Description

    Charles Carroll advises the brother of his ill-fated love to refrain from the practice of law

    Charles Carroll of Carrollton Autograph Letter Signed. Two pages with integral address leaf, approximately 7.75" x 9.5", Annapolis, June 6, 1783. Carroll writes to William Cooke regarding an Act recently passed in Congress restricting the practice of attorneys trained in Britain.

    In part: "The bill respecting the regulation of attornies [sic] has passed both houses: By the Act the Judges are directed not to consider the oath taken to Govemt by the qualifying attorney since the preliminaries of peace in itself as Sufficient evidence of attachment to the Govt; from whence I am induced to think the Judges will not suffer you to continue in the practice, as they are directed by the act to judge by a man's principles not by their oaths, but from vague reports. I have protested against the bill because I think it a wanton violation of the truth & faith & an unnecessary & indeed and impolitic restraint put upon a few individuals whose political part indeed although I highly disapproved, yet I can not believe if they had the inclination they would be able to trust the Government as now established.

    The law is to have continuance for 2 years. I am inclined to think it may not continue so long for I am sure when men's resentments have somewhat abated, they will see the pernicious tendency of this or any similar act. I would therefore advise you for the present to decline the practice, & to improve your leisure by a close application to yr profession & reading the most approved law books. 18 or 20 months thus spent will be well spent, & I am confident by that time you may resume your practice without the danger of suffering an affront by a public prohibition." He further advises Cooke to "say little about it or the men whom you may suspect had a principal share in passing it. It is of great consequence at times to be silent."

    Charles Carroll had been engaged to William Cooke's sister Rachel, who died before their wedding day. Years after Carroll's death, a miniature of Rachel and a lock of her hair were discovered in a secret drawer in his writing desk. (Life of Charles Carroll of Carrollton 1737-1832, by Kate Mason Rowland). Carroll maintained a close relationship with Cooke, and in 1768 had written a letter of introduction for Cooke to study law in London. Now unable to practice his trade, Cooke no doubt sought Carroll's counsel, and received this letter in reply. Lightly toned with ink bleedthrough. Letter is inlaid, with paper added to repair seal tear and missing corner on address leaf. Accompanied by a 6.75" x 9.25" steel engraving of Carroll.


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    Auction Dates
    April, 2011
    8th-9th Friday-Saturday
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