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Warren E. Burger. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-60136).

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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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Salmon P. Chase. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-B8172-1747).

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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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Oliver Ellsworth. Engraving by David Edwin after a painting by John Trumbull. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-92349).

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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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Melville Weston Fuller Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-90767).

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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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Charles Evans Hughes Photograph by Arnold Genthe, 1916. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-G432-1526).

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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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John Jay. Engraving by Albert Rosenthal, 1889. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-96380 ).

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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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John Marshall. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-D429-29020).

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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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William Hubbs Rehnquist. Official portraits of the 1976 U.S. Supreme Court, 1972. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-60141).

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Rehnquist, William Hubbs (01 October 1924–03 September 2005), sixteenth chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the son of William Benjamin Rehnquist, a paper salesman whose parents were immigrants from Sweden, and Margery Peck Rehnquist. Rehnquist grew up in nearby Shorewood and graduated from high school in 1942. He briefly attended Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, and then served in the U.S. Army from 1943 until 1946, in positions associated with meteorology that led him to a lifelong interest in weather and geography. Discharged from the army, Rehnquist attended Stanford University, where he received a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in political science. After attending Harvard University, where he received an additional master's degree in government, Rehnquist returned to Stanford as a law student, where one of his classmates was the future Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O’Connor. His success there led to a clerkship with the Supreme Court justice ...

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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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John Rutledge. Photograph of a painting, c. 1891. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-91143).

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Harlan Fiske Stone. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-110422).

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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....