Sketches of the Lives and Judicial Services of the Chief-Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States

Sketches of the Lives and Judicial Services of the Chief-Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States

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Sketches of the Lives and Judicial Services of the Chief-Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States

Sketches of the Lives and Judicial Services of the Chief-Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States

Read FREE!

Excerpt

Of the five eminent Jurists who have Successively filled the elevated station of Chief-Justice of the United States, only one -- the first Chief-Justice, Jay -- has hitherto been the subject of anything like a complete biography. So far as I know, with this exception, and except also an occasional sketch, or an obituary notice -- such as that pronounced on Marshall, by his brother Judge Story, before the Suffolk bar -- no attempt has been made to preserve in a connected narrative, even the public history and career, to say nothing of the professional life and judicial services, of these distinguished men, three of whom were prominent and active leaders among the statesmen of the Revolution. I have seen it stated some years since, that a son-in-law of Judge Ellsworth was preparing an extensive and complete biography of that gentleman, containing his speeches, extracts from his writings, and many interesting facts in regard to him, but, for some cause which I have not seen explained, the promised memoir has not made its appearance. It might indeed seem a singular, and unaccountable neglect, that one so eminent and distinguished in our civil and diplomatic, as well as our judicial annals, should not hitherto have had a place assigned him in our biographical literature, were not the same unaccountable neglect manifest in the case of his immediate predecessor, as well as in that of his illustrious successor, on the bench of the Supreme Court. Surely the rich mine of American biography cannot be nearly exhausted when such treasures as the lives of RUTLEDGE, ELLSWORTH, and MARSHALL lie still undeveloped and comparatively neglected.

The plan of these memoirs, which are now submitted with unaffected diffidence to the public, is such, as necessarily to restrict that part of them which may properly be called biographical, within very narrow limits. They do not pretend to the minuteness of the full and complete biography, and I have not, therefore, assumed to dignify them with a higher title than simply that of "sketches." My object has been rather to trace the judicial history and follow . . .

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