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Burger, Warren Earl (17 September 1907–25 June 1995), chief justice of the United States, was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, the son of Charles Joseph Burger, a rail cargo inspector and sometime traveling salesman, and Katharine Schnittger. Burger spent his childhood in St. Paul. He worked his way through college, selling insurance. After attending the University of Minnesota from 1925 to 1927, he earned an LL.B., magna cum laude, from St. Paul College of Law (now William Mitchell College of Law) in 1931; he was admitted that same year to the Minnesota bar. He married Elvera Stromber in 1933; they had two children....

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Chase, Salmon Portland (13 January 1808–07 May 1873), statesman, antislavery leader, and chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, was born in Cornish, New Hampshire, the son of Ithamar Chase, a glassmaker and tavernkeeper, and Janette Ralston. When Chase was nine years old, his father died. To ease the financial burden on his mother, Chase, the eighth of eleven children, moved to Ohio and lived with his uncle ...

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Ellsworth, Oliver (29 April 1745–26 November 1807), chief justice of the United States, was born in Windsor, Connecticut, the son of David Ellsworth and Jemima Leavitt, prosperous farmers. Ellsworth was born during the Great Awakening into a New Light family. Throughout his life he cleaved to a strict Calvinism—later known as the New Divinity—based on thorough-going doctrines of predestination and original sin. Ellsworth firmly believed that individuals could not earn their salvation but instead could only receive salvation as a matter of God’s unilateral grace. This New Divinity Calvinism was the major philosophical influence in his life....

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Fuller, Melville Weston (11 February 1833–04 July 1910), chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, was born in Augusta, Maine, the son of Frederick Augustus Fuller, a lawyer, and Catherine Martin Weston, daughter of Nathan Weston, chief justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. Within months of his birth, Fuller’s mother sued his father for divorce on the ground of adultery. Fuller’s father did not contest the suit and played no further role in his son’s life. Mother and son moved into the home of Judge Weston, where young Fuller remained even after his mother’s remarriage in 1844. From his grandfather, a Jacksonian Democrat, Fuller acquired a political faith that remained with him for the rest of his life....

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Hughes, Charles Evans (11 April 1862–27 August 1948), governor of New York, secretary of state, and chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, was born in Glens Falls, New York, the only son of Mary Catherine Connelly and David Charles Hughes, a Baptist (formerly Methodist) preacher who had immigrated to the United States from England in 1855. Tutored primarily at home until the age of fourteen, Charles Evans Hughes attended Madison University, later renamed Colgate (1876–1878), and received a B.A. from Brown University, which he attended from 1878 to 1881. In 1884 he received an LL.B. with honors from Columbia University Law School, passed the New York County bar exam, and joined the prestigious law firm of Chamberlain, Carter & Hornblower in New York City. He taught law on a visiting basis at Cornell University Law School (1891–1893) and remained in private practice until 1905. He married Antoinette Carter in 1888; they had one son and three daughters....

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Jay, John (12 December 1745–17 May 1829), diplomat and first chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, was born in New York City, the son of Peter Jay, a prosperous merchant, and Mary Van Cortlandt, a member of one of the great Dutch patroon landed families of the Hudson Valley. On 28 April 1774 John Jay joined another powerful landlord clan by marrying Sarah Livingston, daughter of a future governor of New Jersey; the couple had seven children....

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Marshall, John (24 September 1755–06 July 1835), fourth chief justice of the United States, was born near Germantown, Prince William (now Fauquier) County, Virginia, the son of Thomas Marshall and Mary Randolph Keith. The eldest of fifteen children, John Marshall grew up in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. His father was a planter of middling circumstances whose success in land speculation made him one of the leading men of Fauquier, then a frontier county. His mother, a clergyman’s daughter, was related to such “first families” of Virginia as the Randolphs and the Lees. Thomas Marshall superintended his son’s education, giving him, as John Marshall recalled later, “an early taste for history and for poetry.” As the youth’s “only intelligent companion,” the elder Marshall “was both a watchfull parent and an affectionate instructive friend” (Adams, ed., p. 4)....

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Rutledge, John (1739–18 July 1800), lawyer and statesman, was born in or near Charleston, South Carolina, the son of John Rutledge, a physician, and Sarah Hext, a wealthy heiress who was only fifteen years old at Rutledge’s birth. His early education was in Charleston, where he read law with one of the leading members of the Charleston bar, James Parsons, before being enrolled in the Middle Temple in London on 11 October 1754. Admitted to the English bar on 9 February 1760, he soon returned to South Carolina. The voters of Christ Church parish promptly elected him to the Commons House of Assembly in 1761, and he continued to represent that area in the local legislature for the remainder of the colonial period. During his first term the house was embroiled in the “Gadsden election controversy” with the royal governor over its right to judge the qualifications of its own members. Rutledge became chairman of the committee on privileges and elections, which vigorously upheld the powers of the representatives of the people. Meanwhile, his private practice as an attorney was flourishing, and he soon became one of the two or three best-paid lawyers in the province. He also operated several plantations and acquired at least 30,000 acres in various grants. These activities may help to explain why his committee work in the Commons House usually put him in the second, rather than the first, rank of leaders. Nevertheless, his colleagues chose him for important assignments. In 1765 the Commons House sent him and two others to the Stamp Act Congress in New York, where Rutledge served as chairman of the committee that drew up a memorial to the House of Lords protesting taxation of Americans by Parliament. In 1763 he married Elizabeth Grimké; they had ten children....

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Stone, Harlan Fiske (11 October 1872–22 April 1946), chief justice of the United States, was born in Chesterfield, New Hampshire, the son of Frederick Lauson Stone, a farmer, and Anne Butler, a former schoolteacher. Two years after his birth, the Stones moved to Mill Valley, near Amherst, Massachusetts, to provide greater educational opportunities for their four children....

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Taft, William Howard (15 September 1857–08 March 1930), twenty-seventh president of the United States and chief justice of the United States, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. He was the son of Alphonso Taft, U.S. secretary of war and attorney general in the Ulysses S. Grant...

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Taney, Roger Brooke (17 March 1777–12 October 1864), lawyer, politician, and chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, was born in Calvert County, Maryland, the son of Michael Taney, a planter and politician, and Monica Brooke. The Taneys had been slaveholding planters since the first Taney arrived in Maryland in the 1660s, and at the time of Roger’s birth the family ranked among the most prestigious in the county. Originally Anglican, the Taneys had abandoned the English church for Catholicism well before the birth of Michael Taney, possibly in imitation of leading Maryland families....

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Vinson, Fred (22 January 1890–08 September 1953), chief justice of the United States, was born Frederick Moore Vinson in Louisa, Kentucky, the son of James Vinson, a Lawrence County jailer, and Virginia Ferguson, who took in boarders for additional income. Vinson graduated from the local Kentucky Normal College in 1908 and the following year completed a B.A. at Centre College in Danville. While working on a law degree at Centre, he taught mathematics and not only starred on the school’s baseball team, but also played semiprofessional ball in the Kentucky Blue Grass League....

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Waite, Morrison Remick (29 November 1816–23 March 1888), chief justice of the United States, was born in Lyme, Connecticut, the son of Henry Waite, a jurist, and Marie Selden. The Waites were an old New England family that had produced a number of lawyers and judges, including Waite’s father, who served as chief justice of the Connecticut State Supreme Court. It was expected that young Morrison would likewise pursue a legal career, and after attending Bacon Academy and graduating from Yale College in 1837, he studied law in his father’s office. A year later, like many Americans at the time, he headed west in search of greater opportunity. He settled in Maumee City, Ohio, where he was admitted to the bar and began his practice in the office of Samuel M. Young. In 1840 he married Amelia Champlin Warner, a second cousin. They had four children who survived infancy. In 1848 Waite moved to Toledo and, in partnership with his younger brother Richard Waite, engaged in a successful legal business largely devoted to real estate, commercial, and corporate transactions....

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Warren, Earl (19 March 1891–09 July 1974), chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, governor of California, and attorney general of California, was born in Los Angeles, California, the son of Erik Methias “Matt” Warren, a railroad repairman, and Christine “Crystal” Hernlund. Both of Warren’s parents came to the United States as young children, his father from Norway and his mother from Sweden. They were married in Minneapolis but moved to California in the 1880s. After the 1894 Pullman strike at the Southern Pacific Railroad in Los Angeles Matt Warren was blacklisted, but he later found employment as a repairman at the new Southern Pacific facilities in Sumner, California, a town later annexed by nearby Bakersfield....

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White, Edward Douglass (03 November 1845–19 May 1921), chief justice and associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and U.S. senator, was born in Lafourche Parish, Louisiana, the son of Edward Douglass White, a Louisiana lawyer, congressman, governor, and sugar planter, who died shortly after White’s birth, and Catherine Sidney Lee Ringgold. White was initially schooled on his family’s plantation and then at a series of Jesuit institutions—the Preparatory School of the Immaculate Conception in New Orleans, Mount Saint Mary’s College in Maryland, and Georgetown College (now Georgetown University), which he entered in 1858....