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Currey, John Papers, 1906-1912
MANUSCRIPT SMCII Box 14 Folders 11-12
Collection Overview


Papers, 1906-1912
John Currey papers, 1906-1912


Currey, John, 1814-1912, creator


The papers of John Currey represented in this collection include ten items of correspondence written from 1906 to 1912 and a manuscript of his essay titled Political history of California, signed and dated May 21, 1907. Nine letters and notes beginning Aug. 21, 1906 and ending March 20, 1909 were written to Eudora Garoutte, then a librarian at the California State Library. The last letter, dated June 7, 1912, is addressed to R. S. Gray, Esq., "My dear friend".
The first letter to Garoutte illustrates the nature of the correspondence. "In respect to the matters mentioned by you in your letter I have to say, that all my papers and letters were burned in the fire of April 18th which followed the great earthquake of that day. I have thought it probable that when I get settled down again I may write out a brief history of some political matters of the early days of California ... "
During the next three years, Currey wrote several commentaries and sent them to Garoutte for the collection at the Library. Each was handwritten and the Library undertook to make typed transcriptions as Currey's handwriting was difficult due to his declining eyesight. He addresses this issue in a letter written Oct. 31, 1908: "My daughter in law, Mrs. Robert J. Currey has informed me of a conversation with you in which you spoke of the great difficulty you had in decifering my manuscript, which you had not as yet fully accomplished. I think I have improved in my handwriting since that manuscript was written as you see by this letter. I hope to be able to visit you before long and help you out of the trouble of translating."
Also of note is a letter dated Sept. 19, 1906 in which Currey gives a brief account of his life and the letters on March 18 and 20, 1909 which refer to Currey's contribution to establishing a legal code for the state of California.
The final letter dated June 7, 1912 was sent to R. S. (Roscoe Spaulding) Gray, a fellow lawyer. In it, Currey discusses his reasons for questioning the constitutionality of the recall law in California and concludes: "I hope I may be able to convince you and others of your opinion to my views on the subject." Someone, perhaps Gray, has partially pencilled in a transcription of the letter but it still remains difficult to interpret.
Also in the collection is the original manuscript copy of the article titled Political history of California.


1906 (issued)


Folder 11: Letters. -- Folder 12: Manuscript.


Currey, John -- 1814-1912 -- Correspondence
Garoutte, Eudora -- d. 1943 -- Correspondence
Lawyers -- California -- Correspondence
California -- History
California -- Politics and government
Recall -- California


John Currey was born in Westchester County, New York, in 1814. He received his education there and began to practice law around 1842 in Peerskill, N. Y. In 1849, Currey left for a six-month trip to California to investigate life in the gold fields. Mining did not suit him, however, so he returned to the practice of law, first in San Francisco and later in Benicia. There he specialized in Spanish and Mexican land grant litigation, receiving some of his compensation in land, notably on Putah Creek near Dixon, California.
Currey took an active part in politics, running for governor on the Anti-Lecompton Party in 1859. In 1863, running on the Union ticket, he was elected one of the five new justices on the Supreme Court of California. He became Chief Justice in 1866 and served until 1868. During this period he also served as one of the three commissioners charged with revising and compiling the laws of the State. After leaving the Court, Currey continued to practice law although he was troubled by poor health and declining eyesight. In his later years, he wrote several legal commentaries as well as his personal reminiscences. He died at his home in Dixon on Dec. 18, 1912, two years shy of attaining the age of 100.
John Currey papers, 1906-1912
Unrestricted. Please credit California State Library.



Physical Description:

10 items




MANUSCRIPT SMCII Box 14 Folders 11-12



Copyright Note:

Unrestricted. Please credit California State Library.