Martin, Francois-Xavier

Martin, Francois-Xavier

(1762–1846) jurist, author; born in Marseilles, France. At about the age of 19 he appeared in New Bern, N.C., where he taught French while learning English. He began working in a printing shop and moved up to become a publisher. He was admitted to the North Carolina bar in 1789 and began to publish and edit legal texts. In 1809 he was appointed a federal judge for the Mississippi Territory and was reassigned to the Territory of Orleans in 1810; as soon as the latter became the state of Louisiana, he became the state's attorney general (1813–15) and then a judge on the state supreme court (1815–46, chief justice 1836–46). As Louisiana law was based on Spanish and French law, he worked hard to bring the state's law into line with the prevailing American practices based more on English law. He published a total of 34 volumes, including many reports of legal decisions and histories of Louisiana and North Carolina.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.