After secession White undertook a clandestine mission to acquire large quantities of high-grade paper for the Confederate government. Following his own personal Reconstruction, White served as publisher of the Alabama Reports (vols. 50-83), working with the clerks, lawyers, and reporters attached to that institution. All the while he continued to operate his bookstore until shortly before his death in 1896. Law and Miscellaneous Works reveals a little-known world of nineteenth-century southern booksellers and small-scale publishers and places it in the context of regional and national affairs.
The latest addition to our collection of works dating from mid-seventeenth century England is a compilation of laws by one John Wilkinson. Its title is A Treatise Collected Out of the Statutes of this Commonwealth, and According to Common Experience of the Lawes, Concerning the Office and Authorities of Coroners and Sheriffs. He published it via The Company of Stationers in 1657. By this time there had been no king on the throne since the execution of Charles I in 1649. Puritans and supporters of Oliver Cromwell’s “Protectorate” were very much in control of the nation. They expected sheriffs and other officials to enforce punitive laws based, more or less overtly, on Puritan notions of morality. Consider this passage, from page 174 of Wilkinson’s book:
“Also you shall enquire if any Ale-house keeper or other person do keep any unlawful games in his or their house or houses, or elsewhere, as cards, dice, tables, loggers, quoits, bowles, or such like. In this case the house-keeper loseth for every day forty shillings, and every player six shillings eight pence for every time. Also Constables ought to search monethly [sic] for such unlawful games and disorders in Ale-houses upon pain of forty shillings, and they may arrest such as they find playing unlawful games.”
In 1657 Englishmen still had three years to wait before the Restoration of the Stuart monarchy and the resumption, in large part, of ordinary games of chance. It may be worth noting that the American essayist H.L. Mencken famously described Puritanism as the “haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”
For Dr. Julie Griffith’s cataloging of Wilkinson’s Treatise, see below:
A treatise collected out of the statutes of this common-wealth, and according to common experience of the lawes, concerning the office and authorities of coroners and sherifes : together with an easie and plaine method for the keeping of a court-leet, court-baron, and hundred-court / by John Wilkinson of Bernards Inne, Gent. ; to which is added the return of writts, by John Kitchin Esquire, now all published in English
“Welcome to the party, we’re all just papers in the wind.” From “Run, Run, Run,” by Jo Jo Gunne, 1972. [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lS7pOaEEOTs]
Several decades into the digital revolution, it is clear that digital devices have had an enormous impact upon the routines of literacy. This effect is every bit as profound as that brought about by the print revolution of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Moreover, the digital universe is arguably much broader than the universe of moveable type. After all, the latter, in simplistic terms, was only a superior way to deal with a medium—parchment/paper—that had been around for millennia. In both cases, the “revolution” involved enhancements in the production, dissemination, and storage of information. But power over information has always meant power plain and simple for the persons in charge of society.
With that in mind, let us consider that persons of rank have had, for more than a millennium, access to documents attesting to their property, status, or worth. Consider the Anglo Saxon concept of “bookland,” which involved royal land grants by means of charters or diplomas, deposited for safety among the records of a monastery or abbey. Moving forward to the early modern world, well-connected travelers regularly carried with them letters of introduction—the ancestors of the recommendations (paper or electronic) eagerly sought by today’s applicants for jobs or college admissions. By the middle of the nineteenth century, the need for documentary endorsement had touched the lives of people who were in no sense exalted. For example, a slave in the American south was required to carry a pass signed by his master in order to set foot beyond the master’s property. Ironically, in the last stringent days of the Confederacy, southern white folks had to carry a stamped pass in order to take railroad journeys; such was the effect of wartime bureaucracy.
Soon after the turn of the last century, several forces came together in the United States—industrialization, immigration and population growth, urban planning and ever more far reaching bureaucracies—to produce a society whose members were defined, increasingly, by their paper documents. A standardized system of birth certificates was in place in the United States by about 1900. By the time children born in that year were well-grown, they needed documentation, identity cards, or printed licenses to live their lives. These pieces of paper determined how an individual could function as a citizen. It was necessary, for example, to present a voter registration certificate at the polls. Likewise, most states required persons wishing to live in legally married bliss to secure a marriage license. Speaking of ubiquitous documents, operators of motor vehicles were commonly required to carry driver’s licenses while operating cars or trucks. Paper money had been common in this country since the time of the American Revolution, but by the early twentieth century, the “personal check” had become the most convenient means of paying ordinary debts.
As this generation approached the age of high school they confronted a world at war. Some of the young men were drafted into America’s World War I armed forces—a path that carried with it an imposing battery of records and identity cards. The young men and women who went to college received student ID cards; those who completed college earned diplomas and membership cards from alumni associations. Graduates who wished to practice law or medicine displayed their diplomas on office walls next to licenses issued by professional organizations or state certifying boards.
Just as these “pieces of paper” confirmed what we were qualified to do, they also governed where we were allowed to go. Travel on such forms of commercial transportation as ships, railroads, airplanes and buses was available only to those who held printed tickets. To anyone who has ridden a passenger train, Cary Grant’s ability (in North by Northwest) to travel without a ticket from New York to Chicago is one of his more impressive achievements. Attendance at many important events (weddings, graduations, recitals) required a printed invitation. The right to attend an even larger number of events—movies, plays, concerts, operas, sporting competitions, conventions—required tickets for which one had to pay.
The Bounds Copy of J.W. Shepherd’s Digest of the Alabama Reports from the 17th to the 29th Volume, N.S. [New Series]. Montgomery: Barrett & Wimbush, Book and Job Printers, 1858.
Our “Preserved in Amber” series of posts seeks to celebrate unique and interesting objects, usually but not always a particular volume. The uniqueness typically comes from one striking feature—such as the correspondence between Hannis Taylor and J.B. Bury, pasted in Bounds’ copy of Taylor’s Science of Jurisprudence and featured in our October 12, 2016 post. To the law review spader or other casual user, there would be nothing particularly arresting about our Shepherd’s Digest. Further investigation, however, reveals a book that is interestingly signed and tantalizingly inscribed. Still more investigation reveals a mysterious blemish—quite unexpected. This latter, to be sure, was a feature that invoked this writer’s inner twelve-year-old, who arrived equipped with one of his favorite books.
First, the Book and Its Owners:
J.W. Shepherd, author of the Digest, was born in Madison County, Alabama, in 1826. He graduated
from Yale College in 1844 and returned home to practice law. By 1851 he was
practicing in Montgomery and was tapped as the reporter for the Alabama Supreme
Court, a post he would fill (with various interruptions) until the early 1890s. In line with regional
publishing practices of the time, Shepherd published his 1858 Digest close to home, with Barrett &
Wimbush of Montgomery.
The Bounds copy of the Digest is inscribed with three names on the front pastedown leaf.
The first, written in red pencil, is that of R.W. Walker. This signature could well
be that of Richard Wilde Walker, who in 1859 would be appointed to fill a
vacancy on the Alabama Supreme Court. Walker would go on to serve in the
Confederate Provisional Congress and (1863-1865) in the Confederate Senate. In 1859, Walker sold the Digest to one Thomas Alan Jones,
according to an inscription in Jones’ handwriting. At some point thereafter,
Jones “presented” the Digest to James
Irvine, quite likely the James Irvine who would represent Lauderdale County in
the Alabama constitutional convention of 1865.
The first indication that the Walker-Jones-Irvine Digest contains anything unusual can be
found on the verso of the rear free flyleaf. There can be seen the remains of an
inscription in pencil, almost wholly erased but beginning with the words
“Preposterous Monstrosity” and ending with the words “to take it back.” It is
written, apparently, in Walker’s hand; and its erasure probably represents
nothing more than a courtesy from one owner to the next. Or was there something
written that Walker or one of the book’s other owners didn’t want anyone to read?
Unless we can stage a highly specific question-and-answer séance, we’ll
probably never know.
Moving toward an examination of the exterior text
block, we see more proof that every printed book—mass-produced or otherwise—can
become a unique object in the hands of its readers. Part of this Digest’s individuality is inked on the
fore-edge of the text block in the form of a handy index. The categories are
broad, certain to have been applicable to the practice of the period: Criminal,
Probate, Chancery and Civil. Each of these words was accompanied by an arrow marking
its extent in the text, and also by a number from 1 (opposite Criminal) to 4
(opposite Civil). The intent—purely practical—is far removed from that of
fore-edge artists who have decorated books with symbolic, heraldic, or
Proceeding to the actual text of the Digest, we see that one reader (at
least) has resorted to marking places with often rather emphatic dog-ears. These
dog-ears are placed on or opposite to pages containing the following topics: Constitutional
Law (p. 30); Court and Jury (p. 37); Pleading (p. 95); Statute of Limitations
(p. 197); Assumpsit (p. 403); Evidence (pp. 626-627); and Execution (p. 630).Someone,
in addition, drew (in ink) brackets around three sections of “The Trial of the
Right of Property” (p. 761). Aside from these indications of research
interests, there are few ordinary alterations to this copy of the Digest; but the dog-ears and marks
suggest that its owners pursued the ordinary practice of law.
We encounter a much less ordinary set of marks
beginning on p. 417. What presents itself, in the middle of §50 of the article
on Attachment is a virtually circular mark 1.5 centimeters in diameter. It is a
consistent dark brown in color; it has moved through the paper to produce an
identical mark on p. 418. Each of these marks has stained its facing page (pp.
416, 419). The look of these dark marks suggests that they were burned—burned
with considerable care, possibly by means of a fair-sized lit cigar. For all the world, they
look strangely familiar, like something that resonates in memory.
Of course! What we’re seeing is like a black spot in
Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1883 classic Treasure
Island. All at once the air seems full of references to lubbers and
swabs—charged, too, with the likelihood that we’ll catch a glimpse of the
fearsome one-legged seafaring man, Long John Silver. Just outside my office,
surely, Billy Bones is explaining to young Jim Hawkins that the black spot is
“a summons, mate,” issued by a pirate crew to someone they wished to depose or
kill. I’m reminded of a scene late in Treasure
Island, where Jim Hawkins watches the pirates preparing a black spot. They
were clustering around a campfire; one was “on his knees in their midst.”
Hawkins saw “the blade of an open knife shine in his hand with varying colors”;
and “he had a book as well as a knife in his hand.”
After a few days’ thought and very little (to be
honest) further research, I am forced to admit that it is unlikely that our Digest ever fell into the hands of
pirates, or even lawyers’ children pretending to be pirates. For one thing, its spot[s]
do not conform to the rules laid down in Treasure
Island. Pirates of that book’s Caribbean cut their black spots out of
books, leaving one side unscorched. The unscorched side was supposed to be
blank, so the pirates could write on it some cryptic sentence of doom. The
Walker-Jones-Irvine spot, on the contrary, is burned on both sides, and there
is no evidence that anyone ever took a knife to the volume.
Moreover, the black spot made by firelight in Treasure Island (see above) still
carried s few words of text—a spookily burned fragment of the Book of Revelations,
namely: “Without are dogs and . . . murderers.”  The Bounds Digest also boasts darkened texts
surrounding its double spot, but the texts are all about regulations for the
attachment of property. One, for example, commences: “When a garnishee, against
whom a judgm[ent has] been rendered by a justice [of the pea]ce, removes the
case to the [unintelligible] [c]ourt . . .” To be sure, this passage
once provided a revealing look into legal maneuvers that preceded the carting
away of one’s possessions; but it is a bit lacking in dramatic pep.
Finally, there are doubts concerning whether pirates
ever used black spots at all. Perhaps, after all, it is
better to argue that the Digest’s
black spot[s] were caused by the carelessness of a smoker, piratical or
otherwise, who thought he was putting his cigar down into an ashtray.
 Thomas M. Owen, History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama
Biography, introduction by Milo B. Howard, Jr. (1921; Spartanburg, S.C.:
Reprint Company, 1978), IV: 1543-1544. Willis Brewer, in his Alabama: Her History, Resources, War Record, and Public Men from
1540 to 1872 (Montgomery: Barrett & Brown, 1872), 474-475, said that
Shepherd was “a gentleman of a retiring disposition, but esteemed for many
excellencies of head and heart.”
 Owen, History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography, III: 885.
 See Roy Stokes, A Bibliographical Companion (Lanham, MD:
Scarecrow Press, 1989), 117-118.
 An alternate theory is that the
spots were formed by the application of ink. This seems less likely because the
marks on pp. 417-418 are each enclosed by a little halo of what appears to be
scorched paper. And ink, unless applied by a deft hand, would quite possibly
not have been so neat.
 Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island (1883; Cambridge, UK:
Cambridge University press, 2013), 22, 238.
 The latter possibility is still
open to speculation, of course.