was time for the seventy-eight-year-old Chief Justice to resign, but on July 4, 1910 Fuller died suddenly of a heart attack at his summer home in Sorrento, Maine. He was not, said the nation's press, in the plethora of respectful tributes always accorded the prominent dead, a great Chief Justice like Marshall or Taney, but a courageous one who dared to stand up against the prohibition, populist, and nationalist forces of his time.
Willard L. King's Melville Weston Fuller ( New York, 1950) is the only full-length biography of the chief justice. It is a warm and extremely friendly account of Fuller's life, best when discussing Fuller's early years in Maine and Chicago but uncritical and apologetic in its review of Fuller's work on the court. King has made use of a vast amount of original sources, all of which are cited in the notes at the end of the book. A less benign view of Fuller is taken in Kenneth Bernard Umbreit, Our Eleven Chief Justices ( New York, 1938). Umbreit sees Fuller's judicial career as evidencing "a defect of intellectual power" and portraying a man who "dearly loved to be treated with importance." The most recent view of Fuller is Howard B. Furer's The Fuller Court, 1888-1910 ( Millwood, N.Y., 1986). Joseph Choate, a classmate of Fuller's at Harvard, writes about him in "Choate on Fuller," 19 Harvard Graduate Magazine 11 ( 1910). Fuller's appointment, writes the noted attorney, "was a genuine surprise to himself, to the profession and to the country at large." The same publication contains " A Sketch of Chief Justice Fuller" at pages 29-32, which adds the information that Fuller was "the first Chief Justice to wear a mustache." The circumstances surrounding the nomination and confirmation of Fuller are detailed in John P. Frank, "Supreme Court Appointments," 1941 Wisconsin Law Review351 and a short but incisive statement of his career and judicial philosophy can be found in Dictionary of American Biography. A more academic interpretation of Fuller's judicial views is given by the then dean of Maine Law School, William E. Walz, in "Chief Justice Fuller, the Individualist on the Bench," 10 Maine Law Review 77 ( 1917). Walz sees Fuller's judicial philosophy as being "in harmony with the old Germanic individualism rather than with the grand abstract conceptions of the Roman Law." Robert F. Reeder , "Chief Justice Fuller," 59 University of Pennsylvania Law Review 1 ( 1910), is primarily a review of Fuller's more prominent judicial declarations. Reeder points out that in over two decades on the bench the chief justice wrote only seven concurring opinions. The commemorative proceedings held in the Supreme Court on the death of the chief justice are reported in 219 U.S. vii-xxviii ( 1911).