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Baldwin, Henry (14 January 1780–21 April 1844), U.S. Supreme Court justice, was born in New Haven, Connecticut, the son of Michael Baldwin, a blacksmith, and Theodora Wolcot. Baldwin received an LL.D. from Yale College in 1797. Thereafter, in Philadelphia, he studied law with ...

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Barbour, Philip Pendleton (25 May 1783–25 February 1841), congressman and jurist, was born in Orange County, Virginia, the son of Thomas Barbour, a planter and member of the House of Burgesses, and Mary Thomas. His father was a leader of the revolutionary movement in Virginia during the 1770s; his mother had prominent family ties. These important family connections contributed to Barbour’s rise to political prominence in the early 1800s....

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Hugo Black. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-95031).

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Black, Hugo Lafayette (27 February 1886–25 September 1971), associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and senator from Alabama, was born in Harlan, near Ashland, Clay County, Alabama, the son of William Lafayette Black, a storekeeper, and Martha Ardella Toland. Although not raised in poverty, Black was a child of relatively humble antecedents. Through the depressions of the mid-1870s and 1890s, his father gradually acquired title to the property of debtors and left his children a sizable estate. Hugo used his inheritance to finance his education, attending medical school in Birmingham before switching to the law. He graduated from the University of Alabama Law School at Tuscaloosa in 1906. He then opened a law office in Clay County, but business was moribund, and in 1907 he moved to Birmingham. Black’s first big case was the suit of a black convict who had been held in the convict lease program of a steel company for twenty-two days after his release date. Black won damages for his client and an enhanced reputation as well as his fee. Soon he became one of Birmingham’s most successful plaintiffs’ lawyers, a master of the jury trial, with an income of approximately $47,000, which was generated by hundreds of contingent-fee cases. He also earned the respect, even the friendship, of those in a position to judge his performance. Indeed, throughout his life, Black was renowned for his charm, his ability to withstand criticism with equanimity, and his generosity to opponents. He was polite, collegial, forgiving—and unswerving....

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Blackmun, Harry A. (12 November 1908–04 March 1999), Supreme Court justice, was born Harry Andrew Blackmun in Nashville, Illinois, the son of Corwin Manning Blackmun and Theo Reuter Blackmun, whose family owned a flour mill in Nashville. Blackmun grew up in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, where his father worked in a succession of enterprises, including wholesale and retail businesses, banking, and insurance. Blackmun was raised in a devoutly Methodist family with a strong work ethic. Although he was a serious, hardworking student, he had a healthy sense of humor and a well-rounded personality. He and ...

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Blair, John, Jr. (1732–31 August 1800), associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, was born in Williamsburg, Virginia, the son of John Blair, a prominent colonial Virginia statesman, and Mary Monro. Educated at the College of William and Mary, from which he graduated with honors in 1754, Blair pursued the study of law at the Middle Temple in London (1755–1756), where in 1757 he was called to the bar. While in England, he married Jean Blair (no relation) on 26 December 1756....

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Samuel Blatchford. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-90768).

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Blatchford, Samuel (09 March 1820–07 July 1893), associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, was born in New York City, the son of Richard M. Blatchford, a well-connected Whig attorney, and Julia Ann Mumford. He entered Columbia College at the age of thirteen, “signal proof,” ...

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Joseph P. Bradley. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-90771).

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Bradley, Joseph P. (14 March 1813–22 January 1892), U.S. Supreme Court justice, was born in Berne, Albany County, New York, the son of Philo Bradley and Mercy Gardner, farmers. (The middle initial P does not stand for a second name; Bradley may have chosen it to honor his father.) The first child of very young parents, Bradley grew up in an intellectually stimulating extended family, forming close associations not only with uncles his own age but also with grandparents and a great-grandfather. His father was an avid reader and a talented surveyor, and his maternal grandfather, a lover of mathematics, delighted in posing problems for his children and grandchildren to solve....

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Louis Brandeis. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-92924).

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Brandeis, Louis Dembitz (13 November 1856–05 October 1941), "people's attorney" and U.S. Supreme Court justice, “people’s attorney” and U.S. Supreme Court justice, was born in Louisville, Kentucky, the son of Adolph Brandeis, a successful businessman, and Frederika Dembitz. His parents, non-practicing Jews, had quietly supported the unsuccessful Austrian uprising of 1848 and had immigrated to the United States with their families in the wake of the repression and anti-Semitism that followed. Born as Louis David, Louis changed his middle name as a teenager in honor of his uncle, abolitionist lawyer ...

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Brennan, William J., Jr. (25 April 1906–24 July 1997), Supreme Court justice, was born William Joseph Brennan, Jr., in Newark, New Jersey, the son of William Joseph Brennan, a politician, and Bridget Agnes McDermott Brennan. He grew up in Newark, one of eight children of Irish immigrants. His father shoveled coal in a brewery, gained prominence through union organizing, and became an immensely popular elected city official in charge of the Newark police and fire departments. Brennan attended Barringer High School in Newark and then the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania. Shortly before graduating with honors in economics in 1928, Brennan secretly married Marjorie Leonard (with whom he would have three children)....

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David Josiah Brewer. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-90760).

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Brewer, David Josiah (20 June 1837–28 March 1910), associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, was born in Smyrna, Asia Minor, the son of Josiah Brewer, a Congregational missionary, and Emilia Field, the sister of U.S. Supreme Court justice Stephen J. Field, legal reformer ...

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Henry Billings Brown. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-90766).

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Brown, Henry Billings (02 March 1836–04 September 1913), associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, was born in South Lee, Massachusetts, the son of Billings Brown, a well-to-do merchant and manufacturer, and Mary Tyler. After graduating from Yale College in 1856, he attended Yale and Harvard Law Schools. He moved to Detroit in 1859, where he continued to read law and was admitted to the bar. In 1863 he became assistant U.S. attorney in Detroit. After brief service as a state judge in 1868, Brown returned to private practice and specialized in admiralty law. In 1875 President ...

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Harold Burton Right, being congratulated by President Harry S. Truman on his appointment to the Supreme Count, 1945. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-90080).

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Burton, Harold Hitz (22 June 1888–28 October 1964), U.S. Supreme Court justice, was born in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, the son of Alfred Edgar Burton, a civil engineering professor, and Gertrude Hitz. His father taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was dean of the faculty. Burton and his brother lived with their mother in Leysin, Switzerland, until she died when Burton was seven; the remainder of his early years were spent in Massachusetts. Burton then attended Bowdoin College, from which he received the A.B. summa cum laude in 1909. He matriculated that fall at Harvard Law School and graduated with the LL.B in 1912....

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Pierce Butler. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-105088).