Scope and Contents
The Henry S.K. Morison Papers contain three documents: a handwritten letter signed by UVA Chairman of the Faculty S. Maupin, dated April 26, 1864, and addressed to Henry A. Morison; and two handwritten letters to Henry S.K. Morison from John B. Minor, dated April 8, 1867, and February 11, 1874.
Biographical / Historical
Henry A. Morison was a trial lawyer in Estesville, Virginia (now Gate City, the County Seat of Scott County, Virginia.) His son, Henry S.K. Morison graduated from the Virginia Military Institute in 1865. H.S.K. Morison was active in service in the Confederate Army with the Corps of Cadets in the defense of Richmond and Petersburg. After the war, H.S.K. Morison read law in the offices of his uncle, Henry S. Kane, in Estelville, Virginia (now Gate City, the County Seat of Scott County, VA). H.S.K. entered the University of Virginia Law School in 1866, where he studied under both Dean Socrates Maupin and Professor John B. Minor. It is evident from the tone of these letters that a warm relationship developed between Professor Minor and H.S.K. Morison. H.S.K. began the practice of law in Estelville, Virginia, in 1867 and rode the Southwest Virginia circuit. In 1870, he was elected Commonwealth Attorney for Scott County and served until 1874, when he was elected Judge of the County Court. In 1885, H.S.K. was elected Judge of the Seventeenth (17th) Judicial Circuit, which then embraced the geographically large Southwest Virginia Circuit. H.S.K. Morison presided and wrote the famous opinion in Commonwealth vs. Dean, 32 Gratt 912. The case resulted in two mistrials and over one hundred witnesses testified. The Supreme Court of Appeals confirmed Judge Morison’s opinion. This was the first case in which a first degree murder indictment was sustained where the entire evidence of the accused’s guilt was based solely on circumstantial evidence. The common law rule required the testimony of two witnesses to the crime. These biographical and historical details were provided by H. Graham Morison, the great grandson of Henry A. Morison, and the grandson of H.S.K. Morison.