Oliver Wendell Holmes: Sage of the Supreme Court

By G. Edward White | Go to book overview

CHAPTER
4
THE QUIET YEARS

If anyone had been making predictions about Holmes’s career as a judge, he or she might have been inclined to predict that Holmes’s 20 years on the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts would be the pivotal chapter in his judicial life. During these years Holmes was in the prime of life for a man of his time: He was appointed at the age of 41 and remained on the court past his 61st birthday. Although many judges are appointed for life, and thus do not face mandatory retirement, most of them, even today, do not continue on a full-time basis beyond the age of 70. By 1902, when Holmes joined the Supreme Court of the United States, he had served as chief justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts for three years and was the most senior judge, both in terms of age and in terms of service, on that court.

Holmes’s experience on the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, however, had not been as memorable, at least in the sense of widening his professional reputation, as he had probably expected. Nor had he had the opportunity to put into practice the ideas about common law subjects he had developed as a scholar. It had been, in the eyes of

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Oliver Wendell Holmes: Sage of the Supreme Court
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Prologue- the 90Th-Birthday Address 7
  • Chapter 1 - The Family Legacy 13
  • Chapter 2 - Our Hearts Were Touched with Fire- The Civil War Years 25
  • Chapter 3 - The Practical Struggle of Life- Becoming a Lawyer and a Judge 35
  • Chapter 4 - The Quiet Years 57
  • Chapter 5 - A More Important and More Visible Court 69
  • Chapter 6 - A New and Solemn Volume Opens 79
  • Chapter 7 - An Unlikely Reformer 94
  • Chapter 8 - The Yankee from Olympus 106
  • Chapter 9 - Toward Melancholy- The Retirement Years 126
  • Epilogue 138
  • Chronology 143
  • Further Reading 145
  • Index 147
  • Acknowledgments 151
  • Picture Credits 153
  • Text Credits 155
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