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Martin, Francois Xavier

MARTIN, FRANCOIS XAVIER (1762-1846), American jurist and author, was born in Marseilles, France, on the 17th of March 1762, of Provencal descent. In 1780 he went to Martinique, and before the close of the American war of Independence went to North Carolina, where (in New Bern) he taught French and learnt English, and set up as a printer. He studied law, and was admitted to the North Carolina bar in 1789. He published various legal books, and edited Acts of the North Carolina Assembly from 1715 to 1803 (2nd ed., 1809). He was a member of the lower house of the General Assembly in 1806-1807. In 1809 he was commissioned a judge of the superior court of the territory of Mississippi, and in March 1810 became judge of the superior court of the territory of Orleans. Here the law was in a chaotic condition, what with French law hefore O'Reilly's rule, then a Spanish code, and in 1808 the Digest of the Civil Laws, an adaptation by James Brown and Moreau Lislet of the code of Napoleon, which repealed the Spanish fueros, partidas, recopilationes and laws of the Indies only as they conflicted with its provisions. Martin published in 1811 and 1813 reports of cases decided by the superior court of the territory of Orleans. For two years from February 1813 Martin was attorney-general of the newly established state of Louisiana, and then until March 1846 was a judge and (from 1836 to 1846) presiding judge of the supreme court of the state. For the period until 1830 he published reports of the decisions of the supreme court; and in 1816 he published two volumes, one French and one English, of A General Digest of the Acts of Legislatures of the Late Territory of Orleans and of the State of Louisiana. He won the name of the " father of Louisiana jurisprudence " and his work was of great assistance to Edward Livingston, Pierre Derbigny and Moreau Lislet in the Louisiana codification of 1821-1826. Martin's eyesight had begun to fail when he was seventy, and after 1836 he could no longer write opinions with his own hand. 1 He died in New Orleans on the nth of December 1846.

Martin translated Robert J. Pothier On Obligations (1802), and wrote The History of Louisiana from the Earliest Period (2 vols. 1827-1829) and The History of North Carolina (2 vols., 1829). There 1 His holographic will in favour of his brother (written in 1844 and devising property worth nearly $400,000) was unsuccessfully contested by the state of Louisiana on the ground that the will was void as being a legal and physical impossibility, or as being an attempted fraud on the state, as under it the state would not receive a 10% tax if the property went to the heirs of Martin (as intestate) in France.

is a memoir by Henry A. Bullard in part ii. of B. F. French's Historical Collections of Louisiana (Philadelphia, 1850), and one by W. W. Howe in John F. Condon's edition of Martin's History of Louisiana (New Orleans, 1882).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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