Hiring Daniel Webster to Argue Gibbons v. Ogden


Date Written

March 1, 1823

History Referenced

William Gibbons was 28 years old when this was written.
The recipient, Thomas Gibbons, was 65 when it was received.

William Gibbons died 29 years, 9 months, 9 days after writing this.
It was written 200 years, 6 months, 22 days ago.
It was a Saturday.

Washington City
March 1, 1823

Dear Father,

Your letter of the 2nd was received this morning—in consequence of the delay of the mail, I decided upon the counsel to argue the cause, without your letter & decided upon Webster & Wirt—the course I pursued immediately upon my arrival was to select one of the counsel with whom I could make most free & consult at all times—this man was Webster—cause no doubt had ever been entertained as to his arguing—he recommended my writing to you for information, & that advice along with my own observation as to West’s health induced me to write you—now I am of the opinion that the whole was a manoeuvre of D. B. Ogden’s to get an opportunity to open the cause, & Webster acquiesced in it to get the reply—they are defeated—when the matter was agitated, I told D. B. Ogden that if he expected to argue in the steamboat cause he must bring forward the Vanderbilt cause in which he was alone & then he would have an opportunity, upon this suggestion he and Webster did make the attempt & failed. I put your letter in the hands of Mr. Webster for his perusal—The court have been occupied for three days past with cases that had been passed over when first called, & this has put us back—The Monopoly displayed its cloven foot today—Mr. Wirt as Attorney General of the U. States moved the court to take up two causes out of order in which the government were concerned & called for an early decision—Mr. Webster opposed the motion in behalf of the steamboat cause & stated that the peace of two states as well as an immense amount of private party was involved in the steamboat question and required the special attention of the court & that he should object to any cause whatever taking precedence of it out of its regular order—

Mr. Emmet then said he had no instructions on the subject but would inform the court that it was not one of those pressing cases—that the immense private property to which Mr. Webster alluded did not exist, but was to exist & therefore it did not require the special interposition of the court. Mr. Webster said he was sorry he had mistaken Mr. Emmett in finding delay was his object, as he had been induced to believe that Mr. Emmett was as anxious to try the cause as he was, but it now appears he was misinformed.

Judge Livingston is so ill as to induce a belief that he will not recover—he has an attack of pleurisy.

Yours affectionately,
William Gibbons

Scans of Letter