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The MuralThe 360 Degree View

James P. Hague

Hague was a brilliant lawyer, politician and businessman in the late 1800’s. He moved to El Paso in 1871 with his wife when the governor appointed him District Attorney of the El Paso area. He saw the promise of El Paso, so he quickly acquired land in main part of what is now downtown. His speculation proved fruitful when he traded land for the promise that the railroad would come through El Paso on its way to the Pacific Ocean. On this success, he built the first brick home in El Paso.

While Hague was a capitalist, he was not a corrupt opportunist. In 1885, he represented the County in a construction fraud case known as the "Courthouse Steal.” In the construction of the courthouse (the one prior to the current structure with this mural), the contractors and architect were accused of fraud. Hague tried them for “using stone instead of brick for the foundation, using sand instead of concrete under the vaults, and other cost-cutting measures.”*

During the trial, Hague announced that the accused had offered his law firm a $2,500 bribe to testify for the defendants. In a famous stunt, he uncovered the plot to the courtroom witnesses and proclaimed, "I want the court to know that Hague and Coldwell are not for sale." He later donated the money to charity.

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critical thinking
Do you think it is possible to be a lawyer and businessman and remain ethical in today’s political climate?

Related Links:

http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/view/HH/fhaff.html *

Read More, Learn More:

Sonnichsen, C. L. 1968. Pass of the North: Four Centuries on the Rio Grande, University of El Paso: Texas Western Press.

Broaddus, J. Morgan. May 1956, Winter 1975. Password, The Legal Heritage of El Paso, El Paso: Texas Western College Press.