higher law than the Constitution on slavery. "And, disagreeable as it may be to you or me, if any of our fellow-citizens have, under sudden and misguided impulses, offended against the public safety of everything dear to us, by ruinous attempts—I might almost say treasonable attempts—to overturn part of the Constitution itself ... we must visit on them exemplary punishment." This was indispensable to "prevent all the beauties and glories of our beloved Union from being scattered in fragments over a ruined country, by the parricidal hands of some of its own children."
Two months later, on September 4, 1851, Woodbury died at Portsmouth. Had he lived he might have been the Democratic presidential candidate in 1852 rather than Franklin Pierce, another New Hampshire man. Woodbury's judicial career had paralleled his previous experiences in public life. It was temperate, sound, progressively conservative, but not overly successful. He had too much talent to be a mediocrity, but not enough verve to use his talents dynamically.
There is very little in print on Woodbury's Supreme Court years. Even the extensive collection of Woodbury manuscripts at the Library of Congress (in two series) is relatively sparse for the years after 1845. But the Blair Family manuscripts, also at the Library of Congress, contain additional material on Woodbury. A basic collection of much importance is The Writings of Levi Woodbury (3 vols; Boston, 1852). See also Charles L. Woodbury, "Levi Woodbury," Memorial Biographies of the New England Historic and Genealogical Society, vol. 1, pp. 295-327 ( Boston, 1880). Two doctoral dissertations, now available on microfilm, deal with Woodbury's political career: Vincent J. Capowski, The Making of a Jacksonian Democrat: Levi Woodbury ( Fordham, 1965), and Philip D. Wheaton , Levi Woodbury: Jacksonian Financier (University of Maryland, 1955). Professor Capowski has also published "The Era of Good Feelings in New Hampshire: The Gubernational Campaigns of Levi Woodbury, 1823-1824," 21 Historical New Hampshire 3 ( 1966).
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Publication information: Book title: The Justices of the United States Supreme Court:Their Lives and Major Opinions. Volume: 2. Contributors: Leon Friedman - Editor, Fred L. Israel - Editor. Publisher: Chelsea House. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1997. Page number: 433.
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