"Right and Ready": The law practice of Nathaniel Hart Davis, 1850--1883 (Texas)
Dirck, Brian Richard
Hyman, Harold M.
Master of Arts
Historians are unfamiliar with the frontier attorney. We know little of who he represented, what types of cases he litigated and his day-to-day labors. Nathaniel Hart Davis practiced law in Montgomery, Texas from 1850 to 1883; by examining his career we may shed light on these issues. Davis specialized in civil law. Debt collection dominated his practice, but he also litigated land disputes, probate, slave law and divorce cases. He represented the propertied citizens of Montgomery, nearly always acting on behalf of the plaintiff. His energies were devoted primarily to out-of-court tasks: gathering information, tracking down debtors, buying and selling real estate for speculators, and disposing of probate property and debts. Davis was not the stereotypical incompetent, ignorant, parasitical frontier attorney. A cautious, learned man, Davis fulfilled a vital role in his community. He tried to ensure relatively smooth business transactions in an unstable Texas economy.
American history; Law; Biographies